The basis of healing is the right behavior and nutrition. To move your body and soul into healing mode: ‘Let the food be your medicine!’ (Hippocrates)
First change your behavior. Stop doing anything bad for you like unhealthy lifestyle, wrong diet and other stupid habbits like alcohol and smoking. Avoid any bad types of sugar and fats!
Enjoying a healthy diet can do much to lower your risk of developing serious diseases such as cancer. Including foods in your diet such as plenty of green leafy vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, herbs, spices and oils can help prevent and may fight many health issues.
The best foods in a cancer prevention diet contain vitamins, enzymes, oils and antioxidants that help to strengthen your immune system. The cancer protection diet benefits come from combining a variety of foods that have anticancer properties.
There is also a lot of scientific data on foods that fight cancer. Natural cancer-fighting compounds such as phytochemicals, sulfur compounds and fiber are found in many foods. Eating the right combination of these anti-cancer foods can make a difference in helping to prevent diseases and even fight such as cancer.
Research has shown that dietary choices could play a role in reducing the risk of cancer by up to 40%. Foods containing vitamins C and D, selenium, chlorophyll, and antioxidants have all been linked to cancer prevention. (1)
Some scientific evidence also points to the fact that including cancer fighting superfoods such as broccoli sprouts in your diet is very beneficial.
The cancer prevention diet should consist of multiple servings of fruits and vegetables daily in raw and juiced form, increasing your fiber intake, and consuming essential fatty acids. It is also important to cut out total meat, diary, refined carbohydrates, and added sugar. (1)
Research has uncovered that vegetables such as kale, broccoli, rocket and greens from root vegetables contain powerful antioxidants. For example, green leafy veggies like carrots and tomatoes contain compounds such as lutein, lycopene, and beta-carotene that are linked to a lower risk of cancer. (2)
The results of one cohort study showed that increasing the consumption of green leafy vegetables could lower the risk of ovarian cancer by 56%. (3)
Another reason why green leafy vegetables are in the cancer prevention diet is that they contain chlorophyll. One study found that chlorophyll from green vegetables can help reduce the risk of colon cancer. (4)
Increasing your consumption of vegetables and cutting out meat can also help you lose weight which is also linked to cancer prevention. One study found that losing weight can help obese women lower their risk of endometrial cancer. (5)
Spinach contains cancer prevention compounds called glycoglycerolipids. Studies have shown that these therapeutic compounds help prevent DNA damage and can help reduce the risk of certain cancers. (6)
Spinach also contains beta-carotene and vitamin A which have been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. (7)
Cruciferous Vegetables like Broccoli to Help Prevent Cancer
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts should be part of your anti-cancer diet plan.
Research has shown that vegetables belonging to the Brassicaceae family have cancer prevention properties. Cruciferous veggies contain chemo-preventive properties that can reduce your risk of developing cancer. (8)
Some studies have shown that the compound sulforaphane found in cruciferous vegetables has been linked to lowering the risk of breast, liver, lung, and colon cancer. (9)
Consume kale on an anti-cancer diet
A systematic review of 31 studies on the benefits of cruciferous vegetables in a diet to prevent cancer reported that kale is among the best cancer-fighting foods. Compounds in kale help to inhibit the activity of certain carcinogens and prevent damage to DNA. (10)
Research published in 2017 found that compounds in kale have a protective effect on human liver cells. This anti-cancer effect of kale helps protect the body against the damage toxins can cause. (11)
Broccoli is an anti-cancer superfood
Broccoli is one of the richest sources of sulforaphane which is known to reduce cancer risk.
The journal Future Oncology reported that broccoli and broccoli sprouts have a preventative effect against cancer. (12)
In one study, scientists found that a diet high in broccoli sprout consumption helped reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Anti-cancer properties in broccoli helped to inhibit the progression of cancer cells. (13)
Broccoli is a healthy green cruciferous vegetable that is high in vitamins, minerals and fiber but low in calories. Many people class broccoli as a superfood because of its many health benefits. Broccoli is good for your digestion, your cardiovascular health, keeping your liver healthy, and lowering blood glucose levels.
What is Broccoli and What Makes It a Superfood?
Broccoli is an edible vegetable in the same family as cabbage, Brassica oleracea. Vegetables in the Brassica oleracea family like cabbage, kale, broccoli, and bok choy are also called cruciferous vegetables. (1)
Broccoli is usually green with a thick stalk with a flowering head containing small green florets.
There are 3 main types of broccoli:
- Calabrese broccoli is the type of broccoli we usually think off. This type of broccoli looks like a small tree that some people say tastes like raw cabbage with a peppery taste.
- Sprouting broccoli has a number of thin stalks with small heads consisting of florets. Sprouting broccoli has a milder taste than calabrese broccoli.
- Purple cauliflower is actually a type of broccoli but looks like a cauliflower. Purple cauliflower contains anthocyanin – a powerful antioxidant that is found in many anti-inflammatory foods.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts (Calories, Protein, Fiber, Carbs, Vitamins)
Broccoli is a low-calorie vegetable that is packed with nutrients that are very good for your overall health.
Broccoli is a good vegetable to consume if you want to lose weight because one serving of raw or steamed broccoli (148 grams) contains 52 calories. One cup of chopped broccoli (91 g) contains 2.6 grams of protein (5% RDI). (2)
A whole head of broccoli contains 207 calories, 15 grams of fiber, as well as meeting many of your daily vitamin and mineral needs.
Another reason why broccoli is extremely good for keeping you healthy is that broccoli is a storehouse of vitamins and minerals. 100 grams of broccoli contains 89 mg of vitamin C which is 149% of your recommended daily intake (RDI). The same serving size of broccoli also gives you 102 mcg of vitamin K which is 127% of your daily needs.
One cup of chopped broccoli contains 567 IU vitamin A (11% RDI), 0.7 mg vitamin E (4% RDI), and many of the B-group vitamins.
Regularly consuming broccoli is good for keeping your bones healthy and helping to prevent hypertension due to its mineral content. Broccoli contains most of the important minerals that you need every day.
A 148 gram-serving of broccoli gives you 0.3 mg manganese (16% RDI), 98 mg phosphorus (10% RDI), 468 mg potassium (13% RDI), 70 mg calcium (7% RDI), and 1.1 mg iron (6% RDI). There are also trace minerals like copper, zinc, and selenium in broccoli. (24)
It is also important to remember the broccoli stalk is just as good for your health as the broccoli head. Researchers say that broccoli stalk contains just as much fiber, vitamins, and minerals as broccoli florets.
Broccoli is extremely healthy and packed with antioxidants
One of the main reasons why consuming broccoli is good for your immune system and health is that it is full of antioxidants.
The nutritional content of broccoli with its high levels of vitamins C and K, as well as potassium and magnesium, show its antioxidant potential.
Broccoli is also a good source of powerful antioxidant enzymes that help reduce inflammation and can protect against cancer.
The journal Frontiers in Genetics reports that broccoli contains high levels of glucosinolates. These natural components help to form an enzyme called glucoraphanin that has antioxidant potential. Along with vitamins A, C, and E, glucosinolates kill off free radicals that can cause oxidative damage. (3)
Sulforaphane is another powerful antioxidant found in broccoli that has been linked to cancer prevention. Researchers found that consuming raw broccoli or steaming it for one minute helped to preserve sulforaphane compounds. In fact, raw broccoli has 10 times more antioxidants than broccoli steamed for more than 3 minutes. (4)
Other studies have confirmed that broccoli sprouts are good for your immune system because they are a rich source of antioxidants. (5)
Broccoli can affect thyroid function
Scientific research has revealed that broccoli contains compounds that may be bad for people with a thyroid disorder.
The Journal of Clinical & Clinical Research says that broccoli is a goitrogenic food. Goitrogens can affect how the body absorbs the thyroid hormone T4. This means that broccoli could potentially negatively affect people with hypothyroidism. (7)
The study mentions that various procedures like boiling and cooking can help in reducing the goitrogenic potency of these foods. The researchers advise that patients suffering from hypothyroidism should avoid consumption of raw cruciferous vegetables.
However, some studies on rats have found that consuming broccoli sprouts doesn’t affect the thyroid hormones TSH, fT3, and fT4. (8)
Can Eating Too Much Broccoli be Dangerous?
Eating broccoli in reasonable food amounts is not dangerous and is generally safe for most people.
Scientists report that even in cases of hypothyroidism, consuming steamed or boiled broccoli in moderate amounts should not pose a health risk. The recommendation in the Journal of Clinical & Clinical Research is that people with a thyroid disorder should avoid eating too much raw broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. (7)
Also doctors generally advise against consuming large amounts of vitamin K rich vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, and chard if you take blood-thinning drugs like warfarin. This is because the high levels of vitamin K can interact with anticoagulant medications. (40)
It is good to remember, that consuming lightly steamed broccoli is very good for helping to keep you healthy. The advantages of consuming broccoli far outweigh any perceived risks of eating broccoli.
Why Broccoli Can Be Really Good for You: Health Benefits of Broccoli
Let’s look in more detail at how eating broccoli is good for your heart, managing diabetes, reducing painful inflammation, and protecting your eye health.
Broccoli Is Good for Reducing Inflammation
Broccoli stems, shoots, and florets have anti-inflammatory properties that can help to prevent inflammatory-related diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that chronic, long-term inflammation is linked to diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. (8)
Scientists have found that glucosinolates, flavonoids (plant-based antioxidants), vitamins, and minerals in broccoli are good for preventing inflammation. Also, the compound sulforaphane is anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous. (9)
Broccoli floret extracts help to reduce enzymes in the body that can cause chronic inflammation. (33)
Broccoli Is Good If You Have Diabetes Because It Helps Lower Blood Glucose Levels
If you suffer from diabetes, then consuming more broccoli in your diet can help manage your symptoms. Broccoli contains many nutrients and glucose-reducing compounds that can really help if you are diabetic.
According to research carried out on rats, broccoli extracts can help to lower glucose levels in the blood. The compounds in broccoli have a hyperglycemia effect and protect some internal organs from DNA damage. (10)
Scientists have found that the reason broccoli is good for fighting diabetes is due to the compound sulforaphane.
One clinical trial involving over 80 people found that taking 10 grams of broccoli powder a day helped to improve symptoms of insulin resistance. After a 4-week treatment period, broccoli sprout powder had a positive effect on people with type 2 diabetes. (11)
Broccoli Helps Boost Liver Health
The antioxidant compounds in broccoli shoots such as sulforaphane are good for protecting the health of your liver.
Research in 2016 found that dietary broccoli helped to prevent liver damage and liver scarring in a 5-month period. Researchers noted that the levels of sulforaphane in broccoli help to protect against fatty liver disease. (28)
Another study found that sulforaphane in a broccoli sprout extracts helps to improve liver health by increasing the number of antioxidants in the liver. (29)
Broccoli Has Anticancer Properties
Regularly consuming antioxidant-rich green vegetables such as broccoli can help to prevent cancerous cells from developing in your body.
The journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling reported that consuming cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli sprouts help to prevent toxicity in human tissue. Sulforaphane in broccoli stems has a chemo-preventative effect because it is toxic to malignant cells. (30)
Other studies have shown that bread enriched with broccoli sprouts can help to prevent stomach cancer. (31)
The broccoli antioxidant sulforaphane has also shown to have a therapeutic effect in treating prostate cancer. (32)
Of course, there is no research showing that just one food alone can treat cancer. However, research into the anticancer properties of broccoli is showing promising results in both the prevention and treatment of cancer.
Why Broccoli Sprouts are Really Good For You
Broccoli is an excellent vegetable that is really good for you. However, broccoli sprouts are also good for you. Broccoli sprouts are a rich source of detoxifying compounds that can help to keep your liver and kidneys in good working order.
A medical study found that extracts from broccoli sprouts helped to lower the damaging effect of breathing in pollutants. The study found that broccoli sprouts helped to reduce the risk of lung cancer in people who lived in polluted environments. (39)
It is not just the fiber content in broccoli that is beneficial for your digestion. Research published in 2018 found that sulforaphane helps to protect the gastrointestinal tract from a microflora imbalance. People who consumed 20 grams of raw broccoli sprouts daily experienced improvement in their bowel movements. (13)
Cabbage has anticancer potential
Another cruciferous vegetable to include in a diet to prevent cancer is cabbage.
In one laboratory trial involving mice, scientists identified that cabbage contains the compound phytoalexin which has cancer-killing properties. (14)
Of course, it is good to remember that no single food or vegetable can completely stop cancer. However, regularly including generous portions of vegetables in your diet can help as a cancer-fighting tool.
Brightly-Colored Vegetables are Great Anti-Cancer Foods
Vegetables that have vibrant colors are good foods that can help to prevent cancer.
Research published in the journal Advances in Nutrition reported that yellow, red, and orange, vegetables are rich sources of compounds that prevent cancer. Some of the best cancer killing vegetables are red peppers, sweet potatoes, spinach, and carrots. These contain phytochemicals with antioxidant activity. (15)
Some studies have found that combining veggies and fruits from various color groups can help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. (16)
Tomatoes are among the best foods to prevent cancer
Tomatoes are one of the best lycopene foods to include in a cancer-killing diet.
A 2016 systematic review found that lycopene in tomato is linked to cancer prevention. Various studies have shown that increasing the number of tomatoes in the diet can help prevent prostate cancer. (17)
Other studies have shown that lycopene foods can help to reduce the risk of lung cancer in humans. (18)
Beets have a protective effect against cancer
Beets are another brightly-colored vegetable that has cancer-fighting properties. Research has shown that beets contain a compound called betanin that has chemo-preventive properties. Beetroot extract can help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer or help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. (19)
One study found that a beetroot and carrot juice drink could help to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia. (20)
Further reading: Proven Health Benefits of Beets (Science Based).
Fiber Helps Reduce Cancer Risk
Cancer-killing foods should contain plenty of fiber to help prevent cancer in men and women.
One screening trial involving thousands of participants found a link between increased fiber intake and a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. (21)
Other studies have shown that women in their 40s or 50s can reduce their risk of breast cancer by increasing their intake of fiber. (22)
You may help to prevent cancer by starting your day with a “cancer-fighting breakfast.” A 2016 systematic review of 43 studies found that consuming whole grain cereals could lower your risk of cancer by between 6% and 47%. However, not all studies found a link between increased fiber intake and cancer prevention. (23)
Some of the best sources of dietary fiber are apples, pears, green peas, Brussels sprouts, carrots, bran flakes, and oatmeal. You should also opt for whole-wheat spaghetti or brown rice to increase your fiber intake. (24)
Beans and Legumes are Cancer Fighting Foods
An anticancer diet should contain servings of lentils, peas, beans, or chickpeas because they help prevent cancer.
A case-control study found that increasing your legume intake can help lower your risk of certain cancers. The results of studies showed that consuming legumes can help prevent stomach cancer, kidney cancer, and colorectal cancer. (25)
The result of a meta-analysis of cohort studies in 2015 found that legumes such as peas, beans, lentils, and peanuts help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in men and women. (26)
Increasing the consumption of legumes could also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. (27)
It is very easy to incorporate more legumes into a cancer prevention diet. For example, you can add lentils, beans, or black-eyed peas to stews, soups, salads, or as side dishes.
You can also make a delicious cancer-fighting superfood by creating a chickpea hummus dip. Chickpeas are a type of legume that have anticancer potential due to many bioactive compounds in them. (28)
Garlic and Onions are Foods that Help Prevent Cancer
Garlic and onions are among some of the best cancer-fighting foods to include in your healthy, anti-inflammatory diet.
The reason why garlic and onions can help to stop cancer is due to the sulfur compounds in them. Researchers have found that garlic and onions have cancer preventive properties and can help reduce your risk of developing cancer. (29)
The results from several studies have also confirmed that onions and garlic are foods that help prevent cancer. (30)
Berries are Cancer Fighting Superfoods
Make sure that you consume plenty of berries regularly if you want to help decrease your risk of cancer.
Berries are a nutritious food to include in a cancer diet because they contain flavonoids and other antioxidants. Research has found that berries help reduce inflammation, protect cells from DNA damage, and can kill off malignant cells. Some studies have found that berry juices can also lower the risk of cancer. (31)
Blueberries help prevent cancer
Including plenty of blueberries in an anti-cancer diet is a good idea because they are packed full of antioxidants. Blueberries have compounds that help prevent oxidative stress damage to DNA in cells and also help kill off cancerous cells. (33)
The results of many studies have shown that blueberries are an anti-cancer fruit with health-boosting properties.
Black raspberries on the cancer prevention diet
Although traditional red raspberries are good for helping to prevent cancer, black raspberries are even more potent.
Trials involving humans have shown that compounds in black raspberries have an anticancer effect in helping to prevent cancers of the esophagus, colon, and mouth. However, more research has to be done to see specific doses of using black raspberries in a cancer-killing diet. (34)
Grapes may reduce cancer risk
Another type of berry you can add to the foods that stop cancer is grapes.
Grapes are rich in antioxidants that have a number of health-promoting effects. For example, some studies have shown that increased grape consumption can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer. (35)
Researchers have also found that there are a number of reasons why grapes are among the best cancer-fighting foods. They help to lower inflammation, stop the spread of malignant cells, and prevent oxidative stress damaging cells. (35)
Citrus Fruits in Your Anti-Cancer Diet Plan
Including citrus fruits a few times a week in your diet can have some cancer-fighting benefits.
A 2018 systematic review of 17 scientific studies found that consuming citrus fruits regularly can help to reduce the risk of oral cancer by up to 50%. (36)
Other studies have shown that increasing your intake of oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and tangerines have cancer prevention potential. The cancer-fighting effect of citrus fruits was due to high levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids, and quercetin. Researchers found that consuming more citrus fruits could lower your risk of breast cancer. (37)
Consume lemon juice on your anti-cancer diet
The juice from a freshly squeezed lemon contains many cancer-fighting properties. Although the juice from most citrus fruits helps prevent cancer, studies have shown that lemon juice has a stronger effect. (59)
Nuts and Seeds Can Help Prevent Cancer
Nuts and seeds are among some of the best cancer prevention foods that are good to include in your diet.
Nuts contain a good amount of healthy fatty acids, fiber, minerals, and protein. Consuming more nuts has been linked to some of the natural ways to prevent cancer.
A 2015 meta-analysis of studies involving over 30,000 people found that nut consumption is linked to cancer prevention. (38)
The reasons why nuts reduce your cancer risk is that they contain antioxidants and help regulate inflammation. Eating nuts regularly has been shown to help prevent colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer. (38)
Some studies show that regular nut consumption helps reduce the prevalence of colon cancer in women. (39)
The results of other studies have shown that consuming nuts can benefit men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. (40)
Walnuts can help to lower prostate cancer risk
The Journal of Medicinal Food reported on trials involving mice showing that walnut consumption can help inhibit the growth of prostate cancer tumors. (41)
Almonds help prevent cancer
Including a serving of almonds daily is a good idea on an anticancer diet because they can help reduce oxidative stress in your body. One study showed that almond consumption significantly reduced the risk of breast cancer in women by up to 3 times.
Olive Oil is a Cancer Fighting Food
Extra virgin olive oil helps give your body a dose of antioxidants and lower inflammation that can help protect you against cancer.
A review of 19 case studies on the cancer-killing properties of olive oil found that it has a protective effect on the development of cancer. It was found that people who enjoyed a moderate intake of olive oil were at less of a risk of developing cancer. Olive oil consumption has been linked to preventing ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, oral cancer and colorectal cancer. (46)
Spices in your Cancer Diet
Spices don’t just pack your meals full of flavor, they can also turn your meals into cancer-fighting foods.
The journal Nutrients reported that many spices contain bioactive compounds that reduce cancer risk. For example, black pepper, long pepper, garlic, chili pepper, and saffron all help in cancer prevention. (48)
The reasons why many spices are useful in a diet to prevent cancer are that they reduce inflammation, increase immunity, and help prevent the growth of tumors. (48)
Turmeric spice on the anti-cancer diet
Compounds in turmeric can help prevent cancer as they have proven potential to kill off cancer cells.
Curcumin is the anticancer compound in turmeric that gives the spice its color and earthy flavor. Laboratory trials have shown that curcumin can destroy almost any type of cancer cell. Scientists have found that the mechanisms behind the cancer-killing properties of curcumin are many and complex. (49)
Cinnamon helps prevent cancer
You can add a teaspoon of cinnamon a day to your anti-cancer diet to help reduce your risk of the disease from developing.
Cinnamon spice is well-known for its health-boosting properties. Studies into the benefits of cinnamon for cancer prevention have revealed that it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and also anti-tumor properties. Researchers have even said that cinnamon has the potential to be used as a complementary medicine for diverse cancers. (50)
Other studies have found that cinnamon helps to prevent cancer from developing and also slow down the spread of cancer. (51)
Add ginger to your cancer diet plan
Similar to turmeric, ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help prevent cancer. One study found that extracts of ginger root can have a protective effect against human prostate cancer. (52)
Other studies have shown that ginger compounds have potential in treating and preventing the spread of breast cancer. (53)
Green Tea Helps Prevent and Fight Cancer
Green tea and green tea extracts are among the best cancer-fighting superfoods that help to keep you healthy.
The journal Molecules and Cells reports that green tea contains catechins called epigallocatechin gallate (ECGG). Many studies have shown that ECGG helps to prevent the development of cancerous cells and also treat cancer. (56)
Scientists have also found that green tea compounds can help prevent cancer metastasis. (57)
Seaweed is a Cancer Fighting Superfood
There is growing evidence that foods derived from seaweed can help to reduce your cancer risk or slow down the progression of cancer.
According to research published in the journal Marine Drugs, various types of seaweed contain anticancer compounds. Brown algae, green algae, and red algae have shown to possess properties that can help to stop cancer growth and kill off tumor cells. (58)
Simple Ways to Boost Your Immune System Based on Medical Studies
Get Enough Sleep
A sleep deprivation can have surprisingly devastating results on the production of antibodies (your body’s infantry).
It turns out that a good majority of people in a tech-saturated culture are cutting sleep breaks too short. Organize your schedule and get into a routine that fits between seven to nine hours per day.
A regular exercise routine does much more than shape your body, it fortifies the immune system with proper blood circulation and better sleep.
It shouldn’t take long for your immunity to make clear improvements. While you’re exercising, remember to keep yourself hydrated before, during and after exercising.
This will help flush out toxins and transport the minerals and vitamins from a healthy diet. Also remain wary of the germ loaded bars, grips and machines in public gyms.
Manage Stress Levels
Harvard Health publication mentions that stress of any kind can have negative effects on your immune levels.
Both social and physical stress that you experience delays the production of antibodies.
The sad thing is that stress can be, and often is, an unavoidable factor in many people’s lives.
The best you can do for your body is find ways to alleviate the stress, like with meditation, yoga, exercise, and new hobbies. It’s no coincidence that many people that live great past their prime are level headed.
Step Out of Isolation and Have a Positive Attitude
Social anxiety can lead some people to isolating themselves at every given chance from the world around them. Though the exact causes for it haven’t been pinpointed, there are several studies that can back the effectiveness of a healthy social life on the immune system.
Get out and form friendships with new people, step out of isolation, and watch your immunity remain strong.
There are studies that mention the positive effect of the sense of humor on the immune system.
How Water Fasting Can Regenerate the Immune System
Water fasting involves only drinking water and not eating any food for a set period of time. Fasting for one, two, or even more days has many health benefits. A water fast can help you lose weight, regenerate your immune system, and may even slow aging. However, for water fasting to be safe and effective, you should fast properly.
What is Water Fasting?
Water fasting is when you don’t consume anything but water for a set period of time. A water fast can last for as short as 24 hours or last as long as 5 or 7 days.
A 2015 review of the benefits of fasting reported that there are different types of fasting. On a water fast, you will usually only drink water at regular times throughout the day. People use water fasting for weight management and to help prevent disease. (1)
Some people like to add lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and honey to their water fasting. One of the popular water fasting methods is the lemon detox cleanse. Other popular water fasting recipes include adding cucumber, watermelon, or ginger to the water.
Fasting every so often for 1 or 2 days by drinking only water can help to stimulate your metabolism and regenerate your cells.
For example, studies have shown that fasting results in changes in the body’s metabolism. This can result in a process called ketogenesis where the body uses fat as its primary energy source. That is why water fasting is good for a short-term weight loss. (1, 2)
A 2016 review on the benefits of fasting found that it can boost cognitive performance, regenerate cells, lower body fat, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. (3)
Water fasting can also protect your heart against the effects of inflammation. (4)
One of the greatest benefits of short-term water fasting is a process called autophagy. This is where metabolic processes in the body get rid of dysfunctional components of cells. This helps to recycle cells and protect against chronic health conditions and neuro-degenerative diseases. (5)
Water Fasting May Promote Autophagy
One of the reasons why fasting is good for your body is that it promotes autophagy.
Autophagy literally means “self-devouring” and it is a type of recycling process where old parts of cells are broken down and removed from the body. A 2018 review found that fasting and calorie restriction induces autophagy in the body. (10)
Various studies have linked autophagy to the prevention of certain chronic diseases.
One 2016 study found that autophagy can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease. (13)
Although fasting-induced autophagy has certain health benefits, more research needs to be carried out on its role in protecting against disease. (14)
Water Fasting May Help Lose Weight
Some of the most noticeable effects of water fasting are lower body weight, less belly fat, and a slimmer waistline.
The International Journal of Obesity reported that fasting can help lose weight. Following a fasting regime helped to lower the hormone leptin which is associated with obesity and body fat. Also, fasting reduced inflammatory markers, blood fat (triglycerides), and cholesterol that all are complications of obesity. (15)
One of the reasons why water fasting promotes weight loss is that it puts your body into ketosis. So although initially you will lose water weight, because your body can’t rely on glucose for energy, it starts to use your fat stores. Fasting causes ketones to be produced which provides nourishment for cells. This can help with weight management and weight loss. (1)
Another type of fasting that can help you lose weight is intermittent fasting.
Fasting Can Regenerate Your Immune System
The positive effect fasting has on your body, in general, can help to strengthen your immunity.
Researchers from the University of Southern California reported that 2-day fasts or 4-day fasts can help to generate new immune cells. The metabolic changes that occur with fasting trigger new white blood cells to be produced. (22)
One study also found that a 72-hour fast can strengthen the immunity and protect against some of the effects of chemotherapy. This can also help a person to recover quicker from chemotherapy treatment. (22)
A foundational strategy to activate autophagy is to do daily intermittent fasting, where you eat all of your meals for the day within a six- to eight-hour window.
For the remaining 16 to 18 hours, you’re fasting. This timing appears to be the sweet spot for autophagy, although, as we discuss in the interview, there may be exceptions where you can get away with fasting for as little as 12 hours a day, but this would typically only apply to athletes.
Research shows that autophagy is significantly increased once you pass the 16-hour mark, and since autophagy is such a significant benefit of fasting, it’s important to not cut it too short and miss out on this process. To get the maximum benefit, however, you need to fast even longer, which is where multiday water fasting comes into play.
Autophagy targets damaged and defective cellular parts, not whole cells (which would be apoptosis, or programmed cell death). These defective cellular parts are marked and shuttled to lysosomes, which in turn destroy them via a process involving NADPH oxidase (NOX), which creates superoxide.
The superoxide combines with nitric oxide and forms peroxynitrite, which breaks down the constituting elements of the cellular parts. Those elements are then recycled in the repair and regeneration phase. That’s a simple rundown of the autophagy process, which is what you activate when you fast.
AMPK and Autophagy
Fasting also increases adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which plays an integral role in autophagy. Adenosine monophosphate is the core of ATP, which gives you a clue to its importance for health. The K stands for kinase, an enzyme that attaches a phosphate to the AMP to convert it to ATP.
AMP is a nutrient sensor, so when ATP is low it increases. When AMPK rises, it activates autophagy. It stands to reason then that things that inhibit or lower AMPK will inhibit autophagy, because AMPK is one of the primary signals for autophagy — it puts your body into repair mode.
In doing so, it inhibits the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), a protein nutrient sensor and a powerful signaling pathway used for anabolism or growth. As you might suspect, AMPK and mTOR work in tandem, sort of like a see-saw, so when one is activated the other is deactivated.
Both are important, but neither should be chronically activated or you’ll end up with health problems. For optimal health, you need to cycle in and out of AMPK and mTOR activation so that you rotate through the autophagy and rebuilding phases on a regular basis. One of the best ways to do that is to alternate between feast and famine cycles after you are metabolically flexible.
Nutrients That Activate Autophagy
Getting back to autophagy, supplements and nutrients that activate autophagy by raising AMPK include:
- ECGC from green tea or wildcrafted apples
- Pomegranate peel extract or pomegranate peel powder
- Organic chamomile tea
Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration
Another major benefit of fasting is the activation of new stem cells – cells that can be used to heal and regenerate any tissue or organ. This occurs during the regeneration phase, once autophagy is again inhibited by refeeding and your body starts rebuilding and replacing all those damaged cells that were cleared out.
Regeneration can be further boosted by doing strength training the morning of the day when you’re planning to break your fast. The reason for this is because during fasting, your growth hormone level skyrockets, rising by about 300%. That may sound paradoxical, since growth hormone typically rises in tandem with IGF-1, and IGF-1 inhibits autophagy. However, during fasting, the growth hormone receptors in your liver become relatively insensitive, so your IGF-1 level actually drops.
So, fasting can in some ways be likened to getting a growth hormone injection and a stem cell transplant, and by incorporating strength training at the right time, just as you’re refeeding, you really optimize all these regenerative benefits.
This also includes intestinal stem cell function, which is important for many struggling with leaky gut and other gut issues. When you do extended water-only fasts (not just intermittent fasting), it helps reduce gut permeability by stimulating brain-gut pathways and enhancing the integrity of your gut lining.
Supporting Your Fasting Protocol With Sauna Bathing
To further support detoxification during your fast, I recommend using a near-infrared sauna, which will help eliminate toxins through your sweat.