All living organisms have developed complex adaptive systems to survive within their ever-changing environments.  This includes our human biological systems, responsible for growth, repair, energy and survival.  Our human biological systems have developed these adaptive systems as a way to survive ever-changing environmental and economic conditions, including cyclical times of feast and famine.

When food was available, our biological systems adapted to burn glucose for fuel and growth.  When food was not available, our systems adapted around scarcity, deriving fuel for growth, repair and survival from our storage systems in the form of fat and protein.

Since the 1950s and ’60s, we in the western climate have not really struggled with starvation or cycles of true deprivation.  On the contrary, all too frequently our cycles of ‘plenty’ seem to stretch from one season to the next, and from one year to the next, as we have all systems in place for warmth, clothing, constant access to food, and even store credit if we’re living more hand-to-mouth.

The result is, modern life is associated with disproportionate time locked into our mTor ‘growth and repair’ genes, due to our high eating frequency, high caloric intake, sedentary lifestyles, and chronic unresolvable stressors. With not enough time spent engaging our SIRT and FOXO ‘transcription’ genes, associated with fasting, hormesis and autophagy. 

These metabolic processes are balanced, like a sea-saw, between ‘growth and re-building’ and ‘clearing out of cellular debris’ otherwise called autophagy.  Autophagy is the process of cells ‘self-devouring’; disassembling and the removal of dysfunctional components (basically recycling of cellular debris and taking out the rubbish!). The cool thing is, only those cells that are damaged in some way self-devour. Amino acids and other valuable components are liberated and re-distributed for the benefit of re-growth and repair.   

We are now finding that the chronic dysregulation of these two metabolic states is directly associated with a higher incidence of metabolic inflexibility and metabolic diseases such as hypothyroidism, obesity, cancers.  Also arthritis, general toxicity, digestive complaints including a coated tongue, adult-onset diabetes.

Fasting or intermittent fasting has been recognised and practised as a way to stave off diseases and even stymie the ageing process and entropy, heralded as the hold grail within many religious cultures, for many thousands of years. But, even without this spiritual awareness of ‘what Fasting can do for our consciousness and health’, historically we have embraced fasting as a way of life due to climatic conditions.  Even the Romans would go through cycles of Feasting and Fasting. 

In our modern world, intermittent fasting helps re-dress our modern-day imbalances of excess.  It addresses our addictions, substances that we have become habituated to, resetting homeostasis. It also resets your taste buds and makes healthy food taste so much better!

The word Metabolism comes from Greek, meaning ‘change’.  Our metabolism as two sub-categories; anabolism and catabolism.  And these two sub-categories are polar opposites of each other, that undergo a constant dance, directing the body to conduct certain metabolic functions and lead it to a certain direction: Anabolism, meaning ‘Upward’. And Catabolism, meaning ‘Downward’.

During periods of intermittent-fasting, we oscillate between periods of eating and not eating, but without malnutrition, since we can eat exactly the same amount of calories as before, just with more control over our feeding-window.  These fasts are classified as either periodic-fasts or time restricted-windows-of-eating. The benefits of which comes from our potential for mitochondrial flexibility; mediated by switching from glucose-derived energy to fatty acids and ketones for fuel whilst inactivating our nutrient-sensing pathway and Growth cycles via mTOR.  On the face of it, the system is quite simple: Fat and fatty acids support these transitions while glucose and amino acids inhibit them.

There are however many nuances to time-restricted feeding, with emphasis on our desired outcome.  When we have a focus on weight loss, then consider lower carbohydrate options for your restricted feeding windows.  When we have a focus on the cellular repair benefits; exclude the amino acids methionine and cysteine as these are particularly potent activators of the associated pathways.

For all advanced fasting plans with a specific caloric allowance, it is recommended that calories are consumed in one sitting later in the day, with a small amount of fat if needed for compliance.  Typically time-restricted feeding is when food is consumed within a set time frame each day, less than 12 hours, but preferably 10, 8 or 6 hours.

Syncing the individual’s circadian rhythm with the daily-eating-window cycles is paramount, for instance, eating the last meal of the day between 6-7pm. Dysregulation of this circadian cycle is associated with excess calorie intake and accelerated ageing.  It is important to note that any calories consumed at all during the fasting-window re-start the biological clock.  But if those calories are in the form of fat, then the benefits associated with periodic fasts continue.   

Compliance over the long term is certainly challenging, as restricted-feeding can challenge our emotional relationships with food, especially when food has been used to pacify emotions, oral fixing fore instance. Or when we struggle with biochemical imbalances that lead us to use food for addictive purposes, not for emotional pacification or numbing-out, but literally to alter the biochemical pathway that enslaves us.

There are disease states that will naturally mean fasting becomes particularly tricky.  Those who struggle with a degree of insulin resistance will also struggle with fasting, due to mitochondrial inflexibility. Insulin resistance delays the onset of the metabolic switch from glucose over to fatty acids.  This lack of mitochondrial inflexibility causes a metabolic imbalance.  Glucose and glycogen stores run low while insulin levels are relatively high so fatty acids cannot be accessed.  The typical symptom of mitochondrial inflexibility can be hunger, moodiness, and tiredness. 

Inducing Hormesis

Intermittent fasting plus engaging in some kinds of stressful activity induce cellular hormesis.  Therefore, when the person engages in high-intensity exercise, saunas or hot and cold showers for instance, during a fasted state (meaning they are nutrient bankrupt) the mechanistic result is an adaptation. If you already practice these naturopathic techniques on a regular basis, consider doing them alongside fasting.

No two people are the same, and of course, there are many contraindications.  Therefore if you are worried, do consult an experienced health care practitioner before embarking on any hormetic inducing practices. 

Examples of contraindications might be; an issue with electrolytes, or hypoglycaemia, or the person may have congestive bile flow issues which are exacerbated by fat consumption. Or there might be a parasitic infestation and their drainage pathways are congested and backing-up. Or, the person may have a chronic health condition, in which case there are bound to be at least a dozen other considerations.  Potentially, there are many steps that could be recommended prior to embarking on intermittent fasting

Any intermittent fasting that is too advanced for the individual case will ultimately be experienced as a stressor and potentially not benefit the person, but cause stress and further exacerbate health imbalances.

How do I prepare my body for a longer fast?

The first thing you want to do is to start with intermittent fasting, with a restricted feeding window.  This could be for 12, 10 or 6 hours.

Focus on hydrating the body. Most of us are chronically dehydrated without realising it:

Start drinking 2-3 cleansing drinks a day; fresh vegetable and filtered water, not distilled. Distilled water is dead water. Anyone who recommends distilled water to you has not done their research or hasn’t ever really cleansed and has never really drunk a lot of it no matter what they claim.

One issue with distilled water is that loses out on essential minerals so you must replace them with a liquid trace mineral supplement – it’s like adding a drop of ocean water.  Ocean 72 and E-Lyte are my recommendations here.  Another issue is that it will leach minerals out from your body since the water is super clean it acts like a sponge. The last that I am aware of is that it lacks life and therefore oxygen. It’s literally dead, which would bring us onto another topic, too in-depth to discuss here.  

The next thing you want to do is go on a cleansing diet, or fast, or semi-fast. Simply start cutting out all the bad things in your diet – coffee, black tea, soft drinks, junk foods, fast foods, microwaved meals, wheat bread, margarine. Also, cut out mucus-forming foods such as milk and all foods high in sugar. Obviously cut out cigarettes and any drugs that are not completely necessary, sugar-substitutes except for stevia and the occasional xylitol. Switch from table salt to Celtic sea salt or Himalayan rock salt. There is no point in cleansing if you’re just going to dump everything back in your stomach and cells

It’s also important to refrain from drama. Take a break from gossip, anger, taking-offence too easily, powerplays, covert setups which place you as the victim. Watch comedies instead of horror films, calming music instead of heavy metal and rave music for instance!

Bowel management (stomach, small and large intestine; should be done concurrently with all the other cleanses and flushes.

Kidneys; goes back to hydration, so make sure they are cleansed by getting enough fluids.  Kidneys will need particular attention after a couple of liver flushes.

Lymph management; should also be done concurrently with all the other cleanses and flushes.  Use that Dry skin brush daily! 

Liver flushes may be commenced after several weeks of bowel management and a cleansing diet. Look-out for my upcoming blogs on Enemas.

If your symptoms warrant it, you can do a parasite cleanse after your first liver flush. It’s advisable to flush the live-out at least 1-3 times before parasite cleansing so you can go into the parasite cleanse looking and feeling better than usual.

Stop cleansing if you lose too much weight or start feeling really run down since this implies that the style of fasting is to advance for your current health status.

How long should I cleanse?

The short answer is, forever.  Since detoxification is a process, rather than a programme.  One that I advocate as a way of life. 

Therefore, if you are not working with a practitioner, and since it depends on your symptoms, one idea might be that you create a symptoms list.  Update this every week, by keeping the old lists, and starting a new one.  This is a way for you to self-monitor.  You may see immediate improvements or your list may be growing longer!   Healing Crisis are extremely common.  Therefore under-going a cleanse without professional guidance usually leads to a healing crisis, of sorts. There are layers to detoxification, many layers since it is a bio-directional process, involving multi-facetted pathways.  It is not linear.  

List the actual symptom rather than the disease syndrome. For instance, instead of saying “IBS” say “bouts of diarrhoea followed by bouts of constipation.” Diarrhoea is curable, as is constipation. A syndrome is not curable. It’s just a label.

If you can’t commit to cleansing as a way of life, then if you’re under 25 and have never cleansed before, figure on doing 1-3 months of cleansing. Commit to at least a month and then re-commit if your symptoms suggest it.

If you’re over 25 but younger than 40 and have never cleansed before, commit to 3-6 months. The rest of us should commit to at least 6 months to a year. It took a lot of time for us to get out of balance, it will take time to get back into balance and vitality.

Conclusion on fasting

We were not meant to eat absolutely every single day, really. We know that tests done on single-celled organisms show us that feeding them sporadically helped them to live a staggering 50% longer than organisms fed every single day!! However, due to our individual genetic and environmental variations, an individual’s response to fasting varies considerably.  One thing we can be sure of, is the success of intermittent fasting, and how it is a delicate balance between progress ‘by creating a hormetic adaptive growth experience’ and ensuring that it is maintainable and realistic.

When done correctly, progress can be experienced both immediately, as well as an investment in our long-term health. Supporting a more optimal balance of cellular growth and repair to include normalised weight and energy, and support of healthier ageing.

When considering Chronic Fatigue, it helps to know where within our biological systems do we create energy?  And how do we create energy?

Mitochondria are rod-shaped organelles that can be considered the power generators of the cell, converting oxygen and nutrients into a substance known as Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP).

ATP is the chemical energy “currency” of the cell that powers the cell’s metabolic activities. This process is called aerobic respiration and is the reason we breathe oxygen.

Without mitochondria, humans and animals would likely not exist because we need large amounts of energy in order to survive. In fact, mitochondria enable cells to produce 15 times more ATP (energy currency) than they could otherwise.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as we have discussed is a multi-factorial health condition, with a number of imbalances contributing to the overall experience of CFS.  However mitochondrial imbalance can explain more than any other contributory factor Post Exertional Fatigue, which is a key player within differential diagnosis.

Mitochondria’s key function is the Recycling of ATP to ADP and back to ATP.

This cycle relies upon various nutrient substrates such as D Ribose, Carnitine, B3, Co-enzyme A, Co-enzyme Q10.  The role of these substrates is to move into the cell in the process of completing the important recycling metabolic process.

As the nutrients are harnessed, Adenosine Tri-Phosphate becomes Adenosine Di-Phosphate (ATP > ADP). This process actually releases energy, whilst becoming carbon dioxide and water.

Rate Limiting Factors

Firstly a deficiency in any of the substrates mentioned above create a BLOCK within the cycle.  Therefore nutrient deficiency plays into mitochondrial insufficiency.

And because Carnitine, Co-enzyme Q10, and other substrates result from a process called methylation (a biological process that will be expanded on in subsequent Blog posts), when a person under-methylates there is automatically a material deficiency regarding these substrates.

However, other things also BLOCK this cycle, like heavy metals, hair dyes, and excessive oxidative stress. Excessive oxidative stress destroys both the fatty membrane of the cells and the mitochondria itself.

Further to, there is a protein called translocator protein responsible for moving ATP and ADP from the mitochondria cell to the cytosol of the cell.  When mitochondria sense that ADP/ATP has been depleted, used up for cells function, etc, then this triggers mitochondria to produce more ATP. So this constant recycling occurs.

The key thing about those individuals who struggle with a rate-limiting factor is when they push through, meaning that they carry on doing exercise when or even in some cases just daily chores and tasks throughout their day, and they are not capable recycling the ADP to ATP then the body goes into emergency mode.  What this means is that the body then targets ADP to be broken down instead because there is not ample ATP because boundaries have been crossed.

ADP is then broken down to AMP, which is a purine and is lost to the system since it is then urinated out of the body.  Understood by leaders in the field of CFS to be a metabolic disaster.  This is where Post Exertional Fatigue comes from.  Usually, the person pushes through and can feel fine, and even feel fine the following day. But the day after that could be when they crash!!!

AMP cannot be recycled.  ADP then has to be built from scratch before it is then recycled to ATP.

However Mitochondrial function is not enough to create CFS on its own.  Rather understood a down-stream consequence of other factors. 

A key factor in how the disease is managed as well as forged is the personality type of the person.  If you are a perfectionist for instance who finds it hard to pace, then typically as soon as the person has some energy they use it up again. 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a notoriously tricky illness to pin-down.  Since CFS related health-issues tend to be serious to the degree that it can be life-altering, but they are usually not so serious that they become a classified disease like heart disease.  This is not only confusing to the sufferer but immensely frustrating too since many of the symptoms are not taken seriously by mainstream medicine.

1.  The first condition to be common among CFS sufferers is Adrenal Fatigue

Unrecognised by most General Practitioners, Adrenal Fatigue affects our energy performance.  It influences how we regulate energy via our adrenal glands, but it is not Addison’s Disease – which is a recognised disease. Adrenal Fatigue is a serious life-altering condition – but it is not Adrenal Failure.

So what tends to happen is the adrenal glands are tested with a blood test.  But because a blood test is not a sensitive enough test to pick up on adrenal dysregulation, results come back suggesting they are functioning normally.

This presents false understanding and confusion when the sufferer is experiencing low energy due to sub-optimal adrenal function, but the tests being used are not sensitive enough to pick up on the true performance.

A four-point saliva test should be provided, obtainable by private labs through the UK and overseas.  The four-point saliva test picks up on steroid hormone excretions throughout the day, tracking adaptogenic responses.  And therefore provides a clear understanding of how the adrenal glands are ‘responding’ and adapting to daily stressors.

2.  The second condition is Left Ventricular Disease

Studies release that a shocking 35% of us is said to have this condition, however, the CFS / ME sufferer will experience the downstream effects of this condition as a chronic and debilitating element of the whole CFS picture.

They may be aware that their heart feels unstable but unable to identify this through medical means since it is not classic heart disease and easily missed.

3.  The third piece to the Chronic Fatigue conundrum is the role of Gut Dysbiosis

Often present in those with Chronic Fatigue.  Gut Dysbiosis fits into the picture of both Adrenal Fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome due to the role the adrenal glands play in providing an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid (cortisol) to the body to buffer inflammation in the gut.

  • Causative factors for inflammation in the gut 
  • Food Intolerances / Virus / Toxins such as methyl-mercury / Stress

Gut Dysbiosis has a number of potential causative factors with stress, food intolerances as well as toxins such as methyl mercury trumping possible causes for. Gut Dysbiosis is chronic low-grade inflammation, however, it is not inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and therefore unrecognised by medical communities once again.

4.  The fourth mechanical issue to arise within CFS, and ties in with a performance of the heart, liver and adrenal glands are Mitochondrial dysfunction

This is not an inborn error of the mitochondria, however, it is an inherited epigenetic malfunction.  What that means is that due to the environment the mitochondria has been presented within, the functionality of mitochondria is reduced.  The trouble is, when there is a poor mitochondrial function, then everything else in the body is affected.  But in particular, the function of the heart and liver since this is where mot mitochondria reside.

  • Nutrients which positively support Mitochondria Function / Krebs Cycle
  • D-Ribose / L-Carnitine / B3 (NAD) / Co-enzyme A / Co-enzyme Q10

What causes mitochondrial breakdown?

Crisps, rancid fats, hydrogenated oils, poor nutrient profile, toxic metals blocking biochemical pathways and oxidative stress.

5.  The fifth area of health which has more studies relating to CFS than any other area is Nitric Oxide and Oxidative Stress

Within the central nervous system and under normal conditions, Nitric Oxide (NO) is an important physiological signalling molecule, however when produced in large excess Nitric Oxide also displays neurotoxicity and is a risk to heart health.

Nitric Oxide has been found to be excessively high in Chronic Fatigue Sufferers and is seen in conjunction with risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

6.  The sixth element of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is observable Inflammation

Inflammation is present but it is not a classifiable Auto-immune Disease.

7.  The seventh component of this complex condition is the presence of low-grade infections

Usual infections often present in CFS sufferers

Epstein Bar / HHV6 / Enteroviruses / Cytomegalo viruses / Parvovirus B19 / Retrovirus

Co-infections often present in CFS sufferers

Mycoplasma / Chlamydia / Chronic Borrelia / Bucella / Rickettsia / Babesia 

All together we can view this complex condition as a disease of compromised milieu. Triggered by increased cellular stresses such as toxic heavy metals, infections, and emotional stressors.

Strengthening the milieu / biological terrain interior will help to de-activate the viruses present.

8.  Finally, the eighth piece in this Chronic Fatigue quandary is the emotional status of the CFS sufferer

It is interesting to note that Chronic Fatigue patients tend to fall in three main personality categories known as energy-depleting psychology types.

  • The Achiever Perfectionism Type
  • Anxiety Type
  • The Helper Type

There can also be a genetic or epigenetic predisposition element to our stress responses to emotional trauma. Meaning that this can be either genetically inherited or genetically learned behaviour.  And then the condition/illness itself perpetuates further trauma in the sufferer as there is a constant fear of becoming ill.  Other behaviours feed into this cycle such as avoidance of certain foods and situations that they believe will make their condition worse.

Each category will be expanded upon within subsequent posts in the coming weeks.