I’ve been providing monthly updates on how alternate day fasting has been going for me, but I thought it would be useful to put together all the health benefits I’ve experienced in one comprehensive blog post.
I actually would like to mention that I did not start alternate day fasting with the intention of reaping its health benefits. These were all pleasant surprises that kept revealing themselves one after the other as time progressed.
These are organized in the chronological order that I experienced or noticed them.
- Frequent urination: I had been experiencing urination in increasing frequency during the course of a year. It finally got to the point where I would urinate but ten minutes later I would feel like urinating again because it felt like there was something still left in the shaft. To my utter surprise, after 3-weeks of alternate day fasting, this condition resolved itself completely. I suspect that I was experiencing inflammation in my bladder or prostrate and that alternate day fasting helped to reduce this inflammation.
- Greasy food: I think that it is quite common for a lot of people as they age to have their stomach feel slightly “different” after eating greasy food. At least that’s what I gather from all the commercials you see on TV for stomach issues. In my case, for example, if I ate a Big Mac at McDonald’s, while I enjoyed the taste of it while eating it, about 30-minutes afterwards my stomach would know that it had just consumed something greasy and would feel “different”. In my case, this feeling was never painful or discomforting enough to warrant taking medication, but nevertheless, there was definitely a causal relationship between the greasy hamburger and how my stomach felt afterwards. After about 2-months of alternate day fasting, I noticed that this no longer happened. I can now eat greasy food without any untoward impact on my stomach. I believe that alternate day fasting has provided my intestinal tract with the necessary time without food in it to heal itself.
- Spicy food: If I ate food that was very spicy, on the way out of my system when exiting, often times my anus would burn. Once again, for me, it wasn’t terribly discomforting. The burning sensation would resolve itself within a minute or so. Nevertheless, I do believe that I began toning down the amount of spice that I consumed due to this. After several months of alternate day fasting, I noticed that this no longer happened to me. I can now eat all the spicy food my heart desires without experiencing any burning sensation whatsoever. I believe that by giving my bowels a rest every other day that the skin around my anus has healed itself.
- Food-related allergy: Over the course of a year, I noticed that I was developing a rash on my nose. At first, it was only on one side, but slowly it spread to both sides. It would come and go over the course of the day which was why I suspected that it was food-related. But as I am relatively dark-skinned and male, it never became a serious enough of an issue to drive me to visit a dermatologist. I noticed after 5-months of alternate day fasting that it was starting to get better, and then after another month, it was completely gone. I suspect that food particles were leaking out of my gut into my blood stream and causing this rash. Alternate day fasting allowed my digestive tract the time to heal itself.
- Increased energy levels: Before starting alternate day fasting, I often felt tired during the day and felt like I needed to take a nap. I should mention that I haven’t taken any caffeine for more than 20 years now. So I’m not in the habit of making it through the day with the help of bursts of caffeine. After doing alternate day fasting for several months, I realized that I no longer feel like taking mid-day naps.
- Bleeding gums: For the past 3-years, every time I brushed my teeth, a small amount of blood would be mixed in with the toothpaste when I spit it out. After 6-months of alternate day fasting, this stopped happening.
- Blood pressure: For the past 5-years, my blood pressure has been around 130/85. As far as the doctors are concerned, this is nothing to worry about, but technically it’s pre-hypertension, and given my family’s history of Type II diabetes is an indicator of an increased likelihood of myself becoming diabetic. But during the 5-year span, I was getting this high blood pressure number even when I was in really good shape, so I didn’t really have any good ideas for lowering it. Sure, I could try and lower my salt intake, but in general, my diet is already pretty clean, so I wasn’t about to change my eating habits drastically to lower my blood pressure a few points. Seven months after starting alternate day fasting, I had three opportunities to check my blood pressure on three separate machines, and I was amazed to discover that my blood pressure was now a very consistent 107/73! You can’t ask for a better blood pressure than that. This correlates perfectly with the results of scientific medical studies on alternate day fasting and its effects on blood pressure.
- Pain when flying: Throughout my life, whenever I have flown, I have always needed to take candy or chew gum or something when taking off and landing in an airplane. Even doing this, frequently I would experience quite a bit of pain in various parts of my head (temples, eyes, teeth, etc.) due to the build up of pressure in my head. It would not be uncommon for tears to be streaming down my cheeks when landing, and I would often keep my head very straight and still because the slightest movement would increase the pain dramatically. Eight months after starting alternate day fasting, I flew on three flights within a 3-week span. I did not once experience any pain or pressure whatsoever, and I didn’t take anything like chew gum or eat candy to help alleviate matters. I’m guessing that alternate day fasting has greatly reduced the inflammation in my sinuses and consequently I no longer experience the pain-triggering build up of pressure in my head.
- Weight-loss: During the first 5-months of alternate day fasting, I managed to lose 10kg. More importantly, 5-months since then, I’ve still managed to keep it off. Historically, my weight has either fluctuated up/down 10kg per year between healthy and overweight or I have been overweight the entire year. This is the first time in my adult life that I have managed to keep my weight down for such an extended period of time, albeit 10-months is not going to get me any Guinness records. But it’s a good start!
As you can see, alternate day fasting has helped alleviate a whole host of issues that I had. The length of the list almost makes me look like I was on my deathbed! But after speaking to a lot of people about my experience, I was shocked at how common some of these issues are. There are a lot of people out there experiencing the exact same issues. And they all think, just like I did, that they’re simply unavoidable by-products of ageing. I am living proof that with alternate day fasting, they don’t have to be.
Given the myriad of health benefits I have experienced due to alternate day fasting, understandably, I am now its strongest advocate. PROVIDED YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SERIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES if you have any little nagging ailments or just generally feel “off”, please, by all means, give alternate day fasting a try. The list above is a list of ailments that I had, but it’s hardly a comprehensive list of all possible ailments. Will alternate day fasting cure your ailment? I don’t know. There’s only one way to find out. But it won’t cost you anything. No pills. No doctors. No hospitals. No special supplements. In fact, you will end up saving money from buying less food and toilet paper! So what do you have to lose?
And if eating every other day seems too extreme for you, then maybe you can start with something less intimidating like 5:2 or 4:3. I would venture that ANY fasting is better than no fasting, so if diving into the deep end isn’t your style, that’s okay. There are other options. Spend some time researching the various options yourself, and do what fits your lifestyle and personality the best. Fasting is not a one size fits all endeavor, but the power to heal yourself lies within all of us. Have some faith in yourself and give your body a chance to prove it to you.