Fasting – Part 2


Intermittent fasting is thought to promote weight loss, improve metabolic health and improve overall wellbeing. 

Apart from weight loss, fasting can be used as a means to reduce inflammation inflammation and improve chronic inflammatory diseases. Acute inflammation is a normal immune response and usually short-lived, but chronic inflammation can have serious consequences for health, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Studies have shown that caloric restriction can improve inflammatory and autoimmune diseases by reducing the release of pro-inflammatory cells called monocytes in the blood circulation. These cells go into “sleep mode” and are less inflammatory than the monocytes found in those who are continuously fed. Since monocytes are highly inflammatory immune cells, they can cause serious tissue damage, which is a direct result of eating habits that humans have acquired in recent years.

The majority of chronic diseases we face in this day and age are lifestyle related diseases so there is definitely a place for fasting. 

The digestive system is an organ that never gets rest because we are eating all the time. Intermittent fasting, however, provides a way for the digestive system to rest and can be beneficial if done properly.

There are many ways to implement intermittent fasting. Since each person is different, there is not a one-size-fits all approach. 

Here are six different methods:

  • The 16/8 method – this involves fasting for 16 hours per day and eating in an eight-hour window. There is still enough time to eat three, healthy meals and it can be implemented by simply skipping breakfast or supper. Women tend to do better with shorter fasts so they should ideally only fast for 14 – 15 hours. Water, coffee, tea, bone broth and other zero-calorie beverages can be consumed during the fast period which can help to reduce hunger.
  • The 5:2 diet – this involves eating normally for 5 days and week and restricting one’s calorie intake to 500 calories per day for women and 600 calories per day for men for the other two days.
  • Eat, Stop, Eat – this involves fasting from dinner time one day to dinner the next day, which equates to a full 24 hour fast. As with the other plans, water, coffee, tea, bone broth and other zero-calorie beverages can be consumed during the fast period which can help to reduce hunger. On eating days there should be no calorie reduction, but a healthy eating plan should be followed.
  • Alternate day fasting – this is the same as the plan above but done consistently over a longer period of time. This is not particularly sustainable and, in my opinion, not very good for overall wellbeing.
  • The Warrior diet – this involves eating small amounts of fruit and vegetables during the day and only one large meal at night.
  • Spontaneous meal skipping – this is unstructured and intermittent. This is what many of us do if we don’t feel like eating or have been too busy to prepare a meal. Skipping a meal here and there is not harmful and can still have its benefits.

Fasting is not recommended for anyone who is underweight, pregnant or breastfeeding, or for children under the age of 18. If you are diabetic it is recommended that you check with your health practitioner before fasting.

Fasting doesn’t work for everyone and in some individuals, if done too regularly, can slow their metabolism, which can cause them to gain weight or to struggle to lose weight when they eat “normally” again. Ideally, we should all be following a healthy, balanced eating plan that is sustainable over the long-term, so even when doing intermittent fasting, the type of food being consumed during the eating period is important.

For people who are unable to do any type of fasting, sticking to smaller portions of healthy food can be just as beneficial.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 23 February 2023 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am