Fasting For Lyme? Is it Healthy?
Fasting is a hot topic in some Lyme groups. I’ve had people ask me about what I thought about fasting as a way to speed up healing of Lyme disease.
While, I know of the strong science-based proof of doing intermittent fasting, I’m not really keen on the idea of these 10, 14, and 21 day water fasts….nor going that long with just juice.
There are lots of different fasts out there, some with just caloric restriction, some water-only, there is the Master Cleanse and then there is juicing.
While I recognize that fasting does work, it all depends on what the person is trying to achieve, which really dictates the type of fast to be used.
I’m Doing A Fast Right Now
In the past, I’ve done some colon cleansing fasts before with herbs that help clean the liver and promote a fullness in the stomach (usually with Psyllium husks) that does use a bit of fasting (5 days with just herbal packets). It’s not a super hard cleanse, but the 5 days without eating normal food is quite hard for many.
For those looking to cleanse the colon and the liver, while keeping blood sugar normalized, the Blessed Herb cleanse is pretty good. I’ve even had some of my clients, when the timing was right, do this kind of cleanse. It does reset the metabolism a little and I do think it helps the person utilize food more efficiently once the cleanse is over..
Right now, I’m doing a water-only cleanse. To be clear, I’ve never had any clients do this…and honestly, nor would I. I just finished watching a video of a place you can go to fast with water, for many days in Costa Rica. I suppose if you’re needing to fast that long, it would be quite hard to do so at home with others eating in your face. One girl went because she thought she had Lyme and did a 21 day water-only fast. She was interviewed, probably not at the best time, while she was refeeding herself (meaning just going very slow with the quantity of food she was eating, which is usually advised after fasting). She looked gaunt, slow, tired and again, probably not the best time for an interview. Most people who swear by that type of cleansing feel the positive effects after the refeed themselves for many days.
Since I was curious and I NEVER tell my clients to do anything that I don’t fully understand or have some kind of REAL experience myself, I decided to do a 4 day water-only cleanse.
I’m on day 3 and am clear enough to write this, but had some real weakness this morning… the kind that makes you almost pass out.
Since I passed out once at West Point in formation and still remember the humiliation and how scared I was ( it was like being knocked out for days, when really was for seconds), I know what the sensations are right before it happens...it’s not pleasant. I grabbed 8 almonds this morning and sat on the kitchen floor until I regrouped. While, this sounds terrifying and nothing I would put a client through, I really had some of my own personal reasons for doing this. Let me explain.
Last weekend, I ate a low glycemic item for breakfast and immediately felt BAD.
It was healthy, something I’m not allergic or have an intolerance to and I just felt rotten...the kind of feeling you get when you eat and your blood sugar spikes. This was my sign to address blood sugar. The problem was that my last labs were 100% excellent, just last year. But since I’m well aware that there are sometimes hidden problems that a cross section in time (as in when you get blood drawn) does not always adequately tell the entire story, I knew from symptoms alone that I had to fix this.
Diet good. Check.
Limiting sugar. Check.
Taking supplements for blood sugar. Not really, but will start soon!
What can provide me with a more sound solution since I think this is partially genetic (in terms of coenzymes like Biotin and Folic Acid being low and pancreatic enzymes not always fully functional)? Fasting.
I’m also very well nourished to handle a fast.
It’s been proven. A 3 day, 4 night fast can reduce blood sugar by 50%, reduce insulin-like growth factor- 1 (IGF-1), without medication. And that’s really just a jump start, because you can do a 5 day eat and 2 day caloric restriction (600 calories a day) to keep the benefits!
The best ones are done with water-only OR taking something like a 50 calorie clear packet of broth per day, each day. That’s actually just enough to keep you from having my ‘naked kitchen floor experience’ this morning. I just finished my broth and that’s probably why I can write now.
Sounds tough? It is. It is impossible? No. It is a good thing if you’re sick? That’s debatable….but here’s my stance on it.
It depends again on what you want to have happen.
Do you want a colon/liver cleanse? Then you could probably put that into your recovery plan. Do you have a known blood sugar issue? Knowing is like me knowing when I ate something, that I was just off. I was tired from eating, not feeling right and not being energized from food. That’s usually a good tell if your blood sugar is off.
For the fast that I’m currently doing, I would personally NEVER tell a client to do 4 days on a water fast.How about a 24-48 hr water fast?Yes, probably so, but it depends on how nourished they are to start with. I could comfortably say that 24-48 hrs it’s not so bad, hitting the 60 hr mark really hits hard.
Juice fasting is really NOT for people who are looking cleanse blood sugar obviously, but it gives nice macro-nutrients to a person and gives their digestive system a break!
Why Fasting Can Be So Good.
With any fasting, giving your digestive system a break is what it’s really all about. So much blood goes to digestion constantly, it’s been studied that when a person fasts, blood goes to other parts of the body to fight infection, clean toxins, clean out cholesterol, etc. This really happens as soon as you start fasting, although some “experts” say that you really get much powerful cleanses if you fast for weeks. (If you’re up for spending a month in Costa Rica, not eating, by all means go….just wait until you’re nourished enough to go! It’s personally, not for me.)
What happens during this time is very interesting, so let me break down the points as you go through the hours.
- First 8-12 hours the body goes to the digestive tract and since you ate your last meal 8-12 hours ago, there is nothing really valuable there, so it goes to the liver.
- Your body is looking for glucose, which is something our bodies need every minute of the day to live! The liver stores glycogen, so there is only a 8-12 hr storage there.
- 16-24 hours after your last meal, the glycogen in the liver is now depleted.
- The next source is protein in the muscles and gluconeogenesis is a chemical conversion process that gets sugar from muscle.
- The body usually decides on how much muscle it’s willing to give up. So if you’re a bodybuilder, it will stay in this phase for more days (perhaps 5 or more days). If you’re low in muscle and high in fat, the body will more quickly go to the fat, since you don’t’ have much muscle to spare. So this all depends on a person’s body composition.
- For some people this happens between 48 hrs onward, some people it’s 5 days or more of fasting to get to the fat detox part.
But what’s certain is the same for any amount of fasting time you do-
- Less blood to the heart, so more blood goes to the tissues
- Helps remove toxins from lungs
- Stomach and intestines remove waste matter, making it more improved
- Kidneys create lower blood pressure
Here is a brief explanation of other PROVEN benefits!
Seen In Animal Studies
Extended lifespan, improve health
Better insulin control, reduced nerve cell injury
Reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and CANCER
Improved immune system
Seen In Human Studies
Asthma, inflammatory markets reduces
Reduced heart rate, blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol
Slows Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Reduces inflammatory markers
Reduces risk of diabetes
Increases Human Growth Hormone (yeah!)
*While I say “reduced”, some of the reductions are HUGE. It just needs to be studied more.
Since most of my clients are usually in extreme deficient states, I normally do not press any type of fasting. I do get my healthier clients to do some intermittent fasting, but it all depends on the person. Even intermittent fasting with water for 24 hrs, can be very valuable!
If there are no KNOWN blood sugar issues (either by symptoms or blood test confirmation), then doing a 48-60 hr fast would be fairly easy to do. Those with blood sugar issues, who are wanting to cleanse their body and get more efficient with their insulin, should BE CAREFUL. Know that if you need to grab a few nuts in the middle of it, it’s OKAY. Sticking to a broth packet (like a miso soup packet), once a day would probably keep you from the ‘lying naked on the kitchen floor experience.’
My Sugar Problem Started In Childhood
People can have various form of insulin issues. Many people are pre-diabetic and just don’t know it. With age, comes a variety of metabolic factors that impact your insulin EVEN MORE. Nobody in my family is diabetic surprisingly, but I know exactly the family members that do have major blood sugar issues, severe ones. Genetically, they are doing well enough to just have symptoms of low blood sugar everyday, but I do suspect it’s impacting their overall health.
When I was a child, if I ate sugar or anything that turned to sugar fast (like cereal), I would get WILD (laughing hysterically).
I remember many car trips, acting out after lunch and having to get spanked with my hands on the trunk so that incoming traffic would see it. It didn’t hurt, it was more about humiliation I think. I don’t blame my parents because they didn’t know. Many parents don’t know that their kids are either vitamin deficient (like B vitamins and Magnesium, which can literally give a child “ADHD”) or they respond poorly to the food they are eating and need modified diets right in early childhood. I was just one of them. I did grow up in the 80s where package Little Debbie Cakes were considered “normal” food.
I don’t plan on getting diabetes EVER, but insulin problems AGE people dramatically.
I realize that while I eat well and take good supplements, one of the best things I can add into my routine to stay well, is just intermittently fasting and to get into a routine that I like, whether it be 4 days or just 24 hrs. Just the first 24 hrs of my fast, the morning I woke up and didn’t eat at all that first day, I felt more focused than I have in a while. It was pretty interesting. I plan on adding this into my routine to stave off age related problems, as being 36 is where you really start to notice how poorly you friends look!
You cannot stop age, but you can grow old gracefully. That’s what I plan on doing.