Many of us may have overindulged a little too much over the last month. Thankfully, the human body has an incredible capacity to heal itself and fasting – going without food – can help to flush out and eliminate poisons and toxins, balance the body and improve overall health and wellbeing.
Juice or water therapy, also called ‘cleansing’ or ‘detoxing’ not only helps to improve health conditions, it boosts the nervous system. It also cleanses the liver which in turn cleans the blood and can slow down, or possibly reverse, the progress of our ageing process by lowering free radical damage.
Juice or water fasting can help you feel revitalised and motivated to improve other facets of your lifestyle, like your exercise regime. A juice diet or a restricted diet is not strictly fasting, however they can both achieve similar benefits and in some cases may be recommended in preference to fasting.
Just about everybody benefits from fasting. Even living a relatively healthy lifestyle doesn’t protect the body from all toxic substances. Eating habits, pollution and stress all increase toxic deposits throughout the body, which in time can lead to serious health issues.
During a fast the body needs to spare the breakdown of muscle and enzymes. As the body undergoes a series of hormonal and metabolic changes, energy is drawn from adipose (fat) tissue allowing the body to conserve its body mass. Typically divided into 3 bio-chemical stages, the body often undergoes the following process during a fast:
1. Glucose – approximately the first 12 hours. Initially this comes from your last meal then from glycogen stores in the liver (glycogenolysis).
2. Amino acids (gluconeogenesis) provide a fuel source particularly from the 10th to the 40th hour. They come from free amino acids in the circulation, digestive tract, liver and traces from muscle protein. These amino acids are converted in the liver to glucose for energy which is also vital for brain function.
3. Fats – from approximately the 2nd day onward (but particularly from the 3rd day) adipose tissue begins to be broken down and fats used directly while their by-products, ketones, are both becoming the primary source of fuel.
If you want to undertake a fast or cleanse, you should consult a naturopath, who can support you during the entire detox process. They can also help you to establish healthy eating practices, and an appropriate exercise regime, when you have completed your detox process. You should ALWAYS have someone to care for you during a fast.