A dog that stops running to its food dish unknowingly inflicts loads of worry upon their owner. If you’ve ever had a dog then you’ve been there, too.
As dog owners, we’ll do whatever it takes to get them to eat — we’ll nudge them towards their food, upgrade their breakfast to a yogurt parfait, and sometimes even get on our very own knees to beg.
“Stop playing games,” we plead, knowing full-well that they don’t speak a lick of English. Nobody wants to see a dog that’s down in the dumps. And quickly, we begin to get a visceral feeling that something’s not quite right.
But what if I told you that the opposite may actually be true — that your dog is doing exactly what it’s supposed to?
… that your dog may, in fact, be smarter than you are?
Somewhere Hippocrates (pictured above) — the ancient Greek physician regarded as the father of medicine — is laughing at you for treating your dog like royalty. He would also urge you to consider the virtues of not eating.
He famously once said:
“Everyone has a physician inside him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.”
Hippocrates traveled far, wide, and devoted his entire life to the teaching of the human body’s inherent ability to self-heal. He even has a few well-known proponents on his side as well:
- Plato — one of the most influential philosophers of all time — said that he fasted for “greater physical and mental efficiency.”
- Hugh Jackman — modern day Greek God — swears by intermittent fasting and claims that it powered his Wolverine physique.
- Billions of Muslims around the world abstain from food and drinks from dawn to dusk during a month that they call “Ramadan.” Fasting is actually one of the Five Pillars of Islam (along with Profession of Faith, Prayer, Alms, and Pilgrimage to the Mecca). They claim that it enables them to hone in on their faith and strengthen their relationship with Allah.
- And the entire animal kingdom fasts when they are ill in order to allow their bodies to focus their energy on fighting off the disease instead of finding and digesting food.
Fasting clearly has its merits — this much should be obvious by now.
But what is fasting, exactly?
Fasting is simply abstaining from food or drink for an extended amount of time.
Less of a “diet” and more of an eating pattern, intermittent fasting has been one of the foundations of my life over the last five years. There are a plethora of different types of fasts, though — the 16/8 method, the 5:2 method, alternate day fasting, etc.
The style that I’ve incorporated into my life, however, is most similar to the 16/8 method where you fast for 16 hours and cram all of your eating into an eight hour window. But I’m not quite that strict — I simply push my first meal anywhere from 4-8 hours into the day depending on how I feel. This usually means that I have “breakfast” between noon and 4:00 pm.
I like to stick to this eating pattern Monday through Friday, but I must confess: since I’ve always had a mild addiction to pancakes, waffles, and bagels, I like to allow myself to indulge in breakfast on the weekends…
And what I’ve found over the years is that my productivity has been bolstered, the severity and frequency of illness have been lowered, and I’ve realized how overfed we are. Furthermore, there are a plethora of restorative health benefits from fasting.
It’s actually mind-boggling that in this day and age we’re harmed more by abundance than we are scarcity. Just imagine travelling back 500 years in time and watching the look on your ancestors faces when you tell them that the future will be plagued by having too much instead of too little.
Basically, I’ve had a few profound realizations like these since incorporating the daily fast. But I’ll go into greater detail about intermittent fasting another time. Today, I’m going to touch on a more hardcore style of fasting that I’ve been experimenting with recently: the 72-hour fast.
Just last week I completed my fifth or sixth multi-day fast — that’s right, abstaining from food for 72 hours or more.
Other than a high dose of H20, the only other nutrient that I allowed myself to consume was pink Himalayan salt (in order to replenish electrolytes).
Are these extended water fasts intimidating? Absolutely. But the long-term health benefits greatly outweigh all of the short-term inconveniences in my opinion.
For example, inflammation starts to decrease in the first day — this is good for arthritis. Additionally, growth hormone secretion is amplified, the gut begins to heal, the brain starts to repair itself, and autophogy (the recycling of old, damaged proteins into new, tissue-binding proteins) sets in. Autophagy is referred to as “anti-aging” sometimes.
During the second day of the fast, stem cell regeneration starts to ramp up. This accelerates the healing of the gut, brain, and autophagy (anti-aging). Interestingly enough, my mind was SHARP on days two and three.
On the third day of the fast, hunger tends to subside with the onset of ketosis — this is pretty much when your body realizes it needs to burn fat instead of food/glucose for energy. And as you may have guessed, the anti-aging properties are amplified even more.
Along with prevention, fasting may also reverse type II diabetes.
What’s more, I find that my sweet-tooth disappears as I become less infatuated by unhealthy foods, mental clarity and focus are shifted into another gear, and I feel like a well-oiled machine in general.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind before: (1) get enough salt, (2) limit physical activity, (3) start with small, frequent meals — e.g., bone broth, banana, yogurt — when you decide to break out of your fast, and (4) consult a doctor if you have any underlying health complications and do your own research beforehand.
And definitely don’t take medical advise from a random kid on the internet (me).
Moral of the story
I don’t fast in order to lose weight — that’s called an eating disorder. Rather, I do intermittent fasting daily and extended water fasts a few times per year because the practice has stood the test of time and because it’s in line with the following theses that I hold:
- Aging has nothing to do with your numerical age; by the time you’re 30 years old, you could feel like a 40-year-old or a 25-year-old depending on how well you take care of yourself
- What you eat — and what you don’t eat — on a daily basis is far more effective than any new form of modern medicine
It is thus critical to take good care of your health via exercise and diet from a young age. In the age of abundance, skipping a few meals is one of the many tools you can grab from a toolbox that’s worked for thousands of years. In fact, fasting is almost like an “oil change” for your body and it can help you lead a healthy, high energy, and long-lasting life.
Give your dog more credit 😉