I did a 10-day juice fast… Here’s why.
Fasting has become a regular part of my routine, I do it almost every day (we all do, actually – fasting between dinner and breakfast). I’ve found intermittent fasting to be really beneficial; I’ve had more energy, I eat less throughout the day, and I’m not as hungry as I used to be.
One of the main reasons I fast is to prolong the process of autophagy in my body. This is where old cells are recycled to create new, healthier ones. It’s only in times of fasting or low food intake that our body switches to autophagy.
In David Sinclair’s book, Lifespan, he shares how ‘fasting engages the survival circuit, telling longevity genes to do what they have been doing since primordial times: boost cellular defences, keep organisms alive during times of adversity, ward off disease and deterioration, minimise epigenetic change, and slow down ageing.’
During autophagy, cells will eat their own defective parts, and any nutrients will be recycled. This natural process helps promote cell survival and can protect against cancers, viral and bacteria infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.
In his book, Eat Smarter, Shawn Stevenson shares how intermittent fasting can stimulate the production of new brain cells. ‘Not only does intermittent fasting stimulate the creation of new brain cells, it also makes the neurons you already have work better.’
In the past I’ve done longer fasts, such as a 5-day water fast and 24-hour fasts, but what got me onto juice cleansing was the documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. During the film, Joe Cross completes a 60-day juice fast which completely changes his life. He goes from having an autoimmune condition, which requires him to take many different medications to supress, to not needing any medication at all.
I was opposed to juicing for a long time, believing it to be “unhealthy” due to the concentrated levels of sugar found in juices. For instance, to make one cup of orange juice, you would need around five oranges. That’s a lot of sugar that you wouldn’t normally have if you ate the oranges whole, in their natural state. Most people wouldn’t be able to consume five whole oranges, but it’s easy to drink that many in juice-form.
However, the juice cleanse shared in the documentary focused more on vegetables, with a small amount of fruit to make the juice palatable. As with fasting, there are many different types of juice cleanses out there. Some involve using store-bought juices and following a pre-made plan, while others opt to do their own raw juice cleanse at home using a juicer and buying a variety of fruits and vegetables. This allows more flexibility and enables you to select your own ingredients to target specific needs, such as a liver cleanse or full-body detox.
The duration of a cleanse can also vary, ranging from 3 days to 10 days, or anywhere in between. However, it’s important that you ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs throughout the cleanse, and seek advice from your medical professional first before trying any fasts. I must emphasise that this is MY personal experience after doing a lot of research. I’m not suggesting anyone else try juice fasting, at least without talking to a medical professional and doing the same due diligence. Juice fasting is generally considered safe for short periods of time, but not everyone responds the same, and some may find that they can’t or shouldn’t do it.
This is my experience and what worked for me…
What is a Juice Fast?
A juice fast is usually a form of detoxing that involves drinking juices made from fruits and vegetables for a certain length of time. This can be as simple as consuming a glass of celery juice each morning, or going a step further and removing all other foods from the diet, consuming juice only, but just for a short period.
Some of the benefits of juicing include:
- Delivers a burst of micronutrients. In our modern day diet, raw fruits and veggies aren’t a common occurrence. We often cook, boil, fry, bake or process these foods in some way, reducing their nutrient levels. By consuming these foods in juice-form, we consume more fruits and vegetables in the process than if we were to eat them whole.
- Increases nutrient absorption. Juicing provides an array of nutrients in an easy-to-digest form.
Now, there are some risks to keep in mind when juice cleansing, and it may be a much more practical and healthy idea to make juice part of a balanced, wholefoods diet, rather then a juice-only diet:
- Toxic antinutrients. Contrary to popular belief, plants aren’t fond of being eaten. They have their own sophisticated way of defending themselves, including the use of toxic chemicals such as oxalates, phytic acid (phytate), lectins, tannins, goitrogens, and phytoestrogens. Eating too many of the wrong plants at one time, or on a daily basis, can cause severe health problems.
- It’s low in fibre. Insoluble fibre, in particular, plays an important role in keeping the body healthy, as it cleans the digestive tract, helping to remove plaque and toxins trapped there.
- May spike blood sugar levels. Juices contain quite a bit of natural sugar, even homemade versions. Fructose, the sugar found in most fruits, is processed by the liver. So, consuming an all-juice diet can overwhelm the liver, causing it convert the sugar to fat instead.
To help with the problem of blood sugar spikes, I made juices that were 90 percent vegetables and 10 percent fruits, again, to make the juices drinkable. I also chose low-sugar fruits like green apples and lemon.
When it comes to antinutrient levels, some plant foods contain higher concentrations of these toxic compounds than others, so it’s important to do your research first and try and mix up the fruits and vegetables you’ll be having. If you are particularly sensitive to any of these compounds, juice cleansing may not be an ideal way for you to fast. Talk with a medical professional and consider other fasting options.
It’s important to note that the body doesn’t need to go on a juice fast to detox, it already has a its own natural detoxifying systems: The liver and kidneys, which filter out toxins; the skin, which excretes toxins through sweat; the gut which eliminates waste and the lungs which remove carbon dioxide.
I looked at my 10-day juice cleanse as a way to reboot my system. I’d fallen off the bandwagon a bit since moving out of home, eating out a lot, consuming pizza and other ultra-processed foods, and I thought a juice cleanse would help reset my body, and change my palate so I was reaccustomed with the taste of fruits and vegetables. This meant that when I went back to eating wholefoods again, I made healthier choices. This is important. If you do a juice cleanse then go back to old habits of eating unhealthy foods, you’re really no better off than when you started.
My Experience of Juice Fasting
I did a lot of research before starting my 10-day cleanse (there are some great videos by Jason Vale and Joe Cross on juicing). But, like I said before, I’m not suggesting anyone jump straight into a juice fast, I’m just sharing my personal experience. If you’re considering juice cleansing it’s important that you do plenty of research beforehand and talk to a medical professional to ensure you do it safely and correctly.
I picked a week that was free of work and any major activities, just to be on the safe side. I found I could continue exercising as usual over the 10 days.
When I decided to give this 10-day DIY juice cleanse a try, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I thought it would be a real struggle like my first 5-day water fast, but after the first week the juicing became a part of my routine.
The first six days I felt tired, hungry, lethargic and suffered with quite a bit of brain fog. This, I learnt, can be a result of detoxing. I read the detoxing phase often lasts for the first five days or so, but for me it lasted a little longer. On day seven, the energy boost kicked in for me. The brain fog lifted, and my mood swings reduced, so I felt less stressed and less anxious overall. This continued for the remainder of the cleanse, and by day ten my skin had cleared up immensely.
Before starting the fast, I had pimples popping up all over my body; on my back, chest and face. By the end of the cleanse, my overall skin tone and complexion had improved, and I had so many less breakouts.
Throughout the fast I consumed LOTS of water and an array of different homemade juices. Some of the recipes I found online were:
- Mean Green Juice
- Green Detox Machine Juice
- Basic Vegetable Juice
- Anti-Inflammatory Juice
- Immune Boosting Juice
- Liver Detox Juice
- GI Healing Juice
- Tomato Basil Juice
- 22 Delicious, Nutritious Juicing Recipes
The main detoxing ingredients I made sure to include in every recipe were celery, coriander (cilantro), parsley and dark leafy greens.
I drank four juices a day, consuming as much water and peppermint tea as I liked. To some, it may sound like a living hell, but it really isn’t. The times I felt most hungry were in the evenings, so to help with this, I drank lots of water and herbal tea.
While juicing is a wonderful way to deliver a boost of micronutrients to the body, it requires a lot of work. It’s perfect if you work from home, but if not, it can be hard to find the time to cut up all the ingredients for the juicer or blender (and then clean up the damn thing).
I used a blender for juicing, then strained out the pulp using a nut milk bag (and composted the pulp). This was very time consuming, and required a lot of cleaning up afterwards. This was the only difficult part about juicing. To avoid this, you can buy fresh, pre-made juices from health food stores, or go for one of the delivery cleanse kits, but they’re very expensive (I recommend juicing yourself).
I found the most difficult times to keep to my juice cleanse were when my housemates were cooking dinner, and I could smell the food they were making. Other than that, I rarely felt hungry.
The juice cleanse helped to set me on a good path for the next few weeks. Like I said, if you do this juice fast, but then go back to your old eating habits, you’re losing the benefits you gained from juicing. Instead, use the cleanse to gain momentum and implement healthy habits. The day I finished my juice fast, I made it a goal to only eat healthy, fresh foods for the next month, to keep the momentum of the cleanse going, and cement in my mind the new healthy habits I was forming.
The ingredients cost around AUD$100.00 for the ten days, and that was a mix of organic and conventional produce. I bought all the leafy greens, herbs and apples organic, and the rest conventional, as I worked out the greens, herbs and apples were more pesticide-laden compared to the other produce. It is expensive, but not horrifyingly so if you consider that’s your entire food and drink budget for ten days.
Juice cleansing is not a quick way to lose weight. I definitely lost some weight and felt slimmer around the middle, but I wouldn’t do it for that sole purpose. It is, however, a fantastic way to kick-start a healthy eating routine and feel good.
Breaking a Fast
How you break your juice fast can depend on how long you’ve been fasting for and your level of health to start with. If you do it wrong, you can end up feeling weak, nauseated, tired and sick.
The key is to gradually introduce new foods into your diet. It’s recommended to start with broth, soft cooked vegetables, fermented vegetables, and some gentle fruits. Dairy, fish, meat and raw vegetables are all a little too harsh to have when breaking a fast, so it can be a good idea to wait 3 post-fast days for these. Keep your portions small and spread your meals throughout the day.
Introduce solid foods into your diet gradually. It’s important that you slowly transition to normal eating. Slowly start reintroducing foods to give your digestive system time to start working again. Wait four to five days before adding in caffeine or alcohol in very small amounts.
Here’s more on how to break a fast.
Always seek the guidance of a medical professional on what you should consume to break your fast to ensure you do it correctly.
Who Should Not Fast
To keep it short and sweet, no one should fast just because I did, and I highly recommend everyone thoroughly research and talk to a medical professional before trying any fasting. Fasting may not be a good idea for:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- People with medical conditions
Unless you’ve been directed otherwise by a medical professional.
My juice cleansing experience
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.
Have you done a juice cleanse before? What was your experience? Share in the comments below.
Lots of love,
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