Good health is largely determined by our bodies’ ability to ‘detoxify’—flushing out the toxic substances that can be found in everything from the air we breathe to the food we eat. It’s absolutely critical to support the body’s detoxification systems to promote optimum health, and a three-to-five-day fresh fruit and vegetable juice fast—performed once every three to four months—is a great way to do just that.Juice Fast Basics
Prepare for your fast on the day before by making your last solid meal one of only fresh fruits and vegetables (some experts recommend a full day of raw food). For the next three to five days, you should consume only fresh fruit and vegetable juices (ideally prepared from organic produce), four 8- to 12-ounce glasses throughout the day. Virtually any fresh juice can supply detox support, but some of the best include beets, carrots, celery, apples, and/or pears.
In addition to fresh juice, drink plenty of pure water—at least four 8-ounce glasses per day, or more as dictated by thirst.
The Importance of Freshness
There’s no question that the fresher the juice, the greater the health benefits. Fresh, unprocessed juice is full of live enzymes and the most active forms of many health-supporting phytochemicals. The pasteurization process in the production of commercial juices destroys many of these compounds, and actually alters the structure of vital nutrients that are important in fighting against viruses, cancers, and damage to our cells.
Other Important Guidelines
During your fast, avoid coffee, soft drinks, sports drinks, or any other processed beverage. Herbal teas, on the other hand, can be supportive, but they shouldn’t be sweetened with anything other than perhaps stevia (or other natural sweeteners).
Exercise isn’t usually encouraged while fasting. It’s best to conserve energy and allow maximum healing. Short walks or light stretching are okay, but heavy workouts tax the system and inhibit repair and elimination.
Cleansing the skin with lukewarm water is encouraged, but temperature
extremes can be tiring. And avoid conventional deodorants, soaps, sprays, detergents, synthetic shampoos, and other chemicals that hinder elimination and add to the body’s toxic burden.
Rest is one of the most important aspects of a fast. A nap or two during the day is recommended. Less sleep will usually be required at night, since daily activity is lower.
Body temperature usually drops during a fast, as do blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate—all measures of the slowing of the metabolic rate of the body. It is important, therefore, to stay warm.
When breaking your fast (see chart, p. 32), remember to eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and avoid overindulgence. While breaking a fast and in the days that follow, it can be very helpful to record what you eat and note any adverse effects. Many of today’s health problems stem from food allergies and overeating.
During a fast, stored toxins in our fat cells are released into the system, so it’s important to support your fast with supplements that will help your body deal with these toxins and flush them out. Here are some key suggestions:
Breaking your fast
One of the following: melon, nectarine, or pineapple
A different fruit from the breakfast list
8 oz of any other fruit
12 oz of one type of fresh fruit
14 oz of whole pears, papaya, or citrus fruit
Raw vegetable salad with leafy greens, tomato, celery, and cucumber; or 2 pears, 2 apples, and ¼ avocado
|Resume your normal, healthy diet.|
|Herb Pharm Milk Thistle is processed using a natural extraction technique, without the use of harsh synthetic chemicals.||NOW Foods Apple Fiber has 4 g of dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) in
1 Tbs. Mix with juice for best results.
|ReNew Life Critical Liver Support is an antioxidant-rich blend with milk thistle and silymarin, alpha lipoic acid, NAC, and selenium.|
For more in-depth guidelines on juice fasts, including easy recipe ideas, see The Complete Book of Juicing by Michael T. Murray, ND.
Michael T. Murray, ND, is the author of more than 30 books on natural health, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third Edition. He is regarded as one of the world's top authorities on natural medicine, and is a sought-after lecturer and educator. Visit him online at doctormurray.com.