The Holidays are over and the lure of parties and King’s cakes are but fond memories with only the lingering inches around our waists to remind of the months of festivities in which we partook. For many, this is a time of finally getting around to (or back to) those New Years resolutions. Not only is this a good time to evaluate the lifestyle changes you might want to make, but perhaps a good time to get you body off to a fresh start. A good way to do this is with a purification or detoxification fast. Over time, toxins build up in the body as the result of the pollutants in the air we breathe, the chemicals in the food and water we consume, or even in the medications we take. Fasting is a safe and effective method of helping the body detoxify itself with greater speed and few symptoms. In fact, fasting is recommended for many illnesses, such as colon disorders, allergies, and respiratory diseases. By relieving the body of the work of digesting foods, fasting permits the system to rid itself of toxins while facilitating healing.
Fasting is one of the oldest therapies in medicine and has been used for thousands of years. Many great doctors of ancient times believed fasting to be an integral part of healing and prevention. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, believed fasting enabled the body to heal itself. Ayurvedic medicine, the world’s oldest healing system, has long advocated fasting as a major treatment for illness.
Fasting has also been used in nearly every religion in the world, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam. Many of history’s great spiritual leaders fasted for mental and spiritual clarity, including Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed. In one of the famous political acts of the last century, the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi fasted for 21 days to promote peace.
Fasting has been used as a medical treatment in Europe for years. Many spas and treatment centers, particularly those in Germany, Sweden, and Russia, use medically supervised fasting for numerous conditions. Fasting has gained popularity in American alternative medicine over the past several decades, and many doctors are finding it beneficial.
Fasting is a central therapy in detoxification, a healing method founded on the principle that the build up of toxic substances in the body is responsible for many illnesses and conditions.
How Fasting Works
The principle of fasting is simple. When the intake of food is temporarily stopped, many systems of the body are given a break from the hard work of digestion. The extra energy gives the body a chance to heal and restore itself, burning stored calories to rid stored toxic substances. During fasting, the liver and immune system are essentially freed to detoxify and heal other parts of the body. Many healers claim that fasting is a particularly useful therapy for the American lifestyle, of heavy diet, overeating, and constant exposure to food additives and chemicals. Some alternative practitioners have gone so far as to estimate that the average American is carrying 5-10 pounds of toxic substances in their bodies, for which fasting is the quickest and most effective means of removal.
Fasting for Prevention and General Health
Fasts can be performed for varying lengths of time, depending on a person’s particular health requirements. Fasts from one day for prevention to seven-days for healing, are commonly performed. Therapists may even recommend fasts from two to four weeks for specific or chronic health conditions. The most popular fasting program, however, for prevention and general health, is a three-day juice fast. The advantages of a juice fast are that they are less intensive than water fasts, and fruit and vegetable drinks can supply beneficial nutrients and energy. A live-juice fast both removes toxins and promotes healing by supplying the body with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Such a fast is also more likely to lead to a continued healthy diet once the fast is over, as it will accustom you to the taste of raw vegetables and the vitality that this diet promotes. It is easy to fit a few days of juice fasting into a normal schedule or over a long weekend without much disruption to regular activities or significant drops in energy.
The Three Day Detox
Be prepared. Fasts must be entered into with care. Eat only raw vegetables and fruits for two days. This will make the fast less of a shock to your system.
While on the fast, consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses of distilled water per day, plus fresh juices and up to two cups of herbal tea a day.
Do not drink orange or tomato juice, and avoid all juices made with sweeteners or other additives. You may dilute juices with the water, adding about one part water to three parts juice.
As a general rule, you should not combine fruit and vegetable juices. Apples are the only fruit that should be added to vegetable juices.
One of the best juices to use during your fast is fresh lemon juice. Add the juice of one lemon to a cup of warm water. Fresh apple, beet, cabbage, carrot, celery, and grape juices are also good, as are “green drinks,” which are made from green leafy vegetables. These green drinks are excellent detoxifiers. You can also use Udo’s Flor Essence which is good for detoxifying and comes in liquid or tea bags.
Herbal teas may be consumed throughout the fast, once or twice per day or more if you wish. A tea of alfalfa, burdock, chamomile, dandelion, milk thistle, red clover, and rose hips will rejuvenate the liver and cleanse the bloodstream. Do not use chamomile on an ongoing basis, as ragweed allergy may result. Avoid it completely if you are allergic to ragweed.
Two parts echinacea and pau d’arco tea mixed with one part unsweetened cranberry juice, four times a day, will rebuild the immune system, aid in bladder function, and rid the colon of unwanted bacteria. Do not use echinacea if you have any kind of autoimmune disorder.
Peppermint tea is good for its calming and strengthening effect on the nerves, and for indigestion, nausea, and flatulence.
Slippery elm tea is useful for inflammation of the colon and is also beneficial when used as an enema solution.
Take two enteric coated, odor controlled garlic caps twice per day. Garlinase 4000 or Allicin 5000 by Enzymatic Therapy is a good choice. It contains the highest standardization for allicin and will digest in the small intestine and will not leave a lingering odor. Garlic supplements may be taken on a daily basis before, during, and after a fast to promote overall health, build immune function, aid in the healing process, and rid the colon of may types of parasites.
Take a fiber supplement on a daily basis before and after your fast to promote cleansing of the colon, but NOT DURING the fast. Psyllium is an excellent source of fiber as is apple pectin and oat bran. Try to avoid supplements containing wheat bran, as they may be irritating to the colon wall. Also, make sure to drinks plenty of water with your daily fiber, as fibers such as psyllium can hold as much as 500 times their weight in water.
Take spirulina during your fast. Spirulina is high in protein and contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, plus chlorophyll for cleansing. If you are using tablets, take 5 tablets three times a day. If you are using powder, take one teaspoon three times daily, mixing the powder with a cup of unsweetened juice. You may also use an organic green foods blend before, during, and after your fast. These products contain all the nutrients needed to aid in the healing process.
If used during the fast, these products may replace a cup of the “green drink.”
If you have hypoglycemia, never fast without also using a protein supplement.
Do not chew gum while on the fast. The digestive process starts when chewing prompts the body to secrete enzymes into the gastrointestinal tract. If there is no food in the stomach for the enzymes to digest, troubles may occur.
Fasts should be ended as gradually as they are entered, going from lighter to heavier foods progressively. Follow the juice-water-and-tea fast with a two-day diet of raw fruits and vegetables. The desired effects of the fast can be ruined by eating cooked foods immediately afterward. Since both the size of the stomach and the amount of secreted digestive juices may decrease during fasting, the first meals after a fast should be frequent and small and should emphasize fresh, wholesome foods.
Fasting isn’t appropriate for everyone and, in some cases, could be harmful. Any fast for more than three days, should only be done under the supervision of a qualified health care professional.
If you have diabetes, hypoglycemia, or another chronic health problem, even short fasts should be supervised by a doctor or alternative medicine practitioner, such as a homeopath or naturopathic or ayurvedic doctor. Pregnant and lactating women should never fast.
Plenty of water should be consumed during a fast since dehydration can occur.
Saunas and sweating therapies are sometimes recommended to assist detoxification, but should be used sparingly.
Those fasting should significantly slow down their lifestyles. Taking time off of work, or at least reducing the workload is helpful and getting plenty of rest is a must. Exercise should be kept light, such as walking and gentle stretching.
During a fast you may experience side effects of fatigue, aches and pains, emotional duress, acne, headaches, allergies, swelling, vomiting, bad breath, and even cold and flu-like symptoms. These reactions are sometimes called healing crises, which are caused by temporarily increased levels of toxins in the body due to elimination and cleansing. These symptoms are not serious and will quickly pass. To alleviate any of these symptoms, a daily lemon juice enema may be used cleanse the colon, and daily coffee enema to rid the liver of impurities.
Studies from around the world have shown the beneficial results of fasting as a treatment for illness and disease. The physiology of fasting has been widely studied and documented by medical science with beneficial effects such as lowered cholesterol and improved general functioning being shown. A few years ago, fasting was even featured on the cover of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Although mainstream medicine has generally ignored fasting and detoxification for treatment as valid medical procedures, in the alternative medical community, fasting is an essential and widely accepted treatment for many illnesses and chronic conditions.
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