soil and seed: the science behind fasting

As a gardener, I’ve learned that if you cultivate healthy soil, then you can grow anything. In Florida this is no easy task and takes constant diligence and care, adding leaf litter, compost and other juicy ingredients. This process encourages mycorrhizae and other soil inhabitants that provide conditions under which plants will thrive. If you don’t tend your soil, the seeds you sow will struggle to survive. They’ll grow to be lanky and weak, unable to find the nutrition and microbial relationships they need to survive. When plants are weak, they become prone  to disease and pests.

This same thing happens in our bodies. We can cultivate our “soil” so that it resists illness, both short and long term. Or, we can tend the soil in such a way that it encourages invasive seeds like cancer, to thrive and dominate the garden.

Just the other day my friend Tom, coming off of two bouts of illness; flu then a cold was frustrated at his lingering cough that he knew was being exacerbated by other things. He said, “I really need to quit eating bread. I felt so great before when I quit eating that stuff“. He had been eating paleo style for sometime, lost weight, and cleared up so much inflammation that he was feeling wonderful. But like we all tend to do, slipped off that lifestyle for one reason or another. After falling victim to this year’s nasty flu virus, his body’s soil wasn’t in any condition to really help him out.  He wasn’t tending his soil how he knew that he needed to.

If you read my page about Food and Fasting, there are some good starting points there to cultivate healthy soil. Getting your diet right to reduce inflammation is critical. This means cutting out sugars, bumping up your microbiota, and eating highly nutritious foods. My friend Julie pointed me to this mini documentary about the Science of Fasting, which helps explain how it works. There are actually fasting clinics, for those undergoing prolonged fasts.  I never went longer than 3 days, but others with serious conditions, can undergo a medically supervised fast.

Fasting is a wonderful tool we can use to clear out any gunk that builds up in our soil. But please, set aside your gut reaction and judgments! I get this a lot from people, who find it crazy that I would consider not eating. Especially because I’m so small. It’s just misguided fear. Only in recent human evolution have we had access to thousands of unlimited and low quality calories a day. We’re more adapted to dealing with hunger than we are with excess. Our bodies know what to do when times get lean, they’ve been doing it for a long time.

Think of fasting like a re-start button! Every time I have a technology issue, the first thing Mike will always say to me is “have you tried re-starting?!” Things just get gummed up and need a fresh start. Wireless networks, computers, printers, phones. First thing to do is cut them off of their food supply (power) and then start up again. Natural systems go through periods of leanness during winter time, then flourish in the spring. Some animals go the extreme like penguins, fasting for months. Things go in cycles, and yet we never seem to do that with food. Three meals a day (if we are so fortunate), no breaks, no chances to re-start. I think my friend Tom should try fasting to clear up his gunk, then start re-building his soil.

Think of fasting like a re-set button for your body. It gives it a rest from having to digest and  metabolize, so that it can clean up a bit, remove wastes, toxins and other things that produce soil fit for cancer and other disease to grow.

I used this technique during my cancer treatments to alleviate symptoms and boost the effects of chemotherapy. I am convinced this was a key element to beating back cancer. This is explained in the documentary quite well.

Five years in remission, I still use this regularly with varying degrees of intensity to clear up the gunk. After traveling when my diet and other things may have been off (read: being gluttonous, eating rich foods and imbibing too much), I’ll come home and fast for a day or maybe three. Throughout the week, I’ll even skip breakfast or lunch fairly regularly, getting in some shorter intermittent fasts. These are actually pretty easy for me, and after going through it, I am motivated to keep building my soil.

So consider how you can better cultivate your soil for long term health, so that good seeds may flourish. Use fasting as a tool to occasionally refresh the soil, and help keep invasive seeds from taking hold.

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