Every New Year people are looking for remedies to undo the damage of the holiday season.
Water fasting, which is consuming nothing but water, coffee and tea for several days or weeks at a time, is the trend for 2018.
I checked in with two experts to hear what they had to say about this new diet: Dr. Gayle Smith of Heritage Health Clinic in Rathdrum and Dr. Anthony Balduzzi, the founder of the Father Fit Project who focuses his practice on nutrition and lifestyle.
Balduzzi said water fasting for more than a week is too radical for the average person.
“Our bodies are used to getting food at regular time intervals,” he said.
Balduzzi explained people who are water fasting for several days without medical supervision run the risk of fatigue, lightheadedness and mood swings which are all symptoms of low blood sugar.
Not having food for long periods of time also puts stress on the body because we are used to getting food on a set schedule. If we add normal everyday life stresses on top of starvation signals then it will be a problem.
Extended fasts can also slow your metabolism.
You will lose weight initially but most people will gain weight back once you begin to eat solid food again.
The energy swings, stress of starvation, decreased metabolism, can also create an unhealthy relationship with food.
Balduzzi and Smith agree complete fasts can be hazardous if a person is on daily medicine even for short periods.
However, they both agree short term water fasting over one to three days can be safe for the average healthy person and does have a list benefits including: Speeding up your metabolism, burning fat, boosting your immune system, improving brain function, helping with anti-aging by rejuvenating your cells and increasing the production of growth hormone. Fasting can also improve insulin resistance, blood pressure, and heal your gut and digestive tract.
Balduzzi said to think of it as spring cleaning for your body: we are cleaning out the garbage that has built up over the years and gaining all of the health benefits.
He actually recommends water fating on a quarterly basis. He says it won't be easy at first and you will be hungry. But process gets better over time and is very healing for your body.
If you are interested in trying water fasting, he recommends trying dinner- to-dinner, 24 hour fasts.
After you eat dinner, drink water, black coffee, green tea until dinner the following day. He said it is a safe and accessible way for people to experiment and get the magnitude of health benefits associated with fasting.
Both Smith and Balduzzi stressed fasting is not for everybody and always speak with your healthcare provider before you change your diet.
“There are health and wellness centers who specialize in medical fasting and allowing the body to heal and relax,” said Balduzzi.
Although there are health benefits to giving the body a rest, water fasting overall several weeks can incapacitate most people and is not recommended for the average person.
Dr. Gayle Smith of Heritage Health Clinic in Rathdrum
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi, the founder of the Father Fit Project