Fasting is understood as the complete renunciation of solid food and stimulants. Originally, this meant pure water fasting, whereby only water is taken in. Over the centuries, a large number of different types of fasting have developed. But which types of fasting are there? What happens in the body during fasting? And why do people fast at all?
The evolution of fasting
Due to evolution, humans often had to fast in the past. Food could not be bought in the supermarkets, instead, people had to hunt and gather. In winter, for example, the food supply was much scarcer. Only a few plants bore fruit. The consequence? The food was divided up and there were always phases of fasting. Our adaptable organism provides the basis for this. If there is enough food available, our body creates depots. In times of food shortage these depots are mobilised. This enables our organism to cover its nutrient requirements over a short period of time by itself in the absence of food or with minimal food intake. Fasting has also been an integral part of religion for centuries. Muslims, for example, practise Ramadan, with one month of fasting each year. In the 20th century, fasting found its way into medicine via naturopathy. Today, it is a recognised form of therapy and is also used to prevent illness.
There are different types of fasting, which can be differentiated, for example, according to the state of health of the fasting person or according to the medical care provided during the fast. In this blog article we would like to introduce you to three well-known types of fasting.
Probably the best known form of fasting is therapeutic fasting. This type of fasting was founded by Otto Buchinger. During therapeutic fasting, up to 500 kcal are absorbed daily, which distinguishes it from pure water fasting. These calories are supplied in the form of fruit and vegetable juices, soup, broth and honey. Accordingly, no solid food is consumed. Due to the calorie deficit during fasting, the human organism adapts its metabolism to the production of energy from the body's own sources. This enables the body to concentrate on other metabolic processes, such as autophagy. In addition, the digestion is relieved. Therapeutic fasting is often offered as a multidisciplinary concept in special fasting clinics. These provide fasting patients with nutritional training, exercise therapy and also fasting support measures such as liver packs. Usually, therapeutic fasting is carried out for about two weeks. However, the exact period should be determined in advance with a doctor, depending on the fasting person.
Mock (or "apparent") Fasting
Mock fasting is a very new form of fasting developed by the biologist Valter Longo. Approximately 800 kcal are taken in daily in the form of food low in protein and sugar. In contrast to therapeutic fasting, solid food is also consumed in this form of fasting. Special emphasis is placed on the intake of complex carbohydrates from vegetables and healthy vegetable fats (walnuts, almonds, olive oil, etc.). As the intake of calories is slightly higher with mock fasting than with therapeutic fasting, it is easier to integrate into everyday life. Nevertheless, this type of fasting also causes a calorie deficit, which causes the human organism to adapt its metabolic processes and activates autophagy. This has similar positive effects on the body as therapeutic fasting. As a healthy person, Dr Longo recommends a mock fast for five days every six months.
The Kale&Me juice cleanse is a form of juice fasting. Juice fasting is classified between therapeutic fasting and mock fasting. It is a carbohydrate-modified form of therapeutic fasting in which about 700 kcal are absorbed daily in the form of vegetable and fruit juices. Vegetable broth and tea can also be drunk. In contrast to mock fasting, however, no solid food is consumed, which gives the digestive system time to relieve itself. Due to the higher calorie intake during juice fasting compared to therapeutic fasting, it can also be integrated more easily into everyday life. In addition, the varied combination of fruit and vegetable juices provides the body with many nutritionally important vitamins and minerals. Our Catie Carrot, for example, contains a high amount of the vitamin A and our Pamela Pine is a source of vitamin C.
During juice fasting the body also obtains a large part of the energy it needs from the body's own sources. This leads to the activation of autophagy and the positive health effects of fasting occur. You can order our Kale&Me juice cleanse for 3, 5 or 7 days.
The fasting metabolism
The calories that our organism lacks during fasting are provided by the body's own sources. To ensure this, a number of adjustments of the metabolism take place. Glucose is the main energy supplier of our body. We absorb it through food and either use it directly or store it in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles. If the organism needs energy, the glycogen reserves are mobilised from the liver. This is exactly what happens during fasting. However, the glycogen stores are already empty after 12-24 hours. Now the human organism has to use other energy sources. On the one hand, fat reserves are used, whereby ketone bodies are formed from the stored fatty acids, which are used as an energy source. This metabolic process is called ketogenesis. On the other hand, gluconeogenesis takes place. In this process muscle proteins are broken down and the resulting amino acids are used to form glucose. However, the energy is mainly provided by fatty acids, because excessive protein breakdown would put the body in a life-threatening state. This is because the heart muscle would also be affected.
Positive effects of fasting
But why is fasting useful at all? As you already know, the human body adjusts its metabolism when it is not fed enough food. At the same time, the calorie deficit activates autophagy. Autophagy is a kind of recycling programme of the cells. They take place continuously in a small amount throughout our organism to break down damaged or defective cell components and use the breakdown products to build up new components. When the body is exposed to a lack of nutrients, as it is in the case with fasting, autophagy is stimulated. This is because the breakdown of cell components represents another way of generating energy for the cells. Fasting thus contributes to a healthy cell structure through autophagy.
There are numerous other positive effects of fasting. The majority of these have been demonstrated to date with therapeutic fasting, because this is a form of fasting that has been practised for decades and many studies have been carried out. Some of these effects are the improvement of blood lipid levels, improved insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure. Therapeutic fasting can also have positive effects on people with rheumatism, where the inflammation levels drop significantly and people have less pain.
Regardless of the form of fasting, many people perceive fasting as a kind of "reset". The intensive preoccupation with one's own body and nutrition is a special experience. As a result many fasting people make lasting changes to their eating habits and to pursue a healthier lifestyle with less stress. It leads many people who are fasting to make a lasting change in their eating habits and to follow a healthier lifestyle with less stress.