Put your hands up if you made a New Year’s resolution to lose several pounds, or to get fitter, or perhaps to cut down on sweet things? This time of the year sees many of us going alcohol free for January, starting that diet which we have been talking about for months, and signing up for that gym membership which we leap into with enthusiasm, but interest soon dwindles when we see limited or little result.
Let’s liken the body to a car engine for a minute? Every x number of miles it is recommended by the manufacturer to do an oil change in order keep the car running well and the engine tuned. Draining out the old oil, this is then replaced with new oil, which keeps the engine “fit and healthy”. If we were to do the same for the body – have a quick oil change, giving the “body’s engine”, the gut, a chance to clean out and clean up - fasting springs to mind. Going on a fast does not mean, eating and drinking nothing. The most extreme fast can be only drinking water for between 1-3 days, but if you are “in excess”, excess weight, toxicity, poor energy etc a moderate and kinder, version, but no less effective, is juicing. Juicing can be done for up to 10 days safely. However if doing over three days it is advisable to do this under supervision of a naturopath or nutritionist.
Fasting improves gut health, toxin release and detoxification, as well as overall energy. As we are all unique individuals, there is no one fast that is suitable for everyone and certainly if in a depleted state this is not the approach for you. It is not unusual to experience headaches, irritability, dizziness and lack of focus during the fasting process. However, these symptoms usually disappear or lessen after the first day.
What can be expected from a 3-day juice fast? Putting your body into a fasted state causes stress by involuntarily throwing it into imbalance. As the body is unable to get energy from food during a fast, it uses glucose that is stored in the liver and the muscles. Once the stored glucose has been used up, the body then begins to burn fat as an energy source, often resulting in weight loss. Ultimately this process makes the body more resilient by clearing out dead, diseased and run-down cells, as well as aiding the body in detoxifying and removing toxins that are trapped in the cells, in some internal organs and in the “engine” as a whole.
Dr. Razeen Mahroof, of the University of Oxford in the UK, explains:
"A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body's fat are dissolved and removed from the body," he adds, noting that after a few days of fasting, higher levels of endorphins - "feel-good" hormones - are produced in the blood, which can have a positive impact on mental well-being. (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295914.php)
Therefore as a result we can expect increased energy, improved concentration, better sleep as well as weight loss, especially if carrying out intermittent fasting, for example every Monday, or perhaps the first three days of each month. We can also fast between dinner and breakfast, by giving the body a complete break for a minimum of 12 hours with no food or drink intake, except water and herbal teas during this time. For longer fasts, it is beneficial not to go straight into regular eating habits afterwards, but to slowly let the body become accustomed to regular, solid food.
Time to make that oil change?
NOTE: If you are a diabetic or have any form of chronic disease first check with your doctor before fasting, and/or work with a qualified Naturopath.
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Whiteman, Honor. (2015). Fasting: Health Benefits and Risks. Available: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295914.php. Last accessed 09.01.2018.