Dry fasting, which is the practice of abstaining from both food and water for a period of time, has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential health benefits. However, the process of dry fasting can be challenging, both physically and mentally.
One aspect that is often overlooked but is crucial to the success of dry fasting is the role of feelings and emotions. You always hear things like 'Be Mindful', 'Think positively', and 'Make sure you take walks in nature'. Let's dive into why this is so important to a successful dry fast.
Feelings are important during dry fasting because they can influence the body’s response to the lack of food and water. According to Leonid Shchennikov, a Russian researcher and practitioner of dry fasting, emotions can affect the release of hormones and the functioning of organs in the body.
Negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, and stress can trigger the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which can have a negative impact on the body and the immune system. On the other hand, positive emotions like joy, gratitude, and peace can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers.
Possible symptoms of negative feelings
Moreover, feelings can also provide valuable feedback about the body’s response to dry fasting. As the body adapts to the lack of food and water, various physical and psychological symptoms may arise.
These symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and can include headache, nausea, dizziness, irritability, and fatigue. By paying attention to these symptoms and observing how they change over time, one can gain valuable insights into the body’s healing process and adjust the dry fasting regimen accordingly.
Feelings can also influence the motivation and determination to continue dry fasting
In addition, feelings can also influence the motivation and determination to continue dry fasting. Dry fasting can be a challenging and sometimes uncomfortable experience, especially in the early stages when hunger and thirst can be intense. However, by cultivating a positive mindset and focusing on the potential benefits of dry fasting, such as improved health, increased energy, and mental clarity, one can stay motivated and committed to the process.
In a two-day consecutive fasting study, lower positive mood, higher negative mood, and lower perceived work performance were observed, but the effects of fasting on positive mood and perceived work performance resulted from the consequent distraction, not the act of fasting or the result of hunger. This distraction might be a result of the attention required for fasting .
Positive feelings during a dry fast
First, strong religious beliefs can lead to positive effects on human physical and psychological health; for those who value their religious beliefs, fasting can be a pleasant and tolerant experience . In contrast, fasting may bring negative emotions to those who do not have religious beliefs. Second, fasting is closely related to self-emotional control. On the one hand, fasting is a process that requires considerable cognitive effort, including self-emotional control, such as controlling the desire to eat and keeping a fast for a few days. On the other hand, successfully completing the fasting period may increase the feeling of self-control
Exercise After a Dry Fast for Mental Health
Physical stress can cause cortisol release. However, regular exercise can help regulate and manage cortisol levels in the long term, leading to stress reduction. During physical activity, the body experiences stress, and in response, the pituitary gland releases endorphins.
Endorphins bind to specific receptors in the brain, blocking the transmission of pain signals and creating a sense of euphoria. This response helps us persevere through physical challenges and contributes to the positive feelings associated with exercise.
Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that play crucial roles in regulating mood, motivation, and reward. Physical activity has been shown to increase the production and release of these neurotransmitters.
Exercise stimulates the release of tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, into the bloodstream. As tryptophan levels rise, more serotonin is synthesized in the brain. Similarly, exercise increases dopamine levels by promoting the release of precursor molecules, such as tyrosine, which are then converted to dopamine in the brain. These increased levels of serotonin and dopamine contribute to improved mood and well-being.
When addressing Mental Health, especially for someone that is suffering from a post-viral illness like Long Covid or Lyme Disease, Yannick has seen many people improve their mental health with Phenylalanine supplements.
While physical activity does cause some level of stress, the body's adaptive response to regular exercise ultimately leads to improved mood and stress regulation. The release of endorphins increased serotonin and dopamine production, and better management of cortisol levels all contribute to the positive effects of physical activity on well-being.
Vitamin D and mental health during a dry fast
Vitamin D plays a significant role in mental health due to its involvement in various processes in the brain. Its main functions include regulating the production and release of neurotransmitters, promoting nerve growth, and maintaining a healthy immune system. These functions are crucial for maintaining optimal brain function and mood stability.
There is no better way to get vitamin D than to go out in the sun and have your body naturally create it. This process has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years and gives you better bioavailable vitamin D than if you were to supplement.
When sunlight touches your skin, it triggers the synthesis of vitamin D. This vitamin is then transformed in the liver and kidneys into its active form, calcitriol, which can be used by the body.
Calcitriol interacts with vitamin D receptors (VDRs) found in many parts of the brain, including areas associated with mood regulation and cognition. This interaction leads to the production and release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are essential for maintaining a positive mood and overall mental well-being.
Cofactors are substances that help enzymes work more effectively in various chemical reactions in the body. Some important cofactors for vitamin D metabolism include magnesium, vitamin K, and zinc. These cofactors play a role in ensuring that the body properly absorbs, converts, and utilizes vitamin D for its various functions.
Cofactors to Vitamin D:
- Magnesium: Magnesium helps activate vitamin D by converting it into its active form. It also plays a role in the function of vitamin D receptors in cells and is involved in the regulation of calcium levels. Calcium and Magnesium fight for similar absorption channels, so keep in mind not to dose high levels of calcium and magnesium together.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K works in conjunction with vitamin D to help regulate calcium balance in the body. It is crucial for proper bone mineralization and maintaining healthy arteries by preventing calcium from being deposited in unwanted areas. Prevents atherosclerosis.
- Zinc: Zinc supports the function of vitamin D receptors and plays a role in the synthesis and activation of vitamin D in the liver.
Discipline during a dry fast
There's no doubt that discipline is a critical player in dry fasting. When your instinct is harassing you to give in and have a sip of water, you must exert superhuman discipline to stay the course.
There's no doubt that a dry fast is one of the ultimate tools in building discipline in the shortest amount of time. It doesn't matter if it takes you multiple attempts to finally get your fasting done. The sole fact that you continue to get back up and try again builds a discipline muscle like no other.
It's not about how hard you get hit, it's about how many times you can get back up!
To get through two acidotic crises you require a little bit of insanity and a whole lot of discipline. It's why I also try to advise anyone with addictions to hack their brain and perform the most effective dopamine detoxes with dry fasting.
Check out my latest attempt at fully recording an 11-day dry fast:
Why is it important to walk in nature while dry fasting
You need to know that the body requires three times as much fresh air when fasting. Do take walks!!! When you feel weak and nauseous, and want to stop the fast, fight fire with fire – move around and walk a lot. Physical activity makes all the organs and muscles work, pumps the blood around and quickens the cleansing.
In Japan, "Shinrinyoku" or forest bathing, is a short, relaxing visit to a forest, similar to natural aromatherapy. Studies conducted since 2005 have explored the effects of forest bathing on the immune system.
Participants took 3-day/2-night trips to forests, and their blood and urine were tested during and after the trips. Tests focused on natural killer (NK) cell activity and other immune system markers, as well as stress hormone levels.
Results showed that forest bathing significantly increased NK cell activity and other immune markers, while reducing stress hormone levels. The immune-boosting effects lasted for over 30 days, suggesting that a monthly forest trip could help maintain better immune function. However, city visits did not provide the same benefits. This suggests that forest bathing can improve immune function through increased NK cell activity and other immune system components.
- Reduced stress and anxiety: Studies have found that spending time in nature can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels. This is primarily due to the calming effects of natural environments on the human nervous system. Research by Ulrich et al. (1991) discovered that exposure to nature reduces the stress hormone cortisol and lowers heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, a study by Bratman et al. (2015) found that walking in nature decreased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, the brain area responsible for rumination and negative thoughts. These findings suggest that immersing oneself in natural environments can have a direct impact on the physiological and neurological processes responsible for stress and anxiety.
- Improved mood and well-being: Time spent in nature has been associated with improved mood and a greater sense of well-being. A seminal study by Kaplan and Kaplan (1989) proposed that exposure to natural environments fosters a sense of psychological restoration by reducing mental fatigue and promoting positive emotions. More recent research by Berman et al. (2012) demonstrated that participants who walked in a natural setting showed increased activity in the brain's anterior cingulate and insula, regions involved in processing positive emotions and well-being. Additionally, the release of endorphins and serotonin during time spent in nature contributes to feelings of happiness and overall emotional health.
- Strengthened immune system: Research has shown that spending time in nature can have a positive impact on the immune system. A series of studies by Li et al. (2007, 2008, 2010) on the concept of "forest bathing" in Japan found that exposure to natural environments led to an increase in the number and activity of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell responsible for fighting infections and preventing cancer. One of the main mechanisms underlying this immune-boosting effect is the inhalation of phytoncides, chemicals released by plants to protect themselves from harmful organisms. These chemicals have been shown to stimulate the production of natural killer cells and other immune system components, thus strengthening the body's ability to ward off disease.
- Connection to nature: Spending time in nature helps people feel more connected to the world, promoting feelings of well-being and reducing feelings of isolation or loneliness.
- Increased physical activity: Walking itself has mood-boosting effects due to the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators. This is also why you should not do intense physical exercise right after a dry fast or during it, and focus on lighter forms of activity. Cortisol, often referred to as the "stress hormone," is released in response to physical and mental stress. While acute exercise can lead to a temporary increase in cortisol, regular exercise can help regulate cortisol levels over time. This is why exercise a key component of health, including mental health. Just remember to smartly and optimally approach exercising, when to do it, and at what levels.
- Exposure to natural light: Natural light, especially sunlight, can boost serotonin levels, which improves mood and helps regulate sleep patterns.
- Improved air quality: Natural environments often have cleaner air, which can have a positive impact on respiratory health and overall well-being.
How to best manage your feelings during a dry fast
There are several ways to manage feelings during dry fasting.
- One way is to practice mindfulness and meditation, which can help to calm the mind and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Another way is to engage in activities that promote positive emotions, such as listening to music, spending time in nature, or doing something creative.
- It is also important to stay connected with supportive friends and family members and to seek professional help if necessary.
Feelings play a crucial role in dry fasting and can impact both the physical and psychological aspects of the process. By cultivating positive emotions, paying attention to physical and psychological symptoms, and staying motivated and committed to the process, one can optimize the potential benefits of dry fasting and achieve improved health and well-being.
- The Effect of Fasting on Human Metabolism and Psychological Health
- Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function
- Sunlight and Vitamin D