Scientists and healthcare professionals are starting to shine a light on the importance of the composition of our gut microbiome, or the population of “healthy” bacteria in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. According to research studies, abnormal or excess amounts of gut bacteria can be one of the most common causes of a variety of digestive health issues, including SIBO and IBS. Our ancestors have included fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut as an important part of their traditional diet to regulate and manage the composition of their “healthy” bacteria: the gut microbiome.
Finding ways to naturally improve our digestive health by maintaining a “healthy” probiotic profile has been a popular topic for many generations. As a result, eating fermented foods like those previously listed above, including other food groups with additional probiotics, and taking probiotic supplements has tremendously increased in popularity in recent years. Another way to naturally improve digestive health that has recently become more popular is fasting, strategic abstinence or reduction from several or all foods for a certain period of time. Fasting can ultimately help improve overall digestive health.
Fasting can help support the healthy composition of our gut microbiome and it can be used as a treatment approach for a variety of conditions and diseases, such as headaches, migraines, eczema, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. Scientists and healthcare professionals have determined that fasting can stress the human body in a beneficial way. This stress benefits the healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract because it helps activate autophagy or the natural cellular detoxification process. In the following article, we will discuss how fasting and autophagy can promote digestive health.
Fasting and Autophagy Overview
Our gastrointestinal (GI) tract can often have a difficult job trying to repair our cells while sweeping undigested debris away to eliminate as waste because many people are constantly eating throughout the entire day. Many people are completely against the idea of fasting, or willingly skipping one or two meals per day, despite its benefits towards our digestive health. Because there are a variety of different methods and techniques for fasting, many people can follow this strategic way of eating and still take advantage of all its digestive health benefits. Fasting, however, may ultimately not be for everyone.
Historically, many religious and spiritual practices used fasting as an important element in their culture to promote overall digestive health. There are currently a wide variety of fasting methods and techniques that are used to support natural well-being. Moreover, the treatment benefits of fasting are now being readily recognized in numerous research studies. The different types of fasting can ultimately vary from eating very little or nothing for a certain amount of time to drinking only water for a specific period of time, occasionally for up to five days, as a way to naturally improve digestive health.
Intermittent fasting, a strategic way of eating that follows switching between unrestricted eating and restricted eating for a certain period of time, is one of the most common and practical fasting approaches for everyone. Scientists consider intermittent fasting to be safe and effective because you only go without eating any food for short periods of time. Research studies have demonstrated that using intermittent fasting for a total of 16 hours every day is enough to create the caloric restriction necessary to experience the benefits of fasting as well as to activate autophagy to help restore digestive health.
The 5:2 diet is the strategic way of eating where a person consumes an average diet for five days and then greatly reduces their consumption of food to one-quarter of that of their normal diet for the other two days of the week. Every fasting approach is different but the purpose of abstinence or reduction from foods is to give our gut microbiome a break from digestion so they can focus on repairing our cells while sweeping undigested debris and excess bacteria away to eliminate as waste. Research studies suggest that the 16:8 diet may be the simplest fasting method or technique for people to follow.
How Fasting and Autophagy Support Digestive Health
Our pancreas commonly triggers the release of glucagon when we have low blood glucose while the release of insulin is triggered to help reduce high blood glucose levels. Insulin decreases and glucagon increases during fasting which has been demonstrated to help promote improved metabolism as well as provide energy, mood changes, and weight loss. Fasting also helps promote the “healthy” composition of our gut microbiome or the population of “healthy” bacteria in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Scientists have associated fasting with the activation of the gene that supports overall digestive health.
Optimal digestive health and “healthy” gut bacteria are important to help protect us from abnormal or excess bacteria, toxins, and other compounds that can trigger the immune system. Finally, fasting can help restore the integrity of the intestinal lining by managing inflammation that can ultimately help protect the human body against the variety of conditions and diseases associated with inflammation. The main benefit of fasting is that it can increase autophagy or the natural cellular detoxification process. With fasting, your gut health improves and you reduce your risk for a variety of digestive health issues.
Fasting is a well-known, strategical way of eating which can have a variety of digestive health benefits for many people. Many people can tremendously benefit from fasting. Fasting can activate autophagy, or the natural cellular detoxification process, to help sweep excess bacteria and undigested food debris away for elimination as waste, also activating anti-inflammatory processes to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. However, it’s important to keep in mind that fasting may not be for everyone. Make sure to talk to a qualified and experienced doctor before attempting any fasting approaches. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
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Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
- “The Impact of Fasting on Your Microbiome.” Naomi Whittel, 12 Mar. 2019, http://www.naomiwhittel.com/the-impact-of-fasting-on-your-microbiome/.
Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain
Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.
Neural Zoomer Plus for Neurological Disease
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate neurological diseases. The Neural ZoomerTM Plus is an array of neurological autoantibodies which offers specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus is designed to assess an individual’s reactivity to 48 neurological antigens with connections to a variety of neurologically related diseases. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus aims to reduce neurological conditions by empowering patients and physicians with a vital resource for early risk detection and an enhanced focus on personalized primary prevention.
Food Sensitivity for the IgG & IgA Immune Response
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate health issues associated with food sensitivities. The Food Sensitivity ZoomerTM is an array of 180 commonly consumed food antigens that offers very specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. This panel measures an individual’s IgG and IgA sensitivity to food antigens. Being able to test IgA antibodies provides additional information to foods that may be causing mucosal damage. Additionally, this test is ideal for patients who might be suffering from delayed reactions to certain foods. Utilizing an antibody-based food sensitivity test can help prioritize the necessary foods to eliminate and create a customized diet plan around the patient’s specific needs.
Gut Zoomer for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate gut health associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). The Vibrant Gut ZoomerTM offers a report that includes dietary recommendations and other natural supplementation like prebiotics, probiotics, and polyphenols. The gut microbiome is mainly found in the large intestine and it has more than 1000 species of bacteria that play a fundamental role in the human body, from shaping the immune system and affecting the metabolism of nutrients to strengthening the intestinal mucosal barrier (gut-barrier). It is essential to understand how the number of bacteria that symbiotically live in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract influences gut health because imbalances in the gut microbiome may ultimately lead to gastrointestinal (GI) tract symptoms, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, immune system imbalances, and multiple inflammatory disorders.
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