Fasting and detoxing the body - using humankind's oldest healing method to heal body and mind
18th January 2019
I just have done a 36 hour fast – a juice/liquid fast. I have done this a few times in the past. I do intermittent fasting. I do not do it regularly but here and there when I feel it is needed for me and my body. For me, it is a way to give my body a break from digesting and chewing food. A way to rest, re-set and use the energy that he has now more in the state of fasting to 'clean' itself up inside and get rid of collected toxins over time.
On my fast-day, I started off, after waking up, with a warm salt water flush. What it basically means is, that you mix about 2 teaspoons of pure sea salt or un-iodised salt with 1 litre of warm water. You can add a little lemon juice to make it 'taste' better. Once everything is mixed you drink this liquid as fast as you can. Ideally under 5 min. This will help you flush and clean your colon, empty everything out of it for it to be clean and preparing it for your fast. Honestly, it is not the best thing I have done. It doesn't taste so nice and draining 1 litre of warm salty tasting water within minutes into you is quite a challenge without throwing up. But, to help your body and aid the process, why not ?! ;) During the day I kept drinking liquids in forms of fresh pressed fruit and veggie juices (home-made with my beloved juicer), herbal teas, water, and clear broth soups (I made a clear miso soup) and at the end of the day a more thicker soup (creamy Kumara, beetroot and red onion soup) to help you and your body to get used to and prepare you for the next day eating again.
Now, what is actually fasting? And what is detoxing?! Is it the same? Is it different?
This basically means to eliminate toxins from our body or even just neutralize them. Those toxins have been created and collected by our bodies stemming from biochemical functions throughout the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph nodes and skin. Heavy metals, toxins from bacteria and viruses, chemicals and metabolic by-products enter our body through indigestion, direct skin contact and the air that we breathe day in and day out and then that all gets transported through our body and stored in our body's organs ready for the digesting process. All these toxins affect health by disturbing healthy cell functioning.
“...Is the quickest (and most effective) method to detox the body and aid healing” (Bruce Fife – American nutritionist and a naturopathic doctor and author of the book 'The Detox Book – How to detoxify your body to improve health, stop diseases, and reverse ageing').
Fasting is a way or form of detoxing. It involves abstaining from food for a period of time. Usually 12-24 hours or 36 hours plus. After a fast, the stomach shrinks and is restored to its normal size. There are many different forms of fasting, which I will come to explain later.
Fasting precipitates the natural bodily detoxification process because when food no longer enters our body, our body then turns to its fat reserves for energy. When fat reserves are used for energy during the fast, they release the chemicals, heavy metals and metabolic by-products the body has stored. Also, while we fast, the energy is diverted away from the digestive system (as there is no food to mobilise it) to the metabolism and immune system – this promotes healing of our body and its inner organs. So, while the body has no food anymore to focus on to digest, the fasting process allows the body to focus not only on restoring healthy organ function but also on attending to the needs of individual cells. Fasting rests the immune system, the detoxification systems of the body, and the entire digestive system.
Normally, the primary form of energy that the body uses is glucose, a type of sugar. Most of this is extracted or converted from the food we eat. Throughout the day, the liver stores excess sugar in a special form called glycogen that it can call on as energy levels fall between meals. There is enough of this sugar source for 8 to 12 hours of energy, and usually, it is completely exhausted within the first 24 hours of fasting. Once the liver’s stores of glycogen are gone, the body begins to shift over to what is called ketosis, or ketone production—the use of fatty acids as fuel instead of glucose. This shift generally begins on the second day of water and juice fasting and is completed by the third. By the third day, ketone production is sufficient to provide nearly all the energy the body needs, and the body’s protein begins to be strongly conserved.
Fasting is the most natural method to bring the body back to health, even animals fast instinctively if they feel sick or if they are injured and hurt. We humans have that in us too. However, these days, most of us ignore these signals from our body to stop eating when we feel unwell, sick or injured.
If you are sick you may not be hungry, and with that feeling or cue, our body tells us to not eat. However, we have been raised (mostly) and we have been told to eat when we are sick so that we can get our strengths back. So when we eat when we are sick, even though our body signals tell us not to, we load our body with food, which then takes energy to digest in our bodies. This energy, however, should have been used to heal the body from the inside out and bringing it back to strength in this natural way.
Fasting is also the oldest healing method known to humanity. There are a lot of mentions about fasting in the bible and also mentions seen in medical articles from old Egypt and Greek. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was an advocate for fasting as a means for health.
Forms of fasting:
1. Water fast
This is a very strict way of fasting and only water is allowed to be drank during the period of the fast.
2. Juicing or juice-fasting
This means consuming liquids from fruits and vegetables only.
3. Intermittent fast
This includes various ways to fast for a specific period of time:
- 16/8 method → Fast for 16 hours a day
- 5:2 diet → Fast for 2 days a week
- Eat – Stop – Eat → Do a 24 hour fast, once or twice a week
- Alternate-Day fast → Fast every other day.
- The Warrior-Diet → Fast during the day, eat a big meal at night
4. Partial fast
This fast excludes a particular type of food such as rice, wheat or meats. This means when doing a partial fast there are some solid foods allowed to be eaten.
5. Religious fast
These fasts are done for religious and spiritual reasons.
6. Dry fast
This type of fasting is also known as the Absolute Fast, Black Fast, and Hebrew Fast. Here, neither food nor water is to be consumed for a short period of time.
Benefits of fasting:
There are loads and loads of benefits to fasting. One would think of fasting only when they would want to lose weight. I do not support that benefit. It might be a benefit that comes with it, however, if you want to lose weight the healthy way, fasting is not one of them in my opinion.
Here are some further benefits of fasting:
Increases immune health
Detoxification of the body
Improved organs and gland functioning
Improved digestive health
Normalising insulin levels
Can aid brain health through improved brain function and brain structure
Could delay ageing and promote extended longevity
Fasting/detoxing the body is the oldest healing method known to us and it is an instinctive natural way for our body to heal and one of the most powerful ways to heal ourselves. Fasting allows the body to rest, to detoxify, and to heal. We have lost touch with our instincts these days and mostly lost touch with our body and its cues and signals. If we would train ourselves again to listen more to our body and what it has to say and tell us and act more instinctively, I believe we would have lesser diseases and sick people in this world.