What you need to know about intermittent fasting to help with the cold or flu
Fasting while sick conserves energy and assists the healing process
Do you long for an inexpensive but yet effective way to help you heal when you get the cold or flu? Are you taking vitamin C, antibiotics, echinacea or elderberry and it seems like it is taking you FOREVER to recover? Well, I got great news for you! In this post, I will go through what you need to know about fasting while sick. In one of my previous posts, I spoke about the benefits of fasting and even mentioned Hippocrates had recommended abstinence from food or drink for patients who exhibited certain symptoms of illness.
If you fast while you are sick you will reserve that precious energy that is usually spent towards digestion and redirect it towards the healing process! There is evidence that suggests food restriction is one of the important behavioral strategies that organisms have evolved for the fight against pathogenic invasion1. It turns out that we are actually designed to not be hungry when we have an active infection. Infection-induced anorexia is a behavior systematically organized for pathogen elimination2.
Avoid eating anything you want when your sick
Knowing this information, I’m sure puts a whole new perspective on eating while you are sick. Say goodbye to the old adage to eat anything you want during illness and hello to restricting calories. It seems to me that the best thing to eat during this time would be bone broth! There are multiple benefits to it. Not only will it keep you in ketosis and in a semi-fasting state ( see my post), it will provide you with protein that you could definitely use for healing in this time of need.
Protein makes up the critical cell structure in muscle, viscera, red cells, and connective tissue. Protein synthesis is essential for any tissue repair3. Bone broth also contains collagen, which is an excellent perk as it will help rebuild damaged joint tissues. As an aside, it is also great for reducing wrinkles (wink-wink). One double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that collagen supplements used daily among women ages 35–55 for eight weeks significantly improved skin elasticity4. A bone broth I really like is found here.
How to successfully get thru a fast when you are ill
Sometimes, fasting may be a struggle for people. Overall, I feel like it takes time to learn how to get thru a fast without feeling you are deprived. In our society, we are so used to eating all the time that it can feel almost cumbersome to skip a meal. When you fast, it is best not to view your time without food as taxing but as an enjoyment.
Keep your mind occupied
The best way to be successful with a fast is to keep your mind off food! If you feel too tired or have malaise during your illness, maybe do things like taking a warm Epsom salt bath or a good meditation. If you feel up to even read a good book or listen to relaxing music.
View your fast as a way to eliminate toxins
If I am not feeling well, I always try to view fasting as a good way of getting rid of toxic waste in my body. When I fast, I try to imagine my cells in my body as growing more mitochondria and even improving the ones I already own! When I look at it in this respect, it completely changes my outlook on the fast and makes it a more revitalizing experience!
Ward away hunger pangs with nourishing broth
As I mentioned earlier, bone broth is an excellent choice of nutrients during a fast. It is also good if you experience hunger pangs during your fast. Not only will it help you feel full, but it will also help with replenishing some of your electrolytes. If you are a vegan, then a vegetable broth is perfectly acceptable as long as there is no sugar and of course little to no carbs. If you aren’t a vegan, then just use bone broth! The goal is to avoid any carbs at all when you fast because you don’t want to get any insulin spikes! The reason for this is that if your insulin goes up, it could totally ruin your fast.
If you want to read more tips regarding fasting, I suggest that you please refer to my article called Seven Intermittent Fasting Tips.
Detox while you fast
Whether you choose to do an intermittent fast for 16 hours or all the way up to several days, it is important to detox. Especially if you are fasting while you are sick! The reason for this is because fasting will release heavy metals and toxic materials from your liver and fat cells. When this happens, sometimes you can exhibit symptoms such as nausea, malaise, or fatigue. However, if you detox during your fast, then it will help to eliminate this toxic material, which will in turn help to reduce your symptoms.
Choose a sauna for detoxification
The best way to detox during a fast while sick is to use a sauna. If you don’t have access to a sauna you could try activated charcoal capsules. The reason why the sauna is best for detoxification is because it allows your body to passively sweat out the waste. When we exercise, we sweat a lot; however, active sweating is not as beneficial for eliminating toxins as passive sweating. Research has shown that the toxin concentration in sweat during exercise is quite low. On the other hand, sweat samples taken during sauna bathing( passive sweating) revealed a high amount of toxins released in the sweat. The reason for this has to do with sympathetic versus parasympathetic nervous system activation6.
If you are interested in reading more benefits of sauna therapy, please consult my article called Seven ways sauna therapy will heal your body. I know purchasing a sauna may sound expensive, however, they have made them very affordable now a days. Saunaspace has payment options and you can get a nice one for a very reasonable price. I think it is worth it because in the long run you will be saving on your medical bills!
So with all that being said, next time you have come down with the cold and flu, take on a little fasting to help expedite the healing process. The ancient Greek writer and historian Plutarch ( c. 46-c, 120)even echoed these sentiments. He wrote, ” Instead of using the medicine, better fast today5. ”
All in all, I think that intermittent fasting is a beautiful thing! Especially in conjunction with a keto diet! In general, I think that fasting and the keto diet are only part of the equation. The other portion has all to do with balancing of your chakra system and mental stability. Please listen to my podcast series, Keto and Chakra balance for your health to get more information on this concept! If you aren’t sure where to start on my website, then please go to Start Right Here and follow the steps ! Also sign up for my email list to get recent updates from me!
1,2 Exton, M. S. (1997). Infection-Induced Anorexia: Active Host Defence Strategy. Appetite, 29(3), 369–383. doi: 10.1006/appe.1997.0116
3 Demling, R. H. (2009). Nutrition, anabolism, and the wound healing process: an overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC26426180/.
4 Smith, M. D. (2017, September 1). Collagen Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.betternutrition.com/ask-the-nutritionist/collagen-benefits
5 Fung, J., & Moore, J. (2016). The complete guide to fasting: heal your body through intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing.
Mercola, Joseph. Ketofast: Rejuvenate Your Health with a Step-by-Step Guide to Timing Your Ketogenic Meals. Hay House, Inc., 2019 6