Fasting enables the processes of renewal to outdistance the processes of degeneration and the result is a higher standard of health. --Herbert Shelton Fasting is innate in the animal kingdom.
Fasting is innate in the animal kingdom. When ill or injured most animals abstain from food, allowing their life energy to fully focus on repairing and healing. Fasting automatically engages rejuvenation systems to perform a variety of truly amazing tasks. We humans also possess these capabilities, yet unless we are ill, we rarely take advantage of this inner wisdom, often because of messages from others to “eat.”
The “art” in fasting is to encourage these pro-life functions to operate in a preventive manner and to know the best way to do it. Properly done, a fast is a healing, energizing process, relatively free of aches, upsets and stress. Prior diet, state of health, attitude, type of fast and time frame are the necessary ingredients in a recipe for success.
Why fast at all? First, fasting gives our digestive processes a rest from the continual work they have performed all the years of our lives. It promotes elimination of stored waste products in tissues, cleanses the bowels and restores vitality to organs and nervous systems. Energy often increases during a fast and remains long afterward.
Writing in 1970 Norman Walker (the juice doctor) said, “The juices extracted from fresh raw vegetables and fruits are the means by which we can furnish all the cells and tissues of the body with the elements and the nutritional enzymes which they need, in the manner in which they can be most readily digested and assimilated.”
“Fruit juices are the cleansers of the human system…vegetable juices are the builders and regenerators,” he also noted.
Contemporary researchers such as Roy Walford, MD, have discovered that periodic fasting increases life span and boosts immunity. Many cultures include fasting as part of their spiritual discipline because of its freeing effect on the mind as well as the role fasting plays in self-discipline. It’s interesting to become aware of attitudes toward food and eating and the deeper emotional connections, often revealed during a fast.
What is a Fast?
First, some definitions. Technically a fast means drinking only water and total abstinence from food. It’s often done for therapeutic reasons to remedy illness or lose excessive weight. Fasts using juices or only one food (apples, grapes or carrots, for example) are mono diets. They are used therapeutically, but more often as a cleansing measure and disease preventer.
Juice fasting uses freshly pressed vegetable or fruit juices, preferably organic. It’s a safe, simple way to learn to fast. From one up to seven days, only juices and water are taken. A total fast may also be done for several days, but since it engages different biological mechanisms, extended periods require experienced assistance.
How the fast is done determines the results. Some general tips include allowing enough time before, during and after the fast to rest, relax and be free from stress. Ease into a fast by eating lightly for two days preceding the fast and end in a similar way. Vegetable meals, salads and vegetarian soups are good for this. If meat, dairy and flour products are in your diet, it’s a good idea to do several short fasts of two or three days before attempting longer ones.
How to Juice Fast
Juice fasting may be done with one juice or a mixture. Avoid mixing vegetable and fruit juices as this can disturb the stomach. A classic mixture is 70 per cent carrot juice, 20 percent celery juice and 10 percent beet juice. Up to two or three litres of juice a day can be taken during a fast, providing you don’t force it down.
Other juices commonly used are cabbage, cucumber, tomato, potato and green juices (endive, romaine, dandelion, kale, alfalfa and wheat grass). Fruit juices typically include apple, grape, cranberry, papaya and watermelon. In specific instances other juices are used for cleansing particular organs or systems, such as burdock root, sorrell, parsley and turnip leaves.
Since some juices can have a powerful cleansing effect on the system it’s wise to begin simply with carrot and celery juice, alternating with apple and/or grape juice. Juices are best made from fresh organic fruit and vegetables using a good vegetable juicer and consumed immediately. Bottled or canned varieties are generally of low quality, lack enzymes and vitamins and have low life-force.
However, in a pinch, bottled organic fruit juices can be used but should be diluted with water about 50/50. In general use about 70 percent vegetable juices and 30 percent fruit juices. In addition some special herbs and tinctures used for specific healing purposes are only available in bottle form yet can be beneficial for the fast. All of these are available at health food stores.
Each of us experiences a fast differently. Some will feel exhilarated and light, while others will feel headache, fatigue, hunger pangs, coldness and bad breath. These occur as the body rids itself of accumulated waste and toxins. They are temporary and will pass but if such discomfort arises, simply taking a little warm vegetable broth will lessen the effects.
Spring is a traditional time to cleanse the system after a long winter, but may be done any time of year. Periodic fasting should become a lifelong habit.
For more in-depth information on juicing, read Juicing for the Health of It! by Siegfried Gursche, number three in the alive Natural Health Guide series. Available at your health food store or through alive books (800-661-0303).