Why fasting every 6 months, especially as you get older, is good for you

Fasting has been around for millennia – for both cultural and religious reasons. Lately there are more and more people looking to fasting for its health benefits.

For many of us the idea of fasting seems extreme.  The thought of fasting whilst still living in our normal environments and having to carry on a normal routine sounds impossible.


Whitecalm has been speaking to Dr Dermot O’Flynn, a London based GP.  He has experience working in both the NHS and private sector.

His interest in the benefits of Low Calorie Intermittent Fasting has led him over the last 10 years to develop his own private fasting retreats or as he prefers to call them “Healthcations”.

The Cumuru Cleanse is a private Healthcation run by Dr O’Flynn at a tropical location on the beautiful coast of Bahia in Brazil.

The programme adheres to a 800 Calorie a day Cleanse for 7 days with a further 1-2 day period of re-introduction of appropriate food items. The diet is based on daily fresh organic coconut water, a hearty local vegetable Miso soup, local herbal teas and some fruit.

So why should we fast?

He explained some of the processes that happen as you fast. These include: Ketosis, Deflammation, Stem Cell Activation and Senolysis. The programme is not just about losing a few pounds but more about activating certain bodily functions that have positive long-term health impacts. We are starting to understand the science behind this form of fasting and this is what interests him. 

The programme is not just about losing a few pounds but more about activating certain bodily functions that have positive long-term health impacts.
— Dr Dermot O’Flynn


Within 2 to 3 days of starting this low calorie fast, your body will switch, in the absence of glucose, to predominantly burning fat from your cells. This is called a state of Ketosis and is perfectly natural.

It has many benefits from treating chronic illnesses to optimizing both mental and physical performance. Ketosis seems to enhance the ability of mitochondria.  These are the ‘power plants’ of our cells. They help to deliver our bodies’ energy needs in a manner that reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. Being in a state of ketosis allows the mitochondria to function better.

The Ketogenic diet, for example, has been recognized as a medical treatment for intractable epilepsy of childhood for over 80 years.


Deflammation of the small intestine is another benefit of low-calorie intermittent fasting.  

Most people over the age of 40 will have some element of small intestine inflammation.  Some more than others.  This 7 day cleanse turns down the inflammatory noise by the virtue of the fact the immune system in the intestine is processing less number of molecule shapes.  This results in a lowering of the flow of cytokines from the gut, which in turn causes symptom relief.


As we age certain numbers of cells become senescent.  We are just beginning to understand and investigate the science of senescence in the last decade.

When your cells become senescent, they stop dividing, and in turn release proteins like cytokines which attract immune molecules causing local inflammation and damage. Studies have shown that along with exercise, healthy eating and low calorie intermittent fasting, senolysis can play a key role in aiding cell regeneration and slowing down biological ageing.

Stem Cell Activation

On one of his recent trips to Bahia, blood samples were taken from 5 subjects a week before, a week after and 8 weeks after the programme was completed. These samples were analysed by Professor Steve Ray, a Stem Cell expert at Oxford. He was intrigued to see that stem cell activity was increased by 20% in all the samples analysed after the fast was completed for up to 8 weeks.  He very keen to undertake further research into this science.

Dr O’Flynn believes there is so much still to learn from this form of fasting. His programme is absolutely unique in that he only works with groups of 6-8 at a time. It’s an experience for those who have a real interest in improving and maintaining health.

Here at White Calm Retreats we are delighted to confirm that we have Dr O’Flynn joining us for a webinar to discuss more about his approach on the Cumuru Cleanse.