Intermittent Fasting: Is It For you? with Dr Teitelbaum; your SV Ayurveda Newsletter Sept 7, 2023 – #35, Vol 12

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~Dr Marianne Teitelbaum

Intermittent fasting is all the rage right now where research has shown that limiting your intake of foods and calorie-containing beverages for only a window of 8 hours a day may be beneficial to your health. You abstain from food for the remaining 16 hours, but you’re still allowed to drink water and other non-caloric beverages like plain coffee or tea. Of course there are many variations on this theme. Some people fast on alternate days, some do it periodically and many others do as just described: on a daily time-restricted feeding schedule.

Research shows that it can help you lose weight and lower your blood sugar, among other things.

Let’s examine this a little further because I’d like to present an argument against intermittent fasting, based on the guidance from my teacher and mentor, Vaidya Rama Kant Mishra, one of India’s foremost Ayurvedic physicians who I trained with for nearly 20 years.

Let’s start this discussion by talking about the changes that have occurred to our physiology over the last several decades. But first you should know about the four types of toxins and the difference in the type of toxins the average modern patient is harboring compared to our counterparts within the last several centuries.

(Article continues below)

DON’T FAST, ENHANCE METABOLISM INSTEAD! That’s what our ancestors did! Did you know that you can actually dull out your digestive fire when you fast and don’t consume the rights foods in the right way? Best is to eat light easy to digest meals at short intervals. And incorporate agni-enhancing ingredients, such as Garcinia… Watch Vaidya’s video below to learn more…

Dr Teitelbaum Article Continued:

The four types of toxins we identify in SV Ayurveda are: ama, ama visha, gara visha and electromagnetic frequency toxicity.

For a quick review: ama is a cold, clogging toxin. The word ama refers to food that doesn’t fully digest and remains as a residue stuck in your intestines because either the food you ate was too heavy and/or there might be problems with your digestive tract. Ama is cold and clogs not only the digestive channel but all other subsequent physical channels. An example is that you would eat some ice cream, and then feel clogged up in your sinuses, throat and lungs (all physical channels) due to the fact that cold dairy is too difficult to digest and forms a sticky clogging residue that clogs all the body’s physical channels.

The next toxin is known as ama visha: this very hot reactive, acidic and inflammatory toxin results when either the ama sits in the digestive tract too long and ferments, or the food turns into ama visha immediately by a very hot reactive liver. Don’t forget, your liver has to process all the food you eat, so if you have a history of either eating processed foods or taking too many pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics, vaccines, acid reflux medicines, birth control pills or steroids, for example, the liver becomes very hot and reactive and then when the food comes in, instead of intelligently processing it the way it’s supposed to, it has a temper tantrum on the food and oxidizes it, turning it into ama visha immediately. This very hot reactive toxin which forms in the digestive tract can then pave the way for autoimmune diseases and cancer, both of which happen when the insides of the cells are acidic and not alkaline and cool, the way they’re supposed to be.

The third type of toxin is known as gara visha. This type of toxin comes from the outside world from chemicals we expose ourselves to, in the form of pharmaceuticals, processed foods, air pollution, pesticides, and skin care products, for example. The word visha means poison so both ama visha and gara visha, toxins produced from inside the body and those which we are exposed to from outside of the body, are both highly acidic, reactive and hot. Let’s keep this in mind as I present my argument against intermittent fasting.

The fourth type of toxin is electromagnetic frequencies, which come from computers, cell phones, and radiation from cell phone towers, smart meters and so on. In an upcoming video I will be talking about why these types of toxins are harmful and how they react in the body. But for now, it’s good to know that these types of toxins are also very hot and dangerous, and can create cancer as well, which is why we have to limit our exposure to them as much as we can.

So think about this: 3 of these 4 types of toxins, ama visha, gar visha and electromagnetic toxins are all very hot, acidic, reactive and inflammatory, capable of causing autoimmune diseases and cancer, where the inside of the cells is hot and acidic.

Now, in this modern era, especially within the last 100 years as pharmaceuticals have been developed, and as the food industry has grown so large and started churning out food with preservative chemicals and flavoring agents our ancestors would have never eaten; in addition, as we have allowed over 80,000 chemicals into our environment with air pollution, pesticides, skin care products, and more — nowadays we are overloaded with hot reactive toxins, which is why autoimmune diseases and cancer are at epidemic high levels — our bodies are letting us know they are filled with inflammatory hot toxins, the liver is overwhelmed and overheated and the insides of our cells are acidic, all contributing to this epidemic of cancer and autoimmune diseases we are witnessing.

So now think about this: the liver is the main filter of the body — it is the liver’s job to have to deal with all these very hot new modern toxins that enter it on a continual basis. So what happens when the liver filters out hot reactive inflammatory toxins all day every day? It gets hotter! Then what happens when the liver gets hot? Well, many things. But here is one thing that is happening to just about everyone: the liver is not only the seat of detoxification but the main seat of digestion, which means that in addition to filtering out all these very hot toxins it has to process all the food we are eating.

And in case you didn’t know, the liver contains 5 digestive fires so it can burn up the food you are eating. Compare that with the stomach, which has one digestive fire. Both organs have to cook and transform the food you eat so it can absorb easily into the bloodstream.

Let me reiterate here: the liver has five digestive fires. The liver is already a very large organ, the second largest organ in the body, and it is already hot and poised to burn up the food you eat with its 5 digestive fires stoked at all times.

Now, in this modern era the liver is even hotter, due to all the hot toxins it has to deal with.  

When I sat with my teacher and mentor, Vaidya Rama Kant Mishra, he would take the patient’s pulse and then dictate to me their protocol which I would write down for them to follow at home. The directions that I wrote over and over all day were, “Never skip or delay meals.”

Why? Because the liver, a fiery organ ready to process food. And in this day and age it is extra hot and needs food ON TIME to pacify it. By avoiding foods when it is time to eat the liver gets hotter and hotter. Then since the liver makes the blood, the blood gets hot, which can make you feel angry, give you rashes or digestive upset, and many other symptoms. One thing in particular that can happen is that this excess heat or agni as it is known in Ayurveda, can burn the Ojas. Ojas is the delicate compound produced after all the food you eat travels through all the 7 tissues, which takes about 30 days, unless it’s good quality boiled milk, in which case it makes Ojas immediately. Ojas is produced after the 7th tissue is nourished.

Ojas gives you strength and stamina. It gives you immunity to disease. It is your neurotransmitters and hormones. If there is too much agni or heat in the liver and blood, you could actually burn the Ojas, leaving you with weak immunity or imbalances in your hormones and neurotransmitters, which could upset how you think and feel all day.

We see it in children — just deprive them of food when they get hungry and watch how angry they get as the heat in their liver and blood rises.

The problem in America is that the diet is so processed, so toxic and heavy, that ANY change in the diet might make a person feel better! So going without food after being overfed “toxic” food for too many months or years might make you feel better, but over time, as the pitta rises, if you don’t stop the practice soon enough, you will probably create a pitta imbalance, burning your Ojas and creating anger, rashes, and furthering your autoimmune tendencies.

So think about it when you hear everyone talking about how they deprive themselves of food on a daily basis. And try to stay in touch with your body to see if you think the prolonged intermittent fasting and depriving your hot liver of food to burn up, are starting to impact your health. 

It’s always good to hear the other side of the story. My teacher was a true seer and great healer. He would always discourage the patient from fasting to regain their health. Instead he gave them warm nourishing foods to eat that are easily digested so he could both nourish the body and keep the liver happy, without overloading the patient with heavy, hard to digest food. And it worked! All of our patients described how healthy they felt.

In conclusion, while fasting might help initially as you transition to a lighter diet, it might make more sense to nourish your body, mind and soul, and listen to your bodies’ cues when it feels it needs food. It could save you from developing bigger imbalances later on down the road as your liver heats up from continually depriving it of much needed food.

I hope that this information comes in handy as you try various methods to improve your health, but it’s good to consider Ayurveda, a time-tested ancient source of wisdom.

Dr. Marianne Teitelbaum

Cinnaminson, New Jersey


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