Choosing life – part 4
In the final part of this interview, THIERRY CASASNOVAS continues his advocacy for life. He shares his own journey with CELINE FRÉSARD, and the role of fasting in the healing process.
Q: To help us overcome the fears you mentioned earlier, that can be generated in us by certain reactions in our bodies, could you tell us about the stages of fasting and the main symptoms that can occur?
TC: The first principle is: by fasting one becomes a fasting specialist. That is, the knowledge of fasting comes through experience, gradually recognizing symptomatic expressions.
The second principle is: the limit of what is acceptable is set by the person for themself.
The good news is that once the body is cleansed, the reactions stop. For example, I am used to fasting, so I can do it for days while continuing my activities, and no one will realize that I am operating without water and food. I don’t have any painful manifestations like joint pain, because the cleaning work has already been done.
But let’s say you are fasting for the first time. You may feel tired, have a headache, a rash of pimples, or other symptoms. At some point you may say to yourself, “No, this is too much, I’m stopping.” You will resume your normal food intake but feel bad that you couldn’t continue. In fact, stopping is not so bad, because the next time you will go a little further. This is how the knowledge is gradually built. For me, the key words are listening, feeling and progressiveness.
There is no problem in stopping a fast because you consider the symptoms to be too severe. When you get back to it, your body will immediately take you back to where you stopped. It tells you: “You stopped and I’ll take you back.” It will put you back in front of the same kinds of symptoms until you have gone through the fear stage, and until you have given your body enough time to clean itself up. So the process will be done, and progressiveness, listening, gentleness, kindness are the keys.
Q: Can you tell us about some physiological processes associated with fasting, such as hormesis, autophagy, and the important brain protein, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)?
TC: The law of hormesis is the second magnificent law of life. I told you about the first, the law of homeostasis, which says that any system spontaneously returns to a state of equilibrium and will return to it all the more spontaneously if it is placed in a state of rest.
The law of hormesis defines what rest is. It is the proper use of the organism, in other words, when we do not exceed our body’s ability to adapt to any situation. It is a totally individual factor, because the upper limit is different for everyone, and this happens in every area of our lives. The law of hormesis tells us: every time we utilize our body without exceeding the adaptive capacity of the individual, the body improves its functioning. Rest is not about leaving your body alone in a dusty corner, it is about utilizing it within the limits of its adaptive capacity. And the law of hormesis tells us that when we extend our body and being as a whole to the limit of what we can tolerate, this is where the gain will be maximum. In these situations, BDNF, which promotes the growth of neural tissue, is released in response to eustress. Overall it makes you smarter and livelier, by increasing neural pathways.
We are therefore designed to be regularly subjected to adaptive demands, to stresses that stimulate our body’s adaptive capacity. The problem comes in today’s society, in which we find ourselves in situations that are beyond our ability to adapt. We are often in situations of chronic anxiety, and when we return home we have only one desire, to sink into absolute comfort, and that is atrophy. The right measure is neither in going beyond our limits or into atrophy, but in between, with adapted challenges that push us to the limit of our adaptive capacity without defeating us. This is the law of hormesis that guides any improvement in our functioning. And it is super important.
This is reflected physically and morally. If not challenged, our muscles atrophy. It is automatic. If not challenged regularly in other ways also, within our limits, we automatically regress.
Q: What about autophagy?
TC: Autophagy is one of the wonders of fasting that illustrates the laws of homeostasis and hormesis. When we stop eating, healthy body tissues feed at the expense of degenerative tissues. In times of food scarcity, the healthiest parts of us will feed and let the most degenerate parts starve to death. It is a regulatory process in which what is not functional will disappear, allowing for renewal. Even if a part of us dies, the constant cell renewal will create new cells and tissues that will be healthy. So the process of autophagy is the normal renewal of the organism, where the healthy feeds at the expense of the unhealthy. It is the evacuation of waste, the elimination, renewal and permanent rejuvenation of the organism that takes place particularly during periods of rest and fasting. This is when autophagy is at its peak.
Q: The body gets rid of its own toxins, waste and tumors?
TC: Exactly. Waste is what cannot be used by the body, so it will be disposed of by the body. On the other hand, the body feeds on its fats and, since food resources are limited while we are fasting, the energy from these fats will be directed to the healthiest cells so that they replicate themselves, and the unhealthy cells will simply die.
Q: So should we wait until we are sick before we start fasting?
TC: As I understand it, disease is the signal that we have overtaken the body’s adaptive mechanisms. So the intelligent solution would be to feed the adaptive systems so that we do not get sick.
Unfortunately, for many of us, our culture does not invite us to consider our lifestyle in this way. Sometimes we have to fall sick in order to change our habits. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it is often a powerful motivation.
However, supporting a healthy lifestyle can begin at an early age, and I am very happy when parents contact me and tell me that they have understood the importance of feeding their children well.
Q: You mean everyone can fast, including children and the elderly?
TC: Anyone can fast, as long as it is freely chosen; otherwise it is food deprivation and abuse. Children often spontaneously feel the need, especially when they are sick, so you can tell them, “Look, there’s a chance you’re not hungry and that’s normal. This is what’s going on in your body, so it is not the time to eat.” This will give them a knowledge that will accompany them throughout their life – to listen to their bodies’ natural needs.
The main thing is to listen to yourself and respect yourself. When it gets too difficult, just stop. It is all about feeling. For some it will be a few hours and for others a few weeks. It depends on the person. The best rule to make sure you don’t make mistakes is to go slowly and gradually. If you can’t swim, you don’t jump into a big pool without a float, or you risk drowning. You start by going into the small pool where you can touch the bottom, and then you experiment slowly. With fasting it’s the same. If you’ve never fasted, start by delaying the first meal. For example, you may wait one hour before eating breakfast, then another, and eventually you end up not eating until noon. You have done what is called an intermittent fast and that is perfect.
Gradually, you will delay lunch and make only one meal a day. And the day you feel really comfortable with that, you’ll be fasting till the evening and you’ll have done 24 hours of fasting. This is how, by progressing slowly, you get to know your body with peace of mind, to discover its reactions, how it works, and then you are a winner.
At this point you have experience, and you have built knowledge that no longer depends on an external authority but on what is happening inside. You are free. You feel a total freedom, because you have met life.
Interviewed by CELINE FRÉSARD
November 02, 2019
October 31, 2019
October 03, 2019