I was first exposed to the idea of juice fasting when I saw the documentary ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead‘. It follows Joe Cross, an overweight Australian man who is battling multiple health conditions including an auto-immune disease.
At the end of his rope, Joe vows to only drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days while embarking on a 3,000 mile road trip across America to explore the North American outlook towards food and its relation to health. Needless to say that Joe loses an enormous amount of weight and is actually able to get off his medication, and heal his body of the auto-immune disease. I would highly recommend this documentary to anyone interested in health and lifestyle choices and how they affect our lives. Joe is now a huge advocate of the juicing movement and started this website: http://www.jointhereboot.com/. If you sign-up for their newsletter (which includes great articles and recipes), you can watch the documentary for free.
What is Juice Fasting?
Juice Fasting is ingesting only fresh fruit and vegetable juices for a period of time. In some schools of thought, you are allowed to include vegetable broths and herbal teas as well. I think it’s good to include some warming foods to balance out the cooling effects of the fresh juice.
What’s so great about a juice fast?
Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables gives your body all the nutrients it needs and more! You get mega-doses of vitamins and minerals, but since the fibre is taken out, your body has to do very little work to absorb these nutrients. Digestion takes up 35-40% of our body’s energy daily. That’s a lot! Juicing gives your digestive system a break and allows the body to re-focus its energy on healing. There are hundreds of holistic clinics in Europe and Asia that focus on juicing. Folks have been able to successfully reverse several health conditions like arthritis, allergies, heart disease and even cancer via extended juice fasts.
Juicing gives you an opportunity to change your relationship to food. You will be surprised by how long you can go without eating solid food. It allows you to notice your cravings and control them. After 2-3 days all cravings actually disappear. If you re-introduce solids properly you can actually kick that caffeine or sugar habit for good!
Disclaimer: juicing is not for everyone. If you are over 60, pregnant or have diabetes, you should consult a health practitioner before starting a juice diet. You could enjoy some of the benefits of juicing by simply introducing fresh juice in the morning and as a snack during the day.
How long should a fast be?
That is totally up to you and your body. Fasting requires a lot of discipline and self-control. Some people are known to fast for 30, 60 and even 90 days. A typical fast is 7-10 days. I recommend at least going 3-5 days to really experience the benefits of the fast. Since our body goes into detox mode for the first few days, those days can be tough. Some people feel ill and experience flu like symptoms as our body purges toxins.
As a general rule of thumb: fast for 2 days until *after* the symptoms have disappeared. This ensures that the body has rid itself of majority of toxins. What awaits after the initial hurdles is definitely worth it. My first juice fast was 10 days. I found the first 3 days painful but after that point I had more energy than I can ever remember! My mind was clear and my body energized, ready to take on each day. Many people experience a sense of euphoria and clarity like never before. You simply have to experience it for yourself!
What do I need to get started with juicing?
A juicer, fruits and vegetables! I have a centrifugal juicer, which are cheaper but their pulp is not as dry as masticating juicers. I personally did not have the space for a masticating juicer, so I opted for what fit my teeny-weeny condo kitchen. Here is a site that does a great job of explaining the various types of juicers: http://www.fernsnutrition.com/juicer_types.htm.
How will I get protein during a juice fast?
A green juice with celery, broccoli or kale, carrots and an apple contains between 5-7 grams of protein. Vegetables have protein too, just not as much as your traditional protein sources like daily, eggs and meat. With juicing, you are getting nutrients from half a dozen vegetables in one glass! So rest assured, there will be enough protein to sustain you and keep you going.
Before you start…
- A few days before the fast, start winding down your social engagements, and prepare for a bit of a vacation from your hectic routine. During the fast you want to give your body lots of rest and pamper yourself. You also don’t want to put yourself in a position where you are going out for a lot of meals at restaurants and have to watch other people eat.
- Start eating raw and cooked vegetables, and cutting out all the bad stuff like meat, dairy, refined sugar and caffeine. Cutting out all allergenic and harmful foods causes our bodies to go into a gentle detox.
- Go out and buy fresh vegetables and fruits like apples, cucumbers, celery, carrots, peppers, kale, pears, broccoli, beets etc.. All these are great for juicing. Try to pick organic produce if possible. I know that isn’t always possible but it makes a difference as your are juicing the raw vegetable with the skin, and you want to avoid any harmful chemicals or sprays that they put on conventional produce.
Feel free to ask me questions along the way and send me your suggestions if you are a juicing veteran!