One of the greatest pleasures for me and surely for many others, is traveling. Knowing other ways of life and exploring the way people in distant cultures relate to their environment, including ways of nourishing, is fascinating to me.
Even though there are many stories to share after traveling through 3 countries and around 15 cities or towns in almost a month, I’m going to focus on an experience I had that I’m sure may happen to others and it can be quite useful to have in hand.
As you can imagine, I applied all the recommendations and common sense to avoid getting sick in my belly since inevitably when the environment changes, our bioecosystem is also affected and digestion is the first aspect that shows. We only ate in known restaurants varieties of salads, and tagines of lamb or chicken with lemon or plums and more vegetables with couscous. (Tagine refers to a clay pot in which a animal protein, spices and vegetables are cooked. It is very common in North Africa and its widely popular and easy to find). Of course , I only drank bottled water without ice.
Anyone would think that when you eat like this for 8 days, there’s no reason to get sick. Right?
Well, I thought the same until we had a long day traveling and I started feeling sick in my stomach, I was green, had diarrhea, abdominal pain, I was sweating, I felt weak and unhappy. I really did not understand what could have provoked that reaction, I concluded the vegetables were not washed properly considering I took all the precautions.
This was the breaking point that made me decide to do intermitent fasting, which is what I plan to write about today. Intermittent fasting means not eating food (only water or herbal infusions) for a period of at least 12 hours. I fasted for periods of 12 to 15 hours alternating days and little by little I began to feel much better. (Always hydrating with mineral water and salts, of course)
There are different types of fasting: intermitent fasting for 12-16 hours a day a couple of days a week, calorie-restriction by eating only 500 calories per day (and fasting the rest of the day), 24 hour fasting 2 days of the week or more days.
Some people close to me, fast regularly obtaining good results and some others have asked me several times about this topic. This is the reason I decided its worth explaining the benefits of this practice and what needs to be considered before you attempt to fast.
What happens in the body when you fast?
- Beneficial bacteria are radically improved in the intestine. Remember that the cells of the microorganisms that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract exceed the human cells in a ratio of 10 to 1. By strengthening the intestinal flora, the immune system is beefed up, mental clarity improves as well as energy levels and it is harder to get sick and to stay sick
- Changes in metabolic function: By not having glucose (which is the main source of energy in the body), the body begins to burn fat cells as an alternative form of fuel. This means that it helps you lose weight
- Reduction of cellular inflammation and reduction of free radicals
- Longevity increases and incidence of diseases are reduced
- Increase in insulin sensitivity
As you can see, it really has many benefits, I’m just mentioning the most important ones.
In any case, it is crucial that the following points are taken into account to obtain positive results.
Points to consider before fasting
- Hydration is crucial and should be of good quality: mineral water, herbal infusions for example
- If you suffer from eating disorders such as bulimia, fasting is not recommended
- Consume highly nutritious foods on non-fasting days that contain good quality protein (both vegetable and animal protein unless you are vegetarian), healthy fats (nuts, seeds, olives) and minimize carbohydrates
- If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, diabetes 1 or hypothyroidism you should not fast because it may generate negative hormonal responses
- You must have sleep cycles of 8 hours per night
As you can see, fasting is excellent but it is not for everyone. It is important to consider bioindividuality to determine if this option is feasable. Personally, it worked for me and it is very likely that I will do it more often.
As always, I hope this blog is useful and if so, do not forget to share it with everyone you care for.
Maria Ximena Ospina