Thursday, July 30, 2015

Shall we fast? Not so fast!

By Paz Etcheverry, Ph.D.

Detox is a shortened version of the word "detoxification”, which means the elimination of toxins from our bodies. While detoxification happens on a regular basis, detox diets, plans, kits, and programs have become very popular as a means to assist our ‘detox’ organs (mainly the liver, kidneys, and intestines) in getting rid of these nasty, entrapped toxins. The goal of a detox diet, if performed correctly, is to get the body back to a healthful, fresh state, that is balanced and minus the toxins.

However, some individuals believe that prolonged and/or unsupervised fasting is a suitable and healthy method to detox and lose weight at the same time. Oh no!!! Not so fast!!! Prolonged (i.e., for more than two days) and/or unsupervised fasting can contribute to an imbalance in our normal detoxification system. Prolonged fasting depletes our bodies from nutrients that are required by our detox organs to work effectively and efficiently. For example, the liver, our main detox organ requires vitamin C, vitamin E, amino acids, and sulfur-containing compounds (found in garlic, onions, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage), and the intestine requires dietary fiber to eliminate the toxins. Additionally, during normal detoxification, the liver cells produce free radicals. If we do not supply our body with antioxidants (vitamins C and E, carotenoids, selenium, and polyphenols), we could have significant oxidative damage.

A weekly fast of 2436 hours (i.e., a day to a day and half) is an ideal health maintenance and detox measure. This type of food restriction has been shown to contribute to significant health benefits. Best results, in the long run, are when you fast on water only or on water with fresh lemon. If your blood sugar levels plummet, you can add a little honey or maple syrup to the lemon, or you can use freshly made fruit and/or vegetable juices or and herb teas. Juices are preferably freshly made, but if this is not possible then glass-bottled, unpasteurized, unfiltered is a good second. Pregnant and lactating women and children should not fast. Individuals with certain diseases/disorders should first consult their doctors.


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