Still, intermittent fasting (IF) is the newest buzzword in wellness. Experts are calling it the ultimate tool to lose weight, detoxify the body, reduce disease and even decrease chances of cancer. And the best part is that it’s free. But I’ve always been a bit of a cynic when something reaches mass popularity, because everything is not good for everyone. I spoke to Shonali Sabherwal, Mumbai-based macrobiotic chef and author of The Detox Diet for her views on this sweeping craze. Here’s what she said.
“As a nation, we are extremely obsessed with losing weight,” says Sabherwal. She explains that the new obsession with health stems from this intention (to reduce in size), as opposed to reducing disease and increasing longevity. “What intermittent fasting does is that after about 12 hours it sends your body into a state of autophagy,” she adds. This is when the body destroys or eats into its diseased cells. Over the long term, this autophagy reduces disease by destroying toxic, diseased and carcinogenic cells. However, most people who are on IM do so to lose weight, which is a shallow intention at best.
“Because people practice IF with the intention of weight loss and not disease reduction, they treat it like a hall pass to eat whatever they can in the eight-hour window.” Sabherwal says that while there are benefits to IF, it should be followed by those who are firstly, healthy, and secondly, knowledgeable. “Most people reward themselves with junk because they starve for the majority of 24 hours.” This means that the body has to work even harder to detoxify at a cellular level, as it has to work against the new toxic food circulating in the system. If we begin IF with the intention of reducing disease, we will support the fasting with healthy foods that will not add to the toxic load in the body. This means lots of whole grains, green leafy vegetables, good quality meat and fish, fruits, beans, lentils, etc. “Isn’t it common sense that good health depends on a nutrient-rich diet combined with exercise for best results?,” the macrobiotic chef questions.
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