Is fasting worth the effort, and can it give me long term health benefits?
Yes, it can. More and more studies show that all different types of fasting can reduce our risk of chronic disease and even reverse some, to some extent.
Dr. Greger has many short videos on his website Nutritionalfacts.org in which he shows and compares the results of many studies.
Fasting has been done for centuries, not just for physical health benefits, but also for emotional and spiritual health benefits. When you abstain from certain foods, drinks or even do a digital fast and abstain from your screens, all of a sudden it creates space.
This space can be very healing, but also very confronting. It can show you how addicted you are to certain foods and habits, and how much comfort they create for you. It can create the space for your body, mind and spirit to start detoxing, which can be very uncomfortable!
So how do you go about doing a fast?
There is so much information out there at the moment, that it can all become a bit daunting to figure out what is going to work best for you.
Let’s break through all of the clutter and start at the beginning.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FAST FOR YOU
First of all, fasting is not going to be of much use, and is not going to give long lasting health benefits, if the next day you have a meat pie and a can of coke for breakfast, followed by a Big Mac for lunch. Get it?
So start with cleaning up your diet first, and create new healthy habits. And that is not something you do overnight, that is going to take time. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Your taste buds, digestive system and your microbiome all need time to adjust to new foods, more fibre, less sugar etc.. So take your pick, where do you feel you can improve? Cut down on coffee? Alcohol? Sugar? White bread? Pick one thing, and see what you can replace it with, that is a better choice and still satisfies you.
There are about a hundred shades of healthy, and trying to move from very unhealthy to super healthy in one week is just not realistic.
For example: if you are looking at cutting out white bread, you could start with switching to whole meal bread, later on you could try some sourdough bread, then some organic sourdough bread, then paleo bread. Even with these little steps, you are doing yourself and your body a huge favour. From lots of coffee, you could go to less coffee and some tea, then maybe herbal tea.
Little steps to create new habits that will last, will have more benefits than going ‘gang ho’, loosing the plot and being back at square one a few days later.
If you find it really hard to break certain habits, remember the ‘one day at the time’ approach:” Today I will only drink one coffee”. This creates successes instead of failures.
Pride yourself on what you have done well, don't focus on what you aren't.
One puzzle piece at a time.
Once you have cleaned up your diet to some extent, and you are not constantly having toxic foods and drinks, you can start looking at the next step towards giving your digestive system a break and give your body a chance to start detoxing.
One way of doing this is through having ‘liquid days’.
Pick a day, get prepared and have a day of juices, smoothies and blended soups or broths. You could do this once a week.
Intermittent fasting is another method you can try, which simply means that you create more time between your last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day.
Say you have dinner at 6 at night, then only drink water or herbal tea after that, and have your breakfast at 8 the next morning. That gives your body a good window to do clean up from the day before. Making this a habit has great benefits, providing that during the other hours you eat healthy food of course. Then you can pick some days during which you increase this clean up window and maybe not have breakfast till 10. Play around with it and see what suits your body and lifestyle.
A word of caution and where colonics come in:
Before you take your fasting and detox efforts any further, you want to make sure that your body can actually get rid of the toxins that you are trying to dislodge.
If your body starts to dump toxins into your sewage system, aka your colon, and it is caked with old faeces, or you are not pooping a few times a day, its more likely that you will just reabsorb the toxins, which will create more stress for your body!
Cleaning the colon is an absolute must, so the Lymphatic system can freely drain the toxins into it, and they can quickly exit.
A few colonics will clear all old faecal matter, and will actually really stimulate the body to start detoxing, without you even fasting!
It will also give you more energy and help to rebalance and strengthen your microbiome.
Remember that the good bacteria in your gut will make you crave healthy foods, while the bad guys make you crave the sugary bad stuff. So colonics are super supportive, when you are trying to kick the bad habits, and possibly work your way towards cleansing and fasting.
Once your colon is clean, you can get a bit more serious about fasting.
You could try a one day juice fast, then a 3 day juice fast. Some people continue their normal daily routine while fasting, others also give themselves a break of work and really focus on their body and the process, adding gentle walks, yoga and immersion in nature to these days of cleansing.
Daily colonics and/or (coffee)enemas will greatly help to wash away all the toxins and old mucous that the body will start to release, and prevent or reduce detox symptoms like headaches, foggy brain, aches etc.
During your fast, make sure you drink a glass of purified water every hour. You can also consider taking some Vitamin C, enzymes, pre and probiotics, a liver cleanser like Livatrex, some liquid sea minerals, and herbal teas to support your body in the process, and some psyllium to keep sweeping the colon, and keep the colon moving.
You will also greatly benefit from dry skin brushing, sauna, deep breathing, massage etc. Try to make it as enjoyable and fun as you can and plan ahead, as it will also be challenging and uncomfortable at times.
If you have a list of things you can go and do during those difficult moments, you are much more likely to succeed.