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Jayda Fransen
1 woman's opinion

January 1, 2020 -- What happens to your body when you fast?

We seem to have an evolutionary history that has programmed us to adopt and even benefit from extended fasting.

Here's what I've learned.

At 12 hours

At about 12 hours, we experience an increase in a peptide called human growth hormone (hGH or HGH). HGH is considered an anti-aging and fat burning hormone. It is also associated with joint healing and protein synthesis (the creation of new proteins). While some may take hormone injections, it seem more advisable to create your own HGH by fasting. (Exercise also increases HGH.) 

At 18 hours

At about 18 hours, accelerated autophagy begins. Autophagy is a process in which old, damaged proteins and microbes are recycled. reports that, "Autophagy is the body's way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells, according to Priya Khorana, PhD, in nutrition education from Columbia University."

Autophagy and anti-aging

When glucose (sugar) and proteins adhere, they become "sticky" and "clog things up," according to Dr. Eric Berg. This is called, "glycation." Glycation, also called non-enzymatic glycosylation, "is the covalent attachment of a sugar to a protein or lipid."

Glycation is implicated in the aging. See

Autophagy and amyloidosis

Typical sugars that participate in glycation are glucose, fructose, or their derivatives. During fasting, your body utilized autophagy to recycle these damaged proteins into useful amino acids. Among the abnormal proteins recycled by autophagy are amyloids. These are produced in your bone marrow but can be deposited in other body tissue. Amyloidosis can affect your kidneys, heart, liver, spleen, digestive tract, and digestive system, according to

At 24 hours

At about 24 hours your liver's glycogen reserve begins to deplete. This causes your body to defer to ketones for fuel rather than glycogen. Those affected with a fatty liver may experience the depletion of this fat as it is converted to ketones. In effect, fasting allows your body to tap into energy that has been stored as fat.

There are benefits of fueling your body with ketones rather than glycogen. These benefits include appetite suppression, build up of an antioxidant reserve, increased oxygen resulting in your body running on oxygen rather than CO2, and fuel efficiency that results in less stress on your thyroid gland.

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of your neck, according to "The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is thyroxine, also called T4. Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature."

Inflammation drops significantly after 24 hours of fasting. Adding vitamin D is said to further decrease inflammation. This includes inflammatory states such as arthritis and bursitis.

Autoimmune conditions begin to improve at this stage.

Your gut begins to heal due to decreased workload. A condition known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) corrects itself as certain microbes relocate to the large intestine where they belong. SIBO is defined "as the presence of excessive bacteria in the small intestine," according to a report published at

"Patients with SIBO may also suffer from unintentional weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and osteoporosis," the report says.

Fasting also results in an increase in stem cell production in the gut.

Your heart functions more efficiently on ketones rather than glucose.

Your brain also functions more efficiently on ketones. A protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) becomes more efficient leading to an effective repair of your brain cells. Specifically, BDNF affects areas of the brain that are vital to memory, learning, and higher thinking.

Beyond 24 hours, your muscles do not lose protein because your body is utilizing energy more efficiently as autophagy utilizes old damaged proteins. What's more, certain genes preserve or spare muscle proteins, rather than expend them. (About 40 percent of a typical 150 lb person is comrpised of muscle. About 20 percent of muscle is protein, according to 

Autophagy also cleans out microbes, fungai, yeasts, and molds. Your body makes oxidants such as hydrogen peroxide that is utilized to destroy harmful microbes. Antioxidants are also made to protect your body from harmful oxidation and oxidative stress, the result of an imbalance caused by over oxidation.

At 48 hours

At 48 hours, the stimulation of undifferentiated stem cells becomes significant. These are stem cells without a predisposed purpose. They can effectively become whatever cells your body requires. The increase in healing and repair can be expressed as anti-aging.

A decrease in certain types of cancer becomes apparent and certain types of tumors shrink.

Mitochondria production increases.

At 72 hours 

At 72 hours, stem cell production increases at a higher rate.

Important notes

• While long-term fasting has significant benefits, intermittent fasting may be preferred; particularly for those unaccustomed or adapted to fasting. Some recommend fasting for 18 hours per day and limiting food consumption to a six-hour window.

• Long term fasting with mineral supplements, vitamin B, and salt is suggested by some.

• Some people experience an increase in glucose and subsequent blood sugar. This results from a spike in cortisol that typically occurs at about 8 a.m. The glucose spike is not the result of fasting, but is due to the liver making glucose in response to high cortisol.

• What if I get hungry? you may ask. Your caving for food is likely due to the release of a hormone called grehlin in your stomach. The sensation only last a few minutes. Ignore it and goes away. 

Some believe the longer they fast, the more hungry they becomes. Typically, the grehlin goes away and hunger sensations often decrease.

A fast and simple hack to decrease the grehlin induced sensation of hunger is to consume a very small amount of pink Himalayan salt. You may discover that, besides eliminating that "hunger moment," it actually makes you feel nauseated.

• Pink Himalayan salt may also help you overcome feeling tired or fatigued during your extended fast.

What is fasting?

Fasting is usually understood as time period during which nothing is consumed except water. Most would agree that prescription medications should not be excluded during a water fast. Those on prescription medications should consult their physician before embarking on a fast.

Some broaden the definition of a fast to include any substance that has no caloric value, such as diet drinks, or have minimal calories, such as coffee. Some consider fasting to include consumption of anything that does not result in insulin response. Daily doses of MCT oil, olive oil, colligen, etc. are allowed.

Food restriction diets, such as eliminating glucose, fructose, and lactose, are not generally considered fasting, though such diets may be beneficial.


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