Sunday, November 18, 2007

100 % of the biologic existence of humans was adapted to an outdoor existence of hunting and foraging for foods.
--Astrand, P.O. Textbook of Work Physiology


Beautiful day here. A great day for a walk, or perhaps a final leaf rake. If I'm lucky, I'll get outside for an hour, but I've already been to step class so I'm disinclined to motor on in a sweaty sort of way. Not a chance I'll be cold, not a prayer I'll be hungry.

So my hunter/gatherer genes, superbly adapted to a life of cold, famine, and obligatory exercise, once again will be treated to a day of good and plenty. The human genome was perfected in the Ice Age, yet founders in the Space Age.

Humans survived those difficult pre-supermarket days by developing an efficient physiology that stowed calories against future times when nuts and berries were gone, and the deer and the antelope split. So how can we whittle away our waisted fat when all we need do is forage along Colfax Avenue for fast food any time night or day?

Research suggest the occasional day of fasting might restore balance to our disordered metabolism. In particular, overfed humans become resistant to the effects of insulin, and a day without food 'reminds' the body to delve into the pantry we haul about on our hips and abdomen.

Utah researchers, note that Mormons have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, and the reduced rate is greater than that explained by their non-smoking status alone. When they compared the rates of angiographically proven coronary artery disease between those subjects who fasted for whatever reason on a regular basis and those who kept the intake going regular, those who held fast to fasting were significantly less likely to have gummed up arteries.

The investigators defined fasting as no food or drink for two consecutive meals. Mormons fast once a month, could I? The last time I tried it in preparation for a colonoscopy, I spent half the day starving, then got past the lightheaded obsession by the middle of the day. I would need black coffee, however, is my Ice Age genome adjusted for that?

5 comments:

Ruth said...

Interesting post. A few years ago I tried fasting from Tuesday dinner to Wednesday dinner every week. (just missing 2 meals) It wasn't really that hard and it did adjust my appetite in a positive way. You give good reasons why I should try it again.

dorsey said...

A tribe with protein probably supplied healers with food; you'd have had a stash of dried berries to fall back on while you chiseled medical info onto rocks.

Forgetting to eat was easy when I was young and thin and smoking, though doing it on purpose is always challenging. I'm thinking about it, though (while eating my yogurt), two meals doesn't sound that intimidating, especially if there are good distractions. Does it count if I sprinkle nutmeg on my hand and lick it off, just to keep the brain working?
Still experimenting with the jellyfish, nothing spectacular to report yet.

Femail doc said...

Ruth: You have a good suggestion there for a doable fast; I'm going to give it a try. Maybe. Maybe next week. Perhaps in January.

Dorsey: By the end of my pre-colonoscopy fast, I was watching the Food Channel. That was a good distraction. Healers need their food, and I will soon have the modern equivalent of dried berries as patients bring in cookies and cakes. No fasting in my future. Wish the jellyfish pills were producing great results for you; I still find myself calmer and more clearheaded with the fruit of the jellyfish on board. Be the jellyfish.

Mauigirl said...

Religions advocating fasting may have had a good reason there.

It makes sense to give your body a rest now and then I guess.

smalltowndoc said...

In India, Hindus, especially ladies fast quiet often. They have different days to fast for different Gods. Most of them fast at least once a week. Fasting means, they do not take anything from morning until sunset. So our ancestors maybe had a reason to tell that we should fast. Muslims fast between 4am and 6pm for a month during Ramzan, Jains do much more rigorous fasting. Will you believe me if i say, some of them go for weeks together with nothing but hot water. And they are also supposed to continue working as usual. No resting in the house. As i once said i have not seen much diabetes in Jains. Some Jains after 35 or 40 go down to one meal a day, before sunset and not even water after that. But believe me, these people (especially ladies in 35s)are not thin either.