What is Fasting?
A fast is the act of reducing or eliminating all or certain foods from your diet. Many detox diets contain a fasting component where foods high in fats, chemicals and toxins are eliminated for a specified period of time. This fasting period of a detox diet serves the purpose reducing burden to the body and allowing the body’s natural detox organs time to recover. Generally, these fasts do not require complete abstinence from food and includes recipes for fruit and vegetable juices as a supplement to the fasting.
Fasting is practiced not only by detox enthusiasts but also by numerous religions for its spiritual aspect. This is because in the early stages of a fast, the body burns off excess calories and you may feel healthier, more energized and have a clearer state of mind. It is also this reaction that lead many to think fasting is an excellent way to lose weight. As good as this may sound, it is not the case. The body burns excess stored fat when it consumes less calorie than it spends, so it is natural for weight loss to occur during the fast. However, a fast does not increase our metabolism so right after our fast ends, our body will absorb extra nutrients to make up for lost time. You can learn more about detox and weight loss in our article How Detox Affects Weight Loss.
Does this mean there is no reason for fasting? The answer lies in the purpose of fasting during a detox. During the fast, the body burns stored body fat due to the reduced calorie consumption. It is also within these fat cells that toxins and unprocessed chemicals are stored. Therefore, it is during the fasting component of a detox that the body extracts and expels the built up toxins. This process of eliminating toxins and reducing future toxins from entering our body is known as detox. By clearing our body of built up toxins, we are giving it a new start. In, this way, you can think of fasting as a spring cleaning for our body; although the direct benefits of the fast is a clean and healthy body, we still need to continue taking care of it after the fast or we will go right back to where we found it.
How Often and How Long You Should Fast
How often and how long you fast are generally dictated by your health status, age and purpose for fasting. Most detox programs calls for fasts in the following ranges. Please consult your health care provider for more details on fasting and what your specific physical limitations are.
- Once a week for 1 day (24 Hours)
- Once a month for 3 days
- Four times a year for 1 week (experienced fasters only)
Who Should Not Fast
Fasting is highly not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers. Others individuals that should not fast or should only fast under strict monitoring by their primary health provider are: underweight, low immunity, poor heart health, low blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, are in a pre- or postsurgery period, cancer patients, peptic ulcers or those with nutritional deficiencies. Remember, although fasting is important, it is possible to replace the fasting component of a detox with long-term healthy eating habits. You may also refer to our guide Who Should Detox for more on information on detox limitations.
Fruit Juice Fasting
A general rule is that using fruit juices as a supplement for detox fasting speeds up the cleaning reactions. This is especially useful if the purpose for the fast is a quick cleanse for your detox. The cons for using a fruit fast is that by speeding up the detoxing reactions, you are also releasing toxins at a quicker rate into your body. Therefore, we only recommend fruit juice fasting if you are already in moderate to good health. Below are some excellent fruits and their function for fasting.
Apple Juice – Good for constipation, cleansing the gall bladder and kidneys, reduces inflammation in the body, lowers cholesterol.
Cranberry Juice – Excellent for bladder infections, cleansing to the kidneys, controls diabetes by lowering blood sugar, some report that it is helpful for some cancers.
Grape Juice – Good for edema (swelling), detoxifying toxins from the body and blood, an overall blood cleanser, also helpful for cancer.
Papaya Juice – Great for digestive disorders, ulcers and heartburn; treats inflammation and may reduce back pain.
Lemon Juice – Fantastic overall body cleanser, purifies the blood, cleanses the digestive track of mucus, stimulates production of liver enzymes, supports the liver in its detoxifying functions, restores pH in the colon.
Watermelon – A natural diuretic and great blood cleanser; reduces inflammation and good for canker sores. Many nutritionists like to juice the rind as well.
Vegetable juices as a supplement for detox fasting slows down cleansing reactions. This is effective if your goal is a slow and long-term cleanse. You can juice your vegetables in a blender and adding water as needed. Below are some vegetables commonly used during detox fasts and their function.
Carrots – Carrots are, perhaps, the most valuable vegetable for juicing because of their healing properties. It is the usual base to which other juices are added. Although it has a high sugar content, the blend of ingredients in carrot juice cannot be excelled for balanced nutrition.
Celery – Celery is high in minerals and is a significant source for magnesium. It does not stand alone as a palatable juice for drinking, but it is an excellent flavor enhancer for other juices. Chopping the celery stalks into short pieces will help to prevent the long celery strings from clogging the juicer. Be sure to juice the leaves as well.
Cucumber – Cucumbers are an excellent addition to a mix of vegetables for juicing. They are high in potassium and contain other minerals as well.
Parsley – Parsley an excellent source of chlorophyll. Juice it with other vegetables in order to prevent clogging the juicer with the dense pulp that forms when it is juiced alone.
Spinach – Spinach juice is very mellowing to a strong flavored mix of vegetable juices. It is rich in minerals and vitamins.
Important Information for Your Fast
You don’t have to use just vegetable or fruit juice for fasting. In fact, it is usually beneficial to use a mix of vegetables and fruits for your fasting juice. You can refer to your specific detox program for more information on what mix of fruits and vegetables are best for your specific needs.
One thing you will need during the fasting component of your detox is time to rest. Don’t plan a lot of activities for when you will be fasting. Doing otherwise is missing the point. The idea is to give your entire body time to catch up on its cleansing activities. If you’re running around, or under pressure, then you are creating extra stress and you are better off with a transitional diet that mixes healthy eating with reduced meals for the detox.
There are a lot of written articles and resources on fasting and fasting for a detox in particular. However, a fast is something you must experience for yourself as it is a different experience for everyone. We hope this article has provided you the resource to start a safe fast for your detox.