Nutrition Q&A: Weekly fasting – a good idea?

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This week’s question comes from Rosanna. She asks: Is fasting with lots of water for 24 hours one time per week good for you?

Fasting has a long tradition in many cultures as a means of deep physical and often spiritual cleansing . The concept is that when we remove food, our body doesn’t have to use its resources digesting and absorbing nutrients, and instead can take care of some deeper internal housekeeping. It’s a little like taking a day off work to scrub the house down.

Fasting with water only – even for brief periods like 24hrs – can be very hard on the body depending on your state of health. I often have new clients come to me wanting to hop into some sort of detox program right off the bat. And who can blame them? We live in a pretty toxic world – the air we breathe, the food we eat, the environmental pollutants (even in our homes) – all of it accumulates to create a heavy burden on our body’s detoxification systems. While we’re equipped to handle a certain amount of toxic load, it’s quite easy for our detox organs to get overwhelmed.

The thing is, you never ever want to jump into ANY kind of detoxification program – especially not one that includes fasting – without making sure that all your detoxification pathways are flowing smooth and freely. If your body begins to mobilize toxins at a cellular level, those toxins need a quick and easy exit. Without that, there’s a very real danger of those toxins re-circulating throughout the body and doing significant damage. You wouldn’t pour toxic sludge into a sink with a clogged drain would you?

Your main detoxification pathways include:

  • your liver/gallbladder
  • your colon
  • your kidneys
  • your skin
  • your lungs

All of these organs need to be working optimally before attempting any kind of cleanse. There are lots of ways to do this (see my article on detoxing while breastfeeding – opening up these pathways is about the only detox-type activity breastfeeding mammas can do), and I recommend you do so under the supervision of a qualified health-care professional experienced with detox programs.

Once your body is healthy enough to do a deeper detox, THEN it may be okay for you to do a 24hr water fast once weekly. It really depends on your body. If you struggle with blood sugar issues, then I’d suggest you don’t want to drink water exclusively, but have a liquids-only day with bone broth, homemade green juice, homemade nut milk, and lots of water and herbal teas. If you don’t struggle with blood sugar issues then it may work well for you. But only if your detox pathways are already nice and open.

Have a nutrition question for me? Simply email us at [email protected] and we’ll add your question to the list.

photo credit: Yogendra174



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