One of the oldest forms of detoxification is fasting, of which there are several forms.  It can be quite the ordeal to undergo a fast, but it is as cheap as cheap medicine gets so it is a worthy ally of the cheap medicine program.   

Juice fasting is the exclusive ingestion of fruit and vegetable juices for as long as thirty days.  The early stages of a juice fast can be grueling, but almost always, energy and vitality rebound resulting in a clean and revitalized feeling.  Though I don’t agree with everything in the film, Joe Cross provides an informative and very entertaining example of an extended juice fast (what he calls a “reboot”) in the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.”  His success is not unique and many people have greatly benefited from shorter stints of juice fasting such as a one day a week fast or a week-long fast performed seasonally.


A more challenging form of fasting entails the complete abstaining of food for a period of time.  Drinking only water for a few days or up to a week has a very long historical basis but poses several challenges for its practice in modern times.  For one, the time committed to water fasting is non-productive time.  Resting is about all you should and can do when water fasting.  Any demands on your body must cease.  You cannot work, take care of the family, or perform any strenuous exercise if undergoing a water fast.  If you are considering a water fast, it is imperative that you do so under the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner who could monitor you during the process. 


A more sensible approach to water fasting, which is just about as old, is to abstain from food during a much shorter period of time.  This method has gone vogue lately under the name of intermittent fasting, though the practice has been performed by muslims during the month of Ramadan for centuries.  During Ramadan, those fit enough to fast do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset.  Although there is the potential (and temptation) for muslims to gorge themselves after sunset, those who utilize the opportunity as a purification of body, mind, and soul temper their hunger with a modest intake of food at the very beginning and end of the day.  The benefits of this religious practice have been studied and the results are impressive.  In a study of fifty healthy subjects, there was a statistically significant drop in body weight, body fat percentage, blood pressure, and several markers of inflammation.


It is important to note that intermittent fasting is not just skipping a meal or two.  It needs to be conducted within a larger context of overall dietary change and in concert with a person’s metabolic needs, which can vary tremendously given an individual’s responsibilities and stressors.

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