Let me say this loud and clear, women should be fasting. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about how fasting affects women, so I wanted to dive in today into the science and research around women and fasting.
In a meta analysis of over 44 peer reviewed studies done on fasting and women, the study concluded that “fasting can be prescribed as a safe medical intervention, as well as a lifestyle regimen which can improve women’s health in many folds.” Read that again! Specifically, they found 5 different categories where fasting helps women.
This meta analysis looked at 3 different types of fasts and how they affected cancer. The first was the fast mimicking diet, made popular by Dr. Valter Longo and his Prolon products.The study found that fasting inhibits tumor growth, by cutting off blood supply to the tumor. Another study also found that a 48 hour fast suppressed tumor growth.
The third study looked at women who got traditional treatment for breast cancer. Women that followed an intermittent fasting lifestyle post-treatment, found a 70% reduction in the recurrence of breast cancer! I did a great Interview with Dr. Véronique Desaulniers on preventing breast cancer, make sure you’re subscribed to The Resetter Podcast so you know when I drop new episodes!
PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome)
PCOS is the most common hormonal challenge many women face. The study looked at 40 women with PCOS who fasted during Ramadan for 30 days, which means dry fasting from sunup to sundown. They found that fasting reduced the chronic sympathetic overactivity in PCOS. Specifically, fasting increased neurotransmitters that calm the brain, which decreases stress hormones (aka cortisol) and caused a balancing of sex hormones. Check out my post on Instagram of the Hormonal Hierarchy and how you can balance hormones with fasting.
This includes things like chronic pain, osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). With osteoporosis, the study found that fasting can balance the parathyroid hormone secretion, which allows you to absorb more calcium and phosphorus, improving bone health.
When women went into a fasted state on a regular basis (ie. intermittent fasting), not only did it help parathyroid hormone production, but it helped women lose weight, which reduced their risk of fracture and other comorbidities.
After fasting for 7-10 days, women with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) saw a reduction in pain, stiffness and dependency on analgesics. I’ve seen this in my Resetter Collaborative fasting group as well. Fasting has the ability to turn off the switch on inflammation and pain. I did this with myself when I had an achilles tendon injury that I healed with a 5 day water fast, after trying everything.
Metabolic syndrome is a common issue amongst women, characterized by weight gain or obesity, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, hypertension and heart disease.
The study on menopausal women found that ”intermittent fasting (IF) has been evolved as a potential tool in redressing metabolic abnormalities as reported in various experimental studies.” The results confirmed the significant cardioprotective actions of intermittent fasting, such as weight loss, reduction of fat tissue mass, blood pressure, and heart rate; and improvements in lipid profile, with decrease in total cholesterol and LDL!
Furthermore, “four weeks of fasting has shown to reduce total weight, body mass index, and waist circumference […] This signifies the role of fasting as an intervention in ameliorating as well as preventing metabolic dysfunctions, which is common in elderly women.”
Intermittent fasting, fasting for 13-15 hours, daily is a great place for beginner fasters to start.
Anxiety, depression, irritability and mood swings are a real issue for women I work with. As women go through the menopausal experience, sex homrones get thrown off and women no longer have the enough hormones that calm the brain.
According to this study, fasting was shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve social functioning. Specifically stating, “fasting has been proved effective in diminishing stress and depression levels”. This is largely because fasting increases GABA production in the brain, a key neurotransmitter that slows down the firing of brain cells and brings the mind to a state of relaxation and calmness. Low GABA is frequently associated with anxiety and depression.
Women and fasting
The wonderful thing about fasting is that it works quite quickly. The study showed that between day 2 and day 7, people saw improvement in depressive symptoms with an improvement in mood, alertness and a sense of tranquility reported by patients.
In summary, fasting is an incredible tool for women, on so many levels. Fasting can help women prevent disease, manage healthy weight, balance hormones and more through life with more grace and less symptoms. Please share this information with the women in your life, and especially your doctors. If your doctor isn’t aware of the benefits of fasting for women, direct them to my Youtube videos and research.