Even with all our advances in medicine many diseases that lead to death are on the rise according to the CDC in a Medscape article by Megan Brooks February 2016:
“The preliminary analysis shows that age-adjusted death rates (per 100,000 population) were higher in 2014-2015 than during the same period 1 year earlier for many leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease/cirrhosis, and Parkinson’s disease. For other causes, including cancer, diabetes, and HIV, death rates held steady or fell slightly.” http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/859486
Studies have shown that inflammation plays a key role in all these diseases. One disease not listed is obesity. Obesity is an inflammatory condition and studies have shown that obesity increases our risk of heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes. The key then to disease reduction is to reduce inflammation. Inflammation in our bodies is caused not only by diet but by stress and an unhealthy thought life. Today, we will focus on diet and the benefits of calorie restriction to our health but more importantly how fasting is a spiritual principle that draws us closer to the Lord who is our health, our Great physician.
In a John Hopkins Health Review article (Spring/Summer 2016 Vol 3 issue 1) entitled Are There Any Proven Benefits to Fasting? by Joe Sugarman, Mr. Sugarman discusses a study conducted by neuroscientist Mark Mattson. Mark Mattson is a professor of neuroscience at John Hopkins School of Medicine and serves at the National Institute on Aging as the Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience. His study revealed that actually fasting two days a week may lessen the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson as well as improve memory and mood.
“Mattson and his colleague have found that intermittent fasting–limiting calories at least two days a week–can help improve neural connections in the hippocampus while protecting neurons against the accumulation of amyloid plagues, a protein prevalent in people with Alzheimer’s disease.” http://www.johnshopkinshealthreview.com/issues/spring-summer-2016/articles/are-there-any-proven-benefits-to-fasting
Glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver. Fasting 10 to 12 hours will deplete the stores causing the body to uses fat stores as energy. Fat stores are converted to ketone bodies which the neurons use as energy. Ketones have a positive effect on neuron synapses involved in learning and memory. A synapse is the junction between two nerve cells across which impulses flow. Ketones seems to be important to overall brain health. Mayo Clinic reported in an article by Donald Hensrud, M.D. that research showed that regular fasting improve heart health as well. So fasting improves brain and heart health. Calorie restriction increases longevity by reducing inflammation the major cause of aging and inflammation. Interestedly, exercise also lower glycogen levels and has the same positive affects on the brain as fasting. Exercise increase brain blood flow and increases DNA cell repair. Exercise also improves cognitive abilities and protects the brain from things that hurt it such as free radicals and high glucose. Exercise is the best anti-aging for the brian as well!
Alzheimer’s is expected to triple by 2050 and unfortunately there is no known cure. Some studies suggest that Alzheimer’s may start 20-30 years before any signs of the disease is evident. So what can we do?
First, we must change our thinking about what we choose to eat on a daily basis. Our current American diet is the major cause of inflammation because it is full of sugar and salt both of which are very addictive. Sadly, the food industry knows this and purposely adds sugar and salt to keep us coming back. Sugar causes our insulin level to increase and our gut to secrete an abnormal amount of amyloid proteins which, over time, destroy the blood brain barrier contributing to the formation of amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease. I read about a study in which mice were given sugar-water and water laced with cocaine. The mice became addicted to the sugar-water. Sugar has a similar effect on the pleasure center of the brain as does drugs and alcohol. Many of us not only like food but have actually become addicted to eating. Food addiction is not any different from any other addiction. Addiction to anything enslaves us and is simply trying to fill a void that can only be filled with Jesus. I understand all to well how food can entrap and control one’s life.
I was a very overweight child and struggled with my weight most of my life. I went on my first diet in the second grade. As a teenager, I struggled with bulimia. I would stay up many a night just eating and making myself throw up. I purged and binged so much that I had teeth scars on my hands. I was desperately trying to stop the emotional pain I felt, but this cycle left me hating myself more and more. At 18 years old, while staying in a halfway house, I had a dream. In the dream, I saw a coffin and above the coffin was a bright light. I heard the Lord say “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. This began my journey of healing, but because I had no teaching on Grace and God’s unconditional love, I continue to struggle with feelings of unworthiness and self-hate. The bulimia got better, maybe only purging 2-3 times a year, but I remained obsessed with food using it as my comfort. I lived in fear and worry particularly about displeasing God and Him punishing me. On the outside, I appeared confident and “as having it all together” but on the inside I lived in torment. My whole world revolved around what I was going to eat and how my clothes fit. My mood would change if I felt fat or unattractive. As long as I was performing as I thought should I was ok ,but as soon as I failed or perceived that I failed, I would go back into self-condemnation or self-hate. I lived in fear and worry. I worried about everything and I never felt safe. My husband would even tell me that I would actually find something to worried about. Yes, I was even addicted to worrying and many other things.
In 2007, I came to a place in my life where I felt I could not go on living in this state of constant unrest. My mind never stopped thinking and worrying. I said, “God I have been praying to you since I was 9 years old but I need to KNOW you are real. I can’t live in the torment (depression) any longer.” To my surprise, he sent a person who began to teach me about His love. To tell me that perfect love cast out all fear because fear implies punishment. To teach me that it was the devil who came to kill, steal, and destroy but that Jesus came to give me life. I began my journey to “know Him” as Father, protector, shepherd, shield, and friend. He truly is a good daddy who is not angry but is so longing to pour out His love on us if we will just choose to open our hearts to Him.
The Lord began to talk to me about fasting. Fasting is a powerful tool to draw closer to the Lord and to break the yoke of slavery. Fasting really isn’t about abstaining from food but about turning our hearts and minds towards the Lord. In turning our hearts and minds towards Him, a divine exchanges happens. He takes my shame and gives me “beauty for ashes”, “the oil of joy instead of mourning” and “a garment of praise instead of one of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). God is not trying to punish us or keep us out of Heaven but He is wanting to transform us into His image in order for us to be a transforming agent to a hurting and broken world. He wants to love us and to partner with us. His heart is to pour out abundant blessing for those who will receive His love and make a decision to believe and trust in Him. In His presence is the fullness of joy and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Jesus took all my sin when he died on the cross so that I no longer get what I deserve, but now can have a deep relationship with my Heavenly Father. I get to have His favor surround me as a shield (Psalm 5:12).
Isaiah 58:6-7 Is not this the kind of fast I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to cloth him, and not to turn away from your own flash and blood?
In my next post, I will discuss a low inflammatory diet as well as show you in scripture how mediating on the Word of God brings health and adds years to your life. This morning the Lord brought me to this video by Pastor Furtick. It is a powerful message and confirms what we have been discussing through our journey together. Love to all.
Proverbs 17:22 A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.