Episode 311: Trauma, Cancer Prevention, Obesity, Calorie Restriction, Fasting Mimicking Diet, Digestive Rest, Kid’s Nutrition, Special Teachers, And More!

Intermittent Fasting


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Apr 02

Welcome to Episode 311 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, hosted by Melanie Avalon, author of What When Wine Diet: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine and Cynthia Thurlow, author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging.

Today's episode of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast is brought to you by:

BUTCHERBOX: Grass-Fed Beef, Organic Chicken, Heritage Pork, Wild-Caught Seafood: Nutrient-Rich, Raised Sustainably The Way Nature Intended, And Shipped Straight To Your Door! For A Limited Time Go To Butcherbox.com/ifpodcast And Get 3lb Bone In Chicken Thighs For One Year PLUS $20 Off Your First Box!!

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To submit your own questions, email questions@IFpodcast.com, or submit your questions here!! 


1:10 - BUTCHERBOX: For A Limited Time Go To butcherbox.com/ifpodcast And Get 3lb Bone In Chicken Thighs For One Year PLUS $20 Off Your First Box!!

3:30 - BEAUTYCOUNTER: Keep Your Fast Clean Inside And Out With Safe Skincare! Shop With Us At melanieavalon.com/beautycounter or beautycounter.com/cynthiathurlow And Use The Code CLEANFORALL20 For 20% Off PLUS Something Magical Might Happen After Your First Order! Find Your Perfect Beautycounter Products With Melanie's Quiz: Melanieavalon.Com/Beautycounterquiz

Join Melanie's Facebook Group Clean Beauty And Safe Skincare With Melanie Avalon To Discuss And Learn About All The Things Clean Beauty, Beautycounter And Safe Skincare!

21:50 - JOOVV: For A Limited Time Go To joovv.com/ifpodcast And Use The Code IFPODCAST For An Exclusive Discount!

23:50 - Listener Q&A: Niki - IF and cancer prevention

Intermittent fasting in the prevention and treatment of cancer

Episode 57: Dr. Valter Longo!: The Fasting Mimicking Diet, Eating For Longevity, High Vs. Low Protein Diets, Ancestry Diets, Meat Vs. Plant Diets, Rebuilding The Gut, Food Tolerances, Mindset And The Immune System, The Blue Zones, And More!

The Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast Episode #115 - Valter Longo, Ph.D.

Prolonged Nightly Fasting and Breast Cancer Prognosis

46:05 - AVALONX MAGNESIUM 8: Get On The Email List To Stay Up To Date With All The Special Offers And News About Melanie's New Supplements At avalonx.us/emaillist, And Use The Code Melanieavalon For 10% On Any Order At Avalonx.Us And MDlogichealth.Com!

48:45 - Listener Q&A: Holli - IF question and comment

56:10 - Listener Q&A: Danielle - Do you have a particular teacher that influenced or inspired you?

Our content does not constitute an attempt to practice medicine and does not establish a doctor-patient relationship. Please consult a qualified healthcare provider for medical advice and answers to personal health questions.


Melanie Avalon: Welcome to Episode 311 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast. If you want to burn fat, gain energy, and enhance your health by changing when you eat, not what you eat with no calorie counting, then this show is for you. I’m Melanie Avalon, biohacker and author of What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine. I’m here with my cohost, Cynthia Thurlow, Nurse Practitioner and author of Intermittent Fasting Transformation: A 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging. For more on us, check out ifpodcast.com, melanieavalon.com, and cynthiathurlow.com. Please remember, the thoughts and opinions on this show do not constitute medical advice or treatment and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. So, pour yourself a mug of black coffee, a cup of tea, or even a glass of wine, if it’s that time and get ready for The Intermittent Fasting Podcast.

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One more thing before we jump in, are you fasting clean inside and out? So, when it comes to weight loss, we focus a lot on what and when we eat. It makes sense because these foods affect our hormones and how our bodies store and burn fat. But do you what is possibly one of the most influential factors in weight gain? It’s not your food and it’s not fasting. It’s actually our skincare and makeup. So, as it turns out, Europe has banned over a thousand compounds found in conventional skincare and makeup in the US due to their toxicity. These include endocrine disruptors, which mess with your hormones, carcinogens linked to cancer, and obesogens which literally can cause your body to store and gain weight. Basically, when we’re using conventional skincare and makeup, we are giving these obesogenic compounds direct access to our bloodstream.

And then in our bodies, studies have shown they do things like reduce our satiety hormones, increase our hunger hormones, make fat cells more likely to store fat, and more resistant to burning fat, and so much more. If you have stubborn fat, friends, your skincare and makeup may be playing a role in that. Beyond weight gain and weight loss, these compounds have very detrimental effects on our health and they affect the health of our future generations. That’s because ladies when we have babies, a huge percent of those toxic compounds go through the placenta into the newborn. It is so, so shocking. And the effects last for years.

Conventional lipstick, for example, often tests high in lead and the half-life of lead is up to 30 years. That means when you put on some conventional lipstick 30 years later maybe half of that lead has left your bones. On top of that, there is essentially no regulation of these products on the shelves. That’s why it’s up to us to choose brands that are changing this. The brand that is working the hardest to do this is Beautycounter. They were founded on a mission to change this. Every single ingredient is extensively tested to be safe for your skin, so you can truly feel good about what you put on. And friends, these products really, really work. They are incredible. They have counter time for anti-aging, counter match for normal skin, counter control for acne and oily prone, and counter start for sensitive. I use their Overnight Resurfacing Peel and vitamin C serum every single night of my life and their makeup is amazing. Check out my Instagram to see what it looks like. Tina Fey, even wore all Beautycounter makeup when she hosted The Golden Globes. So, yes, it is high-definition camera ready. They have so many other products, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner that I love, products for babies and so much more.

You can shop with us at beautycounter.com/melanieavalon or beautycounter.com/cynthiathurlow and use the coupon code CLEANFORALL20 to get 20% off your first order. Also, make sure to get on my Clean Beauty email list. That’s at melanieavalon.com/cleanbeauty. I give away a lot of free things on that list, so definitely check it out. You can join me in my Facebook group Clean Beauty and Safe Skincare with Melanie Avalon. People share their experiences, ask questions, give product reviews, and I do a giveaway every single week in that group as well.

And lastly, if you’re thinking of making Clean Beauty and Safe Skincare a part of your future like we have, we definitely recommend becoming a Band of Beauty member. It’s sort of like the Amazon Prime for Clean Beauty. You get 10% back in product credit, free shipping on qualifying orders, and a welcome gift that is worth way more than the price of the yearlong membership. It is totally, completely worth it. So, again, to shop with us, go to beautycounter.com/melanieavalon or beautycounter.com/cynthiathurlow and use the coupon code CLEANFORALL20 to get 20% off your first order. And we’ll put all this information in the show notes. All right, now back to the show.

Hi, everybody and welcome. This is Episode number 311 of the Intermittent Fasting Podcast. I'm Melanie Avalon and I'm here with Cynthia Thurlow.

Cynthia Thurlow: Hi, Melanie. How are you?

Melanie Avalon: Good, how about you?

Cynthia Thurlow: Good. I have been dealing with a potential dog issue over the last four or five days, which I'm so happy to report with tremendous gratitude that my dog's biopsy came back benign. So, big exhale. Thankfully, the vet did not make me wait all day to get the results. I knew they had them yesterday, but the other vet was not willing to discuss them with me, noting it was a complicated, "Report."

Melanie Avalon: That's scary.

Cynthia Thurlow: Exactly. I was like, there's a lot of ways you could have described the report and saying complicated doesn't make me feel reassured. So, she called me first thing this morning. I started my day, literally was outside walking my dogs and got her phone call. It was reassuring to have that information. It doesn't mean that he's not going to develop a problem later, but at least for right now, it does not appear to be cancerous. So, that's very reassuring, because he's 10 years young, he's still young enough as a dog that it is not enough time to have to contemplate end-of-life decisions and things that anyone that has a relationship with an animal that they love, all the way from people that love reptiles, all the way to furry things. My dog is a big contributor to my happiness level in my life. Knowing that there was a potential for a problem weighed very heavily on me for the last four or five days. So, grateful that today I can look optimistically towards the future.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I'm so sorry you went through that. Is he feeling, okay? I know he was sick.

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, he's feeling fine. I think after the 24 hours after he had metabolized all the anesthesia, he was back to his kind of spunky, grumpy self. Like, he's not grumpy with me. He's pretty much grumpy with anyone that bothers him. His little personality idiosyncrasies we've all acclimated to. But he has a lot of anxiety, which is normal when older dogs go to the vet. Even with trazodone, before going to the vet for what we thought initially was an ultrasound that turned into a biopsy, the trazodone didn't take the edge off much and they gave him a pretty good dose of trazodone.

And so, when the vet and I were speaking this morning, she said, is it any wonder that his adrenal glands appear to be stressed? I think it's evident that he doesn't enjoy coming to the vet even though the vet is wonderful and this is common with older dogs. I think some of it is-- they get a decline in cognitive functioning, so they may not be able to kind of buffer the stress of being in a place where they think-- much like little kids, they think they're going to get hurt or they're going to be separated from their owner.

So, yeah, there was a lot of praying and a lot of crying, a lot of just being hopeful, as my husband, who's the most optimistic human being in the world, kept saying, was, we don't have anything that we need to be stressed about yet. I was like, "Speak for yourself." [laughs] So, yeah, he had part of his belly shaved and trying to keep him away from licking, which I'm sure as the fur grows back, it's probably a little bit itchy, but we've got a solid plan and he's going to-- so what can happen with adult humans as they get older and also happens in animals, is they can get the sundowning.

I noticed that he gets anxious at night, which is new, and the vet and I were talking about it, and so we're going to use a drug called gabapentin as needed. Not something he has to take every day, but to help him because I'm noticing that's a new symptom and something I used to see in a lot of my patients. Certainly not something I'm not familiar with, but yeah, it's hard to watch our pets get older. It really is.

Melanie Avalon: Wow. Yeah, no, I'm sorry that-- oh, man. I don't personally have any pets, but my parents do, and I did growing up, of course. So, I almost don't want a pet for the reason of not wanting to lose the pet in the end.

Cynthia Thurlow: It's the hardest thing. I mean that's what I was behooving to the vet about on Thursday, was this is the hardest part of being a pet owner. Unlike humans where euthanasia is pretty much frowned upon, you do have the opportunity to ensure that your pet doesn't suffer. For me, I was like, "I don't want him to have his spleen removed." I mean, come on, he's almost 11 years old and he'd have to be in the doggy ICU for a couple of days. I was like, that's not a direction I want to go in because that wouldn't be fair to him. Ultimately, had it been malignant, his potentiality for living another six months was not particularly high. I'm just grateful that whatever amount of time we still have with him we're going to enjoy and savor and just be grateful that we didn't have to make a tough decision.

Melanie Avalon: And what type of dog?

Cynthia Thurlow: This is my labradoodle, so people on social media know that I refer to him affectionately as my lovey. [laughs] So, he's the smartest, most intuitive pet I've ever owned. And we have another doodle and Baxter's like comedic relief. He's just a much less serious dog. Cooper is a very serious dog. He's kind of like an old soul. Jokingly, we've always said he doesn't think he's a dog, which is part of his problem, which is why he doesn't like to play with other dogs, he tolerates Baxter, but, yeah, he's my lovey, he's my buddy.

Melanie Avalon: Well, sending lots of love and healing and hopefully it gets better.

Cynthia Thurlow: That's the one thing about pets, they really make you value time because time with them is fleeting. You just have to savor the good times and pray you get as much quality of life for them for as long as possible.

Melanie Avalon: The stress piece surrounding it reminds me I just finished-- Thank you so much for this introduction, by the way, Gabor Maté's book. I have that interview now next week.

Cynthia Thurlow: Oh, he's amazing.

Melanie Avalon: I just remember he did talk about pets in like one small part of the book. How was that interview that you had with him?

Cynthia Thurlow: Incredible. I think that you have to do the work to be able to get and facilitate a great conversation with someone like that because I read the book and normally, I read pretty fast and I retain quite a bit. But I had to read it and kind of put it aside because it made me think a lot about my parents and the things they grew up in that impacted the way they parented me and the way they've interacted in the world. One of the things I said to him was, your book allows me to view them even more compassionately than I already had been. And it also makes me understand that most of us really don't understand what trauma represents.

And so, for me, it was very transformational. For anyone that's listened to that podcast interview, it's the most personal one I've ever done. And he was doing a little bit of therapeutic intervention and interaction with me. I think that the way that we grow as human beings is to challenge ourselves, and that was a challenging interview for me because the only way to do the interview properly was to be transparent about my own experiences, my own journey, my own work that I'm constantly doing.

I jokingly tell my husband I think I'll be doing therapy till the day I die because I think there's always something more we can improve upon or a better way to understand other people or our own behavior. I think his work has really been instrumental and what I appreciate about him, in particular, is he's so gracious. Obviously, he's got this New York Times bestselling book and he's still doing press. He doesn't have to, but he's still doing a lot of press, which tells me that he just wants to help people. I think that's just incredible and it's a sign of the kind of person that he is and the level of impact that his work is making. I'm sure you're really excited to interview him next week.

Melanie Avalon: I'm so excited and I was thinking about this. I think we're both going to benefit from the conversation that you've already had and the conversation I'm going to have so much. It's kind of, I think, opposite sides of the spectrum. Because the thing I really want to ask him about, he has a whole section on people who perceive having really happy memories, like not recalling any childhood trauma, which is me for sure, because he has a whole section on this, like people who have a happy childhood, and he basically says that there was still trauma. So, I'm really excited to talk to him about that, especially because I feel like I passed the question because he said he had a question that he asks everybody who says that and then that kind of weeds through.

But the question is, I don't know if you remember this, when you were young and you felt scared or afraid or angry or whatever emotion, did you have a parent that you could talk to or who did you talk to about it? And he says most people who have things that manifest as trauma today, which is like chronic health issues or mental health issues, don't pass that test. I'm really excited to have that whole conversation because I feel like I did talk to my mom [laughs] about stuff. But he even says that a high achiever mentality is like trauma driven and so literally everything is trauma according to him. So, I'm excited to have this conversation.

Cynthia Thurlow: Well, and it's interesting because his concept of trauma is that it's a wound. It offers up this kind of more simplified, simplistic way of looking at trauma. I was actually talking about this with a group that I teach this morning, talking about adverse childhood events and how that leads to autoimmunity and weight loss resistance and all this interesting research that's come out. And I encouraged some of these women, I was like, if you've grown up with abuse, neglect, etc. Do the work in terms of helping yourself heal so that you don't potentiate that. I always say that my children, I didn't get the parents that I needed or I wanted, I should say. I got the parents that I needed to help break multi-generational trauma that had gone on. In many ways, I'm so grateful that I didn't have the types of parents that I wanted because it made me create for my own children a very healthy relationship because I've done so much work and my husband's been so supportive of the whole healing journey.

But I'm sure that people come to him with differing backgrounds and perspectives and I'm sure it will yield a really enlightening and helpful discussion for the Melanie Avalon Biohacking Podcast listeners because there's always something more to learn. It's not like we learn it all and then we don't continue to evolve and shift and change our perspectives as we get older. I think there's always a nugget to learn from. So, I look forward to listening to it.

Melanie Avalon: I am so excited. Just two quick thoughts. One is, I think similar to you, my mom had a lot of trauma and then I know she always tried to make it her goal to not have the things happen that she had growing up with us. That sounds similar to your approach with your kids. There's so much. So, I literally just finished it. Now I have to go through all the notes and clean it up and synthesize my thoughts. But there're so many things I want to ask him. It's a long book.

Cynthia Thurlow: I mean, it's a book that took me a couple of weeks to get through because I could only absorb so much at a time because it challenged me. It challenged me just on a personal and a professional level because I think most of our listeners know I trained in Baltimore and trauma of my patients experienced that we didn't realize how substantial and significant that was on their development and explains a lot of behavior. Like, I have a very bright 15-year-old and he was talking about choices that people make.

I just looked at him and I said, "I hate to say this to you because I don't want to say this to you, but I'm going to. You realize you've grown up incredibly privileged and that you have two parents that are happily married, that have been very focused on making sure that you are nurtured and you have experiences and there's no abuse in this home and there's no drug addiction and just like very simple things." And he had never considered that. I think kids, in many ways, when they grow up in healthy environments, they just take for granted that's everyone's norm.

I just, like, pointing out to them, I was like, "This is not a criticism, but your perspective has been created based on your own experience, which is fine, but with the understanding that kids you go to school with and kids that you'll go to college with and people you'll meet throughout your lifetime have had real struggles to get where they are and just how incredibly fortunate you are. I hope that you understand that and maybe you don't at 15, but I hope you do when you're a young adult because it's very different." He always says, "It's so different than the way you grew up. I know." I said, "I only share that with you so that you understand that your reality is not everyone's reality."

And then he kind of processed that and came back to me later and was like, "I want to learn more about this." I said, "Okay, it's probably time to be doing more volunteer work and more than what we've been doing. I think the pandemic has kind of put a dent in and being able to be as free to volunteer like we had been pre-pandemic." But that's a whole separate tangential conversation.

Melanie Avalon: I like that perspective about other people's traumas. I think for me, what it's really going to help as well is understanding why certain people act the way they act, having a more informed perspective of people's reactionary actions and triggers and things like that being trauma related. I also like, though, to that point, I like that he talks about how people also compare their traumas and how that basically you can still have trauma even if it's not as, "Bad" as other people's trauma. There's just so much I'm very, very excited about it. He just interviewed Prince Harry.

Cynthia Thurlow: I saw that. I was very conflicted.

Melanie Avalon: I didn’t watch, I haven't watched it yet.

Cynthia Thurlow: Yeah, there was a side of me that was curious and then, I don't know, I have a lot of objective reasonable friends that have read his book and I was kind of like "Well, I feel conflicted about all of that." As much as I would love to see Gabor interview him, I just opted not to.

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Okay, shall we jump into everything for today?

Cynthia Thurlow: Sure. This is a question from Nikki. Subject is intermittent fasting and cancer prevention. Hi, Melanie and Cynthia, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about recommendations for intermittent fasting with respect to cancer prevention. I have a family history of breast cancer and as I am now in my 40s, I'm more serious about making sure I've done everything I can to lower my risk. Melanie, I did listen to your interview with Dr. Jason Fung on the subject and read his book, but I don't remember him giving any actual time or protocol recommendations.

These days I don't fast as intensely as I used to. It ranges anywhere from 13 to 16 hours as I find it difficult to get all my protein in with a shorter feeding window. I would be interested to know if more fasting would be recommended from this perspective. If, for example, your general risk of cancer could be significantly lowered if you fasted 24 hours at least once a week or even once a month, I'd be motivated to add that in.

I do know that Dr. Satchin Panda recommended fasting for at least 13 hours to lower your risk of breast cancer. That's why this is currently my minimum number. But I'd love to know your thoughts as to whether more is better and to what extent. Thanks so much for all you do. Best, Nikki.

Melanie Avalon: All right, Nikki. So, thank you so much for your question. I know Cynthia and I both have a lot of information on this. I did a deep, deep dive into fasting and cancer and I'll just spiel out what I found. I do remember reading, obviously, I remember, but I read Dr. Jason Fung's The Cancer Code and did have him on the show and I was surprised reading his book. He did not talk about fasting very much in that book at all. Did you read that book?

Cynthia Thurlow: I did.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. So, I remember thinking that was interesting. But In any case, so I found a really nice review from 2021. It's published in the Journal CA, which is A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, and the title is Intermittent Fasting in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer. And so, I'm just going to go through some of the findings. I know Nikki's question is specifically about cancer prevention, but I just wanted to provide sort of an overview of what the literature does show about fasting and cancer to date or at least until that review. So, basically, well, just cancer stats.

Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the US. So, it accounted for an estimated 608,570 deaths in 2021 alone. It's estimated at least at that time that 42% of cancers are largely informed by modifiable lifestyle risk factors. Basically, your lifestyle is perpetuating, encouraging, and potentially could be a treatment for cancer. And so, overweight and obesity specifically relate to at least 13 different types of cancers, and the reason that's important, obviously, is that fasting often results in treatment for obesity and being overweight. So, there could be something going on there.

Interestingly, there's something called the obesity paradox in cancer research, which is that in some forms of cancer, it seems like obesity is protective against cancer. But the study authors were hypothesizing that a lot of that might be due to methodology issues or just looking at the data sort of incorrectly. There are a few cases where there're specific reasons that obesity might be protective in one type of cancer. It specifically creates a type of protective immune cell in the fat, but that seemed to be far and few between and it's more likely methodology stuff.

On the flipside, a lot of factors of being overweight and obese are related to cancer pathways. That's things like inflammation, high insulin, which when you have high insulin that can protect cancer, like a dampening of things that you would find in calorie restriction, which calorie restriction is actually-- and I think it's pretty interesting, it is found to be the most robust intervention to date for cancer prevention in rats, monkeys, and humans.

And so that's for a lot of reasons and a lot of these overlap with fasting. That is things like decreased production of growth factors, inflammatory cytokines, anabolic hormones, as well as reduced oxidative stress and DNA damage. There are a lot of studies on calorie restriction as well as fasting in rodents for cancer prevention, not as many in adults, but I think we can learn a lot about the mechanisms at play with calorie restriction and fasting in rodents and what might be going on there. So, some of those things are autophagy, which is something that we talk a lot about on the show, interestingly. There are some studies where these are rodent trials, but they're fasting trials and the rodents don't lose weight, but it seems to be protective against cancer and it might be due to autophagy, which is kind of cool.

There's also something called the differential stress response which is basically that in a stress state normal healthy cells grow stronger typically, it activates protective mechanisms compared to cancerous cells which typically do not do well in a stress state. So, something like fasting or calorie restriction might protect healthy cells while discouraging cancer cells or even causing apoptosis or the killing of cancer cells. There's also the role of glycolysis. Cancer cells often run on sugar and cannot run on fat or ketones, so fasting can have an effect there possibly.

When it comes to actual human studies. There aren't a lot of studies on fasting for treating cancer or long-term studies on fasting and cancer, but there are a myriad of smaller studies finding mechanisms that might be protective against cancer. On top of that, there are quite a few studies actually looking at the effects of fasting paired with chemotherapy and finding that it might make chemotherapy more effective, specifically by reducing DNA damage. And also a lot of studies have found that can make the negative side effects of chemotherapy not as bad, less toxic, more tolerable. At the end of the study, they did make recommendations, which is kind of directly answering Nikki's question. This was something I thought was interesting. They actually put the recommendations after the conclusion. It's literally like the very last thing in the study.

But basically, they were saying that when it comes to being overweight and obese-- so if you're overweight or obese and you're seeking weight loss as a means of primary cancer prevention, that IF is maybe an option for that. Oh, because they do talk all throughout the paper about safety or not. And before that, sorry, I'm kind of jumping around, there are some conflicting studies, especially in rodents with cancer prevention. Like some finding it therapeutic or helpful and then others finding that not to be the case, and then interesting studies with rodents as well and refeeding in that some find benefits with cancer prevention and treatment and some actually find that it might make cancer worse.

A huge major caveat and I'm really glad that this article talked about it and it's something that I think is not talked about enough, which is the massive difference between rodents and humans in fasting specifically in that they just are not the same thing, like 24-hour fast in a rodent-- So, a 24-hour fast in a rodent, which is often what is studied and is proposed as, "Intermittent fasting," that's really not intermittent fasting for a rodent.

So, 24-hour fast in a rodent is likely equal to a five-day fast feed cycle in humans that's because a rat will actually die of starvation after 48 to 60 hours, like, it will die, compared to a human that can go 57 to 73 days of fasting before dying. So, there is a major difference there. The majority, if not maybe all of the studies on rodents and fasting are the equivalent of basically long-extended fasting in humans. That's something to really keep in mind.

And then also something else to keep in mind is that, this is interesting. They talk about how, like in rodent studies, the feeding and the food is often much more controlled than it is in human studies. And that oftentimes with fasting in human studies, humans will just eat their normal meals or there're just more factors involved. It's not usually like lab chow where it's specifically controlled. That's something also to keep in mind. I know I'm skipping all around, but I'm remembering things that I left out. They also talked throughout the article about the fasting-mimicking diet, which is the work of Valter Longo. Kind of going back to what I was just saying about the longer fast research in rodents.

A potential benefit of the fasting-mimicking diet, which is basically where you have this super low calorie, plant-based, low protein, low carb approach for usually, I think, five days in humans, is that it kind of can potentially activate these mechanisms of fasting, but for longer. So, for five days. It might be more similar to what you're getting mechanism-wise with the rodent studies. And a nice thing about the fasting-mimicking diet is it's more controlled and there is quite a bit of research on it with the work of Valter Longo. Going back to-- Oh, which, by the way, we've had Valter Longo on this show. I think we've had him on twice. We've had him on I think once and then I've had him on my show. Have you had him on your show, Cynthia?

Cynthia Thurlow: I have not.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, would you like to interview him? I'm just curious.

Cynthia Thurlow: I'm curious. But I think I'm not a huge proponent of really long fasting for a variety of reasons, taking my own personal feelings about it out. Obviously, he is one of the big longevity researchers and someone that talks quite a bit about fasting. So, yeah, I think he would definitely be on my wish list for the future for sure.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. I wonder if he has any new books or anything coming out. I'm just thinking how I might reach out to him and just have him on randomly. But I'm happy to connect you to him if you like. He was really hard to, like, lockdown. I thought he would be-- I know he's been around for a while, but I tried before he had his book a while ago when he wasn't quite as popular, and even then, I couldn't, it was hard. I don't even know how I ended up getting him. I think his book was coming out and his publicist reached out.

Cynthia Thurlow: That's usually when you can get him. It's funny, I just booked Glucose Goddess, who I've been persistently after for six months. She has a new book coming out, which is why she probably has been putting me off and then Dr. Amen. I've been wanting to have both of them on for a while, so I'm excited about the opportunity to connect with them. And you've had Dr. Amen on.

Melanie Avalon: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I actually went to his Amen Clinics here in Atlanta.

Cynthia Thurlow: Oh, cool. One of my girlfriends works at his DC clinic.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, nice. Yeah, they were super nice to let me do a-- I think it was like half of a scan though, [laughs] because you're supposed to go in twice and I went in once and I think they test one thing one time and one thing the other. Yeah, that was a nice experience. It was really cool because he actually looked at my scan in real time during the interview. So, I was like, "I'm getting my scan reviewed by Dr. Amen himself," which was very cool. That'll be awesome. I love him.

So, okay. Coming to Valter Longo, what are we talking about? Yeah, so Valter Longo obviously has the fasting-mimicking diet to go back to the conclusion of the study and Nikki's question. I felt like it was a very cautious interpretation of the literature, which I understand. Basically, they say that if you're overweight or obese and you're seeking weight loss and you're looking for cancer prevention, then IF may be an option. Interestingly, they don't talk about weight loss if you're normal weight, losing weight and if you should use fasting for cancer prevention. I think that's mostly just coming from, like I said a sense of caution, like not wanting to make medical prescriptions.

They do say, though, that if you are doing IF and not losing weight and/or changing your diet and physical activity that there's not really data indicating that fasting would be protective. But stepping back from that, it's just interesting because they talk all throughout it about all of these mechanisms that are likely activated by fasting that might be protective. I would make the conclusion that if you're doing fasting even if you're not losing weight, that this is just my interpretation, I would see how it could be protective.

And then they do talk about people who actually have cancer and if they should use fasting in that and they basically say that, yes, there are a few trials with people who are getting chemotherapy and those find typically that's safe, feasible and can potentially decrease the toxic effects and tumor growth, but that the data is minimal. And if you are doing fasting while having cancer, they basically just say they would only do it if you're in a clinical trial and that a lot more research is needed.

Stepping back from all of that after reading it, I just walked away thinking that there are clearly a lot of mechanisms that fasting activates that are seemingly protective against cancer. I would feel comfortable saying that just living an intermittent fasting lifestyle is likely protective against cancer as far as how much, I'm trying to remember-- I know Nikki was saying like a 24-hour fast. She was wondering about a 24-hour fast once a week or once a month, and she does at least 13 hours. So, again, it's really hard to know at what point and I feel this also will probably be individual for different people, but at what point in the fast are you activating these different mechanisms? So, more autophagy, insulin going down, IGF-1 going down, metabolic hormones like estrogen and testosterone effects on those. It's hard to know when those are happening at the fast at what time. But I do think implementing intermittent fasting into your lifestyle is likely protective against cancer.

I am intrigued by the fasting-mimicking diet. I personally can't, I've tried it and it made me starving. But I can see how doing that for five days could potentially be pretty therapeutic or like a longer fast, which is also something I haven't done. I think the longest fast I've done has been like 50 hours and I did not enjoy it at all. Yeah, I'm trying to remember, just a last note, there was a book I was reading recently and I might have already said it on this podcast, but they were quoting somebody. I don't want to say the name because I don't want to say who it was, but it was somebody very respected and that person was saying they thought you could reduce your risk of all cancers significantly if you did, I think he said like a four to five-day fast once a year or something. Yeah, so that was a lot. Cynthia, I know you have thoughts as well. What are your thoughts?

Cynthia Thurlow: I do and that was a very extensive response. I have a team member who's a breast cancer thriver and is very open about this. So, I'm not disclosing anything that she hasn't shared publicly. I stumbled upon some research probably a few years ago there's a JAMA oncology article from 2016 talking about objectively looking at women with early stage breast cancer. There were over 2400 women with breast cancer but without diabetes, ages 27 to 70 they were put into a prospective women's healthy eating and living study that ran from 1995 to 2007. It was really just focused on nightly fasting duration. What really came out of this is that prolonging the length of the nightly fasting interval, maybe a simple nonpharmacologic strategy for reducing the risk of breast cancer reoccurrence, as well as improvements in glucoregulation specific to A1c is what they were looking at here and CRP, so C-reactive protein.

It's interesting they speak in here extensively about this model and what it came down to in terms of hours of sleep and ended up being kind of aligned with what Satchin Panda had talked about. Less than 13 hours a night of sleep, which is not a lot, was associated with a 36% higher hazard for breast cancer reoccurrence. From my perspective and I talk very openly about this now, the minimum standard for every single listening grown adult should be 12 to 13 hours of fasting. And that's not even fasting. It's like digestive rest, it's pretty benign.

But understanding that this was a large study that was looking at all-cause mortality and it's interesting that they're not talking about these prolonged periods of fasting and I do see the utility in doing that. I think my concern always falls into the bucket of, if you're lean already, are you losing muscle? And then you really have to think about the net impact on loss of muscle and whether or not that's the upregulation of autophagy is really of benefit.

But we'll link this study up and this is again, less than 13 hours is associated with a statistically significant 36% increased risk of-- It's interesting that it was just 13 hours of fasting. It wasn't this prolonged fast. I think this is highly bio-individual. I think there's ongoing research, but this was just one of many, many resources that I kind of stumbled upon. The individuals on my team, as an example, who are either perimenopausal or menopausal females that are cancer survivors. Just helping them understand that interrelationship of not only insulin sensitivity but also the role of therapeutic fasting or even periods of digestive rest have a lot of net benefits.

Melanie Avalon: Just to comment quickly on that women's study, the review talked about that study as well and what was interesting-- what it said about it talked about that study and then it compared it to another study that also looked at a large cohort of women. I'd have to read the section again, but basically, they said by comparing the results of the two studies and weight loss or not and the effects, the two studies so the one that Cynthia spoke about and then another one because of the weight loss and the adjustments for that and what happened and what didn't happen. It led to the hypothesis that a negative energy balance is a necessary factor for improving breast cancer outcomes. Because I know one of the studies that they looked at, they weren't necessarily making it calorie restricted, but I think it ended up being that.

Yeah, by comparing the two, but basically that the negative energy balance might be an important key there. And one of the things about fasting nicely is that it can often create unintentional calorie restriction without people even meaning to. So, that was something to point out. I'm also glad that you pointed out. I do find that really interesting about the 13 hours, especially because Nikki mentioned Dr. Panda talking about 13 hours and then that is often what is prescribed and you said this basically, but I do wonder how many of the benefits do actually-- it surprises me basically that we are seeing the effects with that short of a fast.

Cynthia Thurlow: I guess what I find encouraging is for the people who are out there who are not fasting on a regular basis, it's almost like a gateway, meaning it's low enough in terms of hours spent not eating that I think most people could do that and do it fairly easily. I presented at Low Carb Denver now almost a week and a half ago and one of the things-- usually I'm talking about fasting, but in the case of this event, I was talking about insulin-sensitive obesity and I was saying like, in terms of interventions that you can do with patients, 12 hours of digestive rest can still confer benefits.

Unfortunately, I think it's probably our competitive nature here in the United States, but people kind of think more is better, more always has to be better. I just remind people, let's just keep it simple, we want things to be sustainable. I think for a lot of people, it's just in their nature, they want to go to extremes like, "Oh, I have to do 24 hours fast to get benefits." Well, there're different types of fasting, but I think for the general population if you just do 12 or 13 hours fasting, we know that there are a lot of health benefits conferred with that. I think just meeting people where they are, like if you're going from a standard American diet and being a couch potato to fasting that's going to be scary, like really scary to change from eating every hour or two to going and eating twice a day, that's a big adjustment.

Melanie Avalon: It surprises me, but it's super amazing that it makes it more approachable for people. Yeah, I'm just thinking about how, like, growing up I used to do intermittent fasting. I've talked about this on the show before, but one day a week on Wednesdays because we would go to the buffet at the country club and so I would not eat all day, so that I could just pig out and two things and one, I thought I was doing something really terrible by not eating, even though natural-- Granted I was in high school, it was still so hard. [laughs] And now to think that I do one meal a day-type approach every single day is just kind of funny to think about. There is something about having that approachable, like something that people feel like they can actually do and getting used to it. It's great to know that there are the benefits there potentially.

Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely.

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Now we have a question from Holly. The subject is IF question and comment and Holly says, Hello there. "I saw this book as a recommendation in my fasting group and I've been listening to it at work, and I realize--" I don't know which book she's talking about, but I don't know if it's yours or Gin's, probably not mine. She says, "I learned a lot for someone who has studied food, but in different ways I suppose. I had a couple of questions and comments about a couple of things that stuck out to me. Have you ever read the book? French Kids Eat Everything. I learned some interesting information about different cultural approaches to eating and it was fascinating to me because I'm a cultural geographer and an artisan cheesemaker." That's cool. She says, "Anyways, my question is pertaining to children and being ingrained to eating breakfast. At what age do we let them casually feel ready to eat for the day? or as teenagers, the kids are little, we eat pretty clean as everything is made at home. But what happens when they have to start school and we want to make sure they are nourished until their untimely short lunch period? On another note, I wanted to comment about working out and fasting. I began practicing yoga with my mom when I was about 15 years old. We were watching VHS tapes and before every practice began, there was a warning that you should be in a minimum of a four-hour fasted state before practicing. So, I guess what I'm saying is, yoga taught me to always work out in a fasted state. That's all. I just wanted to share that with you." Best, Holly. I like hearing that about yoga.

Cynthia Thurlow: Well, Holly, I have actually not read that book French Kids Eat Everything, but I am familiar with the premise. I have teenagers and what we have to do is instill good habits in our children. By the time, they were late elementary school age, middle school age, they were making their own lunches, they could make their own breakfast, they could put together an impromptu meal during the day if they were home on a weekend. I think that you have to instill good habits. I certainly didn't find that my kids were tempted by the junk that was served in the school cafeteria. Although once a week we would let them get ice cream because everyone got ice cream on a specific day of the week and I just kind of let that go.

But I think by the time they're teenagers, they kind of autoregulate and especially with the pandemic, my teenagers they had to, they had to be able to make their own lunch because with four of us being home, we're all breaking at different times, and being online for an entire year of school was a gigantic joke. And so, my kids would sometimes check out when they were in the middle of class. They would come downstairs and make food. So, my kids know how to make healthy meals, and you have to pick your battles. I pretty much determine what are my non-negotiables and then we work around that.

I'm adamant about no high fructose corn syrup and no seed oils. Both my kids actually eat really healthy. They eat a lot of protein. They're both student athletes. They eat a lot of healthy carbohydrates. I have one kid who's been tracking his macros because he's trying to build muscle and it's actually been impressive to kind of watch him be very diligent about meal timing and how much carbohydrate he's eating, and how much protein he's eating. From that perspective, I wouldn't worry too much. All those good habits that you're instilling in your children now. I found that it was less about school being a minefield and more about birthday parties and things like that, where my kids would come home and just they'd be sick from eating conventional pizza and whatever the other fun foods they were eating at these parties.

Now, in terms of yoga and what I know about yoga as a practice, it is not at all surprising that you're going to do best, especially if you're doing inversions, depending on what type of yoga you're doing. Not at all surprised that they would encourage you to be in a fasted state or at least several hours in between meals so that your body's not focused on digestion and you can actually move with some ease. So, definitely not surprised that yoga has reinforced that behavior. What do you think, Melanie?

Melanie Avalon: I knew you would have a great answer for that, having kids. No, I agree with everything you said. I was thinking back to-- I think I told you I interviewed Marion Nestle. Did I tell you that?

Cynthia Thurlow: Mm-hmm.

Melanie Avalon: Oh, it was talk about an inspiring interview. So excited about it. Jon Levy connected us and she does a lot with food policy or-- She does a lot writing about food policy and the role of government and in our processed food industry and the dietetics associations and the food pyramids and all the things. She's like, a legend. Time magazine had her on the list of something about people involved-- making the biggest advances in health and medicine, which is crazy. I think she's the oldest guest I've interviewed. How old is Gabor Maté? 

Cynthia Thurlow: I think he's in his 70s. But like his voice, he sounds much younger.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah, he does sound younger. And she sounded younger. She's 86.

Cynthia Thurlow: Oh, he's definitely younger than that.

Melanie Avalon: Yeah. She was born in 1936. Yeah. It was so cool hearing about her growing up in college and being a mom and a working woman and trying to navigate the system and everything she dealt with as a woman back then. It's crazy. But in any case, so she has a whole section in her book and she has 15 books, so she has a lot of information, but a lot about the role of cafeteria food and the role of industry and marketing to kids. I don't want to say coercing schools. I think it's quite an issue today.

Just stepping back, I know this is a little bit of a tangent, but it's so interesting because it's so blatantly obvious. And Gabor Maté talks about this. Like, when things are just normalized as normal, we don't notice how off they are or how wrong they are. Something like these big mega companies that put so much money into health research, and it's not because they care about your health, it's because they want to divert attention away from the problem.

So, like, Coca-Cola or Nestle have these huge focuses on supporting health, but it's usually like focusing on the benefits of exercise. It's all to not make you think about the problems of eating the chocolate and drinking the Coca-Cola. I could go on a tangent about this. To me, that just seems so blatantly obvious, but nobody's really thinking about it. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Cynthia Thurlow: Yes. And when my kids were younger, I was one of the co-directors for Real Food for Kids. 

Melanie Avalon: Wait, what is that?

Cynthia Thurlow: It's an organization that is trying to improve the quality of food, nutrition that's offered to kids in schools. We, at that time, lived in Northern Virginia and had a lot of access to local farms. We had locally sourced grass-fed meat and organic vegetables that the kids were able to incorporate into their lunches. So, yeah, there's a lot that's wrong about the school food that is served to our children definitely.

Melanie Avalon: That's super cool. I feel like that was all over the place, but feel like we answered her question pretty well.

Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely.

Melanie Avalon: Do you want to do one last quick fun question?

Cynthia Thurlow: Sure.

Melanie Avalon: Here's just a fun non-fasting-related question to end on from Danielle. This is from our AMAs back in the day. She wants to know, do you have a particular teacher, speaking of schools, that influenced or inspired you?

Cynthia Thurlow: Mm. Well, I had a high school AP English teacher who I have jokingly/not jokingly admitted to, was the only teacher that really prepared me for college, the rigor, Dr. Barbara Godbold. She was very serious. She was probably 6.2". She was very imposing and she made us work our butts off for her class. Just the pace of the class is really what I believe set me up for what college pace was going to be like. She was super strict. Like, this is back when she wouldn't allow us to wear shorts in our class unless they came to our knees and back in the 80s no one was wearing shorts that long.

So, we would pull our shorts down past our butt and wear these oversized T-shirts so that we could stay in class and not get kicked out. She was intense, but I think many years later, I actually wrote her a letter and thanked her. But at the time, she was formidable, like, 6'2" tall, imposing. She was really, really smart and really taught me a lot. But at the time, I remember thinking she was an impediment to my social life. How about you?

Melanie Avalon: So, two immediately come to mind. One was also, I skipped my last year of high school, but if I had stayed he was the AP English teacher, but before that, he was-- so when I was, like, a sophomore. Actually, wait, you know what? That's not true. I think he was the sophomore and Junior Honors English teacher and then there was a different AP English teacher, coach Carruth, Patrick Carruth. He changed my life. He was so amazing, and he was one of the ones where like we were terrified, like, the first few weeks of him, like, terrified because he was so intimidating and so intelligent, and he would just ask us these questions. It was very Greek, like Socrates and Plato sitting around asking questions. He would ask us these metaphysical questions and we would just stare at him and be scared.

But by the end, halfway through the year and then throughout the next year, he became the most amazing thing. He actually left and went to become headmaster of another school, moved states. We had a going away party for him that we did Great Gatsby themed at my house. So, yeah, he had a huge impact on my life. In college at USC, actually, the top pay professor at USC is Drew Casper. He's in film school, and he is a legend, and he also is terrifying. Like, he's terrifying and he's crazy. He screams and yells and is very passionate and energetic, and he teaches a lot of film courses at the film school. You can invite him to lunch if you want and have lunch with him and do kind of, like, office hours, but at lunch. I did that as a freshman because I was like, I'm going to do this. He was just so funny and so wonderful and I need to reach out to him now.

I would always bring like-- in college, I was kind of crazy. I was very girly and I would wear all pink and I would bring my stuffed animal of Thumper to class, and he would always get Thumper from me and teach with Thumper on his podium. He would have Christmas parties at his house every year and he would invite me to his Christmas parties, [laughs] the most amazing thing. I'm going to reach out to him. I should see if he would want to do an interview on my show, which would not be biohacking related at all, but I'm going to do that right after this.

Cynthia Thurlow: Awesome.

Melanie Avalon: It's really nice how people can change your lives. That's actually because we had an AMA question also about something that you wish you had done or done differently or learned in life. One of the things I do wish I had done more was in college, I wish I had gone to more office hours, like with the different professors just in general or taken other classes, but I guess there wasn't really time. But I feel like in college there's just so much opportunity for so much free stuff if you take advantage of it.

Cynthia Thurlow: Absolutely. I mean, it's interesting. I was part of a very small school within a university and so the dean knew us all by name, so you couldn't hide. There was no hiding. And the professors were pretty intense. And more often than not, the School of Nursing had the same professors as the School of Medicine, so it's just intense. I remember thinking-- I would just go home and want to just unplug my brain [laughs] just between clinicals and everything else. But I agree with you, I think most of us probably lack the maturity in our late teens early 20s to take full advantage of all the opportunities to learn. Yeah. So, like I said, if I could go back, I would do more, but it's like, I don't know that I really could have.

Awesome. Well, this has been absolutely amazing. If listeners would like to submit their own questions for the show, they can directly email questions@ifpodcast.com or they can go to ifpodcast.com and they can submit questions there. These show notes will be at ifpodcast.com/episode311. And then you can follow us on Instagram. We are @ifpodcast, I am @melanieavalon, Cynthia is @cynthia_thurlow_. I think that is all the things. So, anything from you, Cynthia, before we go?

Cynthia Thurlow: No, just keep the great questions coming.

Melanie Avalon: Indeed. I will talk to you next week.

Cynthia Thurlow: Sounds good.

Melanie Avalon: Bye.

Thank you so much for listening to the Intermittent Fasting Podcast. Please remember everything we discussed on this show does not constitute medical advice and no patient-doctor relationship is formed. If you enjoyed the show, please consider writing a review on iTunes. We couldn't do this without our amazing team, administration by Sharon Merriman, editing by Podcast Doctors, show notes and artwork by Brianna Joyner, transcripts by SpeechDocs, and original theme composed by Leland Cox and re-composed by Steve Saunders. See you next week.

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