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3 Day Water Fasting: Good For Gut Health? 

Video Transcript:

Humans have been fasting for thousands of years for various reasons, including religion and spiritual practices. And many of you may have even tried intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has been encouraged for individuals who struggle with type two diabetes to support gut health as well as a way of promoting fat loss. But one type of fasting that may seem and feel radical is water fasting, water only.

Fasting has really gained popularity in a way to support our gut health and even our overall wellbeing. Water fasting really takes fasting to a new level. This is where you consume only water for a certain amount of time.

My name is Marcie Vaske and I'm a functional medicine nutritionist with Oswald Digestive Clinic. So I see a lot of individuals who struggle with gut health for sure. I'm going to link our website down below where you can easily make an initial appointment. And as well, I'm going to link our free guide, which is 5 Ways to Improve Gut Health.

Now let's jump back into our topic today, which is answering the question, is water fasting really good for gut health?

Water Only Fasting - Good For Gut Health?

So before I answer the question about water fasting and explain more about it, let's first just touch on what good gut health is and why it's so important.

We know that if we do not have a good diverse microbiome, that our gut health might be struggling. We need a good gut to help digest our foods, to absorb our minerals and nutrients, and of course, get rid of the toxins that we may ingest.

Now, if our microbiome, which is made up of trillions of different bacteria is not as diversified as we would like, we may end up with symptoms or even conditions.

You might have symptoms like bloating or gas, constipation or diarrhea, or even syndromes like IBS syndrome, which is irr, bowel syndrome, as well as just inflammation in the gut.

And another aspect to having poor gut health, it might impede your immune system.

So we can see that having a healthy gut is going to be number one.

So how does water fasting help support a healthy gut?

Water Fasting For Gut Health

And what I'm going to do is just dig into what are the benefits of water fasting on your gut water?

Only fasting has been found to be very helpful for numerous reasons, but number one, and as I'm sure you could even guess this, it gives our gut a chance to rest.

And when our gut has a chance to rest and recover, then we end up with a healthier gut.

As we are water fasting, what happens is that the gut is resting, it's repairing and recovering, and in addition to that, you can reduce and eliminate many of your symptoms.

Maybe you're struggling with bloating or gas or as I mentioned earlier, constipation or diarrhea with water only fasting that's going to pretty much get rid of all of those issues.

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The other benefit of water only fasting is that as the gut is resting and recovering, we are also improving our gut microbiome.

And the way that that's happening is that as our gut is resting, repairing the pathogenic or dysbiotic bacteria in our intestinal tract is being eliminated and being repopulated with that good flora so that we have a good microbiome.

In addition to improving our bacteria and the microbiome diversity in our gut water only fasting helps to repair the intestinal lining.

So the integrity of our gut when we have more of a inflamed gut and that integrity of our intestinal tract is worn down, this is where we see a lot of food sensitivities or just toxins getting into our bloodstream.

So as you're doing a water only fast, this is giving time for repair of your intestinal tract.

So water only fasting has really helped to promote healthier microbiome rest and recovery for the intestinal tract by healing up the integrity and the tissue of your intestinal tract as well as really reducing inflammation.

So now we know how water only fasting can help support gut health, but you might be asking yourself how is just drinking water actually doing that?

The science behind water only fasting is really quite fascinating.

Water Fasting Benefits

What happens is that as we fast, our body goes into a state of ketosis and this is where the body begins to burn fat instead of glucose for energy.

And when this happens, what research has found is that it creates an anti-inflammatory state, and this anti-inflammatory state is where the gut is able to repair itself and heal.

Now, in addition to our body going into ketosis where we're burning fat for energy, our body also undergoes something called autophagy.

And this is where the body breaks down cells, damaged cells as well as proteins and eliminates them.

And by this cellular cleaning or cleansing process in the body, what happens is that sets up a better gut health for us as well as an overall better health in general.

So this cellular process helps to remove toxins out of the body and increase our gut health.

Also water only fasting has been found to help people with type two diabetes or even insulin resistance. What happens is that during a water only fast, we become more insulin sensitive as well as decreasing our insulin levels.

And this is going to be very helpful for getting sugar into our cells properly.

So you might be thinking, okay, well that sounds pretty good. I'm struggling with some of those things, but can I do it a different way?

Water Only Fasting - Healthy Way To Start

We know that there's water only fasting, and of course I touched on just a moment ago intermittent fasting, which does allow you to eat food throughout the day, but the benefit of water only fasting that's really been found in research is by just having that water. It gives your gut time to rest, repair, and rejuvenate.

And by having all of that rest is really where we see the benefits of water only fasting. Now if you're thinking, okay, well I want to give this a try, but how do I go about it in the healthiest way possible?

And one or kind of the first piece to think about is gradually decreasing your foods in preparation for doing a water only fast. You don't want to go just from eating your normal diet to completely doing a water only fast. You may really struggle with that and feel uncomfortable in the way of being really hungry.

And also blood sugar levels. So kind of planning it out, thinking about when you want to start the water only fast and maybe a week before that, just start reducing your foods. Also starting to avoid caffeine and making sure you're very hydrated. These will all support you as you lean into doing the water only fasting.

Water Only Fasting - Not For Everyone

Now, of course, water only fasting is not for everybody.

And if you have more questions or you're feeling like I'm a little unsure about doing it on your own, you, it is recommended to speak with a healthcare practitioner, a nutritionist, a dietician such as myself to walk you through the process and make sure that you are a good candidate for it.

Now, there are a few stages that your body goes through during a water only fast, and we're going to run through those now.

So in the first stage, which they call the initiation phase is typically between 24 and 48 hours.

This is where the body is starting to reduce glycogen levels, so the sugars that are stored in our body, we are getting rid of and turning into more of that fat burning mode which or talked about earlier as ketosis.

During this time you might feel hunger and you might feel even a little bit lethargic or fatigued as your body is trying to transition into that fat burning mode.

The second stage of water only fasting is called the adaptation phase, and this begins about day two or three of the water only fast.

And this is where the body is getting really efficient at burning fat for fuel. And oftentimes people will feel much less hungry and also have kind of an uptick in memory or even just brain health, meaning that you feel almost a little euphoric and you can just really focus well, a lot of mental clarity during this stage.

The final stage of this water only fast is called deep fasting phase, and this begins on about day three of your water only fast. And this is where people begin to really feel and energized. And as well as this is when the body is really able to make some of those changes such as recovery, repair, rejuvenating the body as well as the gut.

And oftentimes people feel really good in terms of even mental health. So as you can see, it takes a few days to actually get to what all the benefits are of water only fasting. And if you get to day three, and maybe you could just get into day four really for everybody, it just depends on how long you want to do the fast.

But if you're going to do a water only fast, you want to set yourself up to getting at least to day three so that you can get a big abundant of the benefits that water only fasting can give you.

As I mentioned, water only fasting can seem and sound a little radical, and there are some tips in the way to give you the best experience if you choose to do that.

Water Only Fasting - Important Tips

Number one is to be really mindful of your body, giving yourself prioritizing that self-care, listening to what your body needs.

If you are getting way too uncomfortable, the hunger is out of control, maybe that's just your body's way of saying, you know what? We're just not ready to do this yet.

So you stop and you just try it again another time. It's not perfect.

Another thing to remember as you're doing the water only fast is to rest. We're really using this tool as a tool to help rejuvenate and repair.

If you continue to be very active despite what your body is saying, that's not going to be helpful for you.

So remember to rest, make sure you are very hydrated, just drinking lots of water obviously, and so that your body is able to do what it needs to do without fighting itself. As well as another tip is something that you can do is to keep busy.

Like I just mentioned. You don't want to go crazy with doing a workout or walking miles and miles, but lighthouse activities, doing just stuff in the house, moving, keeping your mind busy, maybe it's doing puzzles or whatever is kind of helpful for you.

That helps to get you through some of those maybe hunger pains in the first few days, maybe the day one and day two. And also just to keep a positive attitude because there probably will be some moments where you feel a really lethargic and what am I doing?

But just kind of working through that slowly and being mindful.

Once we're also mindful, we also set ourself up for even better healing.

And of course, as you get to the end of the fast and you're going to be reintroducing foods, have a methodical process in place. You don't want to do a three or four day water fast and then go back to regular eating on day four or five. You want to be sure that you're adding in kind of light foods. Maybe it's more liquid foods like soups, gentle, because remember, your body hasn't been digesting and working that.

And so if you just put a whole bunch of food in because you're starving, you're definitely not going to feel good.

You're going to have probably some nausea, just feeling really like your gut just cannot do it. So better to just eat some lighter foods for the first couple of days after you begin eating, and you'll know when you can start eating a little bit heavier foods and go back to normal eating.

And as I mentioned earlier, just briefly, water only Fasting isn't for everybody.

So if you do struggle with any medical or health conditions, even eating disorders or you're pregnant, this is not the time to do water only fasting.

If you have questions, again, talk to your healthcare practitioner just to make sure that you are a right candidate for it.

So we know that water only fasting can be very helpful for improving gut health, and this needs to be also paired, which just a healthy lifestyle. So you can't just eat and have a sedentary lifestyle, all other three and 363 days of the year, and only three days of good water, only fasting.

You want to pair that with regular movement, also whole food diet and good sleep, and using water only fasting as a tool to help support good gut health and optimal health in general.

I hope that helps answer some questions for you if you had some about water only fasting and if it could help your gut health.

Thanks for joining us.

functional nutrition dietitian, registered dietitian nutritionist, functional medicine clinic, gut health help, how to improve gut health, functional medicine taking insurance

If you'd like to explore any of this information further or obtain an individualized nutrition plan, you can schedule an initial appointment at our clinic.  We also take insurance and some of our clients get full coverage, which is great.

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Or you can just start by downloading our FREE GUIDE: 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH  



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