There is a very long tradition in the Yogic and Aryuvedic, Christian, and Arabic practices to undertake fasting as a means of enlightenment, balancing and cleanse the body. When the intake of food comes to a halt and digestion stops, elimination and cleansing increases. This action frees up the mind to focus on "higher" ideals.
Many of us use fasting as a means of weight control and physical cleansing. This makes sense to me because one of the main causes of gaining weight is not enough time for the body to clean and rebuild. When we are feeding ourselves every few hours there is never any rest and cleanup time.
When the body is depleted of nutrition, fasting for any extended period of time can be detrimental to overall health. Please use caution when deciding to attempt a fast of any length. Since most Americans are nutrient deficient I usually do not recommend long fasts. Long fasts are too harsh and end up depleting our already scarce nutrient and energy reserves.
Let's talk more about cleansing fasts...
Purpose of a fast
The general health purpose of a fast is to allow the GI tract to rest and permit the system to turn its energies away from processing food and instead focus on cleaning and repairing the body. Blah Blah Blah. The question on everyones mind is “Will I Lose Weight!” Generally speaking, fasting is a great way to lose weight because it supports the cleaning of the body. How much weight will you lose? Often I see clients consistently lose 2 pounds for every one day fast they undertake.
Types of fasts
1. Juice fast - fresh, raw fruit and veggie juices
2. Water fast - nothing but distilled water or herbal tea
3. “Ultimate Cleanse” - lemon juice, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup
How long to fast
10 Day Fast - The “Ultimate Cleanse” is a popular fasting/cleansing program that many people have done with great success. My experience is a little different. When I did this program I got so sick that I threw up on the side of the road while driving home on the 2 day. Not a pleasant experience! If you pH is already alkaline or if you have too many toxins for your elimination pathways to handle then you will get sick. Contrary to what that program advises, it is not for everyone. Don’t try this one without talking to a professional first.
3 Day Fast - Generally it is unwise to fast more than 3 days without the supervision of a knowledgable practitioner or doctor. A 3 day juice fast can be safely carried out monthly with little disruption to your body rhythms. This fast allows you to drink fresh raw fruit or veggie juices for 3 days without consuming any solid food. The difficulty here is that it is a hassle to get “fresh, raw” juices. Any juice that has been refrigerated for more than 2 hours is depleted in the enzymes necessary to make this type of cleanse a success.
1 day fast- This is my preferred type for many reasons. Least amount of effort with the biggest payoff. A 1 day can be carried out every week with little disruption to the rhythms of the body. This type of fast is usually more gentle and produces a more consistent effect. The effect on weight loss is usually about 2 pounds. This type of fast starts for example on Thursday eve after dinner, and ends Friday eve at dinner. That is a 24 hour fast. Consume nothing but herbal tea and distilled water. I have many clients that do this type of fast one day per week and have been for years.
What to expect during a fast
Fasting can be very unpleasant when it is overdue or there is a large accumulation of toxins in the body that need removal. It is an almost universal experience of fasters that a fast is initially accompanied by strong smelling urine, a coated tongue, or offensive breath or skin odor.
Other symptoms may include mild headache, low energy, and hunger. If any of these symptoms do occur, rest more, drink distilled water, and take enzymes. If that is not enough to ease the symptoms then you may want to consider seeing a Traditional Naturopath for assistance in your cleansing program.
How to get the most out of your fast
Try adding one of more this these additional techniques to get the most benefit from your fasting efforts.
1. Distilled water - it is the best cleaner nature has to offer.
2. Yogi breathing technique called “The Breath of Fire”
3. Dry brushing
4. Oil pulling
5. Herbal cleansing support like dandelion tea
6. Rest - no strenuous exercise
8. Essential oils doTerra Slim and Sassy
Who should not fast?
Anyone with a fever, diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart issues.