How would you like to start the new year with a focus on health rather than weight loss?
This time of year, after holiday indulgences, many of us turn to the scale as a measurement of supporting our health.
In this episode I’d like to offer a different perspective on supporting your health that can improve your immune system and have the beneficial side effect of leading to a healthier weight in many cases.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard the craze of intermittent fasting for weight loss.
But do you know that fasting has many more beneficial effects that can strengthen your immune system and even support you in the cancering process?
Listen now and get an eye-opening view on the importance of when to eat.
Referred to in this episode:
Read the full transcript here:
Laura Lummer 0:00
You're listening to better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a certified life coach, and I'm a breast cancer thriver. In this podcast, I will give you the skills and the insights and the tools to move past the emotional and physical trauma of a breast cancer diagnosis. If you're looking for a way to create a life, that's even better than before breast cancer, you've come to the right place. Let's get started.
Laura Lummer 0:33
Hey, friends, you're listening to Episode 306. And I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm happy to be here with you today, the day after Christmas. I think that puts a wrap on all of the holidays that exist across the board for 2023. And as we approach New Year's Eve, one of the most popular things on people's minds popular should I say are common, I'm not sure which is getting back on track with health and fitness. And that's not what we're gonna talk about here today. Well, kind of it kind of is because we're going to talk about health. I want to talk about what goes on with us during the holiday season, because this is our Tuesday terrain talk. And we're talking about the things that we do, and that we can do to support our wellness. And yes, there's a lot to talk about when it comes to holidays and eating sweets and drinking alcohol and indulging and all the things and then coming up on the New Year and wanting to lose weight that's really popular, coupled that with breast cancer, menopause, post menopause, breast cancer treatments and the weight that we have a tendency to gain during all of those things. And weight loss becomes a big focus. But another thing that is a very big focus during this season is bringing everybody is sick, do you not know somebody who is sick during this holiday season, my husband and I we went to Florida a little over a week ago to celebrate Christmas with his younger youngest daughter and our grandkids. And he came home sick, he has been sick ever since just fighting something off and sounds terrible. And I've been avoiding him like the plague. But I think that some of the things we don't realize, and I'll tell you some of the things that I've done to support my immunity so that I don't get sick around my husband. And I know that supporting immunity is a big deal for a lot of us survivors. Because many of you are going through treatment, I am on chemotherapy, many people are going through chemotherapy. And many of us just have a weakened immune system from some of the treatments that we go through, or may be continuing to go through. But in addition to that, there are lifestyle things that we do that have an impact on weakening our immune system. And I don't know that we make that connection oftentimes. So I want to talk about that today. Because I want to help you get an understanding of the importance of the decisions and the choices you make not just because of weight. And I think that cash, I wish we could just get rid of the focus of weight all the time, especially with us when but I know it's important, we want to look good, we want to feel good. And whatever your perception of look good, feel good is oftentimes has a lot to do with the scale. But for some reason that isn't motivating enough for most of us to change our dietary habits. I think that if we do a little spin on this, and we look at dietary choices, and specifically something that we can do that is simple, free, and in fact not only free, but probably will save you a lot of money to both support your healthy weight, which is important when we're talking about immune system. And I'll touch on that today. But also to just to support your immunity and your overall health during the winter season the cold and flu season or anytime during the year. So I told you that my husband was sick when we got home from Florida. And two of the things that I did to support myself when we got back was one, I slept in a different room. And two, I started a fast, I started a three day water fast. Now, fasting, again, is something that a lot of people turn to with weight loss in mind, because oftentimes fasting results in weight loss. But I also think it's important to talk about the incredible health benefits that fasting brings on. Now fasting is a part of my lifestyle. I've talked about that many times here on the podcast. But as I dig into and practice the metabolic approach to health and metabolic approach to cancer, fasting becomes even more significant because it is insane, the miraculous effects that it can have on our cellular health. So we're going to talk about that a little bit today. And I think So I hope that by the time I get through some of this information, you might be really excited to test out fasting to recommit to fasting, if it's something that you've done. But I do realize that it can be overwhelming. And depending on whether or not you're new to fasting, whether or not you have a high carbohydrate diet, you know, if you're in this place where you're still thinking, geez, I just need to make some basic dietary changes and fasting sounds like a lot. I'm gonna give you some support in that too. And I've actually taken a lesson straight out of my 90 days of wellness, and making that available to you, as an add on to this podcast, you'll find the link to download that in the show notes for this episode, which you can find at the breast cancer recovery coach.com, forward slash 306. Or you can just scroll down where you're watching this video or listening to this podcast, and click on the links to get that download. Now, the download is a very, very simple, very basic approach to fasting. And it lays out what different protocols are available, because there's many different ways to fast. When we speak about fasting, oftentimes, people can oversimplify it because we think, Oh, just stop eating. But there actually are some complexities to it. And especially if you're in treatment, or you have any kind of a health condition, you should always do fasting under the guidance of a licensed health professional, because we want you to be safe. And if your lifestyle involves treatments and medications, if you do have health issues that you're facing, you always want to be safe and get the best guidance, fasting, especially even if you are still experiencing your menstrual cycle. Fasting can impact you differently a different areas and different times in your menstrual cycle. And I will link to a book in the resources for this episode that I think is an excellent resource for any woman who is still going through her cycle and wants to incorporate fasting into her lifestyle. Okay, so lots of good resources for you lots of good support for you because I want you to approach everything safely. And with little steps, you know, I know some of you out there, you like to jump all in both feet headfirst, whatever you call it. But I really recommend safety first, information first, make informed supportive decisions. And that being said, This podcast is not medical advice. So take what I give you look at the studies that I linked to listen to this information, and discuss it with your health care practitioner, so that you are taking the very, very best care of yourself, so you get the very best outcomes. All right. That being said, let's jump in. So I want to talk to you about some of the things that happened to our immune system. During the holiday season or at any other time during the year, when we start to indulge in refined carbohydrates, you know, we increase our intake of sugar and flour and refined carbohydrates. And again, I know we have this focus on thinking that that's going to impact our weight. And we tend to worry first about our weight. But it definitely has an impact on our immune system. So some of the things that happen when we have a high intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates is that sugar leads to inflammation in the body. And chronic inflammation is linked to impaired immune responses. So it can increase the risk of diseases and infections during this time when we have a high sugar intake, a high refined carb intake, low immunity, and there's lots of bacteria and viruses around us. So another thing that happens when we have a lot of sugar intake, a high sugar intake is that it impairs a process in our body that's called Fail cytosis. Now phagocytosis is the ability of your white blood cells to engulf to like surround and destroy other bacteria and pathogens that come into our body. And that's what white blood cells do, right. They're like our defense system, and they get out there and they're on high alert. And we want them to be able to gobble up all of these bacteria and viruses before those bacteria and viruses have a chance to get the fuel they need to make us really sick. So high levels of sugar had been shown in some studies to really impair that process and the ability of our white blood cells to do their job effectively. And of course that makes us more susceptible to infections. Also increasing sugar consumption. So excessive sugar consumption leads to what's called oxidative stress. And that damages cells including the cells of our immune system, oxidative stress is also something that's linked to chronic inflammation in our body So you can see this vicious cycle already right? Inflammation kind of leads to more inflammation, sugar triggers it and then those triggers have a cascade, and we get more and more inflamed. Another very important thing that happens when we eat too much sugar, when we have a high intake of refined carbohydrates is it throws off the balance of our gut microbiome. And it leads to something that's called gut dysbiosis, which just means an imbalance in the flora, the life of your gut. So what is our gut filled with tons of bacteria, and these bacteria feed on certain things, certain bacterias that thrive in the presence of sugar and refined carbohydrates send out signals to our body that create problems for us. So when we increase our sugar intake, we increase the population of that specific or those specific bacterial colonies in our gut. So we feed the wrong things, it's like feeding the weeds, we don't want to feed the weeds, we want to give ourselves the food that feeds the good flora in our gut, and strengthens our immune system. Because we know that a significant portion of our immune system is in our gut. And so this imbalance of gut flora of gut bacteria can have a big impact and negative impact on our immune function. Now, we talked about weight gain. And we know that high sugar intake high carbohydrate intake, especially high refined carbohydrate intake, contributes to overweight and metabolic issues. This is a key contributing factor of metabolic syndrome. And metabolic syndrome is associated with both low grade inflammation, impaired function of white blood cells, and a weakened immune system. Another thing that I think sometimes we don't think about is that when we have a lot of sugar, or refined flours, or refined carbohydrates in our diet, those foods can take the place of more nutritious foods that can lead to supporting our immune system. And they can actually lead to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, zinc, and selenium, which are minerals that are really important for our immune function. This is interesting, because a lot of times when I work with people on improving their diet, what I don't focus on is what not to eat, right? Because when we add good things in, they kind of just organically begin to displace things that don't support us as efficiently as good nutritious foods, because we can only eat so much, right. So when we're filling ourselves with foods that are not nutritionally rich, or that are high in refined sugars and carbohydrates, we tend to not eat as many foods we don't have a good balance, it's not like we follow up eating cookies with a spinach salad on most days, we have much more of a tendency to follow up a cookie with another cookie. Because we go into that mental spin of well, I've already gone off the wagon. So what's one more going to do that's not going to hurt, right? And so when that happens, we see rapid spikes in blood sugars, we see insulin levels increase. And if we don't pay attention to that, and get it under wraps, it can lead to a lot of insulin resistance, which is a major factor for chronic illness like cancer. Now, it's very difficult to eliminate any and all sugars from our diets, because there are naturally occurring sugars in foods like fruit, and dairy. And that's not what I'm talking about. Because if you have a whole food diet, and you're getting in some natural sugars, but you're actually watching what you eat, it's going to be really hard to over consume sugar. Because when you have a whole food diet, you're actually increasing your fiber intake, you're going to feel full faster. And as I said just a minute ago, when we fill our diet and our plate with good healthy wholesome foods, nutritious foods, we tend to displace the space that was on that plate for highly refined sugars and other foods that can impact our immune system. So what do you eat? I mean, this is a topic of so much confusion. So I'm not going to talk about what to eat. I'm going to talk about when to eat, because fasting can have a huge influence on your immune system. And I want to help you understand that because again, I think fasting is a go to for weight loss, people think fasting weight loss, and I want to shift that mentality. Now even though weight loss may be a side effect of fasting, want to shift that mentality and help you understand the health benefits of fasting, and why as someone whose life is focused on healing from metastatic breast cancer, lie fasting is a protocol for me. And it's interesting because I got together with my family earlier in the week and And there were some I don't even remember, there were so many gatherings this week, I can't remember which one this was for. But it happened to be on a day that I was fasting. And my mom said to me, Well, you don't want to lose any more weight, do you? Why are you fasting. And so we got into the discussion of why I fast and how it is not about weight loss, and I'm not losing more weight, I'm at a healthy weight I'm at I'm very happy with my weight. But fasting is something that I do for health reasons. So let's talk about why I would come home with a sick husband, and immediately turn to a fast. So one of the most fascinating and fantastic things that fasting does, is that it supports a process called autophagy. autophagy is this process of cells where they remove toxins and repair themselves. So it's the destruction of damaged or redundant cellular components within the cell. So it's actually like just shutting down everything and cleaning house inside the cell. It's an amazing, complex, beautiful process. And this process has been shown in many studies to play a role in defending against diseases, including infections, and cancer. So what when does autophagy start? Well, it can vary depending on the person because whenever we go into a fasted state, your beautiful unique special body is going to react differently than mine. So I'm going to give you the generalities of this because most of us will hit this mark. And we can use it as a guideline, knowing that it will vary with the state of your metabolic health, which with your age, and just your overall lifestyle. Okay, so initially, as a guideline, autophagy starts to become really significant right around the 17 hour of a fast. So between 16 and 24 hours of fasting is when your body starts to switch over to using stored fats for energy, and that's the state that I talk about often called ketosis. And ketosis is a state of producing a different fuel ketones, but also it's closely connected with the activation of the process of autophagy. So autophagy, according to studies, peaks right around 24 to 48 hours during the fast, this is important thing to remember. And it's during this period, that cells really intensify their recycling and repair process. It's an important thing to remember that this happens between 24 and 48 hours, because after 48 hours, autophagy continues, but it can start to have some diminishing returns. And when we move into the 48 to 72 hour period of fasting, we see different health benefits starting to happen in our body. But those longer term fasts are the ones that I talked about earlier that said we should always be approaching these with caution. under medical supervision, we want to be careful that you understand that fasting is not as simple as just don't eat that your blood sugar has to be looked at that your ketones have to be looked at because if you go into a prolonged fasted state, and metabolically, your body is just not with it, it doesn't understand how to switch metabolically, because it's not in a healthy metabolic state, you could find yourself in a position where you have both low blood sugar and low ketones. And that's no bueno, we do not want that. Because ketones are the fuel that we want to increase as glucose decreases, glucose will never get to zero, we need glucose for our body to function. But we wanted to keep it as low as possible. And in a fasted state, our body should be making more ketones to replace that drop in glucose. If you are not in a metabolically healthy state, that might not happen, which is why longer fasts very important that you know what you're doing. And you have trained medical supervision, again, the exact timing of these processes. And when autophagy starts when stem cell production starts, it can change a little bit from person to person, that I want to talk to you about some really fascinating information that was published by the University of Southern California USC. And I love this because this is not new information. You know, people talk about fasting is like, Oh, it's this new thing, and it's just coming up and everybody's doing fasting. But this article is from 2014. And they're already publishing about the amazing benefits of fasting and we can go way, way back in history much earlier than 2014 to find benefits of fasting. But this article, I think, is beautiful because one of the scientists doctors researchers out of USC Longevity Center and Valter Longo is well known for creating the proline men fast mimicking diet and And he's interviewed in this article. So first of all, they're looking at this study were in both mice and Phase One human clinical trials, long term periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. Hmm, you know, thinking wait a minute, I thought it was gonna support immune system function, and white blood cell count lowering doesn't sound so good. Hold on stay with me. So in mice, these fasting cycles. After we saw the lowering of white blood cells, it flipped what they referred to as a regenerative switch. So it changed the pathways and the signaling in these mice so that their systems started to produce stem cells that were responsible for creating new blood and new immune cells. And what this study saw was that in periods of no food, so fasting, water, fasting for two to four days at a time, over a period of six months, killed old, damaged immune cells, and then generated new ones. Now, the research also showed that this had really great implications for chemotherapy tolerance, and for those with a wide range of immune system deficiencies, including autoimmune disorders. So Valter Longo in this article says, when you start now this is a quote, I not thrilled that he used the word starve, we're talking about fasting, this is his quote, when you starve the system tries to save energy. And one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. And he goes on to say, I love this part. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you refeed, the blood cells comeback. And during each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell based regeneration of new immune system cells. In particular, prolong fasting reduced the enzyme P K. And Longo said that pKa is the key gene that needs to shut down. In order for stem cells to switch into regenerative mode, it gives the okay for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuilding entire new systems. Now, Longo says that's good news because the body got rid of the parts of the system that were damaged, old or efficient during the fasting period. And so now if you start with a system that was heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate literally a new immune system. Okay, if that isn't exciting to you, if that doesn't make you want to dig in more to understand the health benefits of fasting, I don't know what will because I find that to be really inspiring, you know, the idea of fasting and going without food for two to four days can be a little bit intimidating. But when we hear these health benefits, it's worth looking into more to understand how to do it properly. Another benefit of fasting is that it reduces inflammation. And that's a key part of the immune response. So I think it's important to point out here, like I just said a minute ago, it's difficult to think about going two to four days without food, it's a little scary, it's a little stressful. But there is a type of stress called you stress EU as t r e LSSU. Stress, you stress is known as positive stress on the body. So that could be something like you have a deadline, and you feel stressed for a day or two as you're trying to get everything together at the last minute, but then you produce something that's really good, and you end up having a good outcome and you grow from that experience. So short periods of stress, we tend to respond to by coming back a little bit stronger. So when we talk about reduced inflammation, I want you to think about it in terms of a short term acute stressor on the body. Because the way that our body responds to acute stress, is we kind of go into fight or flight. And that is a incredible system that our body has to respond to danger, right? So we're going without food and the body is like well, whoa, hold on. I don't want to starve here. And so it moves us into fight or flight. And that can help bring inflammation down by stimulating some hormone changes, especially by increasing the production of nor epinephrine. Okay, so let's talk about what norepinephrine does for our body because it's pretty dang amazing. Now, when you hear epinephrine, you might again think stress and that's okay, because I want you to think about it again in the way of it being a positive stressor on the body, a short term positive stressor that causes the body to come back even better. Okay, so one of the things that norepinephrine does is it's called modulation of immune cell activity. And what that means is norepinephrine directly affects the activity of your immune cells. So it interacts with the receptors on the surface of your immune cells, specifically, cells like lymphocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells, which are all part of our white blood cell system, our immune system, and norepinephrine can alter their activity. So this includes helping them change their cell migration and their ability to respond to infections. Now the way that it affects our lymphocytes again and type of white blood cells, is that it causes a redistribution of the cells to other tissues in the body, which studies are showing potentially enhances the body's ability to detect and respond to pathogens and keep those viruses and bacterias out of us. Now, norepinephrine is also linked to what's called our hypothalamus, pituitary adrenal axis HPA axis, norepinephrine plays a really key role in activating this HPA axis. And what the HPA Axis does is it regulates the release of cortisol, another stress hormone, right? A hormone was really complex effects on the immune system. But short term cortisol release, again, can boost immune function for the reasons we talked about a minute ago. So we don't want cortisol to be elevated chronically long term, elevated cortisol levels can actually suppress our immune response. But in the short term, it can work in our favor and help to reduce inflammation and improve the function of our immune system. Another very, very, I thought this was super cool. Norepinephrine actually affects what's called our barrier tissues. And that means the barriers like our skin, and the mucosal surfaces inside our body. And so what study suggests is that norepinephrine enhances those barrier tissues ability to prevent pathogen entry, how cool is that. And then norepinephrine, just like we looked at Sugar, having this vicious cycle of creating inflammation and inflammation creates more inflammation, norepinephrine with all the beautiful things that it does, actually helps induce autophagy. So autophagy induces more autophagy beautiful system. Now, studies show that norepinephrine can induce this autophagy in some certain types of cells, particularly neuronal cells. And if you haven't heard already, fasting is used. And the ketogenic diet is also used as a really beautiful therapeutic tool for people who have neurodegenerative disorders in the brain, like dementia, and Alzheimer's. And what this study showed is that autophagy plays this role in neuronal health by clearing out damage or what are referred to as misfolded proteins. And when it does this, it helps to prevent neurodegenerative diseases. Another cell norepinephrine, produces autophagy in its cancer cells, and we certainly want that right. Specifically, research has shown that norepinephrine can influence processes in breast cancer cells, like proliferation or you know, the multiplying of cells, and angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels, which we do not want. And so autophagy can help protect us from those things. It's also been shown to have protective mechanisms in pancreatic cancer cells, melanoma, colon cancer, and even in the cells of our heart. So norepinephrine has been shown to induce autophagy in that what's called cardiomyocytes, the heart muscle cells. And this is a really protective process under stress conditions, and it helps this the cells in our heart to cope better with increased workload or damage that is friggin cool, you see how that whole system kind of works together. Another area another cell, where norepinephrine is plays a role in autophagy is in fat cells. So there are evidence and studies that suggests that norepinephrine induces this death in these fat cells, this cleaning process and these fat cells and can even be involved in regulating fat metabolism and energy balance in our body. pretty dang cool. Now, this is an ongoing area of research. And what I presented to you is a very simplified version of what goes on inside of our bodies, because I just wanted to give you this surface level understanding of the importance of fasting to strengthen your immune system, and even better to work towards cellular cleanup. So you know, when you get to that point when you've just like, I don't want to put any more food in me. I don't want to put anything my body is just like saying Stop, please exit only, like do not put anything else in me. And we need to stop and really pay attention to the signals that our body sends. Because it's such an intuitive, amazing mechanism, the way that our body works. So when we pick up on those signals, and we realize like, Oh, my body may be in a overfed state right now,
Laura Lummer 30:20
it's sending me signals saying, Please stop. Let me have a break here. Let me clean up, right. It's like, think about thinking about Christmas just pops into my mind, or any holiday, like think about Thanksgiving or other holidays, where you're running around, you're getting food ready, you're getting gifts ready, you're sending out invitations or going to parties, and we get mentally and emotionally the state or we say, Could you stop, right. And that's why I think so much of the time after Christmas that week after Christmas, and we have Boxing Day and Out with the old and in with the new. And we just want to stop and regroup for a second, right. And that's kind of what our body does to when it's had enough, it will send you those signals. And it's okay to pay attention to those signals. And to know that deciding to give your body time to rest, and clean up and reorganize, is very beneficial. Now, if you have any kind of an eating disorder, or food issues, all the more reason that you do not fast unless you have professional medical guidance. But there is a ton of helpful information out there for you to turn to. And in fact, as I'm saying this, I'm thinking of another book that was written by Dr. Jason Fung, who is just absolutely amazing. He wrote the obesity code, the diabetes code, and the cancer code. And in the cancer code, he goes into a lot of detail about how fasting benefits people who have cancer and can support cancer treatments, and then just support our overall health as we are trying to support our body's ability to heal. So I'll put links to that book and the fast like a girl book, which I referred to earlier, which is a fantastic resource. For anyone who is still cycling, it's a fantastic resource just to listen to and get a better understanding of fasting. But I wanted to put this out there as we go into the new year. And as you consider your health goals, as you consider the things that you want to do, and what's easy to do, right, and let's let's be real clear on this easy and fasting may not sound like they go hand in hand, right? Because it sounds hard. It's easy to do in the fact that it's not complicated. You need to understand and be able to really listen to your body so that you're managing whatever stress levels might come up so that you're managing whatever health issues you might have. But let me tell you, when my husband and I embarked on a fasting lifestyle, meaning that we incorporate regular fasting into the way that we live, it had a huge impact on our budget. On our food budget, I could not believe how much our food budget went down. And especially in times like this, where food is insanely expensive and groceries are insanely expensive. Learning about how to safely incorporate a fasting protocol into your overall healthy lifestyle program is a lot easier on the wallet, then going out and investing in some of these insanely expensive diets and diet protocols and other programs that people offer to try to teach you a new way of eating. When it comes to healthy diet. I've said this before, and I'm gonna say it again. And I'm gonna say it a lot more I'm sure, especially on the Tuesday train talks. But eating can be as simple as this. Eat real food. Eat organic as much as possible. Eat mostly plants. Eat healthy fats, not unhealthy fats, not tons of saturated fat, and don't eat too much. Right incorporate fasting give your body time to rest to recuperate to clean house in between periods of filling it with food. It will benefit your overall health, it will benefit your wallet and it will help to support a strong immune system during the cold and flu season and any other time during the year. Now, if you want more information, go and get my free download, which is the lesson on fasting and food protocols straight from my 90 days of wellness program. And 90 days of wellness is still available for you to purchase on its own. It is a beautiful heart centered approach to health and wellness and supporting your wellness. It's available on its own until January 15. And then it's going to just live inside of my better than before breast cancer membership. Because I have other new things coming that need to take place of where that program lives right now. So you can still get that and you can find all of the information about 90 days of wellness at the breast cancer recovery coach dot com forward slash wellness. And you can download the lesson on fasting and food protocols at the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash fasting. All right, my friends, I hope that information has helped you. I hope it's excited you I hope that it's maybe opened up a little window of curiosity for you to explore. And as we move into 2024, maybe letting go of some of the ideas of how much food has to go into your body and opening yourself and opening your mind to the opportunity of allowing your body to be in a fasted state for healthy reasons. All right, I'd love to hear your question. So come and find me at the breast cancer recovery coach on Facebook and Instagram, DM me or join my free Facebook group, the breast cancer recovery group, or come and join me work with me in the better than before breast cancer life coaching membership. Get all the details on my website, the breast cancer recovery koat.com And I'll talk to you again very soon. Take care
Speaker 1 36:05
you've heard your courage to the tears laid all your doubts. Your mind is clearer than before your heart is full and wanting more your futures Give it all you know has you been waiting on yours this is your