Fasting / Calorie Restriction Diet for Weight Loss & Cleanse

Fasting / Calorie Restriction Diet for Weight Loss & Cleanse

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Fasting / Calorie Restriction Diet for Weight Loss & Cleanse -- Page 2
Reprinted by permission from Bill Faloon of The Life Extension Foundation

Food Transitioning On and Off a Fast
Two days prior to initiating the fast, a short cleansing diet (of only raw fruits and vegetables) is recommended.  Caution must be exercised when breaking a fast.  The benefits of a fast are lost by bingeing on unhealthy fast and processed foods.  The main rule in breaking a fast is not to overeat.  Take several days to transition to a normal diet.  Initially, rely upon a small apple, a piece of melon, nectarine, or pineapple for breakfast and a small bowl of fresh vegetable soup (from raw vegetables) for lunch.  Continue with fresh juices and broths for dinner or eight ounces of any fruit.  The second day, add soaked prunes or figs, additional apples, and a fresh garden salad.  The third day, include a cup of yogurt and a few finely ground nuts.  Increase the size of salad servings and include a boiled or baked potato.  A slice of whole grain bread and a serving of cheese with soup is appropriate for the evening meal.  Eat slowly and chew your food well.  The fourth day, return to normal eating, but try to incorporate as many healthy foods as possible into your diet (Airola 1977; Murray, 1991).

Is Fasting Safe?
Professionals who supervise fasts unequivocally state that a juice fast is not only the most effective healing method available, but also the safest.

There are certain people who should not fast and others who should only fast under the close supervision of a physician.  Children, still forming bone and teeth, are not candidates for fasts nor are pregnant and lactating women.  According to the Fasting Center International, if the patient has advanced cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, or cardiovascular disease, a fast should be undertaken only on the advice and direction of a competent medical doctor (FCI, 2003).  Individuals with hypoglycemia should never fast without using a protein supplement.  Spirulina (a microalgae that produces 20 times as much protein as soybeans is a popular choice (Balch et al. 1997).

Taking Medications and Nutritional Supplements
Medications are usually withdrawn during a fast, but exceptions occur as in medications for a heart condition.  A physician should make the decision regarding the use of medications during a fast.  Typically, supplements are not used, but again exceptions arise.  Certain health conditions may require support with appropriate supplementation.  Even though juices provide numerous nutrients, some physicians recommend use of an abbreviated list of vitamins and minerals for elderly fasters (Airola 1977; Balch et al. 1997).

Most fasters report darker urine and a catarrhal elimination of excess mucus (the condition is referred to as rhinorrhea or a free discharge of thin, watery nasal fluid).  This occurs during the days of solid food abstinence.  Others report a coated tongue, nausea, insomnia, or feelings of anxiety.

If detoxification occurs too rapidly, allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream quicker than they can be eliminated, a healing crisis can occur (Herxheimer's reaction).  The released toxins can either exacerbate the symptoms being treated or create their own symptoms such as headaches, body ache, joint pain, dizziness, sweating, general malaise, sore throat, nausea, and/or flu-like symptoms.  Although the experience is not pleasant, Herxheimer's reaction is actually a sign of healing.  The approach to Herxheimer's reaction is to go slowly.  If a healing crisis occurs, reduce the cleansing regimen, allowing the body to detoxify.  Unpleasant symptoms subside rather quickly, allowing the individual to continue with normal activities.  The classic response to a fast is a feeling of euphoria (high energy, clarity of thought, and an exuberant spirit).

The "Swedish Fast Marches" were a great scientific success.  All of the participants in the marches (1954, 1964) walked 325 miles over 10 days without solid food.  The marches clearly showed humans can live for an extended period without food, and participate in strenuous physical activity while fasting.  It was observed that serum albumin levels remained constant, as did blood sugar levels, even though no protein was consumed over the course of the 10-day march.  Body protein is in a dynamic state of catabolism and anabolism.  When old or diseased cells are decomposed, the amino acids are simply recycled to build young, healthy cells (Airola 1977).

The human body has an incredible capacity for healing and longevity; an innate intelligence more powerful than any drug or surgeon's knife.  All the body needs is the latitude to accomplish this and fasting grants that freedom (Meyerowitz 1999).

Scientific Opinions are Seldom Undisputed
Opponents challenge the concept of fasting.  They contend that it is akin to starvation.  Some researchers assert that a fast will not cleanse your body of toxins, that there is no evidence the body needs internal cleansing, nor that the digestive system needs to rest.  The digestive system is quite efficient at cleansing itself and ridding the body of waste materials.  The notion that stagnation and decay in the colon produce toxins that poison the body is an ancient concept that has been long ago discredited (UCB, 2002).  Total fasting does result in a rapid initial weight loss, but most of the loss is fluid, rather than fat.  As the fast continues, you lose body fat, but also considerable muscle (including heart muscle) and minerals.  Depending upon the duration of the fast, the muscle and mineral loss can reach dangerous proportions.  Few people who actually lose weight via a fast maintain their loss once they renew eating habits.  An individual in good health can undergo a 24-hour fast without danger.  Beyond a day or two, fasting can cause fatigue, headaches, irritability, nausea, low blood pressure, and problems with heart rhythms.  It is especially hazardous for anyone with a chronic illness such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, to undergo a fast.

CRON (Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition)

Note: Because of the parallel between the two models, fasting and calorie restriction are presented in the same protocol.

Claims that various nutritional interventions can extend life span are manifold, but some have greater credibility than others.  Gerontologists agree that Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition (CRON) offers the greatest likelihood of succeeding.

The concept of restricting calories to improve health was first introduced in the early 1900s, but the theory was advanced (1930s) when it was found that calorie-restricted rats lived longer than those allowed to eat ad libitum.  Although decades have passed since these initial findings, the mechanisms whereby dietary restriction retards aging and extends life span are not fully understood.  Data suggests that calorie-restricted rodents lived longer and aged more slowly because they were more resistant to stress and their cells were protected against damaging agents (Van Remmen et al. 2001).

Some substantiation of CRON was demonstrated by the BioSphere II experiment which imposed a calorie-restricted diet for two years.  The eight people averaged 1800 calories per day during the first 6 months, 2200 calories per day at the end of 2 years.  Body weight dropped 15%, blood sugar dropped 20%, blood cholesterol dropped 38%, blood pressure dropped 30/27% (systolic/diastolic); and white blood cell count dropped 24% (Walford 1988, 1994; Best 1995).  The results were consistent with animal studies.

Calorie-restricted monkeys weighed less, had less body fat, exhibited lower temperatures, lower fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, and increased insulin sensitivity.  The monkeys had lower blood pressure, reduced triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and increased levels of HDL-2B (low of HDL-2B is associated with cardiovascular disease in humans) (Lane et al. 1999).

From an evolutionary point of view, many of the observed effects of CRON make sense.  When food is abundant, an animal grows large, matures quickly, and reproduces.  When food is scarce, less energy is devoted to growth, basal metabolism, or reproductive capacity.  Energy is maintained for muscular action, which is most important for survival.  Adult male rats with 50% caloric restriction show a 42% drop in serum testosterone and a 29% drop in luteinizing hormone (LH).  Female adult rats also show a drop in LH, but follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) increases.  Puberty is delayed in males and females, and fertility is reduced after puberty.  However, irregularities in estrus cycles were correctable by increased feeding (Best 1995).

Prior attempts to apply CRON to adult animals often did not succeed, and resulted in a shorter life span, if the restrictions were applied too rapidly.  CRON produces the greatest extension of life span when started just before puberty, but the result is a smaller sized animal.  Applying CRON just after maturity, it was possible to achieve 90% of the extension of life span without stunted growth.  If applicable to humans, a 60% calorie restriction could produce a 50% increase in life expectancy from whatever age the program is begun.  A 10% caloric restriction could produce approximately a 25% increase in life expectancy.  Dr. Walford believes that even a person between the ages of 50 and 60 could experience a 10- to 15-year life extension with CRON (Walford 1988, 1994; Best 1995; Bozhkov 2001).

Animal Studies Yield Valuable Data
The CRON theory has been studied mostly in lower species, but the underlying principle has been extended to include long-lived primates.  A 30% caloric reduction in rhesus monkeys living in captivity began in 1987; the species can live to about 40 years old.  Rhesus monkeys and humans are very similar genetically, sharing a genome that is more than 90% identical (Divett 1998).  The study demonstrated that calorie restriction decreased body weight and fat mass, improved glucoregulatory function, and decreased blood pressure, blood lipids, and body temperature.  Juvenile males exhibited delayed skeletal and sexual maturation and were able to overcome an age-associated decline in dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and melatonin normally seen with aging.  Bone mass was unaffected.  Because 81% of the monkeys are still alive, it is possible that calorie restriction had beneficial effects on morbidity and mortality (Mattison et al. 2003).

Mice studies are valuable in assessing therapies to increase life span.  Different strains of mice live longer than others, but murine life spans are measured in months rather than years.  The SAMP8 mouse (genetically prone to undergo accelerated aging) has a life span of 12 months.  Few people will derive useful information that might extend their life spans while awaiting data from decades of primate studies.  Researchers have been able to extend the life span of some strains of mice to 45 months from 32 months.  Calorie restriction has been shown in other studies to increase maximum life span to 53 months from 40 months.

The overall incidence of tumor formation was 78% in the control group vs 38% in the calorie-restricted group.  Mice consuming fewer calories stayed younger longer as judged by many age-sensitive biologic parameters of immune system aging, eye & and lens proteins, liver enzyme activities, and learning/behavioral patterns.  Because calorie restriction can restrain the diseases of aging, maintain health and youthfulness in animals at advanced ages, and extend maximum life span (to the equivalent of 160 human years), calorie restriction is acknowledged as a valid way of slowing aging in mammals (Weindruch et al. 1986; Kent 2003; UW-Madison Institute on Aging 2003).

Scientists are searching for quicker methods (or surrogate, biomarkers of aging) for measuring the rate of aging in humans.  Because genes control every aspect of biological life (including health, senescence, and longevity) and caloric restriction extends healthy life spans, a rational approach to finding biomarkers of aging is to compare gene expression in normal aging animals with gene expression in calorie-restricted animals.  The use of high-density DNA microarrays (gene chips) to rapidly detect the expression in up to 6347 genes at once, revealed that genetic changes associated with aging were reversible by calorie-restriction (Lee et al. 1999).

Scientists at BioMarker Pharmaceuticals, a company funded by The Life Extension Foundation, determined that the positive responses of animals on calorie restriction are much quicker than first theorized (after studying over 12,000 genes).  It was previously thought that calorie restriction would have to be applied over the lifetime of the animal to be of significant advantage.  Instead, it was determined that 70% of the changes in gene expression caused by two years of calorie-restriction occurred in only 2-4 weeks after placing mice on a calorie-restricted diet.

Biomarker scientists established that senior rodents realized a 40% extension of life span on a calorie-restricted diet; accordingly, rodents of all ages are candidates for extension of life through caloric restriction.  BioMarker scientists found that some genes showed increased expression (including genes associated with inflammation and stress), while others revealed decreased activity as the animals aged.  A single gene can control life span affecting the timing of systemic and cellular aging processes in mammals, indicating that only a few pivotal genes may be intricately involved in longevity.

For example, unlike calorie-restricted mice, long-lived Snell dwarf mice can eat all they want, became obese, and exhibit higher levels of a fat-tissue-derived hormone: leptin.  The Pit1 gene produces dwarfism in Snell dwarf mice secondary to pituitary deficiencies of thyroid hormone, growth hormone (GH), and prolactin.  It is possible life extension may relate to deficiencies of one or more of these hormones.  A deficiency in growth hormone (hGH) may account for most of the longevity [recall that insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is produced in response to GH] (Premo 2001; Kent 2003).  To read more about IGF-1, consult The Effects of Calorie Restriction, IGF-1, and Leptin.

When the exact genes that govern aging are pinpointed, scientists will be able to target those genes, the proteins they produce, and the biologic mechanisms they affect in order to develop new drugs and therapies to slow aging, prevent disease, and extend a healthy life span.  (The screening techniques used at BioMarker to assay anti-aging drugs are 25 times faster than any other methods presently used.)  The current best estimate of the number of genes in the human body is 24,847.  Many scientists think the estimated gene tally will eventually rise, perhaps to above 30,000 (Pearson 2003).

Calorie Restriction and Oxidative Stress
Accumulating evidence strongly suggests that oxidative stress underlies the aging process.  Senescence can be forestalled by calorie restriction that may work through an anti-oxidative mechanism.  An imbalance in reduction-oxidation reactions (redox) occurring during the aging process may be minimized through the anti-oxidative action of calorie restriction (Cho et al. 2003).  Animals chronically calorie-restricted had limited oxidative stress as evidenced by the rapid recovery in glutathione levels in previously hypoxic heart muscle.  The kappa-B-responsive cytokines (interleukin-1-B and tumor necrosis factor-a) were transiently expressed in the calorie-restricted group, but persisted in the control group.  The expression of manganese superoxide dismutase, a key antioxidant enzyme, was delayed in the group receiving unlimited calories.  These data indicate that calorie restriction significantly reduces myocardial oxidative stress and the post-ischemic inflammatory responses (Chandrasekar et al. 2001; Sreekumar et al. 2002).

Calorie Restriction and Dementia
Researchers evaluated the effect of dietary restriction on oxidative stress in mice allowed to eat normally or only 60% of normal caloric intake.  Basal metabolic rates were lowered by 15-22% and lipofuscin (age spots), a product of free radical damage, was reduced by 16% in calorie-restricted mice.  The amount of superoxide radical was lowered 45%.  There was a marked improvement in graded scores of senescence.  Neurotransmitters (acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) levels were increased following dietary restriction.  The generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the brain decreased by 20%.  Monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B), an enzyme that increases oxidative deamination (catabolism) of neurotransmitters in the brain, was suppressed 7-10%.  These results suggest that dietary restriction inhibited oxidative stress and plays a role in reducing the age-related changes observed in dementia (Choi et al. 2000; Kim et al. 2000).

Monoamine oxidase is a source of H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide).  Free hydroxyl radicals, one of the most potent of all radicals, are produced from H2O2 and oxygen reactions along with gamma rays from low-wavelength electromagnetic radiation.  These reactions contribute significantly to the aging process and underscore the free radical theory of aging.

It has been determined that certain proteins, linked to brain cell death, naturally increase with age, but were reduced in calorie-restricted rats.  Levels of a protein that protects against neuronal death doubled in old rats whose calories were restricted by 40% (UF 2002).  Individuals with the APOE epsilon 4 gene (associated with Alzheimer's disease), whose calorie consumption was the highest, had 2.3 times the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than did those with the gene who consumed the least calories (Luchsinger et al. 2002).  These findings have significant implications for approximately four million people in the United States afflicted with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

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