Fasting and what it can do

A contribution by Jürgen Zender


Fasting is becoming increasingly popular, supported by growing scientific evidence about its positive health effects. In an interview with Berlin nutrition expert Andreas Michalsen, various aspects of fasting are examined, with a particular focus on the potential benefits for people with Parkinson's.

Andreas Michalsen emphasizes that fasting is not a passing fad, but a practice that has been anchored in various cultures and medical traditions for centuries. The growing number of scientific studies in the last ten to 15 years confirm the positive effects of fasting from a medical perspective.

An interesting application of fasting can be seen in medical therapies, especially for diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and inflammatory diseases. Michalsen points out that fasting can even play a positive role during chemotherapy. A study at an oncology congress in Barcelona showed that the side effects of chemotherapy can be reduced and patients' quality of life can be increased if they fast for 60 days using the Buchinger method.

The Berlin expert also discusses the possible effects of fasting on Parkinson's patients. A study, carried out in collaboration with the Charité, the University of Luxembourg, the University of Göttingen and the Paracelsus Elena Clinic in Kassel, subjected Parkinson's patients to therapeutic fasting for seven days. Although the results do not yet clearly show the influence of fasting on the course of Parkinson's disease, it is assumed that fasting could have a beneficial effect on the intestinal bacterial composition, since Parkinson's disease often begins in the intestine.

The mechanism behind these positive effects lies in the hibernation mode of some body cells during fasting. In particular, cells in the intestinal mucosa reduce their metabolic activity, clean themselves and absorb fewer toxic substances.

Michalsen emphasizes that, in addition to therapeutic fasting, intermittent fasting can also have positive effects on neurological diseases. Studies at the Charité indicate that intermittent fasting has a certain effect on multiple sclerosis (MS). Michalsen's recommendation is to carry out S fasting three to four times a year for five to seven days each, with medical supervision recommended, especially when trying for the first time.

However, the Berlin expert warns that fasting is not suitable for everyone. It is not recommended for people who are underweight, have eating disorders, children, adolescents, pregnant women or breastfeeding women. Gallstones are also a risk and fasting should be avoided in these cases.

Finally, Michalsen emphasizes that classic intermittent fasting, in which calorie-free drinks are allowed, is a realistic and sustainable method. Although there are different variations such as five days of fasting and two days of normal Essen or the 16:8 method with 16 hours of fasting and eight hours of eating, he recommends individual adjustment depending on your lifestyle and goals.


Section Contents
Introduction – Fasting is trendy and supported by numerous scientific studies. – Andreas Michalsen explains the benefits of fasting in an interview.
Fasting as a tradition and medical Therapy – Fasting is old and anchored in various cultures and medicine. – Medical therapy: positive effects on high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory diseases. – Study shows fasting reduces side effects of chemotherapy.
Fasting and Parkinson's sufferers – Parkinson’s could start in the intestines, hence the influence of fasting on intestinal bacteria. – Study with Parkinson’s patients shows subjective improvements and increased quality of life. – Long-term observation is still necessary for clear influences on the course of Parkinson’s disease.
Fasting mechanism – Hibernation mode of body cells during fasting. – Reduction of metabolic activity of cells, purification and lower absorption of toxic substances.
Intermittent fasting and neurological diseases – Animal experiments show positive effects of fasting on Parkinson’s, dementia, MS. – Studies at the Charité on intermittent fasting for MS. – Intermittent fasting as an everyday form with positive effects on weight, blood sugar, high blood pressure and sleep quality.
Recommendations and warnings – Recommendation for fasting three to four times a year with medical supervision. – Not suitable for underweight people, people with eating disorders, children, adolescents, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and those with gallstones. – Classic interval fasting as a sustainable method.

Jürgen Zender, Munich, February 2024

Source: Berliner Zeitung

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