Fasting for Brain Health and to Treat Concussion & Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Right then! Welcome back to the What Supp Blog, the one stop shop for all things performance.

Today’s post is bought via some pretty powerful insights from Mr Dr Daniel Pompa. Dr Pomp (as I’ll affectionately refer to him as) is a pretty damn knowledgeable dude in the health and wellness space. His specialty in particular however, is the use of fasting as a wholistic tool to manage your health and wellbeing.

Ok, obviously fasting as a topic could literally fill a book, (and has, I’d recommend Dr Fung’s complete guide to fasting!),I’m going to narrow it down a little hear. Well, a lot actually. This post will give 7 pretty damn good reasons that Dr Pomp recommends fasting as a remedy to cleanse your brain and manage concussions or brain injuries. It is of note though that many of the adaptations presented completely apply to your overall health, so please don’t think this is limited purely to brain health.

Now, you may well not have had any specific concussions, but you could well play a sport which head impact is a part of the game, namely any full contact sport, or could have been in a car accident for example. Or of course, you just might want to have a brain that performs at its very best. As one of the leading lights of the science behind sleep, Mathew Walker noted, the mere act of just being awake is causing continuous minor brain damage!

It’s worth noting that when we discuss fasting here, I’m referring to anything 24 plus hours. Also, when I say fast I mean purely water fast, anything that the body has to metabolise ,(coffee, herbal tea, etc), could well short change you.

This is all simpler than it sounds with a 24 hour fast being achieved most easily from, for example, fasting from after dinner from say 7pm, to 7pm the next day. To really amp up the effects highlighted below, try and hit that 36 hour mark by seeing through the day and holding out till some time after 7am the following morning (longer the better).

If, however you really want to go deep and see some powerful results, consider a 3, 5, 7 or even 10 day fast. You will likely need a period of aductation to achieve longer fasts (reasonably) comfortably if you are eating a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates.

I won’t go into huge detail here on the science behind each point, (please check the man’s website and/or podcast), but see below the 7 reasons to implement fasting post injury;

1. Promoting autophagy . This is probably one of the best known health promoting by products of fasting. Autophagy is the body’s process of ridding bad cells/bad DNA to promote new healthy cell growth. This is especially important for your brain, and especially if you’ve suffered accumulative or acute damage.

2. There is a natural occurrence of stem cells rising. The fasting triggers them to rise up and this subsequently starts the healing process.

3. Energy diversion. It takes a certain amount of energy to process and metabolise food. Fasting triggers the body’s innate intelligence to start to use this extra energy which has been saved to start the healing process.

4. Turning off bad DNA. Yes you do have the genes you have, but what turns them on and what turns them off is all primarily down to nutritional and environmental factors. In a nutshell, fasting down regulates the bad genes and up regulate your good genes.

5. Gut health. The gut is not called your second brain for nothing. Many neurotransmitters are formed in the gut as well as it being home to all your gut microbes. Fasting can cause a change to the gut michrobiame and hence fix your gut health.

6. Brain benefits from higher ketone production. Now, similar to fasting, the benefits of ketones would fill a book. You don’t however have to start a ketogenic diet to benefit as fasting is a sure fire way to kickstart your liver into producing higher ketone levels.

7. Optimise hormone levels. This one is a lil bit of a shocker as fasting can actually elevate human growth hormone, (HGH), and norepinephrine. HGH is secreted by the brain and stimulates cell growth and reproduction. It also promotes lean tissue and helps mobilize fat, (try telling that to a muscle head down the local gym). Norepinephrine increases arousal and alertness, promotes vigilance, enhances formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention.

Alrighty, well there you have it, 7 good reasons to get your fast on. As already stated, all 7 have far reaching beneficial effects across the board so don’t let not having a head injury, be a good reason to not fast! Till next time.

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