Fasting - full water only variety - has anyone here tried it?

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So reading on here, quite a lot of people on here have significant gut symptoms along with the fatigue etc. certainly bloating, discomfort, constipation, IBS are common.

It also seems well recognised that problems in the gut can lead to systemic problems - for instance with the immune system ( e.g. via gut permeability) and with the CNS.

Quite a lot of sufferers also report improvement in symptoms if they restrict certain foods and in particular carbohydrates. Eg Ketogenic diet

The general hypothesis seems to be that these undesirable effects are mediated by the gut bacteria in some way and that reducing the amount of starchy carbohydrates in the diet reduces the available food for these organisms thereby reducing their numbers and activity, and thereby reducing the symptoms.

I may have oversimplified the above but my question is: If reducing food for these bacteria seems to help many people, what about fasting altogether for extended periods?
( the gut lining replaces itself in as little as 4 weeks so perhaps a rest from all food for 1-2weeks could allow it to heal and speed recovery)

There has been some interesting trials on fasting even for 5 days at a time for addressing metabolic disorders and even reducing auto-immune reactions, which I think many of us have also.

Natural healers also do recommend fasting for periods of up to 2 weeks for the treatment of mysterious illnesses with gut symptoms that do not respond to other approaches.

I know that is very strenuous so would not suggest taking it on lightly – but living with this disorder for years on end is strenuous, expensive and has a major impact on every area of your life, so I would certainly consider it.

Has anyone here tried water only fasting for a week or more - and if so – would you be able to share your experience?

  • What was your diet and health before?
  • How was the fasting and for how long?
  • What was the outcome?
 
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Bansaw

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Water only fast is arduous and especially so for CFS sufferers. The benefits are well documented of a 3-day fast and cleansing your body etc, and if my body was able to take it well then I'd do it regular. However, the water-only fast, while it does benefit me on certain levels, physically I am weak and irritable and my immune system is not as strong as when I am eating. So in the end the cons outweigh the pros for me.
I wish I could stand fasting more, but CFS makes it too difficult.

Having said that, I do find "intermittent fasting" easier, and beneficial. This means I don't eat breakfast and just do lunch and dinner. I am also on Keto. Intermittant fasting is easier for me and I see some benefits.
 
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Second star to the right ...
perhaps a rest from all food for 1-2weeks could allow it to heal and speed recovery)
I'd find that suicidal until I'm better. Like others, I do limited fasting, skipping breakfast for a few days and replacing it with lots of water, but even that leaves me weak and unfocused. I let my physical reactions guide me on when it's time to stop for awhile.

Has anyone here tried water only fasting for a week or more
I used to do seasonal fasts for 10 days at a stretch, but even when I was healthy I found that by day 4 or 5 I had to curtail unnecessary activity due to physical weakening.

I don't know if this is a reasonable undertaking for anyone dealing with this illness, and I'm not going to go beyond my limited current program, but would be interested in hearing other's experiences and input re this.
 

Hufsamor

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I've done 10 days water only.
Under supervision of a doctor the first time, on my own a couple of times later.

When I first heard about the gut-connection, it made perfect sense to me.
I've had problems with my gut my whole life,
and I developed ME/CFS slowly,
as far as I know, not in connection with any infections oh any kind.

So I thought...this is my subgroup,
for me, it probably started in the gut, and as years passed by my body broke down more and more. (Increasing inflammation?)

RECOVERY:

The doctor had one patient who got almost 100% recovery from water fasting,
(Of maybe 10 participants?)
I was talking to that patient.
She had to fast 10 days every 3 month to keep it up.
And if she got stressed out, or if she didn't watch her diet, she was on scratch again.

On a Norwegian me forum, one of the participants got back to work after starting on the 5-2 diet.

When I was fasting 10 days the first time,
we where a group of 4 me/cfs patients.
I know that at least one of us has repeated fasting every now and then,
to keep herself as well as possible (not at all 100%, but much better than before)

On a Norwegian Facebook site, with a kind of keto diet,
(Starting with waterfasting)
at least one of the participants has had 100% recovery from the diet and regular water fasting.

BUT...
The guy who runs the Facebook site is very,very into fasting.
He really loves it, and has no patience with people who say they don't want to
- or can't- do it.
EVEN HE...
Says about me/CFs patients,
that fasting might and might not be beneficial.
He says some might benefit, but some might get more sick.

None of us in our (mine) group of fasting me/ cfs patiens was very sick.
At that time we where all medium sick.
And even so, I was very, very sick throughout the fasting.
I would never seen it through if I didn't have the doctor behind me.

The one who has kept on with fasting from time to time,
was after one periods not able to eat again, she throw up every thing
and had to go to hospital to get intravenous.
(Even so, she keeps up fasting from time to time, she really have to feel it does her good)

If you want to try, please do.
But if you are very ill,
or if you don't have anyone to look after you, in case you gets very ill,
it might be wiser not to do it.

The most important thing is to get enough to drink,
minimum 1,5 litre water each day, one teaspoon Himalayan salt pr liter.
It can be difficult to get your pooping done,
so make sure you have some kind of enema close by.
 

rel8ted

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  • What was your diet and health before?
  • How was the fasting and for how long?
  • What was the outcome?
I have not fasted for a week or longer, by I do it now on a regular basis.
When I first became ill, I was feasting on a standard American diet, basically processed junk with a few fruits and veggies thrown. Over time, I did start to eat much, much cleaner, but sis not really experience a noticeable benefit. Fast forward 2 decades, and there is a (not so) startling discovery that I have Celiac disease. My doc reminds me often that I proved to him never to doubt another patients instincts when they have odd symptoms bc he would never have tested me if I had bot been SO adamant. I did not fit the "standard" profile. So, I lived a couple of years on a gluten free diet & saw some improvement. In 2018, I started keto, completely grain free, and about 95% good, real foods. My gut completely changed within weeks. I thought I would try intermittent fasting, but I have never been able to fast more than about 10-12 hours without becoming ill, so I was not optimistic. Fast forward 5 months, and I have completed a 2 day fast, routinely do a 24+ hour fast weekly and do intermittent fasting daily on a 20/4 or 18/6 or 16/8 schedule. I am flexible about the eating window so that if I am absolutely ravenous, I go ahead and eat. Sometimes, I forget to eat and end up fasting longer than anticipated. Also, I am making sure to drink adequate water.

For the first time I can remember, my gut feels completely normal, unless I have accidental gluten exposure. I feel very in control of what I eat and when and why. I no longer crave foods made from simple carbs, tbh, the smell of most of them make me nauseous now.

I'm not saying that this will be a miracle cure for anything. My personal experience has been that I do not tolerate any grains (I'm looking at you, rice):( and simple sugars make me edgy, shaky, and leave me with a general feeling of being unwell. I do treat myself to berries now and then bc I love them. In small doses they seem fine. When I added fasting, my skin also changed so much that people started asking what skincare products I am using. I still have PEM, am exhausted all the time, etc, so not saying my ME has improved, but I have a sense of my digestion being so much better.
 

Heartl

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I have not fasted for a week or longer, by I do it now on a regular basis.
When I first became ill, I was feasting on a standard American diet, basically processed junk with a few fruits and veggies thrown. Over time, I did start to eat much, much cleaner, but sis not really experience a noticeable benefit. Fast forward 2 decades, and there is a (not so) startling discovery that I have Celiac disease. My doc reminds me often that I proved to him never to doubt another patients instincts when they have odd symptoms bc he would never have tested me if I had bot been SO adamant. I did not fit the "standard" profile. So, I lived a couple of years on a gluten free diet & saw some improvement. In 2018, I started keto, completely grain free, and about 95% good, real foods. My gut completely changed within weeks. I thought I would try intermittent fasting, but I have never been able to fast more than about 10-12 hours without becoming ill, so I was not optimistic. Fast forward 5 months, and I have completed a 2 day fast, routinely do a 24+ hour fast weekly and do intermittent fasting daily on a 20/4 or 18/6 or 16/8 schedule. I am flexible about the eating window so that if I am absolutely ravenous, I go ahead and eat. Sometimes, I forget to eat and end up fasting longer than anticipated. Also, I am making sure to drink adequate water.

For the first time I can remember, my gut feels completely normal, unless I have accidental gluten exposure. I feel very in control of what I eat and when and why. I no longer crave foods made from simple carbs, tbh, the smell of most of them make me nauseous now.

I'm not saying that this will be a miracle cure for anything. My personal experience has been that I do not tolerate any grains (I'm looking at you, rice):( and simple sugars make me edgy, shaky, and leave me with a general feeling of being unwell. I do treat myself to berries now and then bc I love them. In small doses they seem fine. When I added fasting, my skin also changed so much that people started asking what skincare products I am using. I still have PEM, am exhausted all the time, etc, so not saying my ME has improved, but I have a sense of my digestion being so much better.
Are you following a certain protocol? I would love to hear what a typical day of food looks like for you. The only carbs I eat are usually berries and sweet potatoes. I think I will try cutting carbs completely and see how I feel.
 
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Thanks for all the feedback so far people. It is very much appreciated.

Regarding how hard and strenuous this may be to do - yes, I fully expect to feel very ill, weak and incapacitated after even 2-3 days. I wouldn't take this severe form of fasting on lightly at all. Never the less, if it was hard in the short term but lead to much better QOL afterward and in the long run, then that may be a good deal overall.

My experience has been that just about anything that has helped significantly has made me ill in the short term, so all options are relative to the merits and downsides of the other option available. eg a herbal based antimicrobial plan for dysbiosis made me v ill for the duration - but then much better for a few weeks afterward.

BTW I am fully paleo(no grains, no processed food at all) and keto (less than 25g of carbs a day and even those 25g are from things like olives, cucumber etc - so non-starch veg only) and have been for around 1 year. I eat 3 meals a day between the hours of 8am and 6pm and do not eat between meals at all. This has brought noticeable improvements in both gut health and overall health/ability (I would say moved me from 10-15% of previous physical capacity to around 30%).
My girlfriend became ill at the same time as I did and with the same symptoms. Keto has helped her enormously, she has moved from around 20-30% capacity to around 60-70% and seems to be continuing to improve the longer she sticks to it.

I would also hope that being already fat adapted ( ie burning fat for energy) and having some moderate fat reserves on my body might make the process more doable, but that remains to be seen.
It would make sense to me to aim for perhaps 5-6 days as a target for the first attempt.

For those that find some benefit in overall symptoms. Fasting has recently been shown to help regulate the immune system in autoimmune conditions ( eg in MS). It seems forcing the body into fasting mode causes the existing circulating white blood cells to be used up and then new fresh ones to be produced that are not self-reactive or not as self-reactive. This could be one of the mechanisms involved in its effects on CFS/ME which has many signs of a disrupted immune system. Interestingly, a ketogenic diet has been shown to do a similar thing - but to a slightly lesser extent. So it makes sense to me that those that benefit from Keto may also benefit from fasting

Good advice to ensure adequate water and salts while fasting and of course keeping the bowels moving.

Hofsamor - thanks for that feedback from a group - interesting to see a spread of responses

I am just gathering first-hand experiences at this stage to try to evaluate how worthwhile this may be.
Before actually going ahead I would do a lot more research. there is a book by Stephen Buhner on fasting that is on my reading list as I have found his other writings useful.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Transformational-Power-Fasting-Spiritual-Rejuvenation/dp/1594774668

Please keep any contributions coming.
I will update here if I do choose to go down this path.
 

Hufsamor

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I just remember one more thing...

I would strongly advise you to take something to help your liver detox,
either during the fast or after.
its very, very important ,as a lot of us me sufferers are really bad detoxers.
And your body will detox during the fast, but if it isn't able to get rid of the "rubbish",
you might end up sicker than you used to be.

I'll see if I can get a link to a detox supplement I've been recommended.
 
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https://no.iherb.com/pr/New-Nordic-...RRn7EARF9ZNWKH6rTwAaAp0IEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Here it is...
I've got this one recommended from two different therapists, both very clever and both very into food -as -medicine kind of thing.
thanks for that - it looks like a good option for detox support

Mostly contains milk thistle extract - which has been used for centuries for supporting the liver and has quite a bit of scientific research behind it too. BTW you can also just grind and consume the seeds themselves - I have tried this and found them quite palatable and seem to benefit my overall health a little also. Be careful to buy a trusted product as there have been studies showing mold toxins in the extracts and therefore presumably in the seeds also.

Turmeric also - I take around 2g of the dried powdered root daily - which seems to help a little with general symptoms ( its an anti-inflammatory herb, has anti-oxidant properties and also helps thin the blood)

Not sure what the artichoke does - another detox associated herb I think

on a slightly related note - sulfur group containing foods are important for sulphation (one of the detoxification pathways in the liver) also - but I have difficulty tolerating most brassica family vegetables ( cabbage, broccoli etc ) and alliums ( onion, garlic, leak etc) but seem to be able to tolerate broccoli seed sprouts in moderation - these are very high in sulphur compounds, so have been eating those for a month or two - again seem to help overall well-being a little.
 
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self-hacked lists the following constituents for Globe artichoke leaves

  • Luteolin is an antioxidant, which helps prevent inflammation and cancer (R).
  • Caffeoylquinic acid is another antioxidant. It helps form bonds with toxic compounds, which helps lower toxicity (R).
  • Cynarin is another antioxidant compound found in artichoke. It stimulates bile production, which helps the gut digest fats and absorbs vitamins from food (R).
  • Inulin is a sweet-tasting indigestible starchy substance found in artichoke. It is a prebiotic, which mean it can increase the number of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines (R).
 

Hufsamor

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sulfur group containing foods are important for sulphation (one of the detoxification pathways in the liver) also - but I have difficulty tolerating most brassica family vegetables ( cabbage, broccoli etc ) and alliums ( onion, garlic, leak etc)
Same with me!
Maybe ill look into broccoli seed sprouts:thumbsup:

If you're able to get the ingredients without buying the supplement, it's great!
My therapist said the artichoke was an important part of the supplement
...now it seems you've found out why :)
 

rel8ted

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Are you following a certain protocol? I would love to hear what a typical day of food looks like for you. The only carbs I eat are usually berries and sweet potatoes. I think I will try cutting carbs completely and see how I feel.
I am very flexible with my eating window bc I know if it is set in stone, I won't stick with it. Most days, I fast 18/6, so all of my eating is done in a six hour window. Once a week, I do a 24 hour fast, usually followed by one meal and then back to 18/6. If I actually get to leave the house or have doc appts, I may only do 16/8 because if I wake up earlier, I get hungry earlier. Basically. I eat WHEN (when hunger ensues naturally). The low amount of carbs that I allow myself has forced me to make very good choices about what I will use them for. Also, my body has responded very well and feels very stable where food is concerned. I do not experience anxiety about food at all anymore bc I know I can always find something "safe" to eat bc a bunless burger is always an option if away from home.

If I am eating carbs, it is usually green veggies - romaine, kale, green beans, broccoli. I do occasionally use zucchini noodles or treat my self to a few raspberries. A slice of tomato with a meal is good from time to time, but some folk will scream,"that's not keto."

We eat chicken thighs, wings, steaks (or cheaper, but fatty cuts of beef), bacon, sausages are a simple treat sometimes. I tolerate cheese well and we use a mozzarella based dough to make soft pretzels and a terrific cheese danish. Almond flour makes a great base for some biscuits. Mostly, we try eat the least processed foods we can afford. I do love Kerrygold butter and splurge for that bc the water content is so low and the flavor is amazing. Better cheeses tend to have less trace carbs. Very good pork rinds are also worth the cost to me as an occasional treat bc I detest the cheap, stale feeling ones. I like 4505 and Epic. When the hub is up to helping, we cook 20 pounds of chicken thighs in toss away aluminum pans and he shreds it up, portions it in freezer bags to use in soups and casseroles I can put in the crockpot. We pay about 80 cents per cooked pound of ckn thighs this way, so it's very affordable. Spices are key bc we love flavorful food. Our friends think we eat very well and almost always ask for the recipe if they get what we make. I like to create my own recipes, so lots of times, I do the creating in my head and he cooks per my instruction bc I have very little energy/ can't stand (possible POTS). It works for us, and I should say that a year ago he was not allowed in the kitchen bc I do not enjoy char grilled anything, but that has completely changed and he is a terrific cook now.