Andreas Michalsen on Fasting

Andreas Michalsen has a new book: The Nature Cure: A Doctor’s Guide to the Science of Natural Medicine.

Link to the Amazon page for  The Nature Cure

Link to the Amazon page for The Nature Cure

His August 1, 2019 Wall Street Journal op-ed “The Fasting Cure Is No Fad” is, I assume, a teaser for his book. And that teaser for his book is all about fasting.

In addition to weight-loss, as a doctor, Andreas uses fasting to help his patients with “diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatism and bowel diseases, as well as pain syndromes such as migraines and osteoarthritis.” He typically tells his patients to restrict themselves to no more than a ten-hour eating window each day. (In “Miles Kimball on Diet and Health: A Reader's Guide” I have links to many blog posts about fasting. I also recommend Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore’s book “The Complete Guide to Fasting.”)

Andreas lists many positive effects of fasting. Let me give a theory about how they all hang together. I’ll bet that in the environment of evolutionary adaptation our ancestors lived in before the advent of agriculture, involuntary fasting—that is, periods of time with little or no food—were quite common. As a result, many of our bodies’ systems were designed in a way that took as given that there would be frequent periods of little or no food. When people eat all the time, these systems don’t work very well.

As an analogy, think of how much the design of typical kitchen tools depends on the assumption that there will be gravity. A regular cutting board or a typical mixer wouldn’t work so well on the International Space Station! For most of our activities we take gravity for granted. And, for the most part, evolution could and often did take the existence of frequent periods of little or no food for granted—for us as well as for many other animals.

Here are some body systems that seem to work better with fasting. In the indented passages that follow, my labels are in bold; reference to relevant blog posts are in italics; the remainder of the words are Andreas’s.

For annotated links to other posts on diet and health, see “Miles Kimball on Diet and Health: A Reader's Guide.”