Fasting: an Ancient Health Practice

Northern Survival

I’ve talked about fasting and its benefits on this blog before because it ties into my survival novel, Northern Survival. One of the main characters, Olive Tweed, fasted to improve her health. The two posts were

In the novel, there’s a scene where Olive shares personal information with the other main character, Jonathan ‘John’ Stone, on how she got hooked on fasting. Here’s a short clip:

“I had a health scare a few years ago. Doctors said I had six months to live. They said there was nothing I could do.” A muscle twitched in her cheek. “I refused to believe them. Shortly afterwards, my brother died with complications due to Type 2 diabetes. I didn’t eat for a week, and I felt better.” She released an uneasy chuckle. “I thought I was crazy until a friend told me about the benefits of fasting. She gave me a book; it changed the way I thought about food and my body. I read other books and researched online. I watched countless YouTube videos. Some only recycled what the others said but now and again, I’d find a nugget I could use to help improve my health. Six months passed. Ten months. The doctor’s office called, and I ignored them. The diet and drugs they wanted to put me on would have killed me quicker.” She shrugged. “I haven’t been to a doctor since. That was four years ago.”

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How do I feel while fasting?

In my post on Friday (What is Autophagy?), I provided basic information on the health benefits of fasting, which includes autophagy. I explained I was shooting for a 3-day fast.

Let Me Explain Further

I’m aiming for a 3-day fast. I need to work up to that. Thursday and Friday, I did my first 27-hour fast. When I ate early Friday evening, I didn’t feel like I was starving. I was a little hungry, but because I had worked outside all day, I was tired. I’m renovating the goat barn, so there was lots of cutting, hammering and hauling wood.

Knowing I was working on this project all weekend, I opted to eat Friday night and have two meals each day. I didn’t want to exhaust my body. By the time you read this, I’ll be into another fast. My goal is to go from Monday 6:00 pm until Wednesday morning with only water and a few herbal teas.

How do I Feel?

After 12 hours of fasting, I feel like I usually do upon waking in the morning having not eaten since around six o’clock the night before: satisfied.

On the first day of fasting for 18 hours, I start to feel freer from my skin. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but the nearest I can explain it is ‘nothing feels tight’. I’m not talking about clothing. Perhaps it is due to some fluid loss, so maybe inflammation has decreased.

After the second day of fasting 18 hours, the noise in my head disappears. This has been very helpful given that besides the craziness that is happening in the world right now, life in my circle is a little chaotic with my oldest child moving back home, animals being added to the realm, my mother changing nursing homes and all the little things that can go wrong, like the thermostat in my truck sticking open.

The lack of noise in my head settles my brain. It slows things down and allows me to focus on the task at hand. Solutions come to me easier because there’s no static, and my brain takes time to consider the options.

There’s a calmness even when things go crazy around me and people get emotional. It’s like I’m listening, but I’m not reacting immediately with my own emotions.

Sleep is a dream. I normally sleep well, but sleeping while fasting is like being dropped off the edge of the world and floating in nothing with only a few dreams to entertain the part of my brain that stays active.

Sharper Minds

Fasting is supposed to sharpen our ability to think. Throughout the ages, those in the know have fasted to solve problems and to expand the thought process the well-fed brain is incapable of doing.

How long will this week’s fast go? I’m shooting for 30 hours.

99-cent Sale

The Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes

Until Friday November 27, 2020, the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes will be on for 99 cents at Amazon. Unfortunately, this is an Amazon Countdown deal and only available in the United States and United Kingdom.

Be kind to your future self.

What is Autophagy?

If you’ve read my novel Northern Survival and stumbled over the word autophagy linked with self-eating, you’re probably not alone. When I first heard it, I was the same way.

Looking up the definition on the Internet, autophagy sounds like a horrible thing.

autophagy: consumption of the body’s own tissue as a metabolic process occurring in starvation and certain diseases.

Who would subject themselves to that?

Looking further, this is what you’ll find on Internet health pages.

Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells, according to Priya Khorana, PhD, in nutrition education from Columbia University.

“Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat. So the literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating.”

Who wants to clean out damaged cells to regenerate new ones? I do. I think everyone does. But there’s a lot more to autophagy, and it’s all good.

Here’s the few paragraphs where Olive talks to John about autophagy. This was several days after the plane crash, and with the lack of food, both were fasting most days.


Olive secured the fishing line to the end of the four-foot stick she’d brought along and plopped the hook into the water near the boat. He caught her eye, and she smiled with an ease that relaxed his muscles.

“This is my favourite kind of fishing,” she said. “Trolling. We do this for hours on the ocean. Sit back and let the fish come to us.” She lay with her back against the bow facing him and holding tightly to the rod.

“Don’t catch too many,” he said. “I want those growth hormones to kick in.” He grinned. “Tell me more about fasting and this autophagy theory. I need to regrow a few brain cells, recycle the cell garbage. I might look ten years younger by the time this is over.”

Her laugh settled him further, and he listened contently while she explained the self-eating approach to a healthier, younger self. In truth, she could have talked about anything, and she’d have had his attention. Her easy-going nature was addictive and time passed without notice.

I stumbled onto vital information about fasting two years ago while researching the Keto diet. I had known about the practice, but I had never considered it seriously as a way to get healthier. Exploring fasting further, I came upon autophagy and it’s incredible benefits to the body.

In early 2019, over the course of four months, I slowly reduced the amount of food I consumed and reduced my three square meals a day to two. I had even eliminated snacks when I was more intent on seeing results.

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