Eight days of juice, whole juice, and nothing but juice.
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As I mentioned in my introductory post, I?m something of a health nut. And there?s a very good reason for that. I?ve struggled with an underactive thyroid and other complications caused by Hashimoto?s for a good long while.
But in recent months things got radical. I started trying out various natural approaches to detox my systems and get a cleaner, healthier and better-functioning body. Juice-fasting has been one of the big, new and slightly scary things that I tried. Read on to find out more about what I learned from a week of juice.
So what is juice fasting?
It?s exactly as it sounds. You eat nothing and drink only fresh juice for a few days at a time. And when I say fresh juice, I really mean FRESH. The concentrated stuff that you?ll find in the supermarket just won?t cut it. It has to be pure and freshly squeezed, preferably just a few minutes before you drink it. A juicer (a machine that presses fruit and vegetables to extract the juice from the pulp, NOT the same thing as a blender) of your own is essential equipment.
Also, it?s important to juice a mixture of both fruit and vegetables. It?s time to get used to thinking of a cucumber as a drink.
How long to you have to do it for?
The time period can vary but two to three days is a standard juice fast. A week is at the higher end of the spectrum. Two weeks is properly hardcore. I?d already tried two and three days of fasting before going for this week-long fast. Those shorter periods of fasting helped to ease me into the experience so that I already had some idea of what to expect.
And what?s the point exactly?
Disclaimer: I?m definitely not a doctor or healthcare provider. I don?t recommend trying fasting unless you?ve done plenty of your own research about the possible effects. If you have a medical condition or if you regularly take any medication, it?s essential to check with your doctor before trying any length of fasting. This is because taking medication on a completely empty stomach can heighten its effects.
With that out of the way? So the idea behind fasting is to give your body a rest and allow it to do some spring-cleaning. Believe it or not, digestion is one of the most energy-intensive processes in the body. With all the stuff that we shove in our mouths day in and day out, our poor systems hardly ever get the chance to catch up. There can be years? worth of old, undigested matter and toxic substances backed up in your system that your digestive tract, liver and kidneys have just never had a chance to deal with. You can imagine that it?s difficult to achieve peak health when you have old stuff hanging around like that.
Taking a few days where you consume nothing but juice allows your body to have a clear-out. This is because the juice provides your body a fast source of energy that can be absorbed effortlessly, leaving plenty of power left over for dealing with and eliminating the rubbish that?s built up. Hey, what do you know, there?s a reason it?s called detoxification!
In my particular case, I hoped that the fasting would help me to clear out some of the toxins I?d picked up and been carrying around with me. A cleaner body means less inflammation and fewer autoimmune symptoms from my Hashimoto?s.
Does it really work?
I can only speak from my own experience, but just a few hours into the fast I was already experiencing what are known as detox symptoms.
As you fast and your body starts clearing out old toxins, you often end up re-experiencing their effects. As they are released from the tissues, they recirculate for a short while before being eliminated. It?s different for everyone but headaches, nausea and aches are common complaints.
I often had hangover-type headaches and aching muscles throughout the fasting period. But these effects were short-lived and they cleared within a few hours as my body dealt with the nasty stuff that was causing them.
Is it good for weight loss?
Over the past two years, since switching to a vegan and gluten-free diet, my weight has been at the lower end of what?s healthy for my frame, so losing weight definitely wasn?t my goal here. I was more interested in the detoxifying effects of juice-fasting.
However, it seemed that a bit of weight loss was unavoidable. I lost maybe 2 kilos during the week but I?m happy to say that it was only a temporary effect. I regained them without much effort afterwards.
If anyone is really interested in fasting for weight loss, I recommend looking into intermittent fasting (regularly skipping one meal a day, for example). From what I?ve read, this approach has worked for many people. Once again I would urge you to do plenty of research and check with a professional before trying something like that.
So with that introduction, here are my:
Ten things learned in 8 days of juice-fasting
1. Detoxing is productive in itself
One thing that seems obvious about a week of not eating anything is that you?ll feel pretty low on energy. And I mean really LOW. I?m sure it?s different for everyone, but I was at the too-much-effort-to-hold-my-laptop-I?ll-just-lie-here level of weakness.
Luckily, I had previously learned the futility of starting a fast with a long to-do list. You simply don?t have the energy to do anything productive. Much better to keep the whole period free from any engagements or demands and allow yourself to experience it fully.
If you?re into audiobooks, it?s an excellent time to catch up on your backlog, but don?t expect to be able to concentrate on anything too heavy.
2. Drink it slowly
When you?re drinking the freshly-pressed juice of 15 carrots (yes really. You wouldn?t believe how many carrots it takes to make a single glass of juice), the sugar rush can be quite a shock to the system.
You know the feeling you get when you eat huge amounts of food too quickly and feel sick for a little while? It?s exactly like that. Some people even recommend pouring the juice into a bowl and eating it with a spoon (like soup) to stop yourself going too quickly. I didn?t go that far, but I certainly learned to drink my juice at a measured pace.
Doing so has the added advantage of allowing you to fully savour the fresh flavour. Juice is the only thing you can consume all week. Better make the most of it.
3. The cravings don?t fade?
When you read stories about people fasting for longer periods, one thing is always the same. After a few days, they stop feeling hungry or craving food.
Not true! Or at least, it didn?t happen that way for me. Maybe juice fasting is just different? Either way, I constantly thought and fantasised about food.
For the whole week!
All the books I read were full of people having slap-up dinners or binging on junk food. The films I watched seemed to revolve around scenes in restaurant where people would eat a few bites and then rush off, leaving all that food just lying there? Noooooooo!
4. It comes in waves
Another thing I?d heard about fasting is that you get periods of feeling intensely good. I had already experienced this during the shorter fasts, so I knew it was true. It?s almost like that warm, tingly feeling that you get just after an orgasm. Less intense, but longer lasting. Mmmm.
But don?t get too excited, you also get periods of feeling intensely bad from the aforementioned detox symptoms. Both eventually pass. Swings and roundabouts.
5. You?ll feel great about feeling bad
It sounds crazy, but when the aim of fasting is to encourage your body to detox, you find yourself feeling triumphant about the bad times. Hey, I feel shitty! Excellent, it must be working!
6. Not all detoxing is physical
When you read stories about detoxing, it?s super common for people to have emotional as well as physical reactions. Pockets of old, undigested matter or stagnant energy in our bodies are often attached to the strong emotions that we were feeling at the time. When those areas are released, we often get a corresponding emotional release.
This was proven by the afternoon that I spent crying for no reason. And when I say crying, I mean huge, body-wracking sobs that came from deep inside me. I have no idea why I needed to cry so much, but it was a huge relief to get it out.
7. It?s good to have partner
It?s nice to have a partner for fasting, firstly because you can complain about every little ache and pain that you experience. You never feel like you?re burdening the other person, because they?re complaining just as much. It even turns into a fun game of who can come up with the most imaginative complaint.
Secondly, it?s nice because the bad periods are often staggered at different times. So whoever is feeling the least bad can be the one who gets up to fetch more juice, an extra pillow, the TV remote, etc etc.
Then there?s the fact that, even when you?re too weak and tired to do anything, you can still cuddle.
8. Being too thin is no fun
As I mentioned earlier, a week of fasting can make even thin people thinner. Thankfully it was only a temporary effect, but in the meantime, contrary to what fashion magazines would have you believe, being too thin isn?t nice and doesn?t look good.
It?s just not a beautiful kind of thin. Think of that gaunt and skeletal look that you associate with people who?ve been ill for a long time. I got huge bags under my eyes and my skin went dull and broke out in spots thanks to the detox effects. It became impossible to find a comfortable position for my already-aching body when all of the padding on my joints disappeared. No, it wasn?t fun.
9. You?ll end up hating juice
I thought I?d never tire of the crisp freshness of carrot, the luscious cool of cucumber or the succulent sweetness of fresh orange juice.
But when that?s all you?ve drunk for the whole week, man it sure gets tiring! It?s obvious when you think about it. As humans we rarely eat or drink the same thing for the whole day, every single day.
Even a couple of weeks later, I still can?t handle the thought of carrot juice?
10. You might make some amazing internet discoveries
Lying in bed with no energy is the ideal time for surf-and-discover operations. Medium was one of the things I discovered during my week of fasting. Definitely amazing, and just one of that many things that I?ll take away with me from this week.
I?m really glad that I stuck it out for the whole week. There was a moment about half-way through when I thought I might not make it. I was awash in hopeless feelings. The week seemed like an interminable period and the day we?d set to break our fast seemed years away. I honestly thought about breaking my fast early and trying again at some other point. Surprisingly, these feelings turned out to be just another emotional-detox effect (see point 6), and they passed by, leaving me once more motivated and determined.
When it comes to the overall effect on my health, it?s really hard to pinpoint or isolate the effects of juice-fasting. I felt tired and the odd detox symptoms still continued for a few days after I broke the fast. Two weeks later, I feel great, but it?s hard to say for sure whether that was a result of the fasting.
Perhaps a more productive attitude is to view fasting as just one more tool that a person can employ on the journey towards better health. I have no doubt that the fasting was effective in helping me to get rid of old toxins that were stuck in my body.
However, there?s also a flip side. Once you start venturing into the realms of detoxification, there?s always the chance that you may disturb a deeper layer of old toxins that will rise to the surface, needing to be cleared away. This leaves you feeling bad in the meantime, so you do another period of fasting to clear it, and then more stuff gets stirred up? Uh-oh, what have I gotten myself in to? Luckily, that doesn?t seem to have happened this time. I feel good and have regained a decent level of energy and clarity.
All things considered, I feel that a week of juice-fasting was a positive thing to do. I?m definitely going to fast again at some point, although I wouldn?t try such a long fast again for a while. They say that it?s good to fast in the springtime so that you can clear the toxins that accumulated over the winter.
That should give me ample time to get used to the idea of stomaching fresh carrot juice once more?
Thanks for reading! I?d love to hear from anyone else who has experimented with fasting and what kind of effects or results you experienced. Just leave a comment below.