Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fasting Day 43 - 130.2

This lifestyle has begun to feel really natural to me -- like breathing. It's like my digestion system itself is breathing -- taking in nutrients one day and eliminating toxic by products the next. It is refreshing and rejuvenating.

Recently on the Yahoo Fasting Group, there was a link to an excellent video by Gary Taubes, called "Big Fat Lies". He makes a convincing argument that excessive carbohydrate consumption is creating the obesity epidemic. Basically he states that without insulin it is not possible to store fat in the body. Most bodily tissues require insulin in order to use glucose. The excess insulin directs the body to store fat and only when the insulin levels drop back down will stored energy be utilized. I think he has really hit on some significant points that will help us figure out why obesity is suddenly spreading across the earth.

I find the "low-carb" results enticing, but I'm not ready to convert my diet. I still cannot accept that a high protein/fat diet is the healthiest long term choice. Yes, it is obviously a great way to quickly lose excess weight for many otherwise healthy people. However, critical pieces of the overall puzzle are still not in place. For starters, we don't know why cells become insulin resistant in the first place and we have yet to identify several unknown molecules and mechanisms within the insulin pathway itself. I agree that excess insulin is creating problems. But I'm fairly certain that eliminating carbohydrates in our diet would inevitably replace one set of health problems with a different set of problems down the road. Without a doubt, a diet of refined and processed foods is obviously unhealthy, but I'm growing weary of hearing people speak as if ALL carbohydrates are unhealthy. I think health comes from finding the optimum BALANCE for one's own body. That optimum balance appears to be different for each of us. I prefer to do alternate day fasting. I suggest you do whatever works best for your body. The main reason I won't do a "low carb" diet (hence high protein/fat) to lose my excess weight is because of a frightening personal experience that I had when I was younger:

When I was about 17, my boyfriend and I consumed a high protein diet because we didn't have anything else to eat. We were a young, struggling couple with little money and his parents filled our freezer with venison (deer meat) to help us out. I don't recall precisely how long it was (I'm thinking it was about 3 months) but I started experiencing a strange feeling in my back that progressively grew worse. I went to the doctor, they found protein in my urine but no signs of any infection. They said that I probably just strained myself somehow and gave me a prescription for a muscle relaxant. The pain continued to get worse and the muscle relaxers didn't help. My whole body swelled up and I was in a great deal of pain. My boyfriend finally took me to the emergency room. They said that I had a severe kidney infection and they couldn't understand how it could have been missed, they immediately admitted me into the hospital. They began treatment for the infection but I did not respond and my kidneys were shutting down. They called my mother and told her she should fly out immediately because I was dying. The antibiotics were not working, my kidneys were shutting down and they couldn't understand why. I started having convulsions -- which were excruciating -- it felt like I was going to snap my own neck. Gradually my kidneys resumed functioning and the infection began clearing up.

It turns out that what happened was that my kidneys began shutting down, probably due to the strain put on them by the excessive protein. The infection was actually secondary to my kidneys shutting down. That is why the kidney infection wasn't found initially -- I didn't have one yet. Perhaps the intravenous glucose in the hospital gave my kidneys the rest they needed to recover? I don't think I would ever risk eating such a high protein diet again. I realize that what we were eating was very different from what people are consuming on Atkins and other such diets. I might also have had an unknown kidney problem before I even began eating that way. My boyfriend remained perfectly healthy through the whole ordeal and he ate the same things I did. This experience is one of the major reasons why I switched to a more vegetarian based diet.


I am now adding protein shakes on my fasting day. Today I drank 3 of them. My kidneys feel fine by the way. It seems like it must certainly be healthier to get protein from a shake than it would be to take it from my own muscles and organs. As long as I'm not overdosing on it -- it seems like it would be beneficial to continue supplementing my fasting day with protein shakes.

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