Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8 2014: Writing, food, and fasting (fasting for three days can regenerate your entire immune system)

Research has shown that even small amounts of processed food alter the chemical balance in our brain and cause negative mood swings along with noticeable dips ill energy.

Marilu Henner

IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SO. A consistent theme of mine is that a great deal of what we are told in this life just isn’t true. That doesn’t mean everyone is a liar—many are just plain ignorant—but it does mean that, for whatever reason, we are being constantly led astray. Where political and commercial interests are concerned—and I’m not sure there is much of a difference between them any more—the lying is pervasive,  endemic and continuous. In effect, it constitutes birth to death 24/7 propaganda seeking to condition us to a way of life which complements corporate profitability—and best serves the interests of the ultra rich.

BIG FOOD DOES BAD THINGS. There is no finer example of such behavior than that emanating from BIG FOOD (and the food industry in general) which seeks to persuade us that their processed products are healthy, when the evidence is strongly and increasingly that most U.S. processed foods are overstuffed with fat, salt and sugar—together with a host of other additives—and are overpriced and extremely bad for us. To make matters worse, there is serious cause for concern about the quality of the raw materials that go into processed foods. Thanks to factory farming, monoculture, and excessive use of pesticides and herbicides, though the quantities of raw materials produced are up, their nutritional quality is down—massively down in some cases. Then we come to meat where animal diets tend to be dubious, and where the animals are fed antibiotics to offset the diseases generated by their appalling conditions. The net result of that is to undermine antibiotic effectiveness. We’re facing a horrendous medical crisis thanks to such corporate criminal irresponsibility.

On top of that, we are conditioned to eat vastly more often than we need—and we are steered away from foodstuffs that really are good for us. In terms of current national priorities, our health seems to be regarded as secondary to corporate profitability. 

THE SCALE OF THE PROBLEM. No, I’m not a nut about all this stuff. In fact, it took me longer than it should to appreciate the scale of the problem. However, you would need to be blind not to notice how palpably unfit many Americans are—and once I started digging (and I am a very good researcher) I was appalled at what I found.

Modern American industrialized food constitutes the same sort of threat  to our health as the tobacco industry in its heyday. So why doesn’t the government act? For much the same reasons why it fails to act in other areas—such a its failure to prosecute those guilty of financial malfeasance. Government has been suborned by the ultra rich and the corporations they own. Remember—and it’s worth repeating—Americans, despite spending nearly twice as much on healthcare, live sicker and died more than three years sooner than the citizens of other developed nations.  That makes the threat of terrorism pale into insignificance. Yet is there a national outcry? No.

RELEVANCE TO WRITING. Here is the thing where writing is concerned. To write at your best you need to be healthy and clear-headed—and you are not going to either achieve, or maintain, that state on American processed foods. The stuff plays havoc with your blood sugar, makes you feel lethargic, promotes obesity—and has untold other negative side effects.

To write as well as you can—if you accept the premise that mind and body are interrelated (which is self-evident apart from being scientifically proven) you need to eat as healthily as you can—and almost certainly less than you think your need. How to achieve that is a matter of personal choice, but you could do a lot worse than subscribe to There, Dr. Mercola gives out a great deal of health advice which, I have to say, mostly resonates with me. He normally backs up what he says with a great deal of data.

WHO KNEW! And now for my piece de resistance. As stated previously, I have found great benefit from moving to one meal a day—despite all those who advocate a hearty breakfast. Well, carrying the fasting idea further, it now emerges that there are extraordinary benefits from fasting even longer. Let me quote from the UK’s Faily Telegraph of July 5 2014.

Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study finds

A person's entire immune system can be rejuvenated by fasting for as little as three days as it triggers the body to start producing new white blood cells, a study suggests

Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as "remarkable".

Although fasting diets have been criticized by nutritionists for being unhealthy, new research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection.

Scientists at the University of Southern California say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy.

It could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases.

The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.

"It gives the 'OK' for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system," said Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California.

"And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.

“Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system."

Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells.

During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.

In trials humans were asked to regularly fast for between two and four days over a six-month period.

Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to ageing and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumor growth.

"We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system," added Prof Longo.

"When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged," Dr Longo said.

"What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?"

Fasting for 72 hours also protected cancer patients against the toxic impact of chemotherapy.

"While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy," said co-author Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital.

"More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”

"We are investigating the possibility that these effects are applicable to many different systems and organs, not just the immune system," added Prof Longo.

However, some British experts were sceptical of the research.

Dr Graham Rook, emeritus professor of immunology at University College London, said the study sounded "improbable".

Chris Mason, Professor of Regenerative Medicine at UCL, said: “There is some interesting data here. It sees that fasting reduces the number and size of cells and then re-feeding at 72 hours saw a rebound.

“That could be potentially useful because that is not such a long time that it would be terribly harmful to someone with cancer.

“But I think the most sensible way forward would be to synthesize this effect with drugs. I am not sure fasting is the best idea. People are better eating on a regular basis.”

Dr Longo added: “There is no evidence at all that fasting would be dangerous while there is strong evidence that it is beneficial.

“I have received emails from hundreds of cancer patients who have combined chemo with fasting, many with the assistance of the oncologists.

“Thus far the great majority have reported doing very well and only a few have reported some side effects including fainting and a temporary increase in liver markers. Clearly we need to finish the clinical trials, but it looks very promising.”

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