Just by the simple act of eating raw, you create a cleansing and healing effect in your body.
Many people who notice positive resultsfrom eating raw want to take it a step further and do even deeper healing and cleansing.
Fasting is an ancient method of healing and rejuvenation that’s been well documented in many cultures over time. The Essenes are said to be a desert tribe in biblical times who engaged in frequent and long-term fasts.
Many clinics such as the Bircher-Benner Clinic in Zurich, Rancho La Puerta in Mexico, the Hippocrates Institute in Florida, and the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona have had great success healing patients with various fasting techniques using these time-proven methods. Fasting can sometimes be considered part of preventive medicine because it’s thought to strengthen the immune system and cleanse the entire body, minimizing the potential for illness. The claimed benefits of fasting are many, including weight loss; restoring a youthful vitality; enhancing mental clarity; and alleviating withdrawal symptoms from substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Many report relief from chronic pain as well. The effectiveness of fasting for these reasons is still being debated in the medical community and is not yet well supported in scientific peer-reviewed studies. The thought proposed by some doctors supporting its use is that it stimulates use of stored fat by the body, and stored fat is where many of the toxins are stored in the body. Fasting has always had a spiritual component, and many faiths recommend fasting to enhance communion and a greater attunement to one’s environment, creator, or self. Many feel it’s the best way to purify the mind and body, strengthen willpower, and possibly even heal.
There are some reasons not to fast, such as for weight loss. Fasting for weight loss can actually result in greater weight regain. Although some weight will be lost, the high rate of loss will be accompanied by high rates of loss of muscle, which lowers your metabolic rate, making it easier to gain weight once re-feeding begins. Always fast under the guidance of a qualified health-care practitioner, especially for extended fasts and for those with a hectic life.
Types of Fasts
There are countless ways to fast. You can fast from solid foods and enjoy juices and teas. Some enjoy a lemonade fast or even a water fast. You can fast for all or part of a day. Some fast from sunset on one day until sunrise on the following day. Fasting is flexible, and you can create a fast specially tailored to your needs. Let’s take a look at a few different types of fasts, each defined by the type of food consumed.
The simplest and sometimes most challenging type of fast is the water fast. The quality of the water is particularly important. As wementioned earlier, quality water is vital for existence. Water maintains blood volume, keeps cells hydrated, and might help transport released toxins from fat storage. When water fasting, you can add fresh lemon juice to the water. Others water fast using herbal teas such as peppermint or dandelion. This is typically the lightest form of nutrient intake we would recommend. For those with access to coconuts, coconut water cleanses are an incredible variation of the water fast. The water of young coconuts is highly revitalizing and filled with electrolytes and trace minerals.
The Master Cleanse
The Master Cleanse, or the lemonade diet, is one of the most popular cleanses around, and was created by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s to treat various health conditions. One serving of Master Cleanse Lemonade includes 11/4 cups filtered water, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon), 2 tablespoons grade B maple syrup, and 1/10 teaspoon ground cayenne. These ingredients were selected because of their healing effect and ability to supply necessary nutrients. Lemons have a long history of healing uses. They have antioxidant and antibacterial effects and are an excellent source of vitamin C. Maple syrup provides minerals and sugars for the body to burn as energy. The cayenne provides vitamins B and C and promotes blood circulation, which, theoretically, could aid in detoxification. You can drink as much of the lemonade and water as you want on the cleanse; try for at least 6 to 12 glasses a day. The Master Cleanse regimen also includes a saltwater drink and an herbal tea with laxative properties to keep things moving. It’s generally recommended that you stay on the Master Cleanse for 7 to 10 days to get the full effect. You can enjoy this fast for 1 day up to 40 days, depending on your inclination and physical condition. If you choose to do a longer fast, be sure to do so under medical supervision. Some people repeat the cleanse 3 or 4 times a year to maintain full vitality. Others fast for one day a week, maybe on their Sabbath.
Juice fasting is the most well-known form of cleanse. It includes all the organic fruit and vegetable juices in their many deliciouscombinations. As always, we recommend using freshly juiced organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Juice fasting is a powerful cleansing tool. It lightens the stress placed on the digestive system and provides the body with most of the nutrients needed to sustain life. People maintain a juice diet for extended periods of time—weeks and even months. Of course you don’t have to stay on a juice fast that long. Perhaps you can start with one day or a weekend. You might even want to try it this Saturday. Experiment with different quantities and combinations of juices as you fast to discover your favorites. Here are some suggestions we like:
- For carrot-based juices, add any combination of ginger, garlic, celery, cucumber, spinach, sprouts, beets, or parsley.
- For green-based juices, try cucumber, celery, kale, dandelion, spinach, or lettuce with garlic or ginger. Try it with a bit of apple and/or lemon, too.
- Citrus blends such as grapefruit, tangerine, and orange are a great way to start the day.
- Tropical blends are always popular. Try pineapple, mango, papaya, and coconut water.
- Wheatgrass and other grasses are options, too.
While on a juice fast, drink as much juice as you feel your body needs. If you’re juicing with foods that are naturally sweet such as carrots or beets, dilute them with water or other not-so-sweet juices to balance.
And be sure to check out the websites listed in Appendix B to find many places that offer juice fasting programs, retreats, and workshops around the world.
We now enter the world of the solid food fast. The fruit of the earth—whole, juiced, or blended—is what’s included in a fruit fast. As we mentioned earlier, fresh fruits provide nutrients in their water. Many believe that if you eat enough juicy fruits, you don’t need to drink as much water due to the high water content within the fruits. Fruits are also natural sources of nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Consequently, it is thought that fruit fasts can be extended for even longer periods of time than most people think possible.
Single-fruit fasts probably cannot be extended as long as multi-fruit fasts because your vitamin and mineral intake is limited. Not all fruits have all vitamins and minerals, and not all fruits have the same antioxidant content.
Great fruits for fasting include citrus, watermelon, and grapes. Grapefruits are especially beneficial as a fruit for fasting. In addition to the high level of vitamin C and antioxidants, grapefruit is high in bioflavinoids and rutin, which is purported to repair cells. You can combine a fruit fast and a juice fast by having juices for part of the day and fruits during other times.
The Live Foods Fast
The more dense the food, the more energy the body needs to digest it. Raw foodists think that when you go from eating cooked foods to eating raw foods, you place less of a burden on your system, and a natural cleansing process occurs. You can accelerate or slow this process based on the types of food you eat.
There’s some debate regarding the ideal ratio of fruits to vegetables on a live or raw foods fast. Some recommend including more vegetables than fruit. We recommend that the fruit and vegetable intake be balanced, supplying the full range of nutrients. Following this as a general guideline allows for flexibility and creativity in your food choices as well. People notice a difference after only a few days on a live foods fast. Continuing for longer periods of time gives even more results.
So you made up your mind to try one of the fasts? Before you begin, consult a qualified health-care practitioner to decide which kind of fast and for how long. Consider some tools that can help maximize your experience with cleansing. A dry body brush is a great fasting tool. The skin is the largest organ, and brushing it roughly increases circulation and removes dead skin cells, leaving the skin with a nice glow with younger cells and unclogged pores. It’s even said to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Be sure your brush has natural bristles, not synthetic ones. Purchase one with a long handle to get those hard-to-reach places. Brush once a day on a dry body before bathing. Always brush in small circular motions toward your heart. Start at your feet and work your way up, brushing several times in each area. Rinse off. And then there are the usuals—sunshine, fresh air, exercise, yoga, walking, swimming, deep breathing, and light aerobic exercise. All these are purported to help improve the body’s ability to cleanse and heal. Empowered with the knowledge of these tools, you can enhance the effects of your cleanses.
Nausea, fatigue, headaches, stomachaches, spaciness, and irritability are all symptoms you might experience while fasting. If they become severe, it may be an indication that you need to slow down on the cleanse. Everyone must judge for themselves, but it has been our experience that these symptoms pass quickly. If these symptoms do occur, you may wish to consult a qualified health-care practitioner.
Breaking a Fast
It’s extremely important how you break a fast. When you’re cleansing, you’re giving your digestive system a rest. If you come back with a lot of heavy food right away, it creates a shock to the system that can cause more damage than the fast helped to heal. Phase into heavier foods slowly. Introduce mono foods and easily digestible foods for at least half the amount of time you fasted. If you’re drinking juices, have a day of fruit before you begin introducing denser and richer foods.
Let’s look at a sample 5-day cleanse many people should be able to follow. First, pick a 5-day period for the cleanse, timing it so day 3 is a day off where you can rest, take a relaxing walk, and get a massage. Starting on day 1, you eat/drink lighter and lighter with each passing day until day 3, the peak cleansing day, where you ingest the least. After the peak day, you begin to slowly include more and heavier items until returning to your regular schedule on day 6. Drink plenty of liquids throughout the cleanse to avoid dehydration.
Day 1: go raw Enjoy fresh organic fruit and juices, large salads with raw vegetables, and small amounts of nuts and seeds. For dressing on the salad, try flax oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a dash of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan crystal salt.
Day 2: fruits Enjoy fresh organic fruits and juices and delicious smoothies. Dinner may consist of a large fruit salad.
Day 3: juice Today is the peak cleansing day. Drink fresh organic juices only, diluted with filtered water. Try drinking herbal teas and/or filtered water with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Day 4: fruits Start the day with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice diluted with a bit of water. Today is fresh juicy fruits, juices, and herbal teas. You may have one or two smoothies later in the day.
Day 5: back to raw Drink fruit and juices only for the first part of the day. Lunch may include a large salad with avocado and a flax oil–lemon juice dressing. For dinner, you may introduce small amounts of nuts/seeds with your meal.
Day 6 and beyond: ending the cleanse Your goal with this cleanse is to emerge at the end with positive eating patterns and a healthier diet. This is a great way to jump-start your way into a raw program. You can lengthen the cleanse by adding days at either the beginning or end or both. Keep the same general proportions. Try adding another raw day to the beginning and end for a 7-day cleanse. Be gentle with yourself, and make the most of it!
The Least You Need to Know
- The major benefits of fasting may be accompanied by weight loss, restored vitality, and mental clarity.
- Fasting should not be used for weight loss. See a trained health-care professional for weight loss guidance specific to your needs.
- There are a number of cleanses to choose from, including water fasts, juice fasts, fruit flushes, or live foods cleanses.
- Eating raw foods is thought to be a naturally cleansing and healing diet.
- Breaking a fast is just as important as the fast itself and must take place gently and in a balanced way.
Disclaimer: This website is for information purposes only. By providing the information contained herein we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regime, it is advisible to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.