The theme for spring, Inspiration, has inspired me to write about a therapeutic fast. There is nothing like a fast to inspire you! Fasting is extremely beneficial for the mind, Fasting provides a time for self observation and a time to learn about yourself. The spiritual, psychological and emotional challenges of fasting can help address inner demons. When the body is resting, the mind can climb mountains. Fasting exercises one's will power and is an accomplishment, which improves self-esteem.
Fasting is a traditional part of our global cultural heritage, reflected in that fasting is integral component of religions including, Buddhism, Catholicism, Orthodox, Lutheranism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism and Paganism. Fasting is truly universal. With our energy moving upward and outward, Spring is the best time to fast.
Benefits of fasting
Digestion is the hardest thing our body does. Fasting gives our body a break. Toxins are liberated from our fat cells to be processed by the liver and eliminated via the skin and kidneys. The lymphatic system is naturally cleansed. Research shows that fasting and caloric restriction results in reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, insulin resistance and immune disorders. Fasting slows the aging process and increases life span. Fasting every other day, also known as intermittent fasting, shows beneficial effects as strong as those of caloric-restriction. Alternate-day fasting may be an alternative to prolonged caloric restriction to increase life span.
The easiest therapeutic fast is a juice fast
A juice fast involves the short-term intake of raw vegetable and fruit juice and water only. Fasting on raw juice, or juice produced by a living enzyme, slow masticating juicer, is recommended as this juice is higher in vitamins and antioxidants required for detoxification.
Who shouldn't try a juice fast?
- Pregnant or nursing women or children.
- People with diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, malnutrition, addictions, underweight, anaemia, impaired immune function, infection, nutritional deficiency, low blood pressure, autoimmune disease, cancer, epilepsy, or other chronic conditions should fast under supervision.
- People shouldn't fast before or after surgery.
- People taking prescription medications should fast under supervision and should never discontinue or reduce medications on their own.
- Grapefruit juice should not be used, especially by people taking prescription drugs. A compound in grapefruit changes the way certain prescription drugs are metabolised. Recent evidence suggests that pomegranate juice may also have the same effect.
Common temporary side effects of a juice fast include;
- Low blood sugar
- Increased body odour
How long does a juice fast last?
A juice fast typically lasts for one to three days. A longer fast requires supervision to ensure that nutrient deficiencies don't result.
What does a typical juice fast involve?
- Seven or more days before the fast, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat, animal meat, fish, and eggs are reduced or eliminated from the diet. This preparation diet should consist mainly of organic fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
- Between 4 to 8 cups of juice is recommended per day. The juice is sipped throughout the day.
- Approximately 6 glasses of room temperature filtered water is recommended in addition to the juice.
- Organic fruits and vegetables are recommended. If organic produce isn't available peeling the skin off fruits and vegetables or washing vegetables with a non-toxic cleaner.
- Freshly juiced fruits and vegetables are preferred, but if unavailable, purchase juice from the health food store or juice bar.
- Green vegetables and sprouts contain the pigment chlorophyll, especially beneficial during a juice fast.
- A combination of fruits and vegetables is recommended. Typical fruits and vegetables include celery, carrot, kale, cabbage, apple, pineapple, cranberry, spinach, beetroot, and greens. Citrus fruits should be avoided as they are one of the top eight allergens.
- Certain fruits and vegetables and their parts should not be juiced, such as the pits of peaches, apricots, cherries, and other fruits, apple seeds, citrus peels, carrot and rhubarb tops, tough skins (such as kiwi, pineapple, mangoes), and bananas and avocados.
Beetroot Juice - The perfect juice to fast on
Liver detoxification processes naturally generate lots of free radicals. The pigment that gives beetroots their rich colour, betacyanin, increases the activity of glutathione peroxidase (GPOX) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST) two antioxidant enzymes produced by our liver. GPOX and GST act as bodyguards for liver cells, protecting them from free radical attack.
Here's a juice recipe to flush out the liver. Juice fresh beetroot, carrot, pear (equal parts) and a thumbnail of ginger.
How to Break a Fast
There should be a gradual return to solid foods to avoid adverse reactions. You can stay on 4 glasses of juice per day and on;
Add stewed fruit and steamed vegetables.
Add brown rice, quinoa, salad and raw fruit
Add organic yoghurt, unflavoured and unsweetened. Eggs.
Add meat, chicken, fish, tofu, if eaten.
Add legumes and other grains.
Add the rest, trying to reduce overall intake of The Top Eight Allergens; dairy, wheat, soy, shell-fish, tree-nuts, eggs, citrus and tomatoes, by eating alternatives.
When introducing foods back into the diet, it is recommended to;
- Chew food 32 times!
- Not overeat.
- Note any food reactions as new foods are introduced, such as energy, digestion, cravings, and other symptoms.
- Make the transition to a healthier long-term diet for life including healthy whole foods naturally rich in polyphenol antioxidants.
Dietary sources of polyphenol antioxidants
The main source of polyphenol antioxidants is dietary. Most legumes, fruits such as apples, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, grapes, pears, plums, raspberries, and strawberries, and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, celery, onion and parsley are rich in polyphenol antioxidants. Red wine, chocolate, green tea, olive oil, bee pollen and many grains are alternative sources. See also Naturopathic Approaches to Life Extension
If side effects occur or there is a worsening of symptoms, or new symptoms appear, the fast should be discontinued and prompt advice from a qualified health professional should be sought,