Experimenting With Fasting
Recently, I've been experimenting with juice fasting for one or two days at a time. Mostly it's been driven by curiosity on my part about what it's like to go for an extended period of time without eating anything (though of course juice does have calories). There is also a lot of research, and vast quantities of anecdotal evidence, which support the health benefits of fasting.
The benefits you hear about the most are:
Detoxification - Every day your body uses your colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands and skin to eliminate or neutralise toxins from your body. By fasting, you give these organs a break from processing incoming food and allow them time and energy to deal with any backlog of toxins which need to be processed. The fasting also means that your body turns to its fat reserves for energy, which can cause any toxins stored there to be processed and eliminated.
Healing - During a fast, your body diverts energy from your digestive system and towards your metabolism and immune system. This is one reason why we often lose our appetite when we are sick.
Extended Life Expectancy - While fasting, your body has a slower metabolic rate, more efficient protein production and improved immune system. In addition, Human Growth Hormone and an anti-ageing hormone are supposed to be released more efficiently into your body. So long as you don't malnourish yourself, restricting caloric intake is one of the few things which has scientifically proved to extend the life span of mammals.
So far it's been an interesting process, my first fast was about 36 hours, and I was surprised to discover that I didn't suffer from any physical discomfort at all. I did get hungry, but it was pretty simple to manage the urge to eat, in fact I found it easier to eat nothing then I normally find it to control my sweet tooth.
The book I read about fasting had some general guidelines about how to come off of a fast. Most of it is common sense (eg. don't make your first meal a steak, instead start slowly with easily digestible food), but one thing that I stuck to was to eat my first couple of meals slowly and to make a point of chewing food very well. As somebody who normally wolfs their food, it was an interesting experience and I enjoyed the increased attention I paid my meals.
The most interesting thing is obvious in hindsight. It's that the biggest challenge with regular fasting isn't that it gets difficult to endure the “hardship” but rather that it gets repetitive. Fasting is surprising easy, the struggle is with the discipline to do it regularly, because not eating is more boring than eating!