Weight gain/loss is a contentious issue that includes eating disorders and/or body positivity.
So, while it is beneficial to tread lightly when discussing such topics, it is also critical that we discuss the weight gain/loss hacks that occasionally leave us with our jaws wired shut (pun intended).
Slimming wires or jaw wiring is the latest trend circulating on socials and is known in the medical community as maxillomandibular fixation.
This procedure connects your lower and upper jaw bones together and dieticians call it fasting.
Retha Harmse, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academic Doctors Association of South Africa (Adasa), says that fasting (consuming no food or fluid other than water) and juice-only fasting are being broadly advocated as health-promoting measures for two reasons:
Fasting is promoted as a way to remove toxins. Furthermore, animal studies have shown that fasting enhances the concentration of liver enzymes that metabolise toxins and drugs.
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Based on this fact, fasting has been widely promoted as a means to remove accumulated toxins through activating enzymes in the liver (detoxifying).
Fasting is also promoted as a way to improve cardiovascular health. This is based on the finding that alternate-day fasting for eight weeks in obese people improves and lowers coronary heart disease risk indicators, such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and Triglycerides.
Despite the promotion of fasting to remove accumulated toxins through liver enzyme activation, liver enzyme activation is much more complex than first assumed.
Benefits and risks of fasting
Research has found that fasting on alternate days for eight weeks reduces the risk factors for coronary heart disease in obese patients.
But alternate studies found that within 24 to 72 hours of beginning the fast, there was an increase in insulin resistance. Skipping breakfast for 14 days was proven to increase LDL cholesterol and cause insulin resistance in non-overweight women.
Studies have illustrated various other concerns about fasting.
One study found that muscle mass loss started to be noticeable within 24 hours and carried on as the fast continued for another 72 hours. Additionally, the fast caused a steady decline in physical work capacity.
“Fasting shows quick weight loss but is not sustainable. It leads to muscle breakdown and slows your metabolic rate, interferes with your liver enzymes,” it said.
Fasting for 24 hours reduced mononuclear cell mitochondrial activity, a crucial component of immunological function, in men aged 18 to 35 years.
After 16 hours of fasting, the likelihood of getting a headache increases to 4%, and after one day of fasting, the likelihood increases to 50%.
These headaches do not result from dehydration, are unrelated to caffeine or nicotine withdrawal, and disappear 72 hours after food intake resumes.
The study showed that people who fasted for 44 days experienced serious consequences thereafter, such as refeeding syndrome (with considerable hypophosphatemia and haemodilution) and neurological symptoms that included difficulties breathing, speaking and swallowing, and required ventilator support.
The research on the health effects of fasting does not support the claim that eating is not a health-promoting activity.
In fact, fasting may be harmful to health because it increases insulin resistance while lowering vital liver detoxifying enzyme activities, body nutrition, muscle mass, and one's capacity for work and exercise.