Fasting To Detoxify
Our bodies have a built-in system specially designed to achieve elimination, and in addition, our immune system does an amazing job in keeping us well. Problems can occur however, when our cleansing organs (liver, lungs, kidneys, colon, skin and lymph glands) become overburdened, and they do not carry out the elimination process as efficiently. This can occur for example when we eat a diet low in nutrients. When we consume mostly processed foods, we increase the risk for a build up of toxins in our bodies, and these toxins get stored in the joints, muscles, organs, and other tissues in the body, and that is when diseases start to appear.
So, our responsibility is to provide our eliminative organs with everything they need to keep the cleansing system running smoothly. One way, a safe way to lessen our body’s toxin burden, is through lifestyle. This should not only include committing ourselves to eat a healthy diet by consuming mostly natural unprocessed foods, but also practice fasting regularly. Those who follow a basic, wholesome and balanced diet, such as the one outline on this website, will have less need to fast to detoxify. Ideally we should fast twice a year, just as a tune-up to help deal with the environmental toxins and the junk we find in the processed food we consume. Fasting can also be helpful to deal with emotional toxins.
When should we do it?
If we want to keep our body in rhythm with the seasons, the two times for natural cleansing are the times of transition into spring and fall.
What type of fasting should we do?
Though we can find many fasting/detox products and programs in the market, some of these regimes are extreme and challenging to follow, like the multi-day detox (30 days liquid fast) fox example. There are however, safer ways to do it. Some of these gentler ways include the use of juices made from vegetables and fresh fruits, as well as herbal teas. Another good option is the macrobiotic fast, only grain (brown rice); yet another option is to eat solid, but not protein, only vegetables. Another gentler way is doing it every day for 12 hours of the 24 hours. Abstaining from eating food from 8am to 8pm or after dinner from 8pm to 8am.
All of these fast programs generate varying degrees of detoxification.
Whichever program we choose to do, it is important to keep in mind, that the level of detox with fasting is a very individual experience, and it will depend on the condition of the body, as well as mind and attitude. The experience might be intense, some may experience some malaise while going thru it, while others may find it immediately helpful and uplifting.
Who should fast?
While fasting for a day or two is rarely a problem if you are healthy, it can be quite risky and dangerous if you are not eating a healthy diet, or if you have health issues, such as liver or kidney problems, or have a compromised immune system.
Fasting for example is not recommended as a tool for weight loss. As the weight loss may be temporary. A more effective way may be through a lifestyle change that includes new dietary habits and food choices to replace the old ones.
Fasting for cancer treatment is also controversial as cancer is a debilitating illness, so fasting may not be wise. It may be helpful with early-stage cancer as an addition to a whole food diet, fresh juices and vegetables, as it can induce mild detoxification and enhance vitality. Fasting can also be used as a cancer preventive to reduce toxicity.
How to go about fasting?
Start slowly - fast one day a week for example. Then move to doing it for longer periods of time. I usually fast up to 7 days. I do fresh vegetables/fruits or a combination of both. I have also done it consuming raw vegetables and raw fruits.
Will there be reactions to fasting?
When you go on a gentler fast, usually there are gentler healing reactions. But it will depend on your existing health and toxic load present in your body. Say for example you decide to do a 7-day fast. The first 3 days will be the most challenging. After that your appetite for food generally goes away. During those days, you may experience headaches, joint pain and some discomfort in general. I must say, I have experienced none of these.
An important note: in preparation for your fast it is crucial to start eliminating some acid forming foods from your diet days prior to your fast. Eliminate alcohol, caffeine, sugar, red meats, dairy, including cheeses, butter and other animal-based protein. Then move into consuming primarily fruits and vegetables, as well as increasing your liquid intake, drink more water and other liquids, like herbal teas (peppermint, chamomile, mint are good choices). These will start cleansing your system and increasing waste elimination. I start my day with ½ glass of water with a few drops of fresh lemon juice. Lemon is useful for liver cleansing. The juices of apple, grapes, carrots are also good choices.
Ideally, we need to return to the cycle of a daily fast - overnight fasting for 12 of the 24 hours, and finding our most natural pattern of food consumption as well as using our experience and listening to our body to find our individual nutritional needs and balance. To me this usually means a good breakfast, lunch as my main meal, and a lighter evening meal.
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