What is Water Fasting?
Water fasting is a very simple process of literally consuming nothing but pure distilled water for a number of days in a row. It can be a great way to reboot the system so that the foods and superfoods we later consume are absorbed in the highest way possible.
In certain situations this type of fasting might be more appropriate than just a straight juice fast. Water fasting gives the digestive system a "complete rest" so it can more effectively restore balance to areas of the body that may need it.
When it comes to chronic diseases water fasting benefits may not exactly be "fast", like taking a pill or drug, but eventually with perseverance and a will to experience greater health, this form of fasting can offer long term effects that can be life changing.
The idea is to fast on water for as little time as necessary to achieve your desired health goals and this is best accomplished by staying at one of the various health center's around the world that specialize in the "water-only" fasting.
So the kind of fast we are talking about here, and the only one we personally promote, is called a medically supervised water fast in which there are skilled doctors monitoring your experience throughout the day.
Although fasting on just water might sound extreme to some people, it has been successfully practiced by thousands of individuals as a way to restore and rejuvenate the body's healthy functioning state.
We believe many of the top health problems today are associated with overeating and obesity, especially here in the Western world. Consuming too much meat protein and fat, salt, sugar and refined foods can result in addictive eating patterns. A great book/dvd on this subject and one we highly recommend reading is called "The Pleasure Trap", by Dr. Douglas Lisle and Dr. Alan Goldhamer.
A medically supervised water fast, conducted appropriately, can more efficiently help one to break the cycle of these food addictions. The benefits of water fasting can not only help to cleanse the body, but also helps to "reset the taste buds", so that whole simple fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes actually taste wonderful, the way the are suppose to.
The process of fasting is often a much healthier way to get back on track than other forms of dieting or therapy. In addition, it encourages one to make better health-promoting food and lifestyle choices further down the road.
Water fasting is known to facilitate the body's own healing and cleansing mechanisms and can be a great gift to an overburdened system. You are basically utilizing the body's own natural intelligence to do what it does best... cleanse and heal itself!
Many who are unfamiliar with water fasting often equate it with starvation. However, the two are quite different.
Water fasting is something completely different than juice fasting. Drinking fresh pressed juice still engages the digestive system because it offers a supply of nutrients to the body.
Although low sugar green juices can be an effective way to detox the cells and tissues, drinking pure distilled water is a much faster way to achieve your desired goals because the digestive system is at complete rest. Healing happens at a much faster rate and changes that might take weeks to achieve with juice fasting may occur in less time when a "water-only" fast is utilized.
Water fasting benefits are more easily achieved when one does not undergo physical exercise and is in an environment of total undisturbed rest. With juice fasting this is not the case and most people can actually function quite well within the activities of their everyday life.
Humans are naturally designed to fast as a mechanism of survival in times of famine. It is also a biological adaptation to help the body overcome disease and dietary excess. These are the four phases that the body automatically undergoes when fasting with water.
By the end of the 2nd week of fasting the majority of energy is derived from the metabolism of keytone bodies. Even the brain converts to burning predominantly keytones rather than exclusively glucose.
As we mentioned, water fasting benefits are particularly helpful for those who are obese or suffer from a number of health issues related to excess weight and body fat. The conditions caused by overeating, like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases (including lupus rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, asthma and psoriasis) are very responsive to supervised water-only fasting.
"There is nothing that is more effective than fasting when it comes to treating the consequences of dietary excess." Dr. Alan Goldhamer
The biological capacity that allows humans to fast is an adaptation we were designed to utilize to help the body overcome disease and a dietary surplus. The biochemistry of fasting induces metabolic and hormonal changes which help us draw on our supply of fat rather than our vital proteins, thus conserving our nutrient resources.
High blood pressure is probably one of the leading contributing factors to diseases like congestive heart failure and strokes as stated in the The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2002.
Most people know that when you increase aerobic exercise, eat a low fat vegetarian diet, reduce sodium intake and alcohol consumption you can effectively lower high blood pressure. In the study entitled "Medically Supervised Water-only Fasting in the Treatment of Hypertension" it was shown that participants were able to significantly decrease high blood pressure with a period of water-only fasting.
Fasting facilitates the elimination of exogenous (external toxins - chemical toxins from our environment, pesticides, etc) and endogenous (internal toxins - like uric acid and cholesterol).
The process of undergoing a water fast naturally helps to detoxify the body and aid in the elimination of these various toxins via the liver and kidney systems. When these organs are unhindered by digestion they can more effectively do what they do best, cleanse and release unwanted waste material.
Autoimmune diseases (like leaky gut, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, etc) are all characterized by abnormal immune system
functioning and the production of antibodies that attack against the
body's own tissues, believing that they are actually harmful pathogens.
Prolonged inflammation usually goes hand in hand with any autoimmune disorder. When you avoid foods that cause inflammation or participate in water fasting benefits for a period of time, you can more effectively manage the conditions associated with autoimmune disease in combination with sticking to a health promoting diet and lifestyle.
Inflammation can also be the result of too many free radicals in the system caused by excessive smoking, alcohol use, trans-fats and heated animal fats. Fasting can inspire one to give up these unhealthy habits that often degrade the body systems overtime.
Medically supervised water fasting in addition to a health-promoting diet and lifestyle can significantly help to:
For the greatest water fasting benefits it is good to consume between four to six 16 ounce glasses of water a day.
It is a good idea to drink your water slowly, sipping a little bit at a time. Since you are not eating food at this time, it might become something you can actually savor and enjoy.
Steam distilled water is the best water to use when fasting because it contains no mineral content and can hydrate and move through the body without involving normal digestive functions.
Fasting is not appropriate for everyone. It can be an intense and sometimes unpleasant experience before you get to the good part. The greatest contraindication to water fasting is actually the "fear" of fasting. In order for a person to go on a fast they need to understand enough about fasting so they can relax and allow the body to do what it does best, which is heal itself.
There are some conditions that can make fasting inappropriate. For example, there are certain types of cancers that can make adjusting to the physiology parts of fasting difficult. There are also particular kinds of medications that may contraindicate fasting.
This is all decided upon on an individual basis with a qualified medical doctor who specializes in treatment through water-only fasting. This involves a thorough review of the persons medical history with a comprehensive physical exam, blood work and any other necessary testing.
To achieve water fasting benefits many people often go through a number of unpleasant experiences that are just simply part of the process. This is part of the reason why it is important to take special time for yourself and take a break from your everyday life.
General Experiences When Fasting
There are many water fasting centers, you must do some research to find the best in your area. Some of these centers advertise through word of mouth and are not available in phone book listings, so keep that in mind.
Our personal favorite water fasting facility is located in Santa Rosa, Ca called True North Health Center. They have been in business since 1984 and are run by a team of medical doctors seeking to find healthier alternatives to the standard medical treatments.