This article reviews everything you need to know for a short or extended juice fast including benefits, precautions, preparation, and essential juice recipes. Juice fasts are increasingly popular for cleansing the body of harmful additives we consume through our standard American “junk food” diet. Juice fasts are also popular as a means of losing weight and fighting disease.
Proponents of juice fasting explain that unhealthy substances in packaged and processed foods build up in the body. The best way, and some even argue the only way to rid your body of these toxic chemicals is through a juice fast.
However, many medical experts believe that drinking nothing but juice for an extended period of time is not only unnecessary, but dangerous. They point to the fact that the body has very powerful eliminative systems and thus doesn’t need to cleanse itself with a diet of any kind.
Some experts concede that given the increasing prevalence of processed foods, the decreasing nutritional content of our mass-produced crops, and our habits of overeating, additional nutrients and some type of support for our digestive and elimination systems may help, such as an occasional fast. Drinking a freshly juiced drink in the morning and not eating anything until lunch or dinner on occasion may help your system concentrate on healing instead of digestion.
Caution. First of all,be careful of dehydration, exhaustion, and weakness. For many people, a prolonged juice fast causes low blood sugar levels, which leaves them tired and weak. And even though you’re drinking juice, you may not be getting enough fluids. Symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, excessive tiredness, thirst, headaches, dizziness, and mental confusion.
Most importantly for anyone trying to lose weight with a juice diet, take care to be sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs or you will actually see the opposite results – weight gain! Here’s why.
Whenever you decrease your intake of nutrients, a complex process begins involving the slowing down of your metabolism and the release of special hormones. If you starve yourself of particular nutrients your body will begin to store instead of burn whatever food you consume, resulting in weight gain. Drinking special combinations of juiced fruits and vegetables while fasting as listed below will cleanse the body without lowering your metabolism.
Another important caution is knowing that an extended juice fast can affect your emotional health. Some people experience depression as their blood sugar plummets. Restrictive diets may actually lead to chronic dieting and even life-threatening eating disorders. If you’re seriously thinking of an extended fast of any amount of time longer than one day a month, I recommend consulting your physician first just to be sure that a condition you may have is not aggravated by or a hindrance to fasting. Or start with a supervised weekend juice fast at a local spa.
Preparation. If you’re serious about fasting, prepare yourself starting about five days before you begin. Slowly make the change from solid foods to liquids by slowly reducing grains, dairy foods, and meat. Eat more cooked vegetables, salads, fruits, and juices. By day 3 eat only raw salads, fruits, and juices. By day 4 narrow your food choices a bit more by replacing breakfast with juice.
Benefits. If you’ve chosen a fast lasting 2 or more days, your body undergoes changes. The largest change affects your system’s pH balance – changing from acidic to alkaline which is particularly beneficial since disease is more comfortable in an acidic body.
Your stomach contracts and as your digestive tract is cleansing, you’ll experience near miraculous weight loss. But this loss, keep in mind, is also ridding your body of vitamins, minerals, and up to 75 grams of protein a day. So be sure your juice recipes are nutrient rich – I list several of the very best below.
Along with weight loss, prepare yourself for hunger pangs, headaches, and light-headedness. And you’ll be urinating – in surprising amounts.
If you decide to fast for a longer period of time such as four to seven days, your liver undergoes changes as well. It starts to excrete toxins and chemicals from your body. This activity may make you nauseous, tired, and nervous. Some individuals even report shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include bad breath, diarrhea, skin blemishes, and body odor.
If you embark on a fast of two weeks or longer, expect another set of symptoms to emerge involving the elimination of blood toxins. Experts claim that during such fasts the cleansing of deep tissues and organs occur resulting in a full range of emotions from stressed and irritated to euphoric. Many medical experts claim these emotional responses have absolutely nothing to do with the cleansing process, and are related to starvation.
Ending Your Fast. Just as you prepared your system for fasting, you need to warn your body that things will soon return to normal. Resist the temptation to eat large quantities of food. Slowly return to normal eating habits. This reduces stomach aches, indigestion, and diarrhea. Not only that, but it also ensures you’re not over-stressing your organs, especially the liver, heart, and lungs.
To stimulate your digestive system, it’s vital to follow a few simple rules when you begin to eat solid foods again. Sit down while you eat. This encourages proper digestion. Eat very small portions, and allow your stomach to get accustomed to food again. Most people who break a fast discover that it’s best to tackle it in three distinct stages.
Stage 1 should last approximately half the number of days you were on the fast. The aim is to stimulate your stomach by eating only soft foods with high water content, such as light soups, fruit smoothies, and ground up almonds, sesame, or sunflower seeds.
When your body is ready to eat solid foods again, begin with juicing fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupes, oranges, apples and pears. Once you’re eating these, try a few heavier fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, peaches, apricots, and green bell peppers. Next – you are still in stage 1 – consume soups with vegetables or potatoes.
Stage 2 may last a day if you’ve performed a short fast, or up to five days for longer periods of not eating. Reintroduce your body to dry salads. If these sit well with you, add some dressing, but keep it simple. Most juicing experts suggest topping off the salads with olive oil and lemon, avocado, or tofu. In this stage, eat small quantities of nuts and seeds ground in salad dressings, juices, and even smoothies. Be sure to include thicker soups now. And don’t hesitate to increase the amount of vegetables you’re consuming.
Several foods you should avoid in this stage include: grains, beans, meat, and dairy products.
Stage 3 may last for only a day. If you’ve fasted for longer periods such as 10 days, this phase may last as long as five days. You can now reintroduce steamed vegetables, baked potatoes, and rice. Try eating cereal, grains, and breads. See how they sit in your stomach. Reintroduce your stomach to dairy products and some meat. Listen carefully to what your body is telling you. If it doesn’t feel quite right, go slower. Don’t force it. Avoid fried foods, high-fat cheeses, products with added sugar, and packaged and prepared foods
Juice Recipes For Fasting. The recipes below are specially formulated to insure that your body receives all the nutrients needed to function well while cleansing. Don’t use one recipe only, rather use a different one each time you eat.
To Stop Food Cravings
cantaloupe, without the rind
1 cup strawberries
Detox Power Juice
1 wedge watermelon
lb. red grapes
Cleansing Green Juice
2 apples, peeled, cored
2 stalks celery
Handful of Swiss chard
Cleansing Radish Juice
1 apple, cored, peeled
1 carrot, greens removed, peeled
Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup sparkling mineral water (optional)
Sweet Detox Juice
4 carrots, greens removed, peeled
2 stalks celery
2 cups spinach leaves
Watermelon Detox Power Juice
1 lime, peeled
2 cups watermelon