Is fasting and vegetarian diet all good?

A tale from my own experience and experiment

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I always told and also thought that the vegetarian diet is best for health. I have no reason to doubt as I didn’t find anyone who express any different opinion. Being a non-vegetarian I am a cancer survivor and lost my parents due to cancer. I also lost some of my close family members (mother’s side) to cancer as well. Since then I am told (by my doctors) that I am in a high-risk zone. I do agree with that assessment as well. But is there anything I can do to confront that risk? When I lost my father due to lung cancer in 2019, I started thinking about it. Then during the same year, after a routine colonoscopy, pre-cancerous polyps are found. I started thinking more on the topic and then I looked into my lifestyle throughout the years up to that point. I realized the following –

  1. I always had stomach issues and had indigestion
  2. I had constipation but I didn’t look for a specific reason behind it
  3. I did not experiment with my food habit much even though my body had negative reactions to some of the foods that I eat regularly.
  4. I was not doing exercise in a way that suits my body

So, I decided to confront all the above in a drastic move in late 2019. I became vegetarian and started intermittent fasting. Being a non-vegetarian throughout my life, it was a hard decision especially when my family members are not. I do remember that for the first week, my body reacted a little differently and then I get used to it. My craving for meat and other non-veg items like eggs etc started coming down with time. Even though I didn’t reduce my food intake, I started losing weight. Within 6 months or so, my weight reduces from 168lb to 135lb. I was happy that my food habit got simplified and I don’t need to worry about what kind of non-veg food is being cooked at home. I did this experiment until late 2021, i.e. almost 2 years. During this time, in addition to being vegetarian, I also minimize my sugar consumption including any kind of soft drinks. I also focused on home-cooked food rather than eating outside. Here are some of the benefits that I felt –

• My stomach issues are gone mostly except for some occasional gas issues. • As I lost weight, I can run more miles before I get exhausted. • I felt more energetic (difficult to quantify, but I explained it later) • Some of the food that I had difficulties digesting, now I can take those regularly without any issues. • My HDL level improved (probably because of regular exercise).

In contrast, here are some of the things that didn’t go as per my expectations –

  1. My total cholesterol (and LDL) didn’t improve (I have high cholesterol) at all.
  2. I got several vitamin deficiencies – such as D, B12, Calcium, etc.

After two years of a vegetarian diet, I started non-veg diets gradually even though I do not plan to consume any types of red meat in immediate future. The idea behind this is to make my food more complete to consume all types of nutrition naturally instead of having vitamin medications. As of now, I weigh 130lb and I feel great. I am planning to do another colonoscopy later this year and hoping that there will be no polyps. I guess we have to wait to see if that’s the case. In the next section, I will explain some of my takeaways from the last three years. Takeaways Our body is an immensely complex machine that we haven’t yet figured out how it works. The same food may react differently on two different bodies. I will breakdown some of my findings – Sugar – Most lucrative but also most harmful to human body especially deep sugary foods like ice creams, donuts, soft drinks, etc. Fasting - Good for the overall health for everyone especially human over 35 years of age. Help clean the body as well. The benefit of fasting such intermittent, 24hrs, 48hrs, etc. varies human to human. So, try different fasting methods to see how it suits your body. Vegetarian diet - again good for the body but if you are trying it for the fast time, take it easy at first so that the body get used to with it gradually. Otherwise, you may experience the similar deficiencies that I confronted. Exercise - this is a must and you may start your day with yoga. Yoga helps your body to remain flexible over time so that you may not experience age related stiffness.