“As a means of purification and self-discipline, fasting stretches way back in time. The early American Indians fasted to see the great spirit, Christ spent forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, and Moses fasted on Mount Sinai. Yogis fast mainly to bring the mind and senses under control, but also to cleanse and thus rejuvenate the body.”
It’s spring, the season that’s most associated with cleansing. In TCM, spring is the season that the liver is said to be the most active, literally purging and squeezing out the toxins that accumulated over the last year.
Maybe you’re feeling it, the need to lighten up your food, purge your belongings or make a big change. If so, a fast could be just what you need.
Is Cleansing Really Necessary?
Recent studies have poo-poo’d cleansing, saying that the body is perfectly capable of cleansing on its own and that anyone who recommends a cleansing regime is a quack, but I disagree.
Our modern lifestyles put us in contact with harmful chemicals in the food we eat, the environments in which we live and work. Just to give you an idea, there are 84,000 different chemicals currently being used in America, and that number is growing. Each year, between 500 and 1000 new chemicals are introduced.
Over time, these chemicals can build up in our bodies, putting strain on the liver. The liver can only disarm so many toxins at one time, and so harmful toxins can start to build up in the body. This is what’s known as a “body burden” and can lead to symptoms like headaches, weight gain, PMS and food allergies, to name a few.
Our bodies can remove the accumulated toxins from our liver and tissues, once we create the right environment to do so. This is probably why Ayurvedic medicine recommends a cleanse each season. Ayurvedic cleansing rituals, called panchakarma, have been practiced for centuries.
The process of digestion is one of the most taxing processes that we put our bodies through. It takes a lot of energy to take the food that we eat and turn it into nutrients.
Fasting is a completely natural process – think of the last time you were sick and didn’t want to eat. Animals do this too. It’s a completely natural instinct that we’ve unfortunately learned to tune out. Think about it, when was the last time you fasted? Probably a long time ago. Our modern lifestyles are full of delicious and abundant food. And I’ve actually noticed that those of us who are conscious of what we eat, in some ways, are more likely to over snack during the day.
Anyway, most of us are constantly tempted by delicious food and our lives seem to revolve around meal times and when we can eat or snack next. When eat the constant stream of meals and snacks, our body is forced to go through nearly constant digestion. As I mentioned, digesting food takes up a lot of energy, energy that would otherwise be put toward detoxification and other processes.
By removing the food, we are freeing our bodies of the digestive burden. We’re also freeing our minds from the food.
And, to top it off, recent research is only beginning to uncover the benefits of fasting, intermittent fasting and calorie restriction. This new information is literally challenging everything we thought we knew about skipping meals, eating breakfast, and restricting calories.
What You Can Expect From A Juice Cleanse
Juice cleansing, also known as “juice fasting” or even “juice feasting,” is a little different from traditional fasting. It involves drinking liquids every two hours or so to keep blood sugar balanced and nutrients flowing in. Because there’s little to no fibre and no protein in juice, the body does not have to go through the taxing process of digestion. So your body is free to detoxify and repair itself. Here are three of my favourite benefits of a juice cleanse:
- Great sleeps and more energy – your body isn’t putting any energy into digesting food while you sleep, so you sleep more soundly. And by the second or third morning, you’ll likely find that you’ll pop out of bed before your alarm.
- Appetite reset – you’ll have less of an appetite once you return to real food post-cleanse. Abstaining from food can also shed light on your emotional eating patterns. You’ll feel hunger and you’ll feel it pass. A feeling that we rarely allow ourselves normally. Oh, and it’s really nice to not have to think about food for 3 days.
- Deep hydration – the water in fruits and vegetables is more similar to the water found in our cells. This is just one of the reasons why people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables have great skin. So by drinking a few litres of pure hydration daily, wait and see what it does for your skin.
If you’re still feeling unsure, read this post to see if a juice cleanse is right for you.
“Our body is our temple where we live and where we do the work of becoming enlightened. Just as certain external environments are more conducive to increased awareness than others, so it is with the inner environment. The body itself can be a ‘clean, well-lighted place.’” – Ram Dass