Originally published March 10 2008
Whole Body Detoxification (Part 2): Fasting
by Mary Laredo
(NaturalNews) The challenge of maintaining or rebuilding health in an increasingly polluted world can be facilitated with a variety of cleansing methods that rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit. Part 1 of this series focused on lymphatic cleansing with rebound exercise. Daily exercise, and rebounding in particular, is a vital component of a healing regimen, as it helps to oxygenate and strengthen the body while cleansing lymph nodes and flushing the lymphatic system.
Periodic fasting of one to ten days (or longer for experienced fasters) is a time-tested practice that furthers cleansing of the day-to-day pollutants from food and the environment, and also releases deeply held toxins that have been stored within bodily tissues for years or decades. It's an invaluable means of augmenting the cleansing initiated by other methods such as exercise and an alkaline diet.
All animals have a natural instinct that tells them when to fast for the purpose of healing, yet we humans – consumed by our hectic, demanding lives of quick fixes and fast foods - have become exceedingly detached from our own innate wisdom. The very practice of fasting can help sharpen our awareness and reconnect us with our instinctive nature.
There are several types of liquid and modified "fasts", with the water-only fast being the oldest, most natural means of cleansing the body. It is also the strictest and most difficult to follow; however, the internal cleanliness brought on by regular water fasts contributes to healthy aging as it continuously removes toxins from organs, tissues and the bloodstream, and helps prevent further toxic build-up.
Other liquid fasts include organic, raw juices, and the Master Cleanser – also known as the Lemonade Fast – which consists of water, fresh squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. These fasts provide nourishment while cleansing the body and are much easier to follow. They do not however provide the degree of rest for bodily systems as a water-only fast.
It is generally recommended that those with illnesses such as cancer refrain from fasting; however, once the condition is stable and an alkalinizing diet is maintained (and no toxic treatments are prescribed) the practice of fasting may speed the healing process. In fact, this author began regular cleansing fasts - of each method described here - when cancer became stabilized, and continues to experience dramatic healing with no adverse side effects. It's best to proceed with caution, perhaps beginning with a supervised fast or with weekly raw food cleanses, to gauge the body's response.
Before embarking on a fast, one should be aware of possible unpleasant reactions. The first reaction would be hunger, as it takes the body three days to lose an appetite for food while fasting. More rest is sometimes necessary as energy levels may initially drop.
Other typical reactions include headaches and a white coating on the tongue as stored toxins are dislodged from organs and tissues. Depending on the individual's level of toxicity, blemishes, bad breath or body odor may be experienced as toxins are released through the skin.
These are all temporary responses that are followed by a feeling of well-being, clarity, emotional and physical balance - and occasionally euphoria - depending on the amount of cleansing accomplished. The lasting benefits of fasting significantly offset the fleeting unpleasantries.
During a fast, toxins will be flushed out of the body, primarily through the kidneys, lungs and skin. Bowel movements will be few or will stop completely as the body rests and rejuvenates itself. A colonic, enema or mild herbal laxative tea such as Smooth Move may be taken to aid the elimination process and to keep toxic residue from being reabsorbed into the body.
An inexperienced faster should be aware that long fasts sometimes release a toxic overload that is difficult to process and should therefore be supervised to make sure the kidneys are not overburdened.
Preparing for a Fast
Individuals who are not already consuming a plant-based diet of unprocessed whole foods should transition to this type of cleansing diet for several days or more before beginning any type of fast, to ease into the detoxification process and stimulate elimination. This would include raw or lightly steamed vegetables, fruits, sprouts, fresh organic juices, very little fat from nuts, seeds and avocados, and minimal amounts of olive or flax oil.
The Juice Fast
A juice fast provides concentrated nutrients that are easily and immediately assimilated by the body. It's much easier to sustain a long juice fast as it provides instant energy to the body and has fewer of the unpleasant side effects as a water-only fast; however, it takes longer to experience the same benefits of the stricter fast.
To optimize the benefits of a juice fast it's best to choose vegetables and fruits that have the most powerful cleansing abilities. These include cabbage and all cruciferous vegetables, dandelion greens, sprouts, celery, carrots, lemons, apples and beets (2).
The Master Cleanser
Stanley Burroughs was the originator of the Master Cleanse diet in 1940 and developed it as both a cleanser and body builder, and to help others heal from illnesses including stomach ulcers and infections. It's also effective as a reducing diet.
One serving is made with 2 tablespoons of fresh organic lemon or lime juice, 2 tablespoons of grade B maple syrup (a dark grade with a high mineral content), and 1/10th teaspoon of cayenne pepper (to break up mucus) added to ten ounces of water. These three ingredients provide enough vitamins, minerals and calories to stave off hunger pangs for most fasters.
Although Burroughs claimed that the cleanse would facilitate healing of virtually all diseases, it may not be appropriate for individuals with candida, diabetes, or cancer – unless the latter condition is stabilized - because of its sugar content. Consult with a naturopath to determine if this cleanse is suitable for these illnesses.
Burroughs recommended consuming up to twelve glasses a day during the cleanse. He further suggested a fast of ten to forty days for physical and spiritual healing; however, this author has experienced weekly and monthly fasts of one to three days respectively to be extremely effective.
Elimination is uninterrupted on the Master Cleanser with the use of herbal laxative teas and/or a salt water drink to augment the cleansing action. The latter is made with two level teaspoons of sea salt added to one quart of lukewarm water, and consumed upon arising on each morning of the fast (3).
The Water Fast
In his book The Miracle of Fasting, health pioneer Paul Bragg – who spent decades supervising and practicing routine water fasting - outlines an incremental procedure for following water-only fasts. He suggests beginning with a twenty-four hour weekly fast of eight to ten glasses or more of pure water. Once this has been done successfully, the next fast can be extended to thirty-six hours. Short fasts of up to three days may be done monthly, after which time a longer fast of four to ten days, spaced at four-month intervals, may be implemented.
Bragg further advised that water fasts lasting longer than four days should not be attempted until after a successful six-month period of several shorter fasts along with a cleansing diet between
fasts (1). The effects of fasting are cumulative and the more often one fasts, the more cleansed the body becomes and the easier it is to extend the duration.
Bragg and many of his students went on long fasts of seven to ten days or longer, up to four times per year to achieve profound physical, mental and spiritual cleansing. This degree of internal cleanliness was maintained with regular short fasts throughout the year.
In addition to liquid fasting, a modified "fast", or cleansing diet will also purify the body while providing nourishment. This diet includes solid foods in the form of raw fruits and vegetables, in addition to water and fresh juices. It may also include smoothies made of a wide variety of fruits, greens and other vegetables, fresh juice or water only. No fat of any kind is consumed on this cleansing diet.
Breaking a Fast
Properly breaking a fast is a vitally important consideration. Many bodily systems, especially digestion, have rested and need time to become accustomed to food again. It's imperative to gradually reintroduce food so as not to overburden the body after its period of rest and healing. Metabolism slows during a fast and requires time to re-adjust. This is achieved by carefully adding small amounts of easily-digested foods on the days following a fast.
Much of the body's toxins are stored in fat tissue. During a fast, toxic fats are released and eliminated; however, if too much food is reintroduced too quickly, the body will easily regain more than the lost fat. A good practice is to consume raw fruits and at least 64 ounces of filtered water on the first day following a fast.
Fruits and vegetables, raw or lightly steamed may be eaten on the second day. By the third day the pre-fast diet may be resumed. Generally, the longer the fast, the longer it should take to return to the normal diet. It's also important to chew thoroughly and avoid overeating.
Who Should Not Fast
Fasting is not for everyone. Those who are unwilling or unable to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, cigarettes, or drugs of any type should not consider fasting. Pregnant or nursing women; children under eighteen years of age; and individuals with heart diseases, mental illness, or anyone in a debilitated or malnourished state should refrain from fasting (2). A health care provider should be consulted to clear up any question of whether or not one should begin a fast of any duration.
More energy comes from a purified body and fasting of all types contribute to health maintenance, mental clarity, and spiritual cleansing as it eases the daily burden of bodily processes, allowing rest and cellular healing to occur.
Graceful aging and reclaiming robust health in a toxic, contaminated world is possible when we give the body proper nourishment, exercise, and adequate opportunities to rest, purify and heal itself. The routine practice of fasting, and regular exercise such as rebounding, are but two strategies to achieve this goal. Part 3 of this series will look at the benefits of infrared sauna use for whole-body detoxification.
1. Bragg, Paul & Bragg, P.: The Miracle of Fasting, 49th Edition. Santa Barbara, CA: Health Science, 68-74
2. Colbert, MD, D.: Toxic Relief. Restore Health and Energy Through Fasting and Detoxification. Lake Mary, FL: Siloam Publishing, 85-6; 164-6, 2001
3. Burroughs, S.: The Master Cleanser. Revised Edition, copyright 1993 by A. Burroughs, pgs. 11-21
About the authorMary Laredo is an artist, educator and gallery curator who lives and works in Detroit, MI. As a breast cancer survivor who shunned conventional treatment, she is writing a book about her experience with natural therapies and nutritional healing. Visit http://marylaredo.blogspot.com
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