This was my life in 2016. I woke up and felt very tired. I was hoping I would feel good. After all, I slept for almost 10 hours. For months, I would struggle to go to work and feel ill almost weekly. I was not ill enough to not go to work but I was always in pain and some degree of discomfort. I was thinking this was going to last for a while but after weeks and months. I decided to go to the doctor. This did not go as I expected.
I was examined and diagnosed. I was not satisfied with the diagnosis. It was too vague. High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol. It did not mean much to mean as it did not explain the nausea and bouts of sickness I was going through. But, taking the medication did brings some relief. But, it would come and go. After some months, it really went bad and I had to go to the hospital again. I had chest pain that I took it as angina. I had to go to the teaching hospital and find out what to do. I went to the hospital and was told to take some tests. The result was that I was pre-diabetic, hypertensive and, of course, had high cholesterol. The treatment involved medication and a visit to the nutritionist. I was told that I had to change my diet and eating habits. I had to be careful on what I choose to eat and how to prepare meals. At that point, I decided I had had enough.
I listened and I knew this was not for me. I couldn’t afford the time and money to change diet and follow the new regimen. I knew I would not be able to follow the directions as they wouldn’t follow my lifestyle. And finally, I just wasn’t convinced they knew what they were talking about. I couldn’t get a second opinion. So, I took the worst advice to try. I went on the internet. I have spent too much of my life on-line watching movies, reading websites, and playing games. But as always, when I was in bind, I turned to the internet for a solution. This was obviously a bad and maybe arrogant idea. But, then again, I have history of bad life choices. So, I might as well be consistent.
My main source was YouTube and after weeks of viewing; my main interest was on diet and health. A new concept stood out: Intermittent Fasting. Fasting was always something I didn’t like. I like to comfort eat. When I am tired, I drink coke. When I am sad, I eat cake. But, I came across Dr. Jason Fung. He is a Canadian Nephrologist and runs a practice where he treats people with type 2 diabetes. Most of his patients recover from diabetes without taking medication. His main method of treatment is intermittent fasting. He focuses a lot more on the functions of the body especially how the hormones function. The main hormone insulin. Dr. Jason Fung pointed out something about insulin sensitivity. In summary, he said sugar does not cause diabetes. This was not surprising to me. But, what he made me realize was how hormones regulated the body and health. Ghrelin controlled appetite. HGH makes a person stronger and testosterone could be stimulated through fasting. This was intriguing to me as he showed how diet was more important than exercise. His books, The Diabetes Code and The Obesity Code showed the medical history that was not highlighted in the mainstream. He even went on to demonstrate how hospital food made people sicker. This took me aback a bit. But then it got worse.
I also read Nassim Taleb. He was famous because of his concept of “The Black Swan”. But, he also picks on medical dogmas that he thinks are misguided and sometimes malicious. He presented information that indicates that medical organisations take money from corporations such as Coca-Cola to spread bad information. He is also a big critic of Monsanto but that’s a topic for another day. Namely, the idea that sugar is more healthy than fat. This was easy for me to believe as many have said that. But, Nassim provides lots of supporting evidence that in my opinion, goes beyond reasonable doubt. Nassim also supports fasting which he asserts make one “Anti-fragile”. This is a concept in his book “Anti-Fragile’ that pushes some damage would be necessary to make one stronger.
There was also some other people that I watched on YouTube or followed on twitter. I found their videos very well researched and they seemed very credible. Fledge Fitness, Dr. Eric Berg, What I’ve Learned, High Intensity Health, and Found My Health are really great channels. They provide a lot of information and interview guests that a lot of information that has strong scientific backing but for some reason are not in the mainstream. The main twitter accounts that had good information was Mike Cernovich and Scott Adams. These people help give the information context and perspective.
So, with the advice of Dr. Jason Fung, Nassim Taleb, Matthew Walker (having a least 8 hours of sleep), Dr. Robert Morse (eat only raw fruit and vegetables) Dr. Ken Barry (Keto and foods that suit you), Dr. Eric Berg, I started fasting. I started with breaking the fast at 6 pm and tried to do it every day. I was taking salt water during the day but I realized that was a bad idea and stopped. I found that fasting had the additional benefits that Dr. Fung mentioned. Fasting costs less because obviously you are not eating and does not need any preparation or equipment. I also was more focused as I was not thinking about breakfast or lunch. At night, I didn’t even need to eat that much. Sometimes, I fasted for 2 days and I felt good. But, sometimes, I could take a break and eat what I like. I found this gave me a lot of flexibility and extra time. I was able to prepare and use food as a motivation not a compulsion.
A lot about fasting seems likes forbearance, hunger, some amount of pain, self-regulation and self-control. But, I think there is one thing that ties it all together and makes it easier and more manageable: Self Recovery. Most of time, it is the body that repairs itself. As opposed to medication or surgery, the body would repair and heal itself. I think it is vital to make this easier for the body to do. Fasting allows the body to full absorb and use the food that was eaten. It usually takes about 16-24 hours to do this. Given the gap in eating, the food is broken down and stored energy as fat is used through lipolysis. Lipolysis is used to mobilize stored energy during fasting or exercise. Another way is through sleep. Sleeping forms an important part of self-recovery. Deep sleep is where the tissue repair is done by the body. This is why sleeping 8 hours is key. Also, sleep helps to suppress appetite which makes fasting easier. This made it possible and easier for me to keep doing Intermittent Fasting regularly. After a year, I had to go to the hospital for a different reason. I had a boil and I had to see a doctor.
Since, it was the same hospital and I had to take the same tests, I had to see the same doctor. He looked at my results. My BP was normal, my cholesterol was normal, and all my lipids were now good. I was no more pre-diabetic. He asked whether I was still doing my fasting routine. I said yes. He said I should stop it. That’s why I don’t listen to my doctor.