Fast Food v. Fasting — Toxification v. Detoxification

“Don’t eat fast, but eat and fast” … by Edward Yiu

"Fast” is a weird word that it has two unrelated meanings, but both are very commonly used in daily conversation. Fast means quick or stop eating. For example, we have fast food breakfast today.

Sarcastically, recent research find that fast food and fasting have opposite effects on our health. They are found to be toxification objects and a detoxification process respectively. Our generation has been suffered from eating too much fast food, because it was considered modern, cost-effective, tasty and healthy. When we were young, people had no idea about the harmfulness of fast food. We usually had very good impressions and memories on fast food shops as they did not only provide us addictive foods and drinks, but they also organized happy birthday parties for us.

However, there are more and more research findings that fast food is indeed toxic and detrimental to our health. Fuhrman (2018) even uses the term “Fast Food Genocide” to describe the seriousness of the fast food crisis. It does not only contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, dementia and cancer, but also mental illness. Capetta (2020) reports that beside sugar and carb content, fast food meals are likely to contain toxic additives, preservatives, and chemicals. However, unlike cigarettes, there are still no measures to restrict or warn eating fast food.

Knowledge is power only when the knowledge is correct and received! Many people are still eating fast food, and they may not know about the toxicity of the food. Worse still, since we have accumulated so much toxic in our bodies for so long period of time, we need to detoxify. We may have already fed up with those pills, herbs or treatments that claimed to be able to help detoxify, but very few of them got scientific evidence on their effectiveness and safety. They are also usually very expensive.

More recently, however, there are some studies showing that a simple and free solution of detoxification is not to eat — FASTING! Hatori et al. (2012) demonstrate that “mice under time-restricted feeding (tRF) … are protected against obesity, hyperinsulinemia, hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and have improved motor coordination.” Another study of 15 men at risk of type-2 diabetes also find that after one week of a nine-hour eating window per day, they show a lower spike in blood glucose after a test meal, implying an improved insulin sensitivity (Hutchison et al., 2019).

People are skeptical about the benefits of fasting, especially on its long-term effects (Brody, 2020). It may take more time to test scientifically the long-term effects of fasting, but logically it makes good sense that fasting can cure the harm done by fast food. Water has to be drained out first before cleansing the pool.

Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Nobel laureate in Medicine 2016, discovers the mechanisms of autophagy in human body. It is a process by which our body cleans out damaged cells and toxins, regenerates newer, healthier cells (Hand, 2020). Previous studies find that autophagy is induced by food restriction (Mizushima et al., 2004; Martinet et al., 2006). It seems to suggest that the body has a self-cleansing mechanism, but is not induced until the liver glycogen is low (Rosenfeld, 2019).

I am not a medical researcher, common caveats apply.


Brody, J.E. (2020) Benefits of Intermittent Fasting, Washington Post, Feb 17.

Capetta, A. (2020) 10 Toxic Ingredients You Didn’t Know Were In Your Fast Food, Healthy Eating, Aug 7.

De Cabo R and Mattson MP. (2019) Effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging, and disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 381(26):2541–2551. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1905136.

Fuhrman J. (2018). The Hidden Dangers of Fast and Processed Food. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 12(5), 375–381.

Hand, J. (2020) A Beginner’s Guide to Autophagy, the Real Way to Detox Your Body, Bulletproof, Dec 16.

Hatori, M., Vollmers, C., Zarrinpar, A., DiTacchio, L., Bushong, E. A., Gill, S., Leblanc, M., Chaix, A., Joens, M., Fitzpatrick, J. A., Ellisman, M. H., & Panda, S. (2012). Time-restricted feeding without reducing caloric intake prevents metabolic diseases in mice fed a high-fat diet. Cell metabolism, 15(6), 848–860.

Hutchison, A.T., Regmi, P., Manoogian, E.N.C., Fleischer, J.G., Wittert, G.A., Panda, S., Heilbronn, L.K. (2019) Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Glucose Tolerance in Men at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Crossover Trial, Obesity, 27(5), 724–732. doi/abs/10.1002/oby.22449

Martinet, W., De Meyer, GR., Andries, L., Herman, AG., Kockx MM. (2006) In situ detection of starvation-induced autophagy. Journal of Histochem Cytochem, 54, 85–96.

Mizushima, N., Yamamoto, A., Matsui, M., Yoshimori, T., Ohsumi, Y. (2004) In vivo analysis of autophagy in response to nutrient starvation using transgenic mice expressing a fluorescent autophagosome marker, Mol Biol Cell,15, 1101–1111.

Rosenfeld, J. (2019) Fast your way to Autophagy, Medium, Mar 21.



ecyY (Edward Yiu) — easy to understand why, easy to study why. Finding the truths scientifically is the theme.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

ecyY (Edward Yiu) — easy to understand why, easy to study why. Finding the truths scientifically is the theme.