Water fasting and juice fasting are forms of detoxing when done correctly, and yet they do not get a lot of respect. That’s because there is not a great deal of scientific support for the health claims that are made about water or juice fasting. For anyone with medical problems typically fasting can be dangerous and is not recommended without first talking to your doctor.
Water fasting and juice fasting are not the same, but they do share some of the same benefits. The reasons for doing either a water fast or juice fast are different, although most people are not aware of this. As a result, fasting is often branded as being unnecessary and ineffective, even harmful; but actually, it is a misunderstanding of the uses and benefits that is the issue. Water fasting has been studied and science consistently is able to find positive benefits.
In 2011, Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute research cardiologists reported that fasting lowers a person’s risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease, and produces beneficial cholesterol levels. Researchers say, "Fasting causes hunger or stress. In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body. This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance, or diabetes."
The study also confirmed earlier findings on the effects of fasting on HGH. Human Growth Hormone protects lean muscle and metabolic balance. Fasting triggers and accelerates this response. The study found that during a 24-hour fast, HGH increased nearly 2,000% in men and 1,300% in women.
Another study found that by disrupting normal eating cycles with fasting the body’s ability to process and recognize consumed nutrients was improved, which helped to prevent obesity, diabetes, and liver disease in mice on a high-fat diet. Intermittent fasting also increased bile acid production, needed to properly digest fats and reduced inflammation.
One study found that caloric restriction and intermittent fasting prolonged the health of the nervous system through affecting the primary metabolic and cellular signaling pathways that are responsible for regulating one’s lifespan. Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting affect the production of free radicals and cellular stress response systems in a way that protects neurons against genetic and environmental factors that would otherwise cease during aging. Researchers found that intermittent fasting regimes previously showed that they lessened and/or stopped damage to the neurons from occurring and showed improved outcomes in animal models of neurological trauma like stroke and also age-related neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s.
Research found that fasting for even as little as 2-days protects one’s healthy cells against chemotherapy. A recent study found that fasting might slow tumor growth, while at the same time protect against chemo’s harmful side effects. A 2012 study, found that mice given a high dose of chemotherapy after fasting were able to continue to thrive, while half of the normally fed mice lost weight and the other half died.
A 2012 study found that five out of eight cancer types in mice responded to fasting alone. Just as with chemotherapy, fasting slowed the growth and spread of tumors. Without exception, "the combination of fasting cycles plus chemotherapy was either more or "much more" effective than chemo alone.
Water fasting is more extreme than juice fasting. As you can see in the chart, water fasting provides some benefits that juice fasting does not--but there is a cost to these benefits.
Carbs are the main fuel source for your body, for your heart, brain, and most other organs. When you do a water fast, once the body has used up all the available carb calories from the previous last meal, it turns to the glycogen, which is stored in the liver. Once glycogen stores are used up, the body turns to fat reserves. This is the state of ketosis. You are in ketosis when your body is getting the needed energy from ketones, which are tiny carbon fragments that result from the breakdown of your fat stores. Short-term mild ketosis can be beneficial. It accelerates fat loss, helps to stabilize glycemic response over time and reduces hunger. However, long-term ketosis is not so beneficial and can cause kidney stones, and organ failure.
Autolysis is the destroying of the tissues/cells by substances that are produced within that organism. When one is fasting, this is the body digesting parts of itself that are used to compensate because there are insufficient calories being consumed. For example, the break down of fat cells through ketosis, and the breaking down of muscle and organ tissue to extract protein for use immediately. If you were to believe that this process is random, then it should be avoided. Endurance athlete will tell you, your body doesn’t randomly break down under autolytic conditions. Your body is self-aware; it "digests" diseased and weakened tissue before it digests healthy tissue. If you are an endurance runner, your body will "use up" your upper body tissue prior to using the legs.
Autolysis is not random. When you fast, autolysis is self-aware. You are consuming fewer calories in a water fast than a juice fast, so autolysis is more pronounced in a water fast. As a result, your body will break down damaged, toxic tissue faster than with other types of fasting. While juice fasting, as long as you are minimizing the calories autolysis will still take occur.
Different health professionals have differing opinions on cleansing and the removal of toxins through fasting, but many believe it is one of the benefits of fasting. When it comes to removing toxins water fasting is stronger, but that doesn’t mean it is better than juice fasting, which offers many benefits that water fasting doesn’t. Tissue breakdown from autolysis during fasting releases toxins into the blood. The body responds to these toxins by oxidizing them, reducing them and conjugating them to create an inactive compound and safely escort them out of the body. The liver does most of this but the process needs nutritional co-factors to be able to conjugate the toxins. With a juice fast, the cofactors are in abundance from the fresh juice. With water fasting this is not the case and so eliminating toxins with water fasting is far more uncomfortable.
Both water fasting and juice fasting can rest the digestive system. When you are fasting, you are not only resting the digestive organs, you are freeing up energy normally used for digestion. Long-term food provides energy, but short term, digestion use an intense amounts of energy. That’s why you feel so tired after eating a large meal. When you are fasting, that energy is freed up to be used to rebuild and repair other tissues.
Water fasting is the most likely to lead to electrolyte and/or glucose imbalances. You are not taking in any electrolytes/glucose; as a result, you will run short. If you are healthy and it’s a short term fast, it won’t be a problem; however, if you are unhealthy, and/or it is a long fast of three days or more, then the risks increase.
Water fasting lasting longer than three days can result in irregular heartbeat and extreme fatigue swings resulting from glucose level drops. Occasionally, water fasting poses a risk of death because of the lack of electrolytes. This is why if you are new to fasting, it is recommended not to undertake a pure water fast that is more than 3-days unless you are working with a trained professional.
Juice fasting have the opposite problem where you can land up with glucose levels that are way too high, causing severe glycemic swings. It's why it is best to fast mainly with vegetable juices and diluting fruit juices with pure water.
Ketones are acidic and acid forming so pushing your body into ketosis when you are water fasting can be acidifying to your body. If you drink enough water it will quickly flush the ketones from the body, and minimize the effect. There is nothing in water fasting that helps to promote alkalinity. It’s also why lemon is often suggested to be added to water during a water fast. If you are juice fasting it can help to promote the correct alkaline state.
Water fasting and juice fasting are both considered by many health care professionals to be an essential component to prevent and reverse catastrophic illness. A 3-day fast should be achievable by almost anyone. If you have not done a fast before you should consider starting with a 1-day fast.
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