So it turns out that intermittent fasting leads to improved insulin sensitivity, which—and here’s the wonderful leap—can even help reduce cancer cells, as some studies on mice have shown (according to a bit from a documentary I just caught on TV).
Intermittent fasting was also proven to reverse type 2 diabetes in as little as four months, according to a 2017 study. The study documents the case of a 69-year-old man who had lived with diabetes and taken various meds for it and associated conditions for 35 years, including insulin for 10 of those years, so he was not a fresh face who had just gotten diagnosed.
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True, this guy’s fasting regimen was quite severe: he fasted for 24 hours three times a week, leading to fasts of 42 hours two or three times a week, during the course of those four months. But then, only two months into this regimen, he was able to go insulin-free (while staying on the Metformin). He also lost a considerable amount of weight during the four months of the study (17.8%, or 16.5 kilos at an initial weight of 92.6 kilos). Please note, however, that intermittent fasting may not be healthy for everyone. Check with your doctor(s) before you embark on such an eating regimen, and if you do decide to do it, make sure you drink plenty of (calorie-free) liquids.
I’ve been doing stretches of intermittent fasting myself (12 to 18 hours) to help my back feel comfortable (I have a ruptured hernia and some weight on my belly), but the more I read about its health benefits, the more I am moving toward a commitment to this thing 🙂 I also try to cut back on sugar, while allowing some fruit now and then, and one or two teaspoons of honey daily.
Honey is yet another topic worthy of lengthy discussion. Honey contains high amounts of fructose and glucose (and some sucrose and maltose) but they come in a package that includes amino acids, enzymes, and trace amounts of many vitamins and minerals, along with flavonoids and other antioxidants, and more. Honey is not only a powerful antioxidant food, but it’s also an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, and antitumor agent, and I’ve only gotten started on its health benefits. Honey also lowers bad, LDL cholesterol while raising the good, HDL cholesterol, it lowers triglycerides, and it can even aid a little in lowering blood pressure, among other things.
But more about honey in a different post. For now, since I mentioned enzymes, of which honey has many, I’d like to introduce here a book with an interesting hypothesis, The Enzyme Factor (affiliate link) by Dr. Hiromi Shinya. Dr. Shinya is the co-inventor of colonoscopy as we know it, along with Dr. William I. Wolff. In this book he posits that the body creates specific enzymes from source enzymes, and that we should try to maintain this supply of “miracle enzymes” through a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t exhaust them but instead contributes to our supplies of specific enzymes. He recommends a healthy eating and lifestyle regimen based on his personal and professional experience. Coming from someone who’s seen over 300,000 colons and has also compiled an archive with those patients’ eating habits, I’d say this book is essential reading for anyone who wants better health, whether we agree with its miracle/source enzyme hypothesis or not.
Also, we don’t have to agree with all of Dr. Hiromi Shinya’s diet recommendations. Here’s an article about approaching them cautiously, and here’s another article with a more in-depth summary of Dr. Shinya’a guidelines.
As for fruit, it’s true, some people may find that they’re healthier not eating it, or that they’re better off eating only some types of fruit with a lower glycemic index, especially if they’re diabetic. I like to enjoy my fruits and I believe I can do it if I eat them in moderation, but then I’m not struggling with insulin resistance. Still, as fruit contain a combo of fructose and glucose, they raise triglycerides and can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome, and inflammation of the pancreas, all of which is worrisome.
So we’re back to less fruit and more veggies. In fact I was just reading in Hailey Pomroy’s book The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight (affiliate link) that dieters who want to lose more than forty pounds should eat twice as many veggies than other categories of people looking to shed less kilos/pounds, as vegetables contain enzymes and phytochemicals that help bust fats.
Despite trying, I’m still not doing very well in the veggie department. But what I am managing okay is not eating a lot of sugar. I use stevia or erythritol in some of my drinks and when I bake, and I try to cook very healthy meals. When I manage to do that, I don’t crave sweets as much. And well, when I do crave them and bake them (which is the case now that I’ve developed a sensitivity to gluten), I make them healthier—not only without sugar, but with healthier fats as well. But more about that later.
Here’s the original Better Stevia from NOW Foods, non-GMO zero-calorie liquid sweetener (8 fl oz/237 ml)
And here’s granulated erythritol from NOW Foods, also zero-calorie (2.5 lbs/1.14 kg)
In theory, erythritol can cause stomach upsets if consumed in larger quantities. I use it in cakes, though, and I’ve had no problems with it. That said, I do prefer stevia, especially in drinks, as it’s not only a natural sugar substitute, but it also comes with many health benefits. While WebMD is cautious on embracing these benefits, a 2020 review of scientific literature on stevia shows that this plant-based sweetener does its bit to regulate blood sugar in people with diabetes as well as to lower high blood pressure in people with hypertension. In addition, stevia improves insulin sensitivity, fights inflammation, and lowers cholesterol. There’s more. A different scientific article I found mentions a study which tested successfully that Stevia rebaudiana solvent extracts can fight various pathogenic bacteria in vitro, such as some that cause diarrhea.
Do note, however, that according to this article on WebMD, if you have an allergy to ragweed or other plants in the Asteraceae (sunflower) family, you may have an allergy to stevia as well; also, be aware that it interacts with medications for high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as with lithium. And please, if you decide to use stevia extract, do so in moderation.
To a happier, healthier life,
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