How and Why to Fast or Cleanse

Monday May 9 | BY |
| Comments (1)

Glasses Of Fresh Organic Vegetable And Fruit Juices

We all try to live a healthy life, but there comes a time when life catches up with us. I’m talking about the negative effects stress, lack of sleep, overeating, eating convenience foods, drinking too much coffee and alcohol, and working too much.

Maybe you realize you’ve gained a lot of weight, and don’t like what you see in the mirror. Perhaps you’re noticing how every morning you wake up with less energy than you had the day before. Are you developing aches and pains?

All of these situations, along with headaches, irritability, fatigue and the feeling of overwhelm are indicators that the body is experiencing a state of “stress.” I prefer to use this word than “toxicity.”

I’ve been helping people cleanse for many years and have created several cleanses or fasting programs and have been helping thousands of people achieve better health and improved energy.

Here are some of the most common benefits of a fast (Note: In this article I will use the words “fast” or “cleanse” interchangeably. A fast can be water only or include juices):

Having More Energy — Although in the first few days of the cleanse you may feel less energy. Most people notice a significant gain in vitality by the end.

Younger Looking Skin and Face — You may look a lot younger by the end of the fast. Skin gets smoother, and you may get comments from your friends such as “What happened to you, you look so good!” or “I don’t know what you’ve been doing, but keep doing it!”

Mood Improvement— If you’ve been feeling any feelings of depression or irritability, a cleanse or fast is usually very effective in restoring positive mood.

General Health Improvements — This can depend on the person, but often unexpected positive health changes are the result of a cleanse or a fast. I’m talking about those little aches and pains that you forgot you had that go away, or how your sleep is so much better than it used to be, or how your creativity and ability to get things done just seem to double or triple.

Some other advantages of fasting include:

  • Weight loss
  • Better digestion
  • Increased joint flexibility
  • Overall feeling of well-being
  • Increased stamina
  • Improved breathing
  • Greater motivation and creativity
  • More stable blood sugar and mood
  • Improved concentration and mental focus
  • Rejuvenation and renewal

Signs You Need a Cleanse

“Cleansing” is excellent for two reasons:

1- To restore balance and health
2- To maintain health and prevent illness.

The first category is where people find themselves when they start a cleansing or fasting program. Usually, it takes a real “wake-up call” for people to decide to do anything about their health. Here are some of the most common warning signs you should watch for, that can be indications you should change your ways.

  • Waking up in the morning tired
  • Low energy, or no desire to exercise
  • Headaches
  • Irritability and Depression
  • Inability to achieve ideal weight

When to Cleanse

We could say that the best time to go on a cleanse is when you feel you need it. But generally, that would have the purpose of restoring balance and health when you feel you’ve lost it.

To be ahead of the game and maintain your health and energy, I suggest the following program.

1 day a week — Many traditions recommend fasting one day per week. A 24-hour water or juice fast can be surprisingly effective. (There are many other options for those who should not fast).

2-5 days — once per season— If you’ve incorporated the habit of having a fasting day once a week, you may want to go the next step and extend one of those days by 2-3 days, once per season (2-4 times a year). This fast can include juice, fruit or green smoothies, depending on your needs. (I like to do water fast, but it is not for everybody).

1 week per year — I recommend taking one week yearly to take care of yourself as a priority, which may include a cleanse or fast. Even the most committed exercisers and healthy eaters still cannot keep up overtime with the stress, occasional wrong food choices, negative emotions, and everything else that is part of life.

At least once per year, it’s important to book a week to take care of your body. This type of “vacation” is more important than going to Hawaii and stay at a resort, come back more tired and most likely heavier than when you left home.

Almost everybody, when asked, would list health as one of the most important factors, coming before money, recreation, and work. It’s so difficult to make it an actual priority by taking at least a week to “cleanse.”

You don’t have to leave your family and work obligations behind to take care of yourself. However, if you can afford it, I would recommend, once 1-3 years, doing a fasting program at a center specialized in this form of therapy. That way, you’ll be taken care of, and someone will make sure, for that time, that your health is your number one priority.

Where to Cleanse

There are several ways you can cleanse.

At home, on your own — You can certainly do a cleanse on your own, at home, while continuing work or other daily activities. You then have to draw the motivation to do it by yourself, or with the help of a buddy who will follow the cleanse with you, either in the same space or at a distance. Note: you should never do a long water fast on your own.

At home, with coaching — The next best thing to do is to conduct a cleanse at home, but receive some coaching in the form of Facebook forums, webinars, and so on.

At a center — If you want maximum results and benefits from a cleanse, consider going to a center that facilitates this kind of program. The advantages of doing so include:

  • Controlled environment. Being away from home and family (no distractions and temptations)
  • No other responsibilities
  • Food prepared for you: you don’t have to worry about anything. You just follow the program.
  • Good environment and support from other people doing the program.
  • Coaches available to take you further in your fitness routine.
  • Plenty of rest possible from being in a tranquil environment.
  • Get services you couldn’t get as easily at home: yoga classes, massages, etc.
  • Escape the cold and spend time in a warm climate.

You can easily coordinate a cleanse with a vacation, by organizing one week of fasting, and follow with another week of vacation, or the other way around.

I recommend the True North Health Center in California. They specialize in water or juice fasting, but many people just go there to “eat the food.” (Note: I receive no compensation from this recommendation.)

What Happens During a Cleanse

You’ll get benefits from doing a cleanse no matter what. Just go with what you feel is best for your body, in your particular situation and schedule. Here’s an overview of what tends to happen during a cleanse, depending how long you go.

1 day
Gives your digestive system a rest. It helps reduce stress and eliminates toxins. Enlivens mood, spirit and energy.

2-5 days
Excess salt is eliminated from the system, and excess weight is released (mostly in the form of water). Detoxification of tissues occurs.

7-10 days
By seven days, energy is higher, and the body has started to eliminate and burn excess body fat. Significant changes in mood, mental clarity, complexion, and more.

Warning: Avoid becoming a cleanse “junkie.”

Because the benefits of cleansing seem to get even better over time, a lot of people are tempted to go on endless fasting programs, or attempt cleanses of several months without supervision.

If a person is at their ideal weight or underweight, it’s not recommended to go on more and more cleanses in the hopes of achieving “perfect health”. Many have hurt themselves in the process. Use cleansing or fasting appropriately, to restore and maintain health, but do not restrict your diet for too long. You won’t get more benefits that way.

Health is created by healthful living, not by unhealthful living followed by fasting!

What to Think of Enemas, Herbs, Colonics and Other Adjuncts to the Fast

A lot of people try to make cleansing more complicated than what it needs to be to sell their expensive products. They’ll sell you their “cleansing program” that are nothing more than a bunch of herbs which are disguised medicines or laxatives, often too potent to even be sold over the counter!

I’ve known dozens of people who wrecked their digestion for months, some even for life, after following one of the most popular “cleansing” programs on the market, one that promises to get rid of the ugly “mucoid plaque” in your colon — something that science has never proven actually to exist.

The basic of diet cleansing is relatively straightforward:

  • Give your digestion a rest
  • Feed yourself healthy nutritious foods, as little as necessary for cleansing to occur
  • Take good care of yourself, and let the body heal itself

There’s no need to add herbal “purges,” tinctures, or even enemas and colonics to the cleanse. All of these modalities can hurt you when used inappropriately, as they almost always are.

Be very careful not to get into the hype and buy the false science that many alternative health salespersons are pushing with their health products. Many people have hurt themselves in the process, or at the very least spent a lot of money that would have better been used for something more useful.

Stay tuned for our upcoming complete program on fasting and cleansing, ‘The Greatest Cure on Earth!

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. IH says:

    I like this article very much and I guess you are a veteran when it comes to responsible fasting. I did a raw vegan detox program last year for 28 days and I felt great. Focus was on chlorophyl rich greens , green smoothies, green juices, wheatgrass and sprouts. Energy soup was also on the menu if you chose to ?. A colonic was part of it though and I personally find that it is a good addition to any cleansing/detox program. I understand your point on becoming a cleansing “junkie”. I’m actually looking to do something similar again.However, not for 28 days but let say a week. I feel that my liver needs some tlc. I am a bit hesitant about fasting not because I don’t believe in its benefits but more because I don’t need to lose any weight. I also have some low blood sugar/adrenal issues. On the detox I did lose some weight but that stopped after a while. What do you recommend for someone who does not need to lose weight?

    I hope to go to a centre one day like True North or Hippocrates Health Institute

    Keep the information coming.

    Comments are closed for this post.