In this episode of the Intermittent Fasting Stories podcast, host Gin Stephens speaks to Dr. Cecily Ganheart, an OB-GYN practicing outside Kansas City, Kansas. Dr. Ganheart shares a fascinating two-pronged story about how IF impacted first her life, then the lives of her patients. It all began in 2017 when Dr. Ganheart gave birth to her second son and reached her heaviest weight of 264 pounds. She learned of the work of Dr. Jason Fung and began a regimen of approximately 18:6, mostly whole foods with limited carbohydrates. This way of eating has allowed her to lose 80 pounds and improve her overall health in a myriad of ways. Though nutrition was a minimal part of her medical school training, she has educated herself on the ways processed food has contributed to modern disease.
Dr. Ganheart goes on to explain how insulin dysregulation becomes insulin resistance as the body is signaled to store body fat by insulin’s constant presence. She highlights how fasting and “gut rest” bring insulin levels very low, allowing the body to finally burn its excess stored fat. She provides a detailed explanation of how ultra-processed carbs fail to suppress ghrelin for long, causing rebound hunger and cravings. She explains the metabolic havoc wreaked on all body systems when hormone imbalances go unchecked over time.
In her professional practice, Dr. Ganheart treats women dealing with infertility and PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. She uses the science of intermittent fasting to help these women understand the holistic health implications of their PCOS, which is tied to insulin resistance. Though patients may be immediately focused on wanting to have a baby, she shows them how PCOS can impact their future health beyond conception and childbirth. She explains that obesity itself can create issues with “unopposed estrogen” as excess estrogen is stored in body fat.
In her personal life, Dr. Ganheart sees how simplicity and wisdom of how IF mirrors her 103-year old aunt’s pattern of two small meals inside 6-8 hours each day. IF has impacted the way she prepares food for her busy family, including two young sons, and has sparked a newfound passion for fermented foods. Initial interest in improving her gut microbiome led to research on the history of fermentation practices, and she now enjoys pickling vegetables and brewing kombucha. She encourages anyone considering an IF lifestyle to pick a regimen that feels feasible and give themselves one challenge day per week as a way of building their fasting muscle over time.
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