It should be noted that, whilst there is a plethora of positive empirical, scientific and anecdotal data surrounding fasting, there are also those who should avoid it completely. Fasting is contraindicated for pregnant and nursing mothers, and for children, as their bodies are under increased caloric and physical demands. Additionally, those with kidney or liver diseases and medication-dependent diabetes, or other medical conditions, should consult their doctor before attempting any fast.
Extended fasting is also one to be aware of, as it can lead to undernourished glands (such as the adrenal and thyroid) and can also cause electrolyte imbalances. Last but not least, we must be very aware of who we recommend fasting to. For example, teenagers or adults that might be susceptible to body dysmorphia and/or eating disorders should not be introduced to any kind of fasting protocol.
These contraindications are important for key population niches but when applied properly and safely the benefits of fasting can be significant, extending beyond just looking good on the beach into true sustainable health benefits. However, fasting is a lifestyle strategy, not a diet dogma, so compliance and lifestyle adaptation are key, and one must find the perfect fasting strategy.
An improvement in the overall functioning of our neurological and metabolic systems is not just appealing but essential to living vibrant, healthy lives, especially given the improvements possible in mental clarity, focus and increased energy levels. The pioneering Swiss physician Dr. Paracelsus is quoted as saying, “fasting is the greatest remedy – the physician within.” Set in the context of diabetes prescriptions having skyrocketed by 80% in just a decade, Paracelsus is further endorsed by another fabulous expression, “be your best doctor,” as surely it’s time that we took responsibility for our health, considering health providers around the world spend billions each year to treat metabolic disease. Fasting is a potential opportunity to apply free medicine to ourselves, working in harmony with our physiology to restore health and vitality.