Juice fasting for beginners

Fasting is not some new age hype that all the skinny people talk about. It is an often ignored, age old custom that is our oldest health remedy. Fasting is simply taking a break from food…as simple as it is, it can be quite therapeutic. It takes a lot of energy to digest food. Those internal organs are hard at work after we ingest a meal. When we stop taking in food, our digestive system gets a chance to take a rest and our bodies will automatically heal themselves by eliminating toxins and balancing the body's chemistry. Health is restored through cleansing.

Years of a diet filled with artificial flavors and dyes, preservatives, pesticides and rancid oils (not to mention the air and water pollution we are exposed to) takes its toll. Our systems become overloaded with toxins and they begin to interfere with our normal functioning. Even the most health conscious amongst us are continually being exposed to environmental toxins. Excessive eating, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, cigarettes…you know how easy it is to fall back on your vices from time to time.

Your body gives off clues as to when things are out of balance.

Physical signals: a cold, cough, stuffy nose, body odor, headaches, lethargy, coated tongue, or runny nose.

Emotional signals: lack of clarity, moodiness, boredom, depression, confusion, brain fog, anxiety, frustration.

Now technically, juice fasting is not real fasting. Actual fasting means no intake of nutrients whatsoever. Water only. I'm not going there….that works for many people, but not for me. Juice fasting is a bit easier because you are taking in sufficient nutrients through the fresh vegetable and fruit juices to sustain you through a typical day. You'll be drinking lots of water as well throughout the day and the juices will be your meals. Since you aren't taking in any solid food, your digestive system is still getting the break it needs.

The juices work because your body can absorb and assimilate all of the nutrients immediately. You couldn't possibly eat all of the vegetables that go into a glass of juice…you'd get too full. Instead, you reap the rewards of all the vitamins, minerals, live enzymes and trace elements of large quantities of vegetables and fruits by drinking their juice. The fiber is important of course in your normal diet, but during juice fasting you don't want to take in any fiber.

There are many different ways to approach juice fasting, but since this article is geared towards those who may have never tried it, we are going to keep it simple. A good way to start is with a one day fast. One day can mean 24 hours or 36 hours. For a 24 hour juice fast (basically anyone can do this) say you start on a Sunday. You skip dinner and don't eat again until dinner on Monday evening. For a 36 hour fast, you start after dinner on Sunday, don't eat at all on Monday, and your first meal will be break-fast on Tuesday morning. (Monday evening will be the most challenging). Mealtimes will include a large glass of vegetable juice (add in a lemon or apple for flavor) or a fruit juice. Try not to drink too many fruit juices because of the high sugar content. In between meals, drink tons of water. You are flushing your system.

If you fasted one day each week, you will have fasted 52 days over the course of the year. Even just doing it occasionally is a good preventive measure to avoid getting sick in the future. It increases your energy, strengthens your immune system and can extend your life. Think of the juices as supplements or medicine.

The last time I felt a cold coming on (which was about three years ago!) I took a day of extreme self care. I cancelled my activities for the day, rested, took a long walk on the beach, did some deep breathing and gentle yoga, drank only water and freshly made vegetable and fruit juices, and went to bed early. By the next morning, I was completely back to normal without even a trace of a cold. That is so much better than downing some cold medicine and trying to plow through the day. I would have been fighting off that cold for at least a week if I had done that.

So are you ready to give it a try? It's important to set yourself up for success. Choosing the right time and place is essential. I think if you want to do a fast of 2 or 3 days or longer, it is best to go to a retreat, outside of the demands of your normal life where you can rest and be supported by others who are also fasting, but since that is outside of the realm of possibility for most of us, choosing to do a 1-2 fast is our best option. Even one day can be a challenge to those of us who really like food, but it's something we can all do if we set our minds to it. It really is preventive medicine and an investment in our health and well being. Read more