Tuesday, 20 March 2018

To fast, or not to fast, that is the question

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

There is always a trade-off between being adventurous and adopting a more conservative approach to innovation.  The theory of diffusion of innovation comes to mind.  The vast majority of people are not innovators or early adopters - innovators are quite rare. 

We often wrongly assume that deferring a decision whether we should introduce something new into our lives (i.e. our making a decision to maintain the status quo) is a safe choice.  To "wait and see" does not necessarily mean to "play it safe".

Imagine that you are a smoker living in 1920s Germany and you read that doctor Fritz Lickint claims that smoking causes cancer.  Not only many doctors you know are smokers and consider smoking safe, but some even say that smoking actually improves health, and you (and many other smokers you know) agree with them.  You love smoking and decide you do not want to quit till there is a scientific consensus (if ever) that smoking really not only does not improve health but actually causes cancer.  Decades pass.  To escape the war you emigrate to America.  In the 1960s, the United States Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health is published and you finally have your consensus: smoking tobacco does cause cancer and many other diseases.  You have been killing yourself for the last forty years!
Or an alternative ending: Considering all that smoking, maybe you are already dead when the report comes out...

Why am writing this?  Why the title?  Well, I have just had a discussion about fasting & LCHF lifestyle and the existing research on their short-term and long-term effects in humans.  Over the years, I stumbled upon quite a lot of studies, in both animials and humans, that show many potential benefits of both fasting and ketogenic / LCHF lifestyle (e.g. anti-carcinogenic, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory).  Unfortunately, most available data comes from short-term studies and there is scarcity of long-term studies (which, in case of medical research, is quite typical).

Ultimately, everyone has to do their own research, carefully weight pros and cons, and make their own decisions.  We should never stop challenging our preconceptions and the status quo.  Inaction, a choice not to change anything, is not automatically a safer choice.

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