As a Naturopath I have tried it all! I was a vegetarian for 5 years, I’ve been paleo, nut free, gluten free, dairy free! But, I had never done a fast.
In all honesty it scared me a little. When I was in my early twenties and I was one of those girls who didn’t eat properly and drank way too much black coffee. I used to get severe hypoglycaemia, I would shake and feel nauseous and a couple of times I fainted. I was eating regularly but I was having the wrong foods, too many carbohydrates and too much sugar all this does it make your glucose levels jump around all day and they never get a chance to stabilise. I wish I had known back them that all I needed to do was eat more protein! You live and learn, I think the experience put me off trying to go without food hence my reluctance to try a fast. Now of course being a nutritionist and a naturopath I can see the mistakes I made in my younger years and I can also see how doing a fast can benefit you. You can fast for 2 days or 90 days, the length of time really depends on WHY you are doing it and your schedule. How it can fit into your life is important.
Firstly its important to know why you would do it! Here is a list of the health benefits of doing a juice fast –
Improve your complexion
Improved bowel function
Cleanses the entire body
Gives the liver a break
Whilst I didn’t experience all of those benefits on my juice fast I did experience some.
Following is a day-to-day account of my experience with 5 days of juicing.
I followed my own protocol, which I had put together after some research. I drank 3 to 4 litres of fresh juice daily; I would have a small glass of coconut water when I felt hungry and as much herbal tea as I wanted. I also tried to drink heaps of water to help the detoxification process. I generally made my morning juice a little sweeter, lunch mainly veggies and one green apple and dinner was always a green juice of celery, cucumber, ginger, kale and cabbage.
I seriously thought the first day would be the hardest and it was! By lunch time I was starving and all I could think about was food. I also had a terrible headache. I went and had a colonic hydrotherapy to help my body to speed up the process of elimination. I have never had one of these before and it was definitely an experience. I had been recommended to try out www.innovativebodysolutions.com.au Christina was great! She guided me through the process and really helped me to feel at ease and comfortable during the treatment. It isn’t the most relaxing thing to have done but I do think it helped to clear some toxins quickly. By 4pm that day I was having serious doubts about my 5 days. I made myself some herbal tea and pushed on through. An early night was in order.
I felt better on waking. I was lighter and when I weighed myself I got excited. I had lost one kilo! Within a few hours of waking I started to feel a severe plunge in my energy, this was probably my blood sugar level so I had a small glass of coconut water. This perked me up and I was able to continue until lunchtime without any adverse feelings. The headache was still there and I felt weaker than usual but other than that I was getting on okay. I was surprised at how much produce I got through. I was only day 2 and I had to go shopping, I had done a big shop on the day before I started in preparation but I hugely underestimated the quantity of veggies I would need.
This was a strange start to the day, I felt as if my tummy was empty but I wasn’t hungry. I expected the food cravings to be the hardest thing for me but it really wasn’t a problem. The biggest struggle was the brain fog, I just couldn’t quite get my thoughts together and I certainly wasn’t as ‘sharp’ as I normally am mentally. On the plus side I was having the most AMAZING sleeps! I was literally going to bed and not waking for 8 hours this is unheard of for me. By day 3 the actual juicing was becoming a bit tiresome, it’s quite a bit of work to make the juices and the clean up takes a while. It’s not as clean and simple as whizzing up a smoothie in a nutri bullet that’s for sure.
I was really starting to get creative with my ingredients now! Mint, pineapple, cucumber and kale for breakfast. This was yum! The morning juices were a great start to the day, I was feeling good. I was in a bit of a routine with it and had gotten used to not thinking about food so much and instead concentrating on the chores of the day. Some people state they feel almost spiritual on a juice fast and energised. I would love to have felt like this but I can’t honestly say it happened for me. On a positive note my eyes and skin were vibrantly clear and I loved the light feeling in my tummy. By this point I found myself watching way to many cooking shows and drooling over the food!
Wow! I did it. I was so proud of myself and I was glad to get to day five. It was a really good experiment but I was happy to see it come to an end. I have no doubt that juice fasting is a great way of giving your body a break from eating and it made me realise just how much time I spend thinking about food.
In a nutshell I would do this again. My advice to anyone thinking of doing a fast is to be prepared!
Give up caffeine a week beforehand so you are not struggling with a caffeine withdrawal headache at the same time. Pick a week when you are not overly busy, I don’t think I could have managed if it had been a hectic week for me. Be prepared to cut back on your exercise, I went for a nice slow walk a few times but aside from this I didn’t have the energy to do my usual gym routine. The downside is the expense; I spent a fortune on food and got through tons of vegetables. I hated seeing all that lovely pulp not be eaten but at least I have a compost bin so I could make some use of it.
In total I lost 2 kilos and put 200 grams back on once I started eating properly.
I think its important to understand that some of the benefits of doing things like this cannot always be seen or even felt straight away. Take my husband for example. He did this fast with me and he has an autoimmune disease, his bloods are always a bit off the charts so we were really intrigued to see what his results were following the fast. He did a blood test on the morning of day five. His liver enzymes which are always higher than they should be (out of range) had more than halved; his red blood cell count had risen, as had his white blood cell count and his complements C3 and C4 had gone up. These are all a fantastic improvement in blood parameters. For anyone with a chronic disease I think a juice fast would be a great opportunity for the body to rest and recuperate. It is a way of getting a big blast of nutrients without having to process all the fibre. It’s easier for your body to absorb nutrients from juices. I think in hindsight my husband and anyone in his situation could benefit from doing this for a longer period or at least incorporating it into their weekly diet plan. I would be intrigued to know if doing a longer juice fast could put you in remission. I have heard such stories but it takes a lot of commitment and it isn’t a realistic goal for everyone. One day of juicing once a week is not a bad idea for someone chronically ill, it would be interesting to see if blood parameters would improve doing this and the same health benefits can be achieved.
Our plan is to try this so we will see what the outcome is in a month or so.