Fasting is very beneficial to your health, whether intermittent, for a day, or more, whether drinking only water or juices, or following regular calorie restricted days such as in the ‘fast diet’/ 5:2 diet, or 4:3 or alternate day (a system of intermittent fasting), the health benefits are tangible and proven. Watch this. Choose a type of fasting that works for you, gentle, more extreme, or imbetween, (but also recognise it isn’t for everyone – see the bottom paragraph for more info on who shouldn’t fast). Not overloading our digestive system is very important for health and a chance at longevity; they undergo a lot of wear and tear, we consume many toxins, even following an organic plant-based diet, and need to take time to cleanse and heal. We all too often over-eat and have lost perspective on how much food we actually need, and how much is too much. I know I struggle with this, and with my weight, and so do many people I know. Dieting usually doesn’t work long term but regular fasting is different, it helps us become more in tune with our bodies and our relationship to food, more mindful, and this is the way to keep to a healthy weight and also to avoid bloating and identify food intolerances and what we should eat individually, what food really agrees with us.
fasting helps us to reconnect with what our bodies need.
Modern processed foods contain so many harmful chemicals, unhealthy fats and sugars, it is all to easy to see this as normal, but really it is conducive to poor-health. We also all too often drink less water than we need. Many health symptoms and much fatigue is caused by dehydration, even a small amount, and a responsible fast allows us to fully hydrate and allows our body to focus on detoxing, flushing out those toxins.
give your body what it needs to function optimally.
Fasting allows the body to rest and recuperate, accessing what is called repair mode, which happens when the body has been without food for 16 hours or more. We could all do with that time, especially those of us who suffer from bodily inflammation and poor health, and who want to ward off ill-health in the future and energise now. What I do is regularly have a break from eating from one evening to the next late afternoon, once or twice a week, which gives my digestive system a break and allows my body to recharge. I also naturally often have an ‘eating window’ of about eight hours, but this is not a rule.
People also find huge benefits, for their health, energy and happiness through following a juice fast, where they only consume fresh juice for 2-3 or at the extreme end 60 days (I am not an expert but personally I would not recommend such extreme fasting, I would recommend incorporating short-term fasting into a healthy lifestyle and diet of ideally organic whole foods). 2-3 days is recommended for a beginner. Longer fasts are more demanding, and said by many to be very beneficial, but should not be entered into lightly as you will encounter discomfort at times and healing crisis’, as your body purges itself of the toxins it has been unable to process and stored in fat cells. Some people will get a far more severe reaction than others. Research thoroughly if undertaking a longer fast, it is not for everyone (see below). I have provided some links to resources that may be helpful on this journey at the bottom of this page. And you can read about my own 7 Day juice fast here.
ease into a fast.
I would advise to ease into a fast, cutting out toxins in advance, cutting out caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and any unnatural substances in food. Exercise as much as you can and allow your body to start the detox process as much as it can. The body is detoxing every day, it’s just that we hinder this by overloading our systems.
It is recommended while taking part in a juice fast to perform enemas daily, which help cleanse the colon and purge the toxins that are being released from your body and which it cannot process. This is totally straightforward to do and part of the detox. You can buy home kits cheaply.
juice fasts cleanse your body of toxins and pump it full of nutrients, whist asking nothing of your body in return, allowing the digestive system to rest and recuperate.
That’s what’s so fantastic about juices, they extract the nutrients and enzymes from plants and give you a big hit of goodness. I feel instantly better and clearer headed and full of energy. They are a great part of daily life and give you a real alkalising and anti-inflammatory boost. Green juices are a powerful way to keep healthy.
Fasting also gives us a chance to reset our behaviours around food. I have found this to be the case with my 7 day juice fast, afterwards I had a less needy relationship to food and felt I had a real chance to improve in ways I had found difficult before. Many people find fasting a spiritually connected time too, this is traditionally the case, fasting is a part of many world religions. It is a disciplined process and that can give strength, and also make us thankful for what we have. But I believe it is also very important to be reflexive to your needs and not to be overly strict. You are doing a fast to help yourself not to punish.
- plan and research thoroughly
- choose the right time for you
- choose the type of fasting that is right for you and the demands of your life
- reduce toxins in advance and ease into the fast
- be determined but also flexible and kind in your approach
- enjoy it and focus on the results!
- think about what you want to learn and take forward from the fast
- if fasting is not for you, that’s fine, just focus on a wholesome diet, not overeating and exercise
- exercise is a great way to detox
- reducing stress reduces toxins
- fresh air, exercise, a balanced whole food diet, not over-eating and enjoying life is great for detoxing and the best way to live for everyone
WHO SHOULDN’T FAST?
Do not fast if you are pregnant, under 18 years old (i.e. still growing), an alcoholic, or have a serious health problem or injury. Do consult your doctor. Fasting is not suitable for everyone. Don’t overtax yourself, and don’t gamble with your health. Do you struggle with your relationship with food, as many people do, and deny yourself? Are you vulnerable to an eating disorder? If so then please do not fast but work to make your relationship to food and yourself positive, eating the foods you can and seeking medical and other support. you can do it! It is also advised not to fast if you are a type 1 diabetic. This is not strictly true, though it certainly is for many, and fasting is a serious undertaking for a type 1 diabetic. If you are on a strict regime of insulin such as taking biphasic insulin twice a day and not food matching it is not suitable for you. Also if you are prone to hypoglycemia and especially if you are insensitive to the symptoms, then I would strongly advice not to fast what so ever, but to eat healthily and not to overtax your system, with the support of your diabetes team and doctor. Otherwise I would say to be cautious, don’t be overly ambitious, and to consult your diabetes team. If you are on a basal bolus regime, such as I am, you can be responsive to your insulin needs, taking care to adjust your basal insulin as your needs will drop. The great thing about juice fasting drinking low-carb green juices is that they hardly affect blood sugar levels. Fruit juices (other than lemon or lime), also sweet root vegetables such as carrot and beetroot will affect blood sugar and you will need to match with your bolus insulin. So I say, proceed with caution, making sure you understand your diabetes and your relationship with insulin, and consult your diabetes team if you need to. Giving your body a rest from carbohydrates is a really good thing, as is giving it such a boost, as a type 1 diabetic who is able to partake, juice fasting is a really positive thing to do. My main advice would be to anticipate a reduced need for background insulin, and to test regularly.
Also I have known people who found fasting difficult because of an extreme ‘healing crisis’, this can happen if you have candida and I would advise to proceed with caution, making sure you are doing it at the right time in your life when you have the pressure-free space. And also it is an option to do a less extreme fast, to just eat vegetables and protien and to have a reduced eating window and practice intermittent fasting.
For a type 2 diabetic, incorporating fasting, especially intermittent fasting into your lifestyle along with a healthy whole food diet could reverse your symptoms, and will certainly set you on the path of improved health and longevity. I would urge all type 2 diabetics who are able to and don’t have health complications that would make it inadvisable to fast, to regularly give their bodies a break from food by fasting for 16+ hours, and to embrace the healing benefits of fasting as a part of their life. But I want to make it clear that
fasting is not a replacement for a healthy lifestyle, the most important thing anyone can do for their health is to eat a wholefood diet, reduce their stress and exercise regularly.
If making big changes to your diet, my advice is to take one step at a time, research and plan. What you want is sustainable, beneficial and enjoyable change, don’t overload yourself with demands if you already have a lot on your plate, but don’t underestimate yourself or the possibility of really positive change either. Be kind to yourself, and know your limits and needs. My advice, as ever, is to keep things as simple as possible, and to
GO FOR IT!
Please do leave a comment to share your thoughts on or experiences of fasting, and your knowledge, which is likely to be greater than my own and would be valuable to share.