There are many benefits to fasting. Fasting has long intrigued me. However, I have been tremendously put off because of the whole hype of it, not knowing whether it’s a load of shit and just a phase, or whether it does actually have great health benefits. I am continually asked about fasting by clients, friends and followers, and I have never felt confident in commenting because I have never done one myself.
Let’s start with the research…everyone loves research.
There is a lot of research surfacing on the matter of fasting. It is truly very interesting! Studies on animals have shown positive affects (see here, here and here). A study has also shown benefits of fasting in patients under going chemotherapy, not necessarily on cancer cells immediately, but on healthy cells (decreasing the ill affects of chemo on existing healthy cells). Additionally, patients with atherosclerosis have seen positive effects from fasting.
More recently, there has been a lot of evidence to support the idea that fasting speeds up autophagy (the breakdown and removal of destroyed cell organelles for new cell formation), and as such slows the ageing process, triggers stem cell regeneration, prevents disease and, ultimately, lengthens the life span. See here, here, here, here and here.
From hearing personal experiences, exploring traditional practices, seeking out scientific studies to support the expected benefits and using my own intuitiveness, I decide to jump on one of these juice cleanses/fasts and give it a red-hot go. Because, why the hell not? And, I know my body pretty well and if it sucked pretty badly, it’s quite easy to just stop.
Now, before I continue on with this post, I want to highlight that this is my exploration and personal experience of a juice fast. One that I didn’t make a decision to do lightly. I actually read a whole book on it over my holiday last new year; it’s called The Tao of Detox, if you are interested. This was extremely informative, with all the different events that go on within the body during a fast, why it’s of great benefit to fast and how to actually carry out a juice fast.
I have also learnt a lot through Bri, at Esprezzo, who has been doing regular juice fasts for a while now, as has her partner. Additionally, they are also offering juice fasts through their cafe, which is who I conducted my fast through for the convenience and ease of it. And, more recently, I have been exploring information provided by Tyler Tolman, who spends his life researching human health and has run hundreds of juice fasts in Bali, with some incredible case studies.
So I am not an expert on the matter, and to be honest, I would have to do a whole heap more research to really understand the goings on of a juice fast in terms of biochemistry. But, I will share my ideas with you in an authentic and honest way anyway, because experiencing is learning, and I share what I learn. I also think that everyone could be a little more connected to their body, a little more intuitive about their health and a little more experimental.
This being said, don’t just go off and do a fast/cleanse willy nilly without some support along the way. And, especially if you have a pre-existing disease, I would definitely do your first fast monitored on an actual program. Whether that’s in Bali or supported by online resources, doesn’t matter. Some things we experience during a fast can be a little adverse.
I chose to do a 7-day fast and at the beginning I also did a colon cleanse for 3 days.
For 7 days I drank Cabala juice (about 1-2L), and sometimes carrot juice (because my body was screaming for it!) and I drank a shitload of water. That is all. No food, no coffee, no tea, no supplements, nothing else.
The colon cleanse was a mix of activated ground up buckwheat, ground flaxseeds and psyllium husks, which I mixed with bentonite clay and made into a paste. You can buy this ready-made, or whip it up yourself. I just made it myself. This was consumed every 2 hours, 5 times a day, for the first three days. The idea is that the fibre moves its way down your digestive tract and ‘scrubs’ the walls of your colon. A person’s colon, especially if we are eating meat, consuming processed foods and drinking alcohol/taking drugs/drinking coffee, can become a terrain for the development of disease. If you are not going ‘number twos’ at least once a day, and what’s deemed optimally healthy is going after each meal you consume, your colon and bowel health is not up there for an award.
The bentonite clay draws out impurities, heavy metals and toxins from the body. I had a mouthful of mercury fillings in my mouth that I had removed last year, so if they were leaking mercury into my body for the past 20 years, bentonite would have assisted with the removal of it. Our body struggles to do that.
I thoroughly enjoyed the colon cleanse. It actually helped me to feel full and the ‘emptying’ feeling is freaking fabulous!
Other cool stuff I did:
These scared the shit out me prior (LOL – pun!), but I truly couldn’t have imagined doing my cleanse without them. They really help clean out my colon, and if you are doing coffee enemas, then you have more of a chance of killing off parasites (due to the high acidity), enhancing the liver’s detoxifying processes (glutathione is absorbed through the large intestine) AND you receive the benefits of coffee (focus, clarity, energy) without drinking it. For my first one I did warm water and salt, then I did a coffee enema every day thereafter.
A body treatment that is simply bi carb soda mixed with vodka. Scrub over your skin each morning (shower – scrub out of shower – then jump back in and wash off). This helps the skin to eliminate toxins, your skin is a waste removal system – help it out! It also makes your skin feel bloody amazing. Then I’d lather up in coconut oil.
I’d do this before guasha and it helps get your lymphatic system moving by stimulating blood flow. Great for cellulite too ladies! I do this every morning anyway, but I continued doing this on my cleanse, as it’s noted as a worthwhile tool!
So this may be getting to extremes for some (Kosta thought I was weird), but I was determined to try everything out on my cleanse as noted in the Tao of Detox, because I thought these methods were really cool. Something different. This practice dates back to 2, 000 years ago, so it’s an ancient Tradition, and I think all those swanky Egyptians, Greeks and ancient philosophers knew their shit. Sun gazing is said to stimulate the pineal gland, which helps regulate sleep, boost energy, support endocrine health, fix eyesight and, even un-calcify the pineal gland.
Breathe in for 7 counts, hold for 7 counts, breathe out for 7 counts, hold for 7 counts – repeat 7 times. A breathing method Tyler Tolman describes, which I have similarly learnt in my yoga practice before. It’s a great way to start the day, get your lymphatic system moving and send oxygen to your cells.
I tried to aim for at least 10 minutes a day, and would listen to manifestation meditations, like this these ones here. Cannot recommend this enough!
Spending time in the sun is optimal for health – without sunscreen on! Sunscreen blocks the absorption of vitamin D and contains some nasty chemicals that may not be great for our skin. I spent about 15 minutes a day between 10am and 11am laying in the sun. Just enough to reap the benefits of sun therapy, but not enough to induce sunburn! The coconut oil I applied in the morning would have blocked some UVs anyway. It’s totally amazing for relaxation as well.
I did not feel hungry until day five. Day five it was tolerable. Day six it got a little worse and by the end of day six I was feeling the end of my fast. I didn’t have food, but opted for a broth day six night to replenish with amino acids and fats.
Day 7 I ran the colour run, with heaps of energy! But I was hungry as. By the end of the race I was ravenous and was ready to officially ‘break my fast’. I had some avocado and beans at breakfast with the crew that ran the color run with me. Then that day I snacked in the kitchen whilst I cooked (raw treats) and then Kosta took me out to Raw Kitchen on Sunday. On reflection, this was probably the worst idea and next time I do a fast I will do one day of fruit, then the next day grain-free vegetarian and then feel my way from there. Coming out of your fast is just as important as the fast itself. Just remember your digestive system has been on a holiday, don’t bombard it with work straight away!
I had no bloating and felt ’empty’, which is a feeling I love! Not feeling heavy and bloated and weighed down. I felt light and energetic and had no lethargy what-so-ever. It’s common to experience headaches, however I, again, didn’t experience any. Drinking enough water definitely helps if you do come down with headaches.
It is not uncommon to experience a heap of unwanted symptoms, but this needn’t deter you. It’s just your body’s way of moving through the fast and the more adverse your experience, the more your body was in need of a fast! So they say…the detox process can be very unenjoyable. As long as you know that and you are well prepared, you’ll be fine. I recommend starting on a weekend so you can spend the first 2-3 days really slowing down, relaxing and allowing your body to move into your parasympathetic nervous system more readily and really let it do its thing.
If you have a stressful job, are anxious or high-strung, and you decide to do a fast and continue in this manner, you are going to have a bad time. You really need to allow your body to move into the parasympathetic division, which is your ‘rest and digest’ side of your nervous system. Do a bit of research on this, as there is much to go into.
I would recommend not engaging in intense physical activity, at least for the first 3 days. I only stretch and walked for the first days, then I did the color run on day 7. Listen to your body.
So the whole reason I fasted was to experience the mental clarity that goes with it. I super charged this by doing enemas, sun gazing and meditations/reflection time. These practices I think are really integral to receive the most benefit.
This was such an incredible experience! I charged through uni work, procrastination was non-existent, and I had so much clarity. I overcame a few hurdles I had been experiencing psychologically and really tuned in to a few emotions that were coming up for me. Post-cleanse has been just as great focus wise.
You’ll find that a fast can be incredibly emotional. We pack that shit in, literally. We hold down emotions, or are told not to feel or share, or we had things happens to us when we were younger that we haven’t totally dealt with. ‘Cellular clearing’ happens on a fast. So be prepared and open for that. I think this is the most substantial occurence that happens and if you neglect to lean into it, you really miss out on some soul-level change that is incredible.
We are an overworked, overstressed, overburdened and over stimulated society. This is just what we need from time to time to reconnect.
I found the fast really grounding, centring me spiritually, and it really highlighted the importance’s in life.
How to juice fast
Just quickly, local companies are best to do a fast through, but I would double check the ingredients in the juices first and see what you get. The cabala juice is used for a number of reasons, but mainly it’s a whole-body detoxifier and will stimulate healing in all systems of the body. If you wanted something more specific for an ailment, I would definitely check in with someone who knows what they are talking about.
If you cannot afford a fast, but you have your own cold pressed juicer, then you could even do it at home for yourself. Do some research, suss out how you’re going to go about it and trust your instincts! My VERY first blog post was on juicing, it might be a worthwhile read if you’re wondering why we juice, and not have smoothies, and why not all juicers are created equal! Read it here.
If you would like to watch something on fasting, a great YouTube can be found here.
So from me, it is a whole body YES to my experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to do one again (and I will, probably every 3 months now). I don’t feel like I have covered anywhere near enough information with this post, so if you want to know shoot some questions below! I am sure if you want to know something, someone else will want to know too and I can try answer your question, or provide you with a resource that may be able to assist if I cannot.
I’d also love to know…
What would you be your biggest barrier to doing a juice fast, what scares you?
What things intrigue you about embarking on a fast, what would you love to get out of it?