There are a lot of types of fasts being promoted right now, like water fasting, dry fasting, juice fasting, intermittent fasting and more. But with so many different beliefs and theories being promoted, there’s also a lot of confusion.
When fasting is done right, it can be a very helpful healing tool, but so often the way it’s done prevents true healing. So I want to offer some guidance and make sure you understand the safest way to fast for your constitution and circumstances.
Before we move into the details of different fasts, it’s important to understand how your body—and especially your liver—works. Read Liver Rescue: Answers to Eczema, Psoriasis, Diabetes, Strep, Acne, Gout, Bloating, Gallstones, Adrenal Stress, Fatigue, Fatty Liver, Weight Issues, SIBO & Autoimmune Disease for advanced healing information that explains the liver’s role in detoxification and health in far more detail than an article can. The book is an important foundation for anyone looking to cleanse, fast or invest in their health.
What Fasting Means For Your Liver
Your liver is an intelligent and powerful organ. It has a critical job of processing and disarming the many toxins we inherit and encounter in our modern world: toxic heavy metals, undiscovered strains of viruses and bacteria, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, solvents, plastics, pesticides, everyday household chemicals and more.
Your liver works to capture those toxins and hold onto them in order to keep them from floating around in your bloodstream and harming your heart, brain, central nervous system and other organs. When the circumstances are right and your liver is able to detoxify, it releases these toxins so they can be eliminated ideally through your urine and bowel movements.
In Liver Rescue I talk about how the liver doesn’t like to be pushed. It’s like a child standing on the diving board for the first time working up the courage to jump when she’s ready. If someone sneaks up and suddenly pushes that child from behind, trust is broken. And, she’s going to be more wary about getting back up on that board to jump again.
The same thing happens to your liver if it’s pushed into detoxifying through an unsafe or harsh fast. An inappropriate fast forces your liver to release too many toxins at once. When the toxins flood the bloodstream, the kidneys and bowel can still only eliminate a small portion at a time. The rest floats around in the bloodstream.
This sudden barrage of poison in the bloodstream causes two kinds of problems. First, the toxins can wreak havoc on your pancreas, spleen, nervous system, brain and heart. Second, the spillover puts your liver in a state of alarm, so the organ works on overdrive trying to gather up and seal in the toxins once more. It’s exhausting to your liver, which makes it harder for it to heal later and potentially more reluctant to release toxins in the future. After all, like the child who was pushed off the diving board and now fears jumping off, the liver that was pushed might hold tighter to the toxins in the future (which means the liver itself becomes increasingly toxic).
When Not to Fast
One important thing to know about fasting is that doing it right takes preparation. If your liver is really toxic, it’s not the time to do a fast. If you’ve been eating a standard American diet, a lot of animal products, or a high fat, high protein diet, or if you haven’t been eating many fruits and vegetables, it’s not a good idea to do a fast. Even if you’ve been eating a clean diet for a long time but you’ve inherited poisons or been exposed to a lot of chemicals or pathogens, it’s also best to not jump into a fast right away.
Fasting should also be avoided by people who have a weaker or sensitive constitution, which is the result of an overload of pathogens and toxins in the body (see Liver Rescue for more information), and by people who have nervous system problems, adrenal issues or a heart that isn’t that strong.
In all of these cases, instead of doing something intense like a fast, you’re much better off making continual, gradual changes. This way, your liver can safely and continually flush out toxins. With time, you’ll clean things up to the point where you’re ready to consider a fast.
Where to Begin for Safe Cleansing
A great place to start is by drinking lemon water upon waking and then 30 minutes later drinking 16 ounces of straight celery juice. Start avoiding the foods that feed pathogens, including gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and canola oil. It’s also important to avoid pork. Anyone who wants to cleanse and heal can help their body by lowering their fat intake, whether it comes from healthy or unhealthy sources (although the unhealthy sources are best to reduce or eliminate first.) The lower your fat intake, the easier your liver can detoxify and heal and the more prepared you will be to do a smartly designed fast when the time comes.
If you don’t think you eat much fat, consider how much protein you consume. Protein-rich foods such as eggs, beef, chicken, soy products, nuts, and others are inherently high in fat also. Continually eat better and better, so your liver can adapt to the changes over time.
After you’ve cleaned up your diet with these suggestions, then you’ll be at a point where you can consider the 28-day cleanse I describe in my book Medical Medium, or the 90-day cleanse in Thyroid Healing, or the Liver 3:6:9 Cleanse from Liver Rescue. All of these cleanses are designed to work perfectly in harmony with the body’s needs, not to push the liver in an unproductive and harmful way like most cleanses and diets out there, and are based on plenty of delicious foods to still give your body the nourishment it needs to heal.
At some point, your body will be cleared out enough and nutritionally fortified enough that you can try a fast. For some people, it may even take a year or two of drinking celery juice and following my food guidance or cleanses to get to the point where you’re ready. At that time, here’s what you need to know:
Water fasting is what it sounds like—it means you ingest water only, and no food. Short term water fasting is a helpful tool for some people in some circumstances. But it is definitely not for people who haven’t gotten to a point where their bodies are already pretty well cleaned out and who have healthy levels of nutrients in their bodies.
At that point, if you want to water fast, it should typically only be done for one to two days. It’s critical you stay well hydrated and drink plenty of water during that time. It’s also really important to stay home, get lots of rest and take it easy during a water fast. Weekends are a good time to try it. Driving around or doing physical work is not safe. When you’re water fasting, you can suddenly get a dizzy spell, experience a big blood sugar drop or feel weak.
The other thing to know is that people can easily become addicted to water fasting. Once they go two or three days, sometimes they don’t want to stop. They want to do four days and then five and it can become hard to break the addiction. On a water fast, people can sometimes experience moments of clarity and euphoria because of the adrenaline that’s released during water fasting so they want to keep going. Be careful. It’s better to do water fasts periodically—even once a month if you wish—but only for a couple days versus doing a longer water fast.
Unfortunately, a lot of people try a water fast because they’re sick. They’ve often been sick for a while, are nutritionally deficient as a result and have viruses in their system (learn more about the many undiscovered strains of viruses that cause hundreds of different illnesses and symptoms, including autoimmune conditions, in Thyroid Healing and Medical Medium).
Under these conditions (or for people who try to water fast too long), the fast weakens the immune system. That allows the viruses that made people sick in the first place to proliferate, so people end up getting sicker as a result. Many people who fast, including fasting experts, don’t understand what’s really happening, and they mistakenly attribute the illness surge as a sign of detoxification.
People who have neurological problems should definitely stay away from water fasts. It’s too hard on the central nervous system and can weaken it greatly. That means water fasting is not for you if you experience issues like anxiety, depression, headaches, migraines, chronic fatigue, restless legs syndrome, fibromyalgia, back pain, ringing in the ears, tremors, twitches, bad nerve pain or burning sensations. People who have neurological issues also typically take longer, maybe a couple of weeks, to recover from a water fast.
If you’re interested in water fasting, I recommend reading Liver Rescue before you get started. It’ll give you a great background on what’s happening in your body and what you need to do to cleanse and prepare your body so you can fast safely when the time is right.
Here’s what you need to know about dry fasting: Never do it. Ever. Dry fasting is when you don’t eat or drink anything, not even water. This is traumatizing and harmful to your body and brain. It fills your bloodstream with so many poisons you can nearly go into sepsis. The toxins spill out of the liver but they don’t get flushed out of the body. Dry fasting is incredibly destructive for your liver, kidneys, nervous system and brain—it actually kills brain cells.
Juice fasting, which is when you only consume juice, can be a good choice. But again, as with water fasting, you need to be prepared. You need to have spent enough time drinking daily celery juice and lemon water, eliminating the foods that feed pathogens, lowering your fat and animal product intake and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. These steps will get your body cleansing on their own. Then, as I mentioned earlier, you can try the Liver 3:6:9 Cleanse from Liver Rescue and/or the 28-day cleanse I describe in Medical Medium. These cleanses are safe and effective and can even become your permanent way of life if you wish.
Then you may be ready for a juice fast. But take it easy—don’t jump into a long-term juice fast. It can put too much pressure on your liver. It’s also important that you don’t drink only green juices (like kale, spinach and celery) that lack carbohydrates. One reason you need to include some carbohydrates is to slow down your cleanse. And again the purpose of that is so that your liver doesn’t get forced into dumping too much poison into your bloodstream at once. Also, the fruits you would include as part of your juices contain important nutrients that will nourish your body and also support your adrenals as you cleanse.
Include at least one of the following carbohydrates in at least one juice per day: apples, cucumbers, pears, oranges and watermelon. Including these carbohydrates also protects your brain because it needs the glucose, or natural sugar, from these fruits to keep from getting injured during a fast.
Intermittent fasting is when you limit the number of hours you eat over a day, usually by waiting to eat until later in the day. I support this for certain people for a period of time in some circumstances. Some people feel like it’s not helpful to eat right away in the morning because their digestive system can’t handle it yet. In this case, I recommend people drink lemon water (with some raw honey if possible) and even celery juice if they can in the morning and then wait until maybe 11 a.m. for their first snack. Or, some people can go a little while longer if it feels right. Then later in the afternoon and in the evening they eat their meals.
This can be a helpful method for people who have an inflamed intestinal tract or hypersensitive nerves in the lining of their stomach, duodenum and small intestinal tract. For these people, any time they eat, it rubs and hurts. They may feel better if they wait half a day to eat, and it gives their digestive tract a rest. If that’s you and it feels better, you can try intermittent fasting for a while. Just remember it’s not a long-term way to eat. Rather, it’s something you may need to do for a month or for six months or so but it’s then important to return to eating frequently so you can properly care for and give your adrenals, brain, liver and the rest of the body the critical glucose they need.
You can read more about why it’s important to eat frequently in the Adrenal Fatigue article on the blog. To give your body the best support possible, consider grazing on snacks like these Adrenals snacks every two hours. Eating something every couple or few hours is especially helpful for people who have issues with their adrenals, blood sugar, nervous system or liver.
Moving Forward in Health
I highly recommend you check out Liver Rescue before doing any fasts so you can get more guidance on doing it safely. This will protect you for the long haul and help you heal. Sometimes people who have done a fast that didn’t truly serve their body in the past “hit the wall” in terms of their health and mental clarity years later because their brain runs out of glycogen storage (which an unhealthy fast dramatically accelerates). In these cases they usually don’t even know what they lost by doing the fast, and they never restored themselves afterward. Trying to “fast-track” your health with a fast usually backfires.
One other red flag to watch out for is fasting programs that include herbs and tinctures that have alcohol in them. Any kind of alcohol kills the beneficial internal bacteria and microorganisms in your gut. If a program sells products with alcohol, it’s important to avoid it.
Another piece of information that’s missing from many fasts is the importance of proper recovery. It’s so critical for your health and healing that you take the time to build yourself back up afterward. This is something I cover more in Liver Rescue as well, but one of the best ways to recover is to continue drinking a lot of straight celery juice every day. This will protect and restore your brain, liver and entire body. Take your time as you ease back into eating. Stick with fresh fruits, leafy greens and vegetables and their juices for a period until you feel you have adjusted back to consuming solid food. This could be a good time to do another round of the 28-day cleanse in Medical Medium.
I hope this information helps you to know whether fasting is right for you at this time and to make the best decision for your health.
This item posted: 28-Feb-2019
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