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The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain

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05 Jan 2011 01:06 - 05 Jan 2011 01:32 #5555 by david
david created the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
This topic is a tough one to formulate but I will try my best. Today when I broke my fast on herbal tea and honey, I couldn't help noticing the radical difference it made to my mood. Firstly while on my 70 hour dry fast at no time did I experience the devitalized sensation characteristic of a three day (or longer) water fast. ( my energy was low and sluggish but it did not feel as though the brain current had been switched off) But on day 4 when I transitioned to water it hit me mid morning, my energy was at a very low ebb, and it felt as if my brain was ticking over on energy save mode, resulting in a feeling which I and so many of us experience during a water fast.

I would love to get to the bottom of this as I found as soon as I had just a minimal amount of sugar in the system the brain-in no time at all- was firing on all 6 cylinders again. I felt optimistic, creative, energized etc. Based on this observation I guess we can rule out toxins being an underlying cause of this devitalized 'limbo' state and examine more closely the effects of hypoglycemia on the sugar starved brain. If we could get a better grasp of this, we may be able come up with a workaround. I am guessing that it is not the whole brain that causes this forlorn feeling, but rather the lymbic system or the prefrontal cortex? If so, is there any method which would be acceptable within the margins of naturopathy, to artificially 'jump start' those affected areas of the brain during the most challenging phase of the fast?

The upside to this would be a greater success rate in completing the fast. But this may involve introducing minute sugar dosages at strategic intervals during the fast designed to salvage the brain from entering a starved state. I am aware that what I am saying goes against the Holy Grail of fasting from a Natural Hygienist's point of view, but at least I hope that it will trigger some ideas as to possible remedies. Although I propose sugar as the answer, there are many types of sugars - some more friendly than others, and there are neural pathways which link into those parts of the brain which cause what I have termed the 'fasting syndrome' can those pathways be tapped into in a way which could assist those dedicated fasters without debilitating the fast? Or is it a case that the body will adjust to a lack of blood sugar once it has clocked up enough fasting hours?

I forgot to add, does anyone know if 'the fasting syndrome' is only caused by low blood sugar levels in the brain or can it also be hormonal? i.e. dopamine, seratonin, oxytocin etc

Would really appreciate your feedback.

David

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05 Jan 2011 01:55 #5556 by TheFastDoctor
TheFastDoctor replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
Interesting post, David..

I still think "toxins" may be involved: As soon as you take in a carbohydrate like sugar, the need to break down fat to produce ketones to energize the brain disappears. Thus no more toxins are released from the fat.

But at the same time, the system is running largely on ketones, then suddenly receives a bit of sugar, thus it now have a "double supply" of energy. This could explain the almost euphoric experience you describe. This is also one reason I promote the weekly fast.. keep both main energy sources active.

Hormones likely play a role, in particular the "adrenalin" type: Noradrenalin, Serotonin, Dopamine, etc.. all of which is released when the blood sugar drops. They do, after all, help increase the blood sugar again as part of the homeostatic mechanisms.. and they are known to reverse depression, as does Growth Hormone and Cortizone, both of which are also relased when blood sugar drops.

Overall, I believe it's about the delicate and very individual balance affecting each person differently.

André

All my posts are "generic", based on my opinions and experiences only and are not intended to replace the advice of your own licensed medical practitioner.
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05 Jan 2011 03:02 - 05 Jan 2011 12:41 #5557 by david
david replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
Thank you for that Doctor so we have at least 3 variables to explore.

1. Toxins: If this is the main cause with consistent weekly fasting one will be able gauge the difference after a period of time. i.e. after a period the 'devitelized' effect would become less obvious. One could also experiment with a ketogenic diet for a period to see how the brain energymetabolism reacts to body produced ketones and diet produced ketones.

2. Same with the "Dual Fuel" sugar rush: Refining our understanding of how the brain metabolises different sugar types and ketones. Can the "dual fuel high" effect be prolonged. Here one could experiment with breaking a fast on lower glycemic short chain sugars such as yacon root or any one of the other 8 essential sugars.
Or dieting on mostly water with a little low glycemic sugar drink. Also do some sugars combine better with ketones? By this I mean do they slow down the 'switching' mechanism? (just juggling with ideas)

3. Reading up on sugar regulating hormones and the role they play during a fast. And also getting a better handle on how the hormones which serve to break down body fat affect the overall body chemistry.

I look forward to continuing this thread.

Very useful link to understanding essential sugars: www.veryveryvegan.com/essential-sugars/8...rs-by-david-wolfe-jd

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05 May 2013 15:24 #16557 by moises
moises replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
This article suggests a paradoxical possible solution to the intriguing problem raised by David.

I won't post a long list of links, but there is a growing body of research demonstrating that rinsing one's mouth with glucose--without swallowing or absorbing it [as measured by blood glucose levels]--increases both one's self-control and physical endurance.

So, it is conceivable that David could satisfy two seemingly conflicting desires--continue fasting and have mental clarity and energy--by using the glucose solution rinse.

I recognize that this is paradoxical, but I would propose that it would be better to rinse with the glucose than to swallow small amounts of it each day. Of course, I might be wrong. The only way to tell would be test it, which I haven't done.

One risk might be that the increase to self-control and energy would not be sufficient to overcome the increase in temptation to swallow the sweet-tasting solution.
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05 May 2013 16:31 #16559 by TheFastDoctor
TheFastDoctor replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
Indeed an interesting concept Moises. We do accept of course that swishing around some glucose in the mouth will lead to absorption of at least a portion into the blood. That per se would not induce a termination of the fasting metabolism though as your body makes some glucose from fat anyway. But by not swallowing it, the intestine remains in fasting mode. The only problem is that the TASTE in the mouth may signal the digestive tract to start making digestive juices which could be irritating its wall and stimulate hunger.

André

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05 May 2013 19:03 #16562 by david
david replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
moises you get full marks for ingenuity :) I do appreciate your workaround.

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07 May 2013 15:39 #16592 by kaypeeoh
kaypeeoh replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
Diabetic dogs in trouble may need an infusion of glucose. The quickest way for the owner is to rub syrup on his gums. The sugar is absorbed into the blood quickly. So rinsing your mouth with sugar water will cause some absorption. I think it makes it harder to break carbohydrate addiction though.

kpo

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26 Jun 2013 00:24 - 26 Jun 2013 00:25 #17241 by MarcM
MarcM replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
David,
My Dr. reccomended if I hit a wall (loss of energy or cognitive ability) and my bloodwork was still good, rather than stop the fast, to have a small amount of organic vegatable broth. It has helped me. Its not a rush but it does provide me some energy and an increased ability to focus.

Accept yourself as you are. Otherwise you will never see opportunity. You will not feel free to move toward it; you will feel you are not deserving.

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27 Jun 2013 22:33 #17279 by kaypeeoh
kaypeeoh replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
In the past if I got weak I would use the flavor packet in a Ramen Noodle bag then throw out the noodles. Dissolved in hot water it was filling, at least psychologically. Not enough calories to cancel ketosis.

kpo

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05 Jul 2013 08:55 #17460 by bettyxblue
bettyxblue replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain

kaypeeoh wrote: In the past if I got weak I would use the flavor packet in a Ramen Noodle bag then throw out the noodles. Dissolved in hot water it was filling, at least psychologically. Not enough calories to cancel ketosis.

kpo


This is a great idea - I have an important day of client meetings in the middle of my longer fast and worried about being too weak and unable to concentrate - I might try this. Did it not make you feel really hungry again? I would be frightened of ending the fast too soon.

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05 Jul 2013 13:27 - 05 Jul 2013 13:28 #17470 by Ockeghem
Ockeghem replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
When I am not fasting, Ramen Noodles are one of my favorite things to eat every now and then. I only use a quarter or a half of a packet though, as the salt content is very high.

Betty,

I would think that eating anything would trigger hunger in our bodies, but perhaps we're designed differently so that some people can handle it. I know that I cannot, so I refrain from eating anything (even an ounce of food) when fasting.

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05 Jul 2013 14:01 #17473 by kaypeeoh
kaypeeoh replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
A lot of hunger is habit. Once I've ingested something, ramen flavoring for instance, I've satisfied the habit. For me, the hunger pangs go away til the next mealtime. Just the convention of taking five minutes to sit and sip my cup of "soup flavoring" is enough for my brain to feel I've satisfied the body's needs. The ingredients include sugar. It could be that small amount of sugar is what fools the brain.

kpo

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05 Jul 2013 15:36 #17478 by bettyxblue
bettyxblue replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
I think with me I wouldn't be able to keep up the fast. After a 2 day fast, i was desperate to taste something and I ate a singular green grape. Before I knew it I had my head in the fruit basket.

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05 Jul 2013 16:13 #17479 by kaypeeoh
kaypeeoh replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain

bettyxblue wrote: I think with me I wouldn't be able to keep up the fast. After a 2 day fast, i was desperate to taste something and I ate a singular green grape. Before I knew it I had my head in the fruit basket.



BTDT, many times. Just to satisfy taste, maybe some diet soda rather than solid food?

kpo

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05 Jul 2013 16:54 - 05 Jul 2013 16:55 #17482 by Ockeghem
Ockeghem replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain

bettyxblue wrote: I think with me I wouldn't be able to keep up the fast. After a 2 day fast, i was desperate to taste something and I ate a singular green grape. Before I knew it I had my head in the fruit basket.


Betty,

So, would it be safe to say that in this instance you were ... a basket case? ;)

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05 Jul 2013 20:42 #17489 by margoS
margoS replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain

Ockeghem wrote: When I am not fasting, Ramen Noodles are one of my favorite things to eat every now and then. I only use a quarter or a half of a packet though, as the salt content is very high.

Betty,

I would think that eating anything would trigger hunger in our bodies, but perhaps we're designed differently so that some people can handle it. I know that I cannot, so I refrain from eating anything (even an ounce of food) when fasting.


Ockeghem, I think I am like that, if I am fasting, I have to completely stay away from food, if I must chew just one little thing, that's it...I am ready to eat

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05 Jul 2013 20:57 - 05 Jul 2013 20:58 #17490 by Ockeghem
Ockeghem replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain

margoS wrote:

Ockeghem wrote: When I am not fasting, Ramen Noodles are one of my favorite things to eat every now and then. I only use a quarter or a half of a packet though, as the salt content is very high.

Betty,

I would think that eating anything would trigger hunger in our bodies, but perhaps we're designed differently so that some people can handle it. I know that I cannot, so I refrain from eating anything (even an ounce of food) when fasting.


Ockeghem, I think I am like that, if I am fasting, I have to completely stay away from food, if I must chew just one little thing, that's it...I am ready to eat


Margo,

That's definitely the case with me. Several months ago we had a poster on this Board (Hungry Caveman) whose motto when fasting was "Seal the lips!" He had done two forty-seven(!) day (and other length) fasts in his life, and he knew what he was talking about. I liked that saying, and I think of it often whenever I am tempted to break a fast prematurely. It doesn't always work for me, but I think it's good advice to keep in mind while fasting.

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05 Jul 2013 21:22 #17491 by margoS
margoS replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
Ockeghem,
I read something like on one of the post...and I put it as one of my fighting weapons "Seal the Lips" for me that includes talking, or answering all calls...

I only talk when really necessary and answer calls that are urgent, I find that when I am fasting aimless talk or small talks make me really tired
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06 Sep 2013 06:57 #18222 by danielle
danielle replied the topic: The Fasting Syndrome and the Mighty Brain
Why do you need to "energize" the brain at all? Why not just allow the fast to do what it wants to do, and not fight it? I guess some people try to work or do normal things while fasting. But, in order to do a longer fast, you may have to adapt your lifestyle to roll with the changes.

For me, I'd rather experience the changes that the fast brings, without trying to manipulate anything to fit into my "normal" routine.

Just a thought...
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