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The annual 7-day fast

By the time I post this, it will be over.

Before you even ask, at the end of this post is a link dump to some of the research supporting a periodic, extended fast for cancer prevention. Read these at your leisure – I tried to supply a mix of scientific papers with more accessible articles and interviews.

In August of 2018, when the honey and I first began to discover the benefits of fasting (IF: intermittent fasting, EF: extended fasting, TRE: time-restricted eating, ADF: alternate day fasting), we embarked on a 7-day fast. We opted to include coffee with butter/cream and coconut oil, and bone broth. We have since learned that the protein in the bone broth might diminish the effect of fasting, and of course the calories in the coffee prevented it from being a true, zero-calorie fast.

Another year has rolled by, and we have just completed what we now see as our annual 7-day fast. We mixed in some water only days with coffee-with-cream days.

Since this post is already link-heavy, I will simply describe what our experience was like, and will leave our regular fasting schedule, and the science behind it, for another day.

Day 1 – We fast regularly one day per week. In the fasting universe, this is referenced by how many hours are spent fasting.. For example, our usual pattern is one 42-hour fast per week. That means dinner on a Monday around 6, fasting on Tuesday, and eating again on Wednesday, midday. So today is no different than what we’ve been doing for over a year. Are we hungry? Comes and goes. We stay busy, stay hydrated, and think about what we’d like to break our fast with.

Day 2 – A good day at Freethought Farm. We stayed busy with tasks and didn’t feel too much hunger. I had a lovely walk on the Greenway with a bestie who is also a faster, so we enjoyed talking about what we’re each learning about fasting and nutrition. We had electrolytes and an abundance of water.

Day 3 – This seems to be the day for most fasters that it gets a little easier, and that is true for us too. Hunger comes in waves, so we drink a little water, go for a walk, make a phone call, etc, and the sensation passes. It’s not cumulative – we don’t feel hungrier and hungrier and hungrier.

Day 4 – If you research intermittent fasting at all, an important component of every plan includes consuming electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium. We have both a homemade recipe, and commercial drops we use in water. Especially when you add in outdoor exercise in the heat, replacing electrolytes is absolutely critical.

Day 5 – Now we’re beginning to think about what we’ll eat to break the fast. We have a list of things we get hungry for (sometimes that helps when you get a little obsess-y thinking about food). It also helps for us to review the books and blogs I have posted below, and to visit a couple of Facebook pages we follow for inspirational stories from other people who incorporate the keto and IF lifestyle.

Day 6 – Almost there. Our sleep has improved, as have the other markers we measure daily – blood pressure, ketones, weight, mood, energy, performance, focus. We measure this whether we’re fasting or not, so it gives us the opportunity to compare. We have continued our regular workout schedule (6x week), and have recorded our results for those as well.

Day 7 – We made it! We don’t plan to do this again until next year. We are excited about breaking our fast, we both feel mildly euphoric (unless that’s an oxymoron), and looking forward to eating!

Breaking the Fast: We began with a small salad, then progressed to a medium rare ribeye with roasted broccoli and every bite was better than the one before. We’re glad not to do it again for another year, but we like what the exercise of extended fasting does for our appetite, our patience, our enjoyment of food, and potentially, our long-term health.

 

UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Unlike CR, fasting induces changes associated with cellular protection to actually protect against weight loss initially and increases protection from oxidative stress.  Fasting results in a more significant drop in insulin levels, as well as an increase in insulin sensitivity in a shorter amount of time compared to CR.  Given that insulin levels play a role in cancer risk, these differences are potentially clinically important.

 

Podcast: The Quantified Body, with Dr. Thomas Seyfried, author of Cancer as a Metabolic Disease

All cancers can be linked to impaired mitochondrial function and energy metabolism. It’s not a nuclear genetic disease. It’s a mitochondrial metabolic disease… therapeutic ketosis can enhance mitochondrial function for some conditions, and can kill tumor cells.

 

Confessions of a Supply-Side Liberal, Miles Kimball, Eaton Chair of Economics, CU Boulder

If I were ever diagnosed with cancer, the first thing I would do would be to begin fasting immediately; my hope would be to slow down the progress of the cancer during the time it took to develop a more conventional treatment strategy for my cancer. I would also do my best to try to convince my cancer doctor to read Thomas Seyfried’s book in the hope my cancer doctor might get some good ideas for improving the treatment strategy.

 

Fasting Cycles Retard Growth of Tumors and Sensitize a Range of Cancer Cell Types to Chemotherapy

This is a link to the paper itself, and I didn’t want to pull a quote from the research, but here is part of the abstract:

The therapeutic potential of fasting would be even greater if it also increased the death of cancer cells. Here, we tested this possibility by studying the effect of fasting on cancer cell survival in the presence or absence of chemotherapeutic agents.

 

Interview with Dr. Jason Fung, author of The Complete Guide to Fasting

Apoptosis, which is also known as “programmed cell death”, is when cells commit suicide. It sounds kind of macabre, but it’s essential for good health. The cells of the body are like cars. When they get too old to be repaired they need to be destroyed to make way for healthy new cells – up to 70 billion every day. Not all cars need to be scrapped, though. Sometimes you can replace the parts, and this is where autophagy kicks in. The word derives from the Greek ‘auto’ (self) and ‘phagein’ (to eat), so literally means ‘to eat oneself.’ It’s when a cell doesn’t die, but replaces the worn out ‘sub-cellular’ parts with new ones. Autophagy is a form of cleansing: the process of breaking down and recycling cellular components when there’s no longer enough energy to sustain them. Once all the broken-down parts have been cleansed, new tissues and cells are built to replace the old ones. So, our bodies are in a constant state of renewal, but when these processes are hijacked, unwanted cellular bits build up and diseases such as cancer occur. Increased levels of glucose, insulin and proteins all turn off autophagy, and it doesn’t take much. Even as little as three grams of the amino acid leucine can stop it. But fasting turns these cleaning mechanisms on.

 

Fasting-like diet turns the immune system against cancer

“It may be that by always being exposed to so much food, we are no longer taking advantage of natural protective systems which allow the body to kill cancer cells,” Longo said. “But by undergoing a fasting-mimicking diet, you are able to let the body use sophisticated mechanisms able to identify and destroy the bad but not good cells in a natural way.”

 

Fasting and Caloric Restriction in Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Whereas chronic CR provides both beneficial and detrimental effects as well as major compliance challenges, periodic fasting (PF), fasting-mimicking diets (FMDs), and dietary restriction (DR) without a reduction in calories are emerging as interventions with the potential to be widely used to prevent and treat cancer.

Next post: We both had the Coronary Artery Calcium scan, which might be the most important indicator for heart health. Stay tuned for our results!

Thanks for reading!

Paleo post, part 3

Today is the vegetable post.

Eat them.

Thanks for reading!

 

OK, I’ve already covered the hardest part – the No Grains and No Sugar part.  This next one is an affirmative rule, and it’s one you can learn to love.

We should eat vegetables every day.  Lots of them.  Lots of different kinds of them.  You already know they are loaded with good stuff – nutrients, vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals.  There is research showing that vegetables with their phytochemicals can be helpful in fighting cancer.

Additionally, there are SO MANY different kinds of vegetables, which becomes important when you eliminate grains and sugar as a way to keep your food interesting and new.  There are only a few types of animals we eat, and because the Standard American Diet (aptly abbreviated to SAD) is so full of grain-based foods, if you do make a transition to a more traditional diet, you are likely to experience a feeling of depravity, and all those veggie varieties can help with that.

imagesimages-1So whether you have a big salad of fresh vegetables, or a stew or stirfry full of cooked vegetables, shoot for having them at 2 meals out of 3, or maybe start with one big meal of non-starchy veggies every day.

And I have good news about your next question.  While we’re ditching the croutons and shredded cheddar cheese, we’re adding good fats so you can have some kickass dressing on that big ol’ salad.  Here’s a recipe for homemade mayo (stay away from the ooky grocery store stuff) that can serve as a base for scads of dressings.  I make you a personal promise that it will be the tastiest mayo you have ever tried.

You can also add olives, nuts, chopped boiled eggs, a protein, and even fruit.  You may, like me, find that your salad meal is your favorite meal of the day.

For your cooked vegetables, try roasting almost any vegetable for the best flavor (400 degrees, one layer deep and tossed with sea salt and olive oil, 12-25 minutes depending upon size of pieces).  This gives broccoli, asparagus, kale, squash, brussel sprouts, and zucchini a crunchy, roasty flavor.  Another personal promise that you’re gonna LOVE this.

Fruits can also be a part of a healthy paleo diet.  I’m going to address this further in the post about Fat (to come).  Some fruits are high in sugar (bananas, apples), and you remember from the Sugar post that this can create a problem if we eat too much.  But Gayle, you rightly ask, how does that fit with the whole Paleo mentality?  Aren’t we supposed to be eating similar to our ancestors, and wouldn’t they have eaten fruit?  Why yes, they would – when they could get it, which would be when?  Seasonally.  (Just like veggies, by the way).  And the fruit that would have been available would not even have resembled a big juicy Red Delicious.  Finally, remember that we are building a diet that is healthy, not just historic, and too much sugar, from any source, leads to an insulin response.  Get to know the sugar content of fruits (and vegetables), and eat them as toppings, or see them as they treat they are.

Probably everyone has heard the analysis of whether or not to spend the extra for the Organic label – that if you are going to peel it (bananas or pineapples), non-organic is suitable; for leafies or veggies that are hard to wash, or whose peel you plan to eat (spinach, lettuces, sweet potatoes), go ahead and spend the extra.  Here’s my thought on the Organic issue:  I consider this issue to be about Tier 3 or 4 as it relates to priority.  If you’ve taken grains out of your diet, eliminated dairy, if you’re eating grass-fed meats and quality fats, THEN worry about whether or not your strawberries are organic.

I think a better focus is to seek LOCAL sources for your fruits and vegetables for at least 3 reasons – it supports local farmers and not superstores, it reduces the energy cost and carbon impact of transporting food from sometimes thousands of miles away (banana, anyone?), and the produce does not have to be genetically engineered to survive the journey and handling it takes to get to you.

By the way, corn is a grain, not a vegetable.  Beans are legumes, not vegetables.  A potato, while botanically a vegetable, is nutritionally a starchy tuber.

One more time I’ll state my disclaimer – this information I’m sharing is what I accept about nutrition science, and it matches pretty squarely with my own experience with my own health and nutrition.  This might be a good time for me to post this link which addresses the book The China Study, whose claims contradict Paleolithic nutrition science.  Denise Minger is a rockstar in the movement – here is her 2012 presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium.

Next up:  Dairy!  One of the hottest topics within the Ancestral Health movement.

Thanks for reading!

 

Ancestral Health Symposium

So here’s where I am this weekend:

The Ancestral Health Symposium

This is the third year of the symposium, but it’s my first time to go.

The premise is that when we can use an evolutionary prospective, we can develop solutions to our contemporary health challenges.  The title Paleo as it applies to nutrition is too vague and is really kind of an inaccurate word, but it’s still a word that gets thrown around and is accepted shorthand within the movement.

Couldn't play it straight.
Couldn’t play it straight.

So first: the demographic of attendees.  There are about 600 people here.  At any time in a store, or on a street, or at a conference, or on a campus, the folks you see reflect the statistics of America’s population:  35% obese, 69% overweight (including obesity).  Not in this room.  These are fit people.  Fit does not mean slender – these people look strong and healthy.  It is a younger group – Eliott and I are in the older 20%, easily – but even the older folks look this way.  It’s a refreshing view; I didn’t realize how “normal” it is to see those statistics every day in real life until I was in this conference room.

A stock image, but you get the drift.
A stock image, but you get the drift.

Most of the speakers are MD’s and PhDs.  Check out this detailed schedule.  I don’t have a science background, and a few of the presenters today were a smidge over my head.  The topics today were:

The Paleolithic Prescription

This was presented by the two MD’s who are considered the “grandfathers” of the modern Paleo movement, who have been researching the hunter-gatherer diet for their entire professional careers.  This one was a little sciency, but I hung on the best I could, and took notes on their suggestions for more papers and books to read.

The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature

I loved this one.  Dr. Gad Saad examined our modern consumer instinct that has gone awry, and what it reveals about our primal nature.  It gives context at least to how we’ve gotten where we are, even if it’s unsettling.

Your ovaries know what I'm talking about.
Your ovaries know what I’m talking about.

Sexual Fitness and Women’s Fertility Cycles

Another great session.  This examined sexual selection from an evolutionary standpoint, and how we’re massively altering this with our reliance on synthetic hormones, both for men and women.  I’m particularly interested in this because of my 4 young-adult children and their long-term health.

images-3

High Fructose Corn Syrup Litigation Status

Fascinating session by the plaintiff’s attorney in the lawsuit filed in New York against the HFCS manufacturers on behalf of a teenage girl w/type 2 diabetes, claiming that HFCS is the cause of her developing the disease.  I had an instant flashback to my first year of law school and Torts and Strict Liability/Failure To Warn.

Satan's urine
Satan’s urine

Find Your Why

Highlight of the day.  This young man, Kyle Maynard, was born with a congenital amputation who has become a motivational speaker, and is a proponent of the Paleo lifestyle.  He recently became the first person to “bear crawl” up Mt. Kilimanjaro.  It took 13 days and his presentation today was about that challenge.  Please click through to his page and read about this spectacular young person.

Awesome.  What's your Why?
Awesome. What’s your Why?

The hall of vendors has been wonderful – sources of grass-fed beef, home-gardening aids, and the newest buzz-product Kombucha (kind of a fermented tea that adds beneficial gut flora).  Tomorrow also includes a posters’ session, which are like mini-breakout sessions, I think.  In between speakers, we have these little 3-minute movement sessions by Adonis- and Venus-like trainers.

About 3 months ago, Eliott and I did this Whole30 experiment.  It’s 30 days of absolute clean eating:  local and organic grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, local and organic vegetables and some fruits, and healthy fats.  No sugar, no grains, no alcohol.  It also include other paleo-lifestlyle pieces regarding sleep, timing of meals, and movement.  It was both a lot of fun and a real challenge.  It was pricey, of course, to buy all that fresh, local food (and lots of time to prepare and cook it), and it was a new skill, but we LOVED it.  We felt fabulous, had huge energy, no physical symptoms of our ages (!).  It’s extremely difficult to do while traveling, but we’ve continued to do a modified version at home (like I’m not going to have cocktails at sunset).  The authors of the Whole 30 book are here for a presentation and panel tomorrow.

From my personal food porn file
From my personal food porn file

So anyway, that’s what I’m doing til Sunday.  My brain’s on overload but I’m lovin it.  To my Murfreesboro crowd – I’ll be home in time for Glenda’s moving-to-Vegas-and-selling-her-art party on Sunday afternoon.

Thanks for reading!

Another thing on the list!

The Brit, the gimlet, and me

One of the things on my list of 50 at 50 was having a lime gimlet with an actual British person. I wikied the word to find out the history of the drink, and while I’ll list a couple of interesting things about the drink, it’s worth clicking on the link for the whole story, plus a couple of suggested recipes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimlet_%28cocktail%29

My bartender made it with Hendrick’s Gin (which, as he knew, would instantly become my favorite, albeit it pricey, gin) and Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice.  Some recipes suggest a simple syrup and actual lime juice, but I was pleased with the Rose’s.  I’ll try a low-carb version at some point, but I’ll use the Rose’s til it’s gone.  Sam mixed it about half-and-half, maybe a touch more gin, shaken over ice, served over ice.  It was as cool and refreshing as it sounds, and is now in my top 5 favorite drinks, maybe even displacing my go-to gin and tonic.

Beautiful Hendrick's bottle

This post is primarily to describe marking that event off my list, but I’ll also use it to catch up a bit.  Sam’s visit to the US has ended and he’s back off the England to begin his master’s degree at Bristol.  Glenda is missing him fiercely, but has plans to visit England again for Christmas for the 3rd year in a row.

They made it home for a visit last weekend to see Aden’s fall festival at John Pittard Elementary School.  There was face-painting, jumpy things, cake-walking, and all the crap to eat that you would expect at a fall festival.  Aden said it was a Great Friday, and we all agreed!

yes, that's a pilot costume
After she finished (it was a spider), he said he really wanted it on the other cheek

The next day our precious Emily Potts came over for breakfast; Glenda and I had been wanting her to meet Sam for two years!  She was totally NOT fangirly over our very own Harry Potter (you can’t quite see the scar drawn on her forehead and her Neville shirt).  Emily makes everything an instant party, and we kept her from going home to help hubby John clean the house all morning.

Q T Pies

The next weekend was son Sam’s birthday, so we had 3/4 of the kids home then.  (We missed you Ben.)

Sam with his gift from his sisters, brother, and Sam M

And now, because it’s my blog and I can, here are two of Glenda’s recent watercolors (I think brother Ben commissioned her for one of them):

Lastly, a few pics of the Freedom of Religion Rally in Murfreesboro.  Seriously, citizens, this is a no-brainer.  Freedom of Religion means every religion, not just the ones you like and understand.

Sweet Elliot

Training still continues

and continues

and continues.

Thanks for reading!

Trip to Paris

What a delightful, girlie, French week we just had!!

Amy and I headed out on a Saturday morning, and had pretty good luck getting to Paris.  Glenda met us at baggage claim where we all had tears and endless smiles!

sisterlove

She’s been in the city since August, so she’s an expert in the Metro, and did a fabulous job with the language.  We did a lot of sightseeing the first day, even tho we were a bit jetlagged.  We went to Notre Dame, Champs Elysses, Arc du Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower.

classic
see Quasimodo?
right in the middle of Champs Ellysses
at the bridge near the Eiffel
at the base of the Tower

We were so glad to go to bed that night, and started the next day by going to Glenda’s campus with her.  It is located near an interesting museum/shopping area that Amy and I cruised while she was in class.

Pompidou Museum of Modern Art
Street vendor selling crepes - Nutella is at EVERY stand
One of an huge volume of bakery pictures

We ate this same snack lunch every day – cheese, nuts, olives, fruit, bread.  Restaurants are so expensive and really we preferred to eat like this.

We eat this way at home too!

Then it was off to the Louvre – Glenda’s right about how to see it – you just have to do a section at a time.  She’s been about 8 times with her class, and has done a different section each time.  Amy and I did the typical tourist thing cuz our time was compressed, and Glenda had to go to class so we were on our own.

here she is
At the interior inverted glass pyramid
twinning it up
our hostel room with view of....the street

The next day was our trip to the Musee D’Orsay – Glenda’s favorite in Paris.  It was structurally beautiful; it’s a museum of impressionism, and included some pretty spectacular pieces.

Van Gogh's self-portrait

Glenda talked so much about this Van Gogh, and then when we saw it, we understood.  The color and pattern really are remarkable.  There were sculptures and some contemporary pieces we enjoyed seeing, as well as Gauguin and Monet.  The problem with a collection like that is that you become overstimulated/saturated so quickly, so after a couple of hours of following our resident docent, we stopped for a French lunch of quiche, sandwiches, and pastry.

lunch on the street
...with dessert

After that respite, we cruised an upscale section of Paris with shops and stores – then we went into a wine-tasting store Glenda has visited in her oenology class, and of course we had to have a tasting!  We bought a bottle of white, and a cheese tray for supper.  It was delicious, with one tiny exception.  These cheese samplers are assembled at the discretion of the cheese-sampler-assembler in the kitchen, I suppose, and our plate included a cheese the likes of which I have never experienced.

the offending selection is the baked triangle at the bottom of the plate

I love stinky cheese – the stinkier-feet-smelling, the better, as far as I’m concerned.  I love Roqufort, blue cheese, even limberger.  This cheese was not just aromatic.  It was not just pungent.  This cheese smelled like nothing other than…well, let’s just say that we now refer to it as Ass Cheese .  It’s called Reblochment Fermier; we googled it when we got back to the dorm and cracked up at the colorful descriptions of other consumers.

our wine and cheese experience

So we began the next day.  Glenda had class, so Amy and I headed out to Versailles, about a half-hour’s train ride from Paris.  The weather was awful – cold, wet, windy – but it was our one chance to go, and there’s that Jordan family motto thing, so off we went.  It was as dramatically spectacular as we knew it would be, but seeing it in person has a huge impact.

the Chapel at VersaillesThe Hall of Mirrorssome of the formal gardens

On our last full day, Glenda’s wine class went to a wine-tasting expo in Paris.  It was composed of independent wine producers, and many residents purchase their annual supply of wine here.  There were probably 300+ vendors, all offering tastings and sales.  Best 6 Euro we spent on the whole trip.  There were food vendors too, so you didn’t get too buzzed, and we spent the better part of the day here.

having a great time at the Expo!

That afternoon when we returned to the dorm, we created the French version of Thanksgiving, and we had a blast doing it (that may have had something to do with the fact that we were marinating in Expo-juice!)  A couple other American students joined us for our feast, and now Glenda is enjoying the leftovers.

Traditional feast for us: sweet potato casserole, green beans, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pecan and pumpkin pies

All in all, it was a phenomenal trip, and we hated to see it end.  Glenda put us on the train to the airport the following day, we had great seats on the plane, and about 13 hours later, via Atlanta, we were home!

Daughter Amy has to fly back to California for another 2 weeks of classes, then a week of finals, then the fam regroups in Colorado for Christmas.  Oh, and in the meantime, I’ll attempt to return to training/nutrition for my race!
Thanks for reading!

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