Health

How Intermittent Fasting Helped One Woman Reboot Her Immune System and Lose Weight

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As she took the stage to deliver a keynote speech, Dallas business consultant Eve Mayer prayed she’d make it through the presentation without collapsing. She’d woken up with a 103-degree fever — again.

Chronic fevers and infections had plagued Eve for years. She ended up bedridden at least every other month with bronchitis, strep throat and upper respiratory infections. And once, she even developed pneumonia so serious that she had to be hospitalized.

She took six prescription medications for allergies to pollen, grass, and mold, for which she also got weekly allergy shots and used an inhaler, as well as a separate medication to manage prediabetes. Her allergies, Eve’s doctor told her, were at the root of her poor health. “They leave you more susceptible to these kinds of infections,” he explained.

Eve realized her weight wasn’t helping her health either. She’d struggled with her weight since she was 18, topping out at 300 pounds. With help from diets, pills, trainers and even surgery, she’d lost weight in spurts, and two years ago, she managed to drop to under 200 pounds. But despite improvements in her blood-sugar levels and insulin resistance, Eve continued to get sick frequently.

You have a bad immune system, and there’s nothing you can do about it, Eve told herself. But she was determined to keep her weight down.

Looking for guidance, she read The Obesity Code (Buy on Amazon, $11.99), by Jason Fung, M.D., and was stunned when he recommended intermittent fasting (IF), explaining that fasting improves metabolism and helps keep insulin levels in check, both key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. She had always been told to eat less but never told to eat less often. Having never skipped a meal before, Eve wasn’t sure fasting was for her, but she decided to give it a try. Why not? I’ve tried everything else, she reasoned.

A Surprising Benefit

Eve experimented with different kinds of fasting, such as fasting for three days or more and alternate-day fasting, but she found eating just two meals a day, one at noon and one at 6 p.m., worked best to control her hunger and keep her weight steady. And as weeks went by, something even more surprising happened: Eve didn’t get sick!

Amazed, Eve began doing research and even contacted Dr. Fung, who explained that fasting triggers autophagy, the process in which the body replaces old, damaged cells with new, healthier ones. “Now that you’re eating less often, your body isn’t spending so much time on digestion and can focus on healing itself,” he told her.

Eve stuck to her fasting regimen and only got sick twice that year. Last year, she was able to stop taking all her medications and getting allergy shots, plus toss her inhaler, which saved her nearly $1,500 on prescriptions and doctor visit copays.

Today, Eve, 46, has coauthored a book with Megan Ramos and Dr. Fung, Life in the Fasting Lane (Buy on Amazon, $18.99), and has a website and podcast of the same name. “Fasting completely changed my life,” she beams. “I’m finally happy with my body and feel better than ever!”

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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