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Episode 7: To fast or not to fast?

00:00:33 Glenn:       Welcome back to Natural Health for People and Pets. I'm your co-host Glenn Cooke, and introducing the host of the show, we've got Narelle Cooke.  

00:00:40 Narelle:       Hello everyone, welcome back. 

00:00:42 Glenn:       Last episode we had your first live guest.  

00:00:47 Narelle:       We interviewed Brittany Young and it was all about transparency in the raw food manufacturing business which was fascinating and we had a lot of good feedback from that interview, so thanks Brittany.  

00:00:58 Glenn:       I agree. Thanks Brittany for coming along and sharing some of that 'cause it was a real eye-opener for me too.

00:01:02 Narelle:       Yeah, it was fascinating. 

00:01:03 Glenn:       Certainly was. 

00:03:02 Narelle:       Today's topic was actually a request by one of my listeners of the show, Lauren Turner, who’s a trainer in the States and wanted to know more about fasting.  

00:03:13 Glenn:       Interesting topic considering that it's something that's been mentioned in most ancient scripts throughout the dawn of time and something heavily practiced in populations all over the world, again since Adam was a boy. However, now in days of consumerism, it's more about buy everything, eat everything.  

00:03:31 Narelle:       Yeah, we have gone off track in terms of evolutionary approaches to eating, which we'll talk about today. So today it's about fasting as it relates to people and pets, with a focus on dogs.  

00:03:45 Glenn:       So this is a people and pets one?  

00:03:47 Narelle:       It's people and pets. Whenever I can, I'm going to try and cover both within a show. There'll be shows where it says one or the other, but today fasting comes up often on dog food forums and it can be quite heated, that's one of the reasons I wanna talk about it  today. 

00:04:03 Glenn:       Yeah, interesting.  

00:04:04 Narelle:       Just to give an overview, to start with a lot of fasting terms are used interchangeably online and that's fine when it comes to fasting, but I thought I'd just quickly highlight the main types of fasting that people might see out there and try themselves. The first one is what's called time restricted fastings. This is really popular at the moment with a lot of my clients and this is where you eat within a specific window of time. The main one out there is what's called the 16/8 time restricted fasting process. That's where you will eat within an eight hour window and fast for 16 hours. A lot of people, because of our lifestyles and work, will skew that eating window to the second half of the day so they might eat between 12:00 PM and 8:00 PM or you know, 11:00 AM 7:00 PM whatever works for them. For other people, there's a 14/10, or a 12/12, there's no hard and fast rules. But the science shows that the main benefits of fasting tend to kick in at around that 15 to 16 hour mark, but you can still get benefits, and as we go through the show I'll talk about the benefits that you can get from doing bigger windows of eating as well.  

00:05:10 Glenn:       It's a difficult thing about being an adult is that you can eat whenever you want in relation to people. There's no handbrake, or mentoring, or governance on when you can eat. When you're a child, your parents say to you, that's enough, you can't eat anymore. But when you're a grown up, you can just say, I can eat whenever I want. The problem that I have is that I'm allowed to eat whenever I want and I just go to the cupboard and get whatever I want out of it.  

00:05:35 Narelle:       Yeah. I often think our dogs are lucky in that we regulate what they eat and when they eat. I wish someone would just tell me to stop eating. 

00:05:42 Glenn:       Yeah, no food police is going to tell me when I can and can't eat.  

00:05:45 Narelle:       On the time restricted fasting though it's really interesting. Studies have shown that in terms of the cardiometabolic diseases, they're things like insulin resistance, type two diabetes, hypertension, skewing that eating window to the morning rather than the evening, which is what most people will do, is actually more beneficial for reducing those conditions. But what's fascinating, because a lot of people do fasting for weight loss, but by skewing the eating window to the morning, they've found that that's helpful because they've discovered that nearly every gene in our body is affected by circadian rhythms. That's our natural diurnal process in the body, our sleep weight cycle, and they've discovered that, for example, melatonin, which is our sleepy hormone, gets released at night and it goes all through the body. The cells in our body have lots of different types of receptors with melatonin receptors being just one of them. So as melatonin, the hormone goes through the blood, comes across a cell, sees the receptor and binds to it, and that's what triggers the positive effect. What they've found is that even the pancreas has quite a large number of these receptors for melatonin in their cells and that stimulation of melatonin receptors on the pancreas actually suppresses insulin release. Now if that all sounds a bit convoluted, when we eat our bodies release insulin, it's just what it does. And the more carby and processed and sugary the food, the more insulin your body releases. So if you think about it from an evolutionary perspective, in the hunter gatherer day, they're going to be hunting, gathering and feasting mainly during daylight hours. So, and that's when the pancreas is primed to respond to that food intake by releasing insulin. But they're showing now that at night when we're supposed to be sleeping and melatonin is being produced, it actually suppresses that pancreas response, which may indicate that eating late at night, particularly eating a lot of carb rich foods late at night may not be in their best interest. I just find that fascinating.  

00:07:51 Glenn:       It is fascinating. I guess it makes sense because if you look at the body's preparation during the nocturnal cycle to wind down, and in the morning your body is basically preparing the engine to start moving and getting around. It makes sense that it's converting energy at a much more rapid rate in the morning, and then in the evening it's trying to slow itself down. And then you are trying to force more food in there and I guess it goes into storage mode, right?  

00:08:16 Narelle:       I mean there's a lot of conflicting studies on weight gain, for example, whether people eat late at night, or don't eat late at night. But I don't think it's the best time to be eating large amounts of food. But that's another podcast probably.

00:08:27 Glenn:       It probably is.  

00:08:27 Narelle:       Yeah, so that's the time restricted fasting. Then you've got intermittent fasting which is the most commonly done approach. The five two diet where you're eating normally for five days of the week and on two days you're restricting your calories quite severely to say five or 600 calories. There's whole day fasting where someone might eat dinner one day and then not eat again until dinner the next day. I've got a couple of clients that do that and I keep having this conversation with them because most people aren't eating a nutritionally replete diet to start with. If you think about it, if you're just eating one meal a day, chances are you're not getting everything you need in that one meal. So unless you're really strategic in planning your meals across a week, I think it's a recipe for disaster for nutritional deficiencies, just having one meal a day. And then trying to get enough calories in too, because let's say you eat a day's worth of calories in one meal, that's a huge burden on your digestive system, which again has negative health consequences too. So there are pros and cons to everything, nothing is straightforward in the health world.  

00:09:26 Glenn:       Well, extremities on both ends are still extremities.  

00:09:30 Narelle:       Yeah, and the other thing with any of these fasting approaches, they've been shown to be effective for weight loss, there's no doubt about that. But they're not significantly more effective than, say, just reducing calorie intake generally. And the risk with fasting is that it's been shown to increase what's called Neuropeptide Y, which is one of our most potent appetite regulating hormones. Fasting does stimulate that, which means you're more likely to feel hungry when you're fasting again. I've got clients who swear that they're not hungry. Depends on the person. 

00:10:01 Glenn:       Funny about that, isn't it that genetics play a part in how different people react differently. 

00:10:06 Narelle:       Yeah, it's huge. Just like we always say, it depends on the dog when it comes to training. With health, it really does depend on the person. So these are quite broad discussions that we're having today. If people hear something that triggers their interest, there's so much information online, and studies that they can delve into a bit more deeply if they want to. So beyond weight loss, some of the other key benefits of fasting and I should say the benefits that we are going to touch on today are just as applicable to our dogs. I'll go through these, but this is helping our dogs as well because even though dogs physiologically and biochemically are different, they're not so different to us, and a lot of studies will say that animal models, particularly dog models are good predictors of human models when it comes to clinical trials.  

00:10:58 Narelle:       So, beyond weight loss, you've got improved insulin sensitivity which can help to reverse type two diabetes. And that's actually really important because a lot of people may not even know that they've got any degree of insulin resistance. And if it's left unchecked that's where they go to the doctor and suddenly they've got type two diabetes, which is completely reversible with diet and lifestyle. But some of the signs and symptoms of insulin resistance, fatigue, extra weight gain, particularly around the middle. If you suddenly get patches of dark skin, skin tags, acne for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, they'll be all over the insulin resistance problem. Fatty liver, really intense cravings like that real hangry effect if you don't eat. For women it could be hair loss, fluid retention, trouble concentrating.  

00:11:45 Narelle:       So all of those signs and symptoms are quite vague and could be caused by a lot of different things, but insulin resistance is one of them. Even if you don't care about any of that, again, coming back to weight loss, insulin is our fat storage hormone, so while insulin is up all the time, you are not going to be losing fat and that's what happens. Like I said, when we eat triggers insulin, so if you are eating, grazing all day, you've constantly got this elevated insulin level, which means you're really never going to get into that fat burning mode. I have to say though, despite knowing all the ins and outs of the benefits of fasting, I just can't do it. 

00:12:21 Glenn:       Yeah, well I'm not really a model of good eating choices or anything either, if I have to be.

00:12:26 Narelle:       But you naturally tend to be okay with not eating for hours and hours at a time.

00:12:31 Glenn:       Yeah, that's not the problem. I can miss meals during the day and I think my main issue is I eat late into the night and you know, I'm a self-confessed stress eater. So if I'm occupied and busy, I feel like I've gotta be eating something at the same time. So the more stressed I feel, the more cravings that I actually incur to actually wanna go and eat something. So it's a vicious cycle. It's a negative feedback loop that I just seem not to be able to kick.  

00:12:57 Narelle:       Yeah, I mean, emotional eating's huge for I'd say the majority of people. But moving back on to some of the benefits. One of the key benefits is that fasting promotes autophagy, which means that our body is constantly generating new cells and killing off old ones. But this is also happening within the cell. So all the little structures and organelles within the cell are breaking down and forming new ones. So autophagy is just that natural cellular housekeeping process. The body's cleaning out all the debris out of the cell, so you can get all the crap out and get the good stuff and the nutrients in.  

00:13:43 Narelle:       And this is great for improving mitochondrial function 'cause we can only feel as good as our cells are healthy. They're the base unit of who we are and if your mitochondrial health is suffering, then yeah, you will be fatigued, you will feel just, blah. So that's important. And the other thing about autophagy is it increases macrophage activity. Macrophages are a type of white blood cell and they go around the body and destroy bacteria, viruses and just anything that shouldn't be there, like dead tissue, worn out cells. And the way I like to think about macrophages whenever I'm reading the literature is, remember back in the day, who had a Commodore 64 computer and used to play Pac-Man, that's a macrophage. Whenever you read macrophage, just picture Pac-Man going around with his mouth open, swallowing up all the crap in our bodies and all the nasties.

00:14:38 Glenn:       That’s a horrible thought. 

00:14:40 Narelle:       But it makes it interesting. 

00:14:42 Glenn:       It does. 

00:14:43 Narelle:       If you're going to be in a scientific field, I find it really beneficial to have all these little analogies.

00:14:50 Glenn:       Yeah it is  important especially when you're trying to make it relatable to an audience.  

00:14:57 Narelle:       This is so important.. It was only in 2016 that a Japanese scientist won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering that autophagy is switched on by a nutrient deprivation. That was a pretty major thing. And that's where the benefits of fasting have grown a lot since. Fasting's great for reducing any of those cardiovascular disease risk factors, things like, high cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, it can reduce inflammation, it can improve mental clarity and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders. And the way it does this, and I've spoken about this with dogs, or I've written about it anyway, is that fasting increases what's called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. So it promotes new neurons and protects against neuronal degeneration, that's really important. I think I've written about it in terms of phytonutrients for dogs, which helps to promote BDNF for dogs.  

00:15:50 Glenn:       Where did you write this?  

00:15:51 Narelle:       That was in the IACP journal.  

00:15:54 Glenn:       Ah, yes.  

00:15:55 Narelle:       Yeah, last season.  

00:15:57 Glenn:       Good reason to be a member of the IACP.  

00:15:59 Narelle:       Absolutely. Fasting increases growth hormone production which is central to lots of aspects of health, like our metabolism, weight loss again, increased muscle mass, increased bone strength. Fasting can help with cancer prevention and increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy. It can slow aging, increase longevity. There's lots of studies about calorie restriction and fasting for anti-aging aspects but one of the main ones that I love and I think is really relevant to us and our dogs is that it promotes detoxification. When we are eating and digesting, that's a real energy burden to the body to digest food. The more you eat, the bigger the burden. But when we fast all that energy can be put to use elsewhere in the body. It can help with cellular repair and detoxification and regeneration and things like that. And if you think about it on a daily basis just how many toxins we're exposed to, the chemicals in the food we eat, in the air we breathe, in the water, there's just so much that we are bombarded with. And if you think about our dogs, flea treatments, tick treatments, worming treatments.  

00:17:04 Glenn:       Vaccinations.  

00:17:05 Narelle:       Vaccinations, poor quality food and all the nasty chemicals and additives and preservatives that are in that for our dogs. Mold toxicity. Dogs running through grass and just over carpets so they're getting exposed a lot. Everything that goes into the body has to be processed by the liver, so all of these toxins are being processed by the liver, but if there's a lot of them, the liver can become overburdened. But the body in all its amazing sort of design has a strategy, so if the liver does become overburdened through poor diet and all the environmental onslaught of toxins, it actually sequesters or it hides away all of the nasties in our fat cells.  

00:17:51 Narelle:       So it's a really safe place to put these substances that are potentially a threat to life. 

00:18:05 Glenn: So what happens when you start burning fat? 

00:18:07 Narelle: Yeah, so that's the thing. Once we fast beyond 12 hours, we deplete our glycogen store, that's the storage form of glucose. The body has to start looking for another source of energy and that's when it will start to break down fat for energy which is why fasting is great for weight loss. Those toxins start to get released back into the bloodstream and processed by the liver, which is fine because that can reduce the body's overall toxic burden.  

00:18:34 Narelle:       But something you need to be cautious of here, and for a healthy body, that process is fine to do. It's a reason why I'm massive on liver support, particularly for weight loss. 

00:18:42 Glenn: I know you're always on about liver support.

00:18:45 Narelle: But the reason is, it's most obvious when overweight people or obese people go on a crazy strict, rapid weight loss program. They break down a heap of fat really quickly and you get this massive wave of toxin released into the blood at a rate that is too much for the liver to process and handle. Within that first month, I'll often get clients or people come to me and they're like, oh, I should feel good because I'm losing a lot of weight.  

00:19:17 Narelle:       So psychologically they're, I've lost weight, but their skin's breaking out, they're getting headaches and migraines, they're fatigued and they just feel blah, and it's like a wall they hit at a certain point. So that's why I generally tell people just take it slow. It takes so long generally for the weight to come on, just take your time, lose the weight slowly, your body's going to handle the whole process a lot better. So that's interesting, that's something to keep in mind. So who shouldn't fast? That's really important. It's not for everyone, just because we are talking about the benefits today, this is just putting information out there doesn't mean you have to do it for yourself or your dog.  

00:19:55 Narelle:       Some of these are obvious, pregnant breastfeeding women shouldn't fast, children shouldn't fast, anyone with a history of disordered eating, because fasting can actually trigger binging in people or they can go the other way and become even more obsessive and restrictive with their food intake. People who are prone to gallstones. So again, I find this really fascinating, when we fast it decreases the activity of the gallbladder. People may not know our liver produces bile, and bile gets stored in the gallbladder, which is just like a sack of fluid. And every time we eat, particularly food with fat that triggers the gallbladder to release a little bit of bile into the system to help break down the fat and excrete it from the body.  

00:20:38 Narelle:       Again, if someone goes on a fad rapid extreme low fat diet suddenly their gallbladder's got nothing to do. It doesn't have to release bile very often because they've completely cut all fat out of their diet. So it sits there and the bile in the gallbladder thickens and gets sludgy, and then the cholesterol in the bile concentrates and then they end up with gallstones. So they get to the end of their fad, extreme low fat diet and then they binge. They've lost all their weight and they're like, oh, I deserve a binge meal, so they binge on really fatty foods and then they're in hospital with gallbladder attack from gallstones. So it's not that it's going to happen that way, but people who do extreme low fat diets are much more prone to gallstones because of that mechanism of action.  

00:21:24 Glenn:       Well there you go. I just learned something myself because I always wondered where and how gallstones are produced in the body, and now I know.  

00:21:31 Narelle:       That's just one way. There are other ways that gallstones can be produced, but that's one that's most relevant to people with dietary aspects. And so fasting does that too. If you fast through really extended periods of time, the 16/8 windows of fasting I doubt are going to have a problem unless you're already predisposed to gallstones, so I guess that's my point. If you're prone to them, just be careful for how long you do fast for. People who are already malnourished or underweight, I don't recommend it. People who are doing really high intensity interval training, if they're really restricting their window of eating, they may just not be getting enough calories and nutrients in to support what their body needs for muscle growth and overall health. Diabetics or anyone with pre-existing conditions. It's not that they can't do it, but do it under the care of your gp, or if your dog's got pre-existing health conditions under the care of your vet, and just go slower. As I said, instead of doing 16/8, you might start with 12/12.  

00:22:24 Glenn:       You're a huge advocate for blood testing as well, aren't you?  

00:22:27 Narelle:       I am, and for a lot of reasons. But in relation to fasting, if someone had blood glucose irregularities or diabetes, you would wanna be monitoring your blood glucose levels regularly to ensure safety. You don't wanna go into a hypoglycemic state. There's lots of other chronic conditions that probably shouldn't fast, but again, talk to your doctor if you think that might relate to you.What I found fascinating about fasting is that a lot of the benefits have been shown for men, but not for women. There was a study that looked at alternate day fasting and after three weeks there was an unfavorable effect in women on blood glucose. Their blood glucose levels went up.

00:23:12 Narelle:       And they didn't get an improvement in their insulin sensitivity, which was completely the opposite to the men in the study over that three week period. And in another study they did a two day fast and in women it shifted them into a sympathetic dominant state for their nervous system, so that's our flight or fight response. And in men, in a two day fast, it shifted them into a parasympathetic dominant state, which is our rest or digest state, and is where we should be most of the time. But with the lifestyles that we lead, most of us are too often in that sort of sympathetic dominant state, just always running on adrenaline. So we don't wanna be like that, but fascinating that fasting would push men in one direction and women in the other.  

00:23:53 Narelle:       And the fact that women's bodies are much more sensitive to metabolic distress and any perceived state of starvation, it makes sense because from a reproductive sense why would a female body wanna reproduce if it feels like its survival is being threatened by calorie restriction? So women with extreme fasting can affect ovulation, their menstruation, their fertility, their sleep, and their mood a lot more. Men don't have a lot of those things, so it does have a much bigger impact on women. Some studies actually say women probably shouldn't fast for more than 14 hours a day, but again, depends on the woman in question, and if you are thinking of studying fasting, you might just do every second day or every third day. Just something a bit more gentle to see how your body responds to it. One of the other types of people that probably wouldn't do well on fasting, is if you are really stressed. If your life is just chaotic and you are running on adrenaline, fasting can be like throwing fuel on the fire because it is a perceived state of stress to the body. Not getting any food can increase cortisol levels, which is our stress hormone, so just something else to be mindful of.  

00:25:04 Glenn:       That makes sense. 

00:25:05 Narelle:       It does. Okay. So let's talk about dogs. On the forums, people get so passionate and so heated about fasting dogs.

00:25:13 Glenn:       Anything really 

00:25:14 Narelle:       Because they see it as cruel. But you've gotta remember therapeutic fasting, it's not starvation. Your dog is still getting all the nutrients they need to support all their vital tissues and organs and muscle mass on the other days of the week. Water should always be available, whether it's us or our dogs, you should always be well hydrated. That's just a given. So fasting does not mean, in this context, water restriction.

00:25:40 Glenn:       It's an interesting topic, the emotional content behind fasting and, and the state of how a dog should be and how it should look, because ever since I've got into the industry, which has been for about 30 years now, more so now, but an obese dog is an indicator of love. Personally, I feel that it's another form of abuse.  

00:25:59 Narelle:       Oh, absolutely and that's the thing, I think the percentage of overweight and obese dogs is matching the human population. As our lifestyle and diet deteriorates, we automatically put that onto our dogs as well. And yeah, it's people's perception of their dog. It's the same with people, overweight is the new norm, so if you are a normal low body fat percentage, people will often accuse you of being too skinny, or you know, oh, your dog's too skinny when actually they're quite healthy.  

00:26:26 Glenn:       Well, interestingly enough, when human intervention isn't around, like in the wild, or street dogs or anything like that, in any country, usually you see that the dogs are quite lean and muscular, where there's been no human intervention. But as soon as you domesticate the dog, not always, because there are a lot of people that I know who, especially with sporting types of dogs, they're quite disciplined about how the dogs look and react. And they're more interested in raising an athlete than a couch potato. And I'm not trying to offend anyone, I know that some people do things until they learn to do it better. That's the old Maya Angelou phrase, "Do the best you can until you know better, and when you know better do better”.  

00:27:08 Narelle:       And the thing is too, a lot of dogs are on really high carb kibble diets, which triggers hyperglycemia, which is high blood glucose, which triggers insulin release. But that hypoglycemic state can, in terms of health, lead to impaired wound healing, neuronal degeneration, increased production of inflammatory cytokines, and so inflammatory molecules in the body. And for sick dogs who are hospitalised, hyperglycemia can lead to poorer clinical outcomes. Which is what you don't want if your dog's already struggling with something. Something else that I unfortunately only discovered recently in the last month is, and it's a rat study, but it's relevant to consider. Studies have shown that fasting can promote recovery after spinal cord injury. I read that, I'm like, oh Ladybug, I was so focused on getting the nutrition into her, for her body to heal and repair.  

00:28:04 Narelle:       That it never occurred to me that fasting to some extent might actually be beneficial as well. So I've missed the boat on that for her, but something to keep in mind. Studies have also shown that general calorie restriction in dogs can extend lifespan. They looked at 48 Labrador Retrievers and by restricting their food intake by 25%, they lived on average about two years longer. So on average 13 years versus 11 years. Getting a couple of extra years out of your dog's time, I think that's significant. Better to slightly underfeed your dog than overfeed your dog and have a fat dog that you think you love more because it's fat. And I know Glenn, you are familiar with this story, but I wanna share it with our listeners and that's about Oscar.

00:28:49 Glenn:       I've heard Rodney Habib talk about this before.  

00:28:51 Narelle:       So the reason I wanna share the story about Oscar is, just to help pet parents understand that if you, and we're going to talk about fasting strategies for dogs in a sec, but having your dog miss a meal. 

00:29:02 Glenn:       Is not the end of the world. 

00:29:03 Narelle:       It is not harmful at all, and to give you an extreme example, back in the day when they could do studies that would no longer have any chance of passing the ethics committee, they looked at how long this dog could live for, or could go on for, without eating. So it was done in 1912 and I actually have the full paper from 1912, and it's interesting to read. So Oscar was a Scottish Collie and they gave Oscar just water and during this time they measured creatine kinase and blood urea nitrogen which are markers of muscle breakdown. When he goes into starvation mode, those markers would increase and then they'd know to stop the experiment because of the damage to his body. So the first time they did the experiment with Oscar, they stopped after 45 days. Mm-Hmm and then they sent Oscar home to his farm, and then a year later they brought him back and they expected a similar sort of timeframe, that 30 to 45 day mark until his body started to break down.  

00:29:55 Glenn:       And it's just water, right? 

00:29:56 Narelle:       Just water, that's all they're giving him.  

00:29:58 Glenn:       Was there any nutrient in the water? 

00:30:01 Narelle:       I don't think so. I'd have to go back and look at the study, but we'll just say water for today's conversation. But the second time round, they went past that 45 days and the urea didn't even start to rise until day 103. So Oscar hasn't eaten any food for 103 days and even at a hundred plus days, he could still jump over a three foot fence to get into his kennel. So his body had actually really adapted to that state of starvation. That could easily go into a whole conversation about ketogenic diets for dogs and things like that. So that's amazing. And I think it was after 117 days they stopped the experiment. Oscar survived and recovered and was great, but I mean this is extreme. He went from 26.3 kilos to 9.7 kilos. So that's a lot of weight loss. 

00:30:45 Glenn:       That’s a lot of weight loss.  

00:30:45 Narelle:       But again, the whole point of that little story is if your dog doesn't eat for a day, it's fine.  

00:30:50 Glenn:       That's just crazy, isn't it? The first time I heard that, I just thought, how could you even think about doing something like that as a study? And you're right, it is cruel. Well it's horrible to be honest and as you pointed out before, as far as ethics go in this day and age, there would be no way unless it was illegally done that you would even consider doing things like that. But to be honest, there's a lot of animals, in particular through their own personal suffering that we've gained a lot of medical and scientific knowledge from, so their sacrifice should never be in vain.  

00:31:22 Narelle:       That's right. Although, having said all that, it's funny because Ladybug was a bit off on the weekend. So I didn't give her dinner Sunday night and I'm like, oh my poor baby she hasn't had dinner, so I understand, you know, the emotional aspects,  

00:31:42 Glenn:       But she didn't want it either.  

00:31:43 Narelle:       Yeah, she was really off. We don't know why.  

00:31:45 Glenn:       She just had a bad day,  

00:31:46 Narelle:       Like people, there are certain dogs that shouldn't fast. Really, it's only for healthy adult dogs. Puppies should never be fasted, they might self fast and not eat for a meal or two, or a day or two, which is fine. But if it goes for more than a couple of days, definitely go to your vet.  

00:32:01 Glenn:       Especially if there's vomiting and diarrhea involved.  

00:32:04 Narelle:       Absolutely. And particularly small breed puppies because they've got such fast metabolisms, they're really prone to hypo, hypoglycemia, low blood glucose which can be fatal pretty quickly. Older dogs probably shouldn't fast, pregnant lactating bitches obviously, they've got really increased energy requirements. Dogs on any kind of medication because whether you take a drug with food or without food can have a big impact on the pharmacokinetics of that drug. The way it's absorbed and metabolised and excreted. It can change, whether your dog gets too much or too little of a drug.  

00:32:36 Glenn:       It's good to know.  

00:32:37 Narelle:       We have to monitor our dogs and be prepared to stop or change what we're doing, based on what we're seeing in our dogs. Some dogs might become more temperamental, it might trigger some behavioral issues that you don't wanna see. Some dogs, it might trigger loose stools, it might trigger vomiting, you just don't know. Don't just do something because someone else is doing it without paying attention to how it's impacting.  

00:32:59 Glenn:       I guess what you're saying is consider speaking with a canine health professional or even human health professional before you just leap into it and have a crack at it.  

00:33:06 Narelle:       Yeah, again, if you are a healthy robust person and your dog's a healthy robust dog, you know, give it a go. But if there's anything else going on, you do need to be careful. 

00:33:14 Glenn:       Research it first. Look into the tactics of how to do it.  

00:33:18 Narelle:       Yes, again, there's no rules. There's no right or wrong way to do this. The old school approach was one day a week, that's what we grew up with. You know, you just don't feed your dogs one day a week. But if you are feeding your dogs twice a day, for example, you might just start by once a month taking away one meal a day. I mean, that's nothing, but it's the start that makes you feel good about it and your dog's not going to notice much and then you might either increase that to once a week ultimately, or you might start to take away both meals. Or if you're feeding your dog once a day, you know, you might take away that one meal once a month and then increase the frequency. Do what works for you and your dog. But like I said, you still need to ensure your dog's getting all the nutrients and the energy, so you might slightly increase the food intake on the other days if you're fasting a full one day a week. You'd probably wanna feed a little bit more on the other days, to make sure your dog doesn't lose condition. 

00:34:09 Glenn:       So interesting as we've said before at the start of the show, this has been proven throughout the history of human beings that most texts from old days indicate that fasting has been a part of their rituals.  

00:34:22 Narelle:       Yeah, so many cultures and religions incorporate fasting.  

00:34:26 Glenn:       Absolutely, all over the globe.  

00:34:27 Narelle:       And some dogs, you know, will naturally,  

00:34:30 Glenn:       I wonder where they learn that from without the access to science and the interweb like we've got now.  

00:34:35 Narelle:       I know we rely so heavily on it.  

00:34:37 Glenn:       Yeah, old day scholars, they must have known something.  

00:34:40 Narelle:       Yeah, I think they were wise. Just absolutely blows my mind what people back then could come up with without the technology and the resources that we have access to today.  

00:34:49 Glenn:       And fundamentally we've somehow gained that knowledge throughout the eons of ages as well.  

00:34:56 Narelle:       Back to dogs. You know, some people panic if their dog doesn't wanna eat. Don't force your dog to eat. If your dog doesn't want breakfast one day, don't force it to eat breakfast. It's body's probably telling it it doesn't want food right now, so that's fine,  let things like that go. As we've discussed, there are lots of amazing health benefits to fasting for both us and our dogs. But you know, there's no right or wrong way to go about it. So if you're going to look into it, just start slow, start small and build it up from there. I feel that in every podcast, everyone wants a fad, they just wanna do the latest dietary restriction.  

00:35:37 Glenn:       Yeah, that's marketing.  

00:35:38 Narelle:       Yeah. But before you stress your body out with suddenly restricting your diet, let's say you're eating five meals a day, and you're just grazing, three meals and couple of snacks. Suddenly you go, well I'm only going to eat within a six to eight hour window from now on, that's a huge shock to the system. But rather than do that, I always say, start with the basics. If your diet isn't optimal, start by cleaning up your diet. Eat six times a day, but make better choices in those meals. Approaching it that way is going to have a much bigger impact long-term on our health, and when it comes to our dogs, it's the same thing. So rather than go into fasting straightaway with your dog, you might just look at their diet and try and have a better quality diet for them in the first instance. I think that's a much better approach. So don't freak out, you don't have to fast, but do look at your diet and your dog's diet and see where you can make improvements because that's going to have a much bigger difference to your health.  

00:36:32 Glenn:       I guess that's a good place to leave it. If people need to find you for more information on fasting,  

00:36:37 Narelle:       If you wanna get in contact with me, you can email me at hello@naturalhealthandnutrition.com.au, or you can jump onto my business page, which is Natural Health and Nutrition.  

00:36:49 Glenn:       Which occasionally puts the odd article up on health and nutrition.  

00:36:52 Narelle:       Yeah. I tend to put more human articles on that page. And then there's my Natural Health for People and Pets Facebook page to support this podcast. So any questions in relation to fasting or anything else you wanna know go to the Natural Health for People and Pets Facebook page and then we can have a conversation there.  

00:37:09 Glenn:       Terrific, okay, well let's leave it there. Goodbye everyone.  

00:37:11 Narelle:       Bye. 

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