Feeling rundown or easily fatigued? Are you often bloated or gassy? Do you suffer from frequent headaches or other body aches? You may have toxins in your body as a result of a poor diet that are bringing you down. The solution: detoxing. While there are many types of cleanses and detox regimens that can help you feel better, one that delivers quick results is detox fasting.
Detox fasting is quicker than making subtle changes to your diet or taking a cleansing product, but it can also be difficult and uncomfortable. People with certain health problems should not try fasting. And there are risks associated with fasting that can make it dangerous to do without medical supervision.What Types of Fasts Work Best?
Water fasting is a very powerful way to detox. By drinking only water for a few days, you flush out toxins quickly. This flushing process can make you temporarily sick as your body deals with eliminating toxins quickly. Plus, you can rapidly become physically and emotionally overwhelmed by water fasting.
Fortunately, water fasting is not the only way to cleanse or detox your body. Some people take fresh juices during a fast. The increase in vitamins and minerals from the fresh fruits and vegetables can help nourish your body as you eliminate toxins.
There are also supplements that you can purchase to drink during a fast. These usually combine specific types of nutrients to give you energy and promote healing during your fast.
Other types of liquid fasts include making a specific soup or a combination of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper to drink throughout the day.
Some people prefer to detox with cleansing diets that don't eliminate food completely. Diets of only fruits and vegetables can help your body rest from processing meat and dairy products as well as help you determine if you have any allergies or sensitivities to common foods.
Who Should Avoid Fasting?
There are several situations where fasting isn't recommended. Some of the more obvious reasons to avoid fasting are if you are underage, pregnant or nursing. People with weakened immune systems, diabetes or hypoglycemia, high blood pressure or anemia are advised to avoid rapid liquid fasts.
If you have liver or kidney disease, you should also refrain from fasting. The rapid elimination of toxins can put a tremendous burden on both organs and can even lead to organ failure.
A history of eating disorders, including anorexia or bulimia, is also reasons to not fast. Recovery from these diseases requires that you maintain regular, healthy meals and avoid skipping set eating times and amounts.
Are you somewhat fearful of fasting? Then you, too, should avoid the process. Being uncomfortable or afraid before you even start can result in increased anxiety throughout your fast. There are other ways to achieve your goals without doing something that frightens or upsets you.
How Long Should You Fast?
Water fasting should rarely go longer than 7 days. People who have never fasted before may choose to start with a period as short as 1 day. Optimum results of a fast are usually achieved in a period between 3 and 7 days, however.
Juice fasts or other liquid fasts may go slightly longer, but again, you'll see benefits in a 7-day period. Avoid going any additional days unless you are working closely with a medical professional who approves a longer fast.
Should You Fast to Lose Weight?
It is true that you will lose weight during water fast. For the duration of the time you are fasting, your caloric intake is zero. In order to survive, your body goes into ketosis, a state in which your body begins to break down its own fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
The unfortunate part of weight loss during fasting is that once you begin eating food again, you will most likely gain the weight back, and it might bring its friend, the "extra five pounds," with it.
Gradual calorie reduction and increased physical exercise is a more effective long-term method of weight loss. However, a short water or liquid fast can help you prepare for making permanent improvements to your diet. For example, fasting can help you reduce cravings for sugar and other unhealthy foods that you may want to reduce or eliminate in your regular diet.
Will Fasting Strengthen Your Body?
Detoxing is not the only benefit of fasting. While it sound contradictory, water fasting can actually help strengthen your body. It helps the immune system focus on internal functions. It can also help to clear excess cholesterol from your body and lower your blood pressure if it's a bit high.
One study published in the Cell Stem Cell journal found that cyclical fasting can help repair immune system damage through helping stem cells to self renew. Researchers think that when the body enters a fasting state that it tries to conserve energy by removing immune cells that are no longer necessary, including those that are damaged.
When you begin to eat again -- especially when you adhere to a diet high in quality nutrients -- your body builds new, healthier cells that create a stronger system.
In addition to scientific studies, you can find anecdotal experiences with fasting such as online diaries that confirm these benefits and increased well-being.
Fasting has positive and negative side effects no matter what method you use. It is safest to undertake fasting under a doctor's supervision, and at a minimum, you should have a complete medical exam before starting a fast.
At any time during a fast that you feel dizzy, weak or mentally confused, you should stop. If you are engaging in a water-only fast, introduce a small amount of fruit juice and consult your medical professional. Because there are so many types of fasts, if water fasting doesn't work for you, you can regroup and try a juice or other type of fast.
By following the health guidelines that outline who should and should not fast, preparing properly and having a physical before you begin, you can maximize the results of your fasting experience.