Forms of fasting have been around for centuries, but in today's modern world Juice Fasts have become a popular trend. A juice fast is where a person only consumes vegetable and fruit based juices while otherwise abstaining from food.
This article isn't advocating or dismissing juice fasts, it's aim it to provide clarity on some of the Pros & Cons.
It’s ideal that the juice is at least 80% vegetables and 20% or less from fruit to avoid high amounts of fructose. Smoothies are not part of a juice fast as you still need to break down the food, so the digestive system is not resting. The idea of a juice fast is to take the burden off the digestive system so it can rest and cleanse.
Short juice fasts that are 3-5 days long are recommended as after 24-48hrs glycogen stores are used up then your body will then go to fat stores for energy. Fasting encourages toxins stored in the fat cells to be mobilised into the blood stream and dealt with by the liver. It is important that prior to fasting, the main organs of elimination (liver, colon and kidneys) be in an optimally efficient state. It is possible to do longer juice fasts, even up to a month, but these should be supervised by a health professional and/or juice retreat.
- Energy during a juice fast goes to healing, repairing and rejuvenating – not digesting.
- To an over acidic body. Vegetable juices are rich in alkaline minerals – potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and manganese.
- Juicing provides an ideal way to fast because it not only provides the valuable nutrients necessary for enzymatic action, but it also allows the body to detox more slowly, lessening the burden on the liver. For example, beetroot is a powerful blood cleanser.
- On a 5 day juice fast a person can lose 4-5lbs to 8-10lbs, but will regain at least 2lbs as that is waste/water retention you lost
- Vegetable juice fasts would be recommended over fruit juices to anyone suffering from candida or blood sugar problems. Fruit and vegetables juices should not be combined as they impair digestion. Exceptions are apples and carrots.
- Common benefits are: increased energy and vitality, clearer and more radiant skin, increased mental clarity and mental focus; as well as, improved digestion, absorption of nutrients, more regular eliminations, reduced bloating and a flatter stomach
- Weight loss is possible, but its so much more – fasting removes toxins, boost the immune system and gives an overall enhanced feeling of wellbeing
- A stronger immune system and diminished allergic symptoms
- Decreased pain and inflammation
- Can cause muscle loss and an unhealthy re-gaining of fat after the juice fast ends if you indulge on high calorie foods and don’t slowly reintroduce foods
- During a fast, toxins are mobilised into the bloodstream as fat stores are used up (the body “dumps” most of its toxins in the fat). Commons reactions to occur during a juice fast are headaches, bad breath, body odour, dizziness, diarrhoea, nausea, flatulence, skin rash, nasal discharge and aching limbs and muscles
- Fatigue – because a person is consuming fair less calories than with food it is normal to feel tired especially in days 1 and 2, but by day 3 this will improve and energy levels tend to increase.
- Bowels may stop or become sluggish during the fast – if this happens you could try an enema to get the bowels moving which in turn will lessen reaction.
- After 5 days of your body not having to breakdown food it can be a shock initially, so it’s important to reintroduce foods slowly for 1-3 days with very light foods that are easily digested i.e. steamed broccoli, watery porridge with cooked peaches. Proteins are best avoided.
- Emotional symptoms such as irritability, depression, anxiety, fear and hopelessness may occur.
- Fruits – don’t use fruits when you suffer from candida, fungus or skin conditions as it feeds candida.
- Elderly people or people with drug history should avoid fruits (blood sugar dysregulation / addiction)
*People who should not fast are pregnant or breastfeeding women, babies, children and frail elderly people, people on prescription medication i.e. diabetics on insulin.