The holiest day of the Jewish year is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; a day spent in prayer, penance and among other things, fasting. How grueling it was to me as a child. Of course I rarely made it through and the few times I did I would break fast (no not “breakfast” spellcheck) with something like a cheeseburger and a milkshake. Nowadays it’s become popular for people feeling a bit guilty about their sinful diet to do a little atoning of their own with a variety of juice fasts. Maybe my ancient ancestors were on to something.
Anyway, this fasting is a risky business and really not necessary for those with a healthy diet already. Nonetheless, the benefits are compelling. In addition to getting rid of toxins built up throughout the system from a poor diet it can decrease congestive symptoms; eliminate food allergies and sensitivities; reduces the burden on the digestive system, allowing it to heal; release pesticides, drugs, and other chemicals from stored fat, which can then be eliminated; enhance mental, physical, and spiritual well-being; increase energy and mental clarity; promote glowing skin; prevent chronic diseases caused by poor diet and lifestyle; and clear mucus discharge.
A juice fast is just what it says; a short-term intake of raw vegetable and fruit juice and water ONLY. This is done because juice is an incredible source of vitamins and antioxidants. Fasts typically last for one to three days but some people go longer. I wouldn’t recommend that without some type of medical supervision and monitoring to ensure that nutrient deficiencies don’t result.
So here’s a basic outline of a fast although many variations are possible. Do your research and find one that’s right for you. It’s suggested to fast during the warmer months with Spring being the best time of the year for juice fasting. For seven or more days before the fast, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat, animal meat, fish, and eggs should be reduced or eliminated from the diet. During this time eat mainly organic fruits, vegetables, and beans. During the fast between 32 and 64 ounces of juice is recommended and should be sipped throughout the day. Typical fruits and vegetables include celery, carrot, kale, cabbage, apple, pineapple, cranberry, spinach, beet, and greens. Citrus fruits are often avoided. In addition to the juice roughly 6 glasses of room temperature or warm filtered water is recommended. GO ORGANIC! And if you absolutely, positively cannot, peel the skin off the fruits and vegetables or wash them with a non-toxic produce cleaner like the Cuisine Clean. Fresh juice is a must so the best alternative to juicing at home with a centrifugal juicer and masticating juicer is to buy it from the health food store. Be sure not to skimp on the wheatgrass, green vegetables and sprouts because they contain the chlorophyll, which is especially beneficial during a juice fast. These must be juiced in a masticating juicer. Be sure to combine both fruits and vegetables as they each have their own unique benefits and finally, when you break the fast, return to solid foods gradually.
Certain fruits and vegetables and their parts should not be juiced, like the pits of peaches, apricots, cherries, and other fruits, apple seeds, citrus peels, carrot and rhubarb tops, tough skins (such as kiwi, pineapple, mangoes), and bananas and avocados. Some people can’t handle complete abstinence from solid food so it’s ok if you eat one meal a day in addition to the juice.
Pay attention to your body while you fast. Keep an eye on your weight, symptoms and degree of congestion, tongue coating, degree of hunger, and energy level. If energy level drops for more than one day, if weight becomes too low, or if any symptoms become particularly intense, just break the fast for God’s sake. This isn’t a punishment after all. Please note that a certain amount of tongue coating is normal. It may become thicker or have a more pronounced color (yellow, white, grey) as the body eliminates toxins.
Certain people should not do this. Pregnant or nursing women or children shouldn’t try a juice fast. As well, people with diabetes, low blood sugar, eating disorders, kidney disease, liver disease, malnutrition, addictions, underweight, anemia, impaired immune function, infection, nutritional deficiency, low blood pressure, ulcerative colitis, cancer, terminal illness, epilepsy, or other chronic conditions shouldn’t try a juice fast or should do so only under strict medical supervision. People shouldn’t try a juice fast before or after surgical procedures. Remember, a juice fast can reduce blood proteins and change the way prescription drugs react in the body so people taking prescription medications should consult a health professional skilled in detoxification before trying a juice fast, and should never discontinue or reduce their medications on their own.