Diet, Lifestyle
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Intermittent Fasting and Inflammation

Admittedly, I’ve been hearing about the concept of Intermittent Fasting (IF) for a couple of years now and gave it no thought, as I love food way too much to voluntarily accept any kind of a fast, not to mention that the concept basically flies in the face of everything we’ve been conditioned to accept as gospel in the field of diet and nutrition.  Who hasn’t been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that skipping meals can slow your metabolism?  Up until recently, I have been a follower of the “eat every few hours” mindset, to avoid blood sugar dropping and keeping metabolism up.  Additionally, I have found that since all my surgeries, I can’t consume as much food as I used to in one sitting, and that smaller, more frequent meals were easier on my system.

If you’ve read any of my posts in the last few months, you know that my Crohn’s Disease has certainly been beating the hell out of me, what with frequent obstructions, ER visits, hospital stays and courses of prednisone.  It’s been very frustrating and I am getting very fed up.  The GI wants me to get surgery to remove the scar tissue and stop some of the obstructions, the surgeon thinks it’s too risky, and basically we’ve been in a “wait and see” mode for far too long with no positive outcome on the horizon.

I’ve adjusted my diet in the last few years to try and keep my body’s natural inclination toward an inflammatory response down; I’ve added coconut oil and flaxseed to my daily diet, removed almost all processed food, and increased my hydration intake.  I practice yoga regularly and quit my very stressful fulltime job, opting for part time work instead, all in the name of declaring a truce with my very temperamental body.  Clearly, that has not been enough.

An article on intermittent fasting a few months ago caught my eye; while so many of the articles I had seen thus far focused on the weight loss and muscular gain benefits of the practice, this one was about the reaction of the body’s inflammatory response to the practice.  I began to do more research on it, and found a lot.  For every article claiming IF’s life-changing benefits, there was another saying how blasphemous it was, etc.  It’s like anything else.  One day fat is bad for you, the next day it’s good, and it is so hard for the general public to get good information when there is so much noise surrounding it because of people’s long held beliefs that “this is what we’ve always done”.

What do I have to lose?  Switching my medications around hasn’t worked, my diet is about as clean as it can get (according to my dietician), and my attempts to find my “inner peace” through yoga are still a work in progress.  While it may seem counterintuitive, so does constantly keeping my immune system suppressed with chemotherapy for the last decade, but that’s what’s keeping me alive at the moment, so…

To be clear, over the next few weeks, I’ll post some of the information I read about the inflammatory response and IF, along with my progress as it seems noteworthy.  While there are several ways to go about IF, I wasn’t too keen on the “eat normally for five days and fast for two” concept, as I know how I can be on day two as an NPO patient in the hospital, and it isn’t pretty.  I’ve elected to do another approach that works well with my schedule and needs, which is fasting for 16 hours each day and eating my meals within an 8 hour window.  This may sound like a lot, but keep in mind sleeping is factored into that time, and typically I don’t like to eat late anyway, because it causes me to get up more at night.  I am fasting from 8pm each night until noon the following day, and then eating a normal lunch, a midafternoon snack, and dinner.  I have increased the size (slightly) of both my lunch and dinner meals to allow for the nutrients that I am missing out on in the morning.  I will be keeping my workouts the same, with circuit training six days each week and strength training three days each week.  Again, I want to get as accurate a picture as possible, so I’m trying to keep my food intake, exercise and sleep schedules the same as they have been thus far.  Currently, I’m on day three, and from what I understand, it can take a week or two for the body and GI system to get acclimated to this new schedule, so I can’t really report any effects yet, though I will say it hasn’t been as bad as I expected.

At no time will I be recommending this plan to everyone with IBD, because each of our bodies are different, and I am certainly not a medical expert.  I fully realize that experimenting with IF will not cure my Crohn’s Disease, my hope is simply to gain a better control over some of my symptoms of late.  My only intent is to try this for myself and share the experience, both good and bad, so that I will have a better understanding as to whether this will help reduce inflammation in my own body for the long term.  If this information proves helpful to anyone else along the way, then that’s simply a bonus.

And away we go.

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