Fasting Techniques for the Novice
You’ve probably heard about fasting, that there’s something about it that’s healthy, and, unfortunately, that it has to be done carefully or else bad things could happen. And because of the need to be careful, or because of the challenge of not eating for several days, many people never seriously consider fasting regularly… or even just once.
First, you should be convinced to fast. Here are some of its benefits:
Fasting Improves Longevity - You will live longer
The healing process begins in the body during a fast. Due to its lack of use, energy is diverted away from the digestive system towards the metabolism and immune system. This is one reason that animals stop eating when they are wounded, and why humans lose their appetite during colds and flus. In other words, when one is fasting, the body is diverting energy from the digestive system to the immune system. Additionally, a slower metabolic rate, more efficient protein production, and the increased production of anti-aging hormones contribute to this long-term benefit of fasting.
Fasting helps remove toxins from the body.
Detoxification is the process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, kidneys, liver, lungs, lymph glands, and skin. This process is precipitated by fasting because when food is no longer entering the body, the body turns to fat reserves for energy. (Fat reserves are created, by the way, when excess glucose and carbohydrates are not used for energy or growth or not excreted, and therefore converted into fat.) When the fat reserves are used for energy during a fast, it releases the chemicals from the fatty acids into the system which are then eliminated through the aforementioned organs.
This is so true, in fact, that many suggest not fasting because of the toxic chemicals that may be released into the bloodstream at unsafe levels. (This especially applies to DDT, which we all are exposed to through insecticide contaminated foods, as it is a cumulative poison that’s stored in the fat tissues of the body – more reason to go organic, isn’t it?). This is a result, by the way, of the most extreme methods of fasting, such as a total water fast without enema and staying in bed.
Fasting enables control over the appetite, and aids in weight loss.
Fasting technically commences within the first twelve to twenty-four hours of the fast. When deprived of food, due to the lack of incoming energy, the body must turn to its own resources, its fat stores, to produce energy.
Methods of Fasting
I’m going to list some of the many types of fasts. It’s recommended to start with a one-day juice or fruit fast. Eventually, after building up the length while using different types of fasts, when you've rid your body of years of stored toxins and pollutants, you’ll be able to enjoy the fasting highs others experience, without any unpleasant side effects.
Fruit and Juice Fasting
Because fruits and vegetables juiced require little digestive effort and because all the RDA can be obtained through these sources, this is both easily workable and quite safe. And it doesn’t feel as though you’re starving.
Google “fruit and vegetable juice fast” or “fruit and vegetable juice fast recipes” as a start.
Liquid or Juice Fasting
In a juice fast, you consume nothing but freshly made vegetable and fruit juices and water or herbal teas. The juices provide the nutrients needed, but you’ll want to add minerals via supplements, and a good fiber source.
Google the terms “juicing fasting” (this yields the better results) “juice fasting” “liquid fast” and “juice fast plan.”
For the same reasons as liquid or juice fasting, this is a very workable method of fasting. Google the term “fruit flush 3-day detox” for a one such method.
Blended fasting involved pureeing instead of juicing your vegetables and fruits so that their fiber makes you fuller, and may add avocado or olive oil to increase fat quantity. This slows down toxin release as it takes more energy to digest, but the advantage of this method is that you are less hungry, and the fiber that remains in the drinks “grabs” the toxins in the intestines and carries them out, preventing them from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
Periodic Mono Diet
Mono dieting is periodically taking in any combination of raw, fresh food or juice for any length of time ranging from one day to two weeks. Some examples are:
Drinking only fresh fruit juice for one day
Drinking only fresh fruit and vegetable juice for one to three days
Drinking only fresh fruit and vegetable juices and eating only fresh fruits, vegetables, and salads for only one day to ten or fourteen days
The premise, according to Fit for Life’s Harvey Diamond, is that this allows your lymph glands to cleanse themselves. Your lymph glands are the garbage collectors of your system. They collect the impurities and toxins in your system (such as through diet or through contact with pollution, cleaning products, pesticides, or fertilizers). Most fasts aid in cleansing this lymphatic system.
Nutritional cleanses are available in nutrition stores. You drink shakes, liquids, or both, sometimes along with taking vitamins and minerals, all that are specially designed to deliver all the necessary nutrients. Google “nutritional cleansing” as a start.
The Master Cleanse involves drinking only a concoction made from fresh lemons, grade B maple syrup and cayenne pepper, as well as a laxative tea. No solid food is eaten for the entire cleanse. While this is one of the most known methods of fasting, it is not one that comes highly recommended.
Ayurvedic Detoxification Programs
This is an interesting method of detoxifying the body that deserves more research. Google the terms “ayurvedic detox program” or “ayurvedic fasting” or “ayurvedic cleansing fast.”
Dry Fasting, Absolute Fast, Black Fast, or Hebrew Fast
Absolute fasting or dry fasting is where one goes without food OR water for a period of time, usually anywhere from THREE-TO-FIVE days. It is the toughest of all the fasting disciplines and it has connections to spirituality and even shamanic healing. I’m not going to explain anymore because if you’re ready to do one of these, you definitely do not need this article.
Water fasting, next to dry fasting, is the most intense form of detoxification, and has been used by spiritual leaders, including Jesus and Buddha. Since only water is consumed, once the signal to enter detox mode is triggered, tissues release toxins and mucus into circulation -- and don’t stop. In fact, the release gets more intense as the days go by.
In fact, the release gets more intense as the days go by. In ancient times, when this method was used primarily for spiritual reasons, there were no chemicals in the environment and so there were far fewer accumulated toxins to be released back into circulation. With our level of toxicity today and our nutrient-deficient bodies, water fasting can be dangerous. More toxicity is released, with a lot less nutrient support for liver detoxification.
During the Fast
Sometimes you will experience dramatic changes (cleansing and healing) as accumulated wastes are expelled. With your first fast, you may temporarily experience cleansing headaches, fatigue, body odor, bad breath, coated tongue, mouth sores, and even diarrhea. Your body is purging itself of the years of accumulated toxins.
With subsequent fasts, the cleansing process won’t be as dramatic. From there, should you choose, you can partake in a more intense fast which could lead to what some call a spiritual, healing experience.
So, pick one that you like, start slow and simple, and set yourself on a path of self-healing.
After the Fast
Breaking an extensive fast can be harder than fasting itself and it requires caution and understanding. You should take as long to reintroduce solid foods to your diet as you spent on the fast.
Start by slowly introducing nutritious foods back into your diet, eating reasonably small portions. You may be surprised that your stomach will no longer accept the portion sizes that you ate in the past as it has, in fact, shrunk.
If nothing else, in addition to knowing that you’ve begun a wonderful cycle of health, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment that will help lead to further cleansing in the future.
Now go be healthy.
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