There are many wonderful attributes to fasting and cleansing and they are slightly different from one another… I'd love to share some of my own personal experiences with both!
I did my first juice cleanse at 22 years old. It was 2 weeks of just juice and Epsom salts. It was also during a time in my life where I had nothing to do but make it to my waitressing job on time and be completely self absorbed! Yoga, steaming, meditating... now these are totally awesome things to do and i recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to take care of themselves in this manner to GO FOR IT!! However, for me, nowadays life is much more demanding being a single working mother of two I, unfortunately, do not have the availability to always support myself in these ways, they are more of a luxury for me now. In the “olden days” as my children love to call it, juice fasting came easier to me because I had the space and time to really do it right. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn as I grow older has been to accept that things change and that I am constantly changing. Although I am graciously aware of how much I have grown and evolved as a person in this last decade of being a mother I still struggle to find the grace in letting go of certain ego filled prides like being able to do a 10 day master cleanse with my eyes closed! Because of this mentality it took me a long time to realize that cleansing can be just as efficient and in certain ways a healthier option than fasting. Now allow me to get into some of the differences.
What is fasting exactly? According to Wikipedia, “Fasting is a willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink or both, for a period of time.” When we stop eating solid foods we give our digestive system a, typically, well needed break. It takes between 2-4 hours to digest most meals. The sloppier the combination of foods the harder it is to process and longer it takes to break down. The simple truth is that by the time we are finally finished digesting the last thing we put in our mouths most of us are eating again! Truth be told most of us are at it again well BEFORE we have finished digesting allowing a breeding field for purification, fermentation, gas, bloating and toxic poison to circulate through our systems. When we give our digestive systems a break from spending all this energy all day long just on trying to keep up with what we are feeding ourselves we end up with a surplus of energy! Its like a savings account of energy that can then be spent elsewhere like healing our systems, enzymes can break down the calcification deposits in the joints that cause arthritis instead of breaking down food. We can sleep better and repair ourselves quite efficiently. However most of us hold about 2-3 days worth of reserves so that we don’t go into starvation mode the second we stop eating so if you are only fasting for 2 to 3 days you may be eating again before really reaping the benefits of a true fast.
While fasting has many wonderful benefits there are downsides as well. Many of the juice cleanses today have a LOT of sugar which can trigger hypo-glycemic attacks and are not a friend to a gut dealing with Candida over growth. They can feel depriving and isolating as it can be quite challenging to continue socializing in a regular way with others when you can’t partake in meals as so much of our interaction centers around food. I’m not suggesting this is a reason not to challenge yourself but I’ve seen so many people, myself included, set themselves up for failure only to deal with feelings of self hatred and a general beat down after… and none of us deserve that. Finally fasting can slow the metabolism obviously and since there’s little substance most people don’t have energy to work out which also slows the metabolism making breaking the fast that much more imperative to do correctly. Some people may gain weight back quickly and can end up feeling bloated and gassy again not to mention discouraged that after working so hard they don’t feel great again. These are some reasons why a general cleanse instead of a fast could be a better option… I’ll talk more about this tomorrow!
Arul Goldman, CHT, HHP
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