For many people, fasting, or the concept of willingly skipping meals for a specific period of time, may not seem like a very appealing way to improve digestive health. Because most people also eat about 3 meals a day, skipping one or two meals a day can ultimately cause them to feel moody, tired, and fatigued. However, for people with digestive health issues, such as SIBO, IBS, or leaky gut, they may already be feeling these symptoms, even after eating their 3 meals a day. In this article, we will discuss how fasting can be beneficial for some patients and how it can help improve their digestive health. Â
Understanding the Digestive System
The digestive system starts the process of breaking down food from the moment we eat in order to absorb nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. The digestive system will use approximately 25 percent of the calories we consume to even start the process of digestion. Digesting food requires tremendous effort from the human body because it alters many of its main functions and pulls many resources away from other structures to simply perform it. The immune system also activates every time we eat food in order to protect the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract from anything and everything that passes through. Â
When fasting, however, the digestive system can start to heal and restore the human body. During a fast, the human body will utilize fat instead of sugar as the main source of energy fuel. An average person only has about 2,500 Kcal of glycogen to use as glucose for energy while the average person has about 100,000 Kcal of fat for energy. Moreover, it may take time for the human body to become adjusted to utilizing fat instead of sugar as the main source of energy fuel, which is why many people may not feel well until several days after they’ve started fasting. Fasting can also ultimately have other benefits. Â
Inflammation is one of the main causes of a variety of chronic conditions and diseases, including digestive health issues. According to researchers and healthcare professionals, inflammation is the common cause of SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, IBS, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and leaky gut. Environmental factors, such as toxins, processed foods, drugs and/or medications, alcohol, and food sensitivities or intolerances can all cause inflammation. Furthermore, stress can also cause inflammation and it can tremendously affect the process of digestion and overall digestive health. Â
No food will ultimately pass through the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract during a fast. With the exception of water, fasting reduces the consumption of inflammatory compounds, further reducing inflammation in the human body. Anti-inflammatory cytokines become activated while pro-inflammatory cytokines become less active when fasting. The digestive system knows when we aren’t eating and it’ll ultimately trigger these structural and functional changes. Inflammation is also closely associated with oxidative stress. Oxidative stress and inflammation can affect our overall digestive health. Â
Fasting can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress through our genes. Oxidative stress refers to the damage that happens to the cells and tissues of the human body when exposed to a variety of environmental factors, such as toxins. Proteins, lipids, and even the DNA of our cells can be affected by inflammation and oxidative stress, altering the structure and function of the cells. Eating antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. It’s essential you make sure you consume enough antioxidants when you’re not fasting in order to prevent cell damage from inflammation and oxidative stress.
Fasting and the MMC for Digestive Health
Researchers and healthcare professionals have suggested that the development of several digestive health issues, including SIBO, IBS, and leaky gut, is associated with increased levels of oxidative enzymes as well as decreased amounts of antioxidant enzymes. However, the main source of these digestive health issues ultimately involves the gut microbiome or the bacteria in the gut. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is a digestive health issue caused by the excess growth of the bacteria in the small intestine, eventually leading to leaky gut or intestinal permeability, among other problems. Â
According to research studies and clinical trials, fasting can help change the population of the gut microbiome, encouraging the regulation of “healthy” bacteria. This digestive process is ultimately controlled by the migrating motor complex or the MMC. The MMC is a digestive process which regulates and maintains gastrointestinal, or GI, tract contractions throughout a period of time. The migrating motor complex helps sweep bacteria and undigested debris out for elimination as waste. Neurohormonal signals, such as somatostatin, serotonin, motilin, and ghrelin, control the MMC when eating and fasting. Â
MMC activity triggers when we are fasting or in between meals. Once we consume food, however, nutrients like vitamins and minerals can affect the activation of the migrating motor complex, ultimately decreasing when MMC activity triggers, and essentially starting the digestive process once again. If we allow the MMC to complete its work during fasting, it can become much more difficult for food, undigested debris, and excess bacteria to stay in the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract. This is why fasting has been recommended as a treatment for SIBO. However, fasting may not be suitable for everyone. Although fasting can have a variety of digestive health benefits, make sure to contact a doctor before starting any fasting treatment plan or program. Â
Fasting is a well-known, strategical way of eating which can have a variety of digestive health benefits for many people. Several digestive health issues, such as SIBO, IBS, and leaky gut, may tremendously benefit from fasting. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is a severe health issue that causes excess bacteria to grow in the small intestine. Fasting can promote the migrating motor complex, or the MMC, to activate, sweeping excess bacteria and undigested debris away for elimination as waste, also triggering anti-inflammatory processes to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. However, fasting may not be for everyone. Make sure to talk to a qualified and experienced healthcare professional before fasting. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
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For many people, fasting, or the concept of willingly skipping meals for a specific period of time, may not seem like a very appealing way to improve digestive health. Because most people also eat about 3 meals a day, skipping one or two meals a day can ultimately cause them to feel moody, tired, and fatigued. However, for people with digestive health issues, such as SIBO, IBS, or leaky gut, they may already be feeling these symptoms, even after eating their 3 meals a day. In this article, we discussed how fasting can be beneficial for some patients and how it can help improve their digestive health. Â
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.Â
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez Â
- Rory. â€œHow To Heal Your Gut With Fasting.â€ Chewsomegood, MSc Personalised Nutrition, 9 Aug. 2018, www.chewsomegood.com/fasting-ibs/.
Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain
Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance. Â
Neural Zoomer Plus for Neurological Disease
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate neurological diseases. The Neural ZoomerTM Plus is an array of neurological autoantibodies which offers specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus is designed to assess an individualâ€™s reactivity to 48 neurological antigens with connections to a variety of neurologically related diseases. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus aims to reduce neurological conditions by empowering patients and physicians with a vital resource for early risk detection and an enhanced focus on personalized primary prevention. Â
Food Sensitivity for the IgG & IgA Immune Response
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate health issues associated with food sensitivities. The Food Sensitivity ZoomerTM is an array of 180 commonly consumed food antigens that offers very specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. This panel measures an individualâ€™s IgG and IgA sensitivity to food antigens. Being able to test IgA antibodies provides additional information to foods that may be causing mucosal damage. Additionally, this test is ideal for patients who might be suffering from delayed reactions to certain foods. Utilizing an antibody-based food sensitivity test can help prioritize the necessary foods to eliminate and create a customized diet plan around the patientâ€™s specific needs. Â
Gut Zoomer for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate gut health associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). The Vibrant Gut ZoomerTM offers a report that includes dietary recommendations and other natural supplementation like prebiotics, probiotics, and polyphenols. The gut microbiome is mainly found in the large intestine and it has more than 1000 species of bacteria that play a fundamental role in the human body, from shaping the immune system and affecting the metabolism of nutrients to strengthening the intestinal mucosal barrier (gut-barrier). It is essential to understand how the number of bacteria that symbiotically live in the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract influences gut health because imbalances in the gut microbiome may ultimately lead to gastrointestinal (GI) tract symptoms, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, immune system imbalances, and multiple inflammatory disorders. Â
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The information herein on "Functional Neurology: The Science of Fasting for Digestive Health" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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