Many people have questions about water fasting: the benefits, the risks and how to do one properly.
I have written about some of the benefits of water fasting in my other blog posts. In this post I will supply a guide for how to safely prepare for a water fast to prevent extreme detoxification reactions.
The Build Up
Water fasting is an intensive detoxification process. That means, if you have never detoxed before, or if you are dealing with a signifcant toxic burden (post- chemo, heavy metal exposure, obesity, poor diet), a water fast can have severe reactions.
During the intensive detox phase of a water fast (the first 1-3 days) people can have any number of reactions: dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches or migraines, 10/10 body pains. It is hard to predict exactly how someone will react.
To reduce the likelihood of an intensive detoxification reaction there are a few things you can consider during the preparatory phase. Depending on how toxic you are will depend on the length of time that you should spend preparing for your fast. Longer amounts of time are beneficial for more toxic states.
Here are the options I recommend:
Change Your Diet
3-6 months - History of drug or alcohol use, polypharmacology, chemotherapy, obesity, SIBO, processed food diet
1-3 months - Regular diet, no obesity, no history of prior detoxification, 1 or less regular pharmaceutical medications
Add in Lifestyle Changes
A useful addition to any program to improve your body's ability to detoxify.
A juice cleanse can be a great first step towards doing a water fast. It is a gentler detox with fewer detoxification reactions than a water fast. Because sugar is consumed in the form of fructose, the body does not go into ketosis which is the major driving force of detoxification and healing in a water fast. A juice cleanse is a break from digesting and metabolizing which uses about 30% of our energy. Without fiber the vitamins and minerals in the juice are rapidly absorbed for increased nutrition and health. Fresh live juices contain active enzymes which help to break down scar tissue and reduce inflammation. Juices keep us hydrated and help to flush out toxins through the kidneys.
My juice recommendation for a juice cleanse would be:
Dosage for juices is about 8 -10 oz. 3 - 4 times per day. Juices are very filling and you might not be able to tolerate much more than this. Remember you can drink water between your juices. The number of days you choose to do the juice fast can range from 1 -7 days.
1 day - this is a great first step in detoxifying. If you would like to go slowly and see if not eating for 1 day is even possible, take o the challenge by doing a 24 hour juice cleanse. Drink 6-8 oz. of juice 4-5x per day and see the results!
3 days - this is a beginner juice cleanse and can be done by most people. It will reduce inflammation and help to heal the gut.
4-5 days - this is more intensive and can be done by people who are ready to experience some minor detoxification reactions, gut healing and a decrease in inflammation.
6+ - this is an intensive juice cleanse that will produce results. Some autoimmune diseases can go into remission between 7-10 days of just juices, the gut will show signs of healing and inflammation will go down. You might notice your skin healing (reduced acne) or an aggravation of acne and rashes if there are a lot of toxins to be released.
Note: if you have pre-existing medical conditions and you are not sure if a juice fast is safe for you, make an appointment with a local naturopathic doctor or other medical professional educated in juice cleansing to help you decide.
Dr. Ariel Jones ND