Fasting has always been something that scares me off. I often hear negative things about trying to use fasting to lose weight and get healthy. Importantly, I have to admit that I do not have the confidence and courage to try it out for myself whenever the thought of not eating and hunger conjured up in my head.
In my continual search for an answer towards curing Rheumatoid Arthritis in a holistic and natural manner, I tried many approaches – including special/rotation diet, supplements, to name a few – in these trials and errors, I’ve begun to understand that healing from chronic illness is not an easy task at all. There is no one single method that can rid me of the root causes of RA because there are simply too many stressors that trigger it. Imagine how many years of excess omega-6 foods consumption, antibiotics, unhealthy lifestyle, emotional trauma, toxic accumulation and other stresses have piled up in our system and shaped the chronic condition it is today; so it is only reasonable to expect that healing takes time. Many approaches are workable with easing pain and inflammation but they are hardly the answers to healing of RA. There must be something else that I must do to get well.
Very soon, the missing piece of the puzzle was found! I have read many stories of how sufferers of chronic illnesses regain their health after some kinds of fasting programs. The same goes to many RA sufferers who utilize this method to heal from their RAs. Yes! The answer is FASTING!
According to a questionnaire based survey by Haugen et. al. (1991) re Diet and disease symptoms in rheumatic diseases–results of a questionnaire based survey, “Experiences with food intake, diet manipulations and fast were registered in rheumatic patients. The study was a questionnaire-based survey in which 742 patients participated. Fifteen percent of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis had been through a fasting period. Less pain and stiffness were reported by 2/3 of the patients in both groups and half of the patients in both groups reported a reduced number of swollen joints.”
When the conviction that fasting can heal and cure RA, there are no more excuses for not getting myself into this. I embarked on my mission of a 11-days therapeutic juice fast. Before I covered my therapeutic fast program and experience (in my next blog), I will lay out here the reasons why it is necessary for readers out there suffering RA or friends and families of an individual suffering RA to know more facts and truths about fasting. With this knowledge, it makes attempting fasting the more easier and manageable than you may expect.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is a period of abstinence from all food or specific solid items. Fluids are consumed in adequate quantity to satisfy thirst and physiological requirements. A common misunderstanding of fasting is to confuse fasting with starvation. During fasting, the absence of food will prompt the body to draw on its reserve to systematically cleanse itself in a beneficial way. Starvation only sets in when the body’s reserves are exhausted and when the body is forced to use vital tissue to survive.
The power of fasting lies with its ability to breakdown unhealthy cells. Rest is undeniably a crucial factor in recovery because only when a body is at rest that it is allowed to direct energy towards various chemical and mechanical processes of detoxification, rejuvenation and rebuilding. Blood and vital force are redirected to parts of our body that need to be repaired or rebuilt entirely with fresh tissues. As natural an activity as sleeping is, fasting is the only known natural mechanism that will allow this to happen.
The ‘Magical’ Value of Fasting
The real benefits of fasting are simply ‘magical’, if I wanna describe it. We understand that our body has many channels of toxins elimination: the lungs, liver, skin, kidney and colon. When these channels are overloaded, our body will resort to ‘out-of-ordinary’ means of getting these toxins eliminated from our system and they appear in the form of mucous, discharges, sweats, vomiting, diarrhea, and so forth. And when elimination become impossible or blockages appear in terms of our body’s energy, the overloads will find ‘refuge’ in any tissues in our body, in particular the weakened or the compromised, and these can be in joints, vessels, muscles, organs, etc.
While fasting, our body will enter into a stage of deep and profound rest. Toxin intake will be reduced and our body will be highly conservative of its energy and resources. This is when autolysis and elimination process begins. In the first stage of cleanse ie first few days of fast, a huge chunk of waste matters and digestive residues will be removed and passed into blood stream. One will feel negative impacts such as cold feet or hand, slight trembling, strong breath, headache, body odour, etc. The tongue, which is the visible part of the digestive tract, usually becomes heavily coated, and the extent of this coating decreases as the fast progresses. As our body enters the next phase of cleanse, we will have a diminished desire for food. The cleansing process continues to remove diseased, dead and dying cells, mucous and melt away excess fat, hardened coating of mucous on intestinal wall, toxins in lymphs, blood, organs and tissues. And as you get into the final stage, you will feel magical because you actually feel rather energetic with no feel of hunger.
Why Should A Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferer Perform a Fast?
Fasting has known and proven to be beneficial for reversing Rheumatoid Arthritis; and there are many testimonials out there vouching for the effectiveness of fasting. The very two important reasons why you, as a RA sufferer, should try fasting are:
(1) Fasting promotes healing and possibly reverse RA! Fasting dissolves dead or diseased cells, damaged tissues, fatty deposits, tumours, abscesses in a systematic manner. This elimination helps to restore immune system functionality and metabolic process. The result of thorough cleansing and detoxification of the cellular structures is a restoration of energy and redistribution of nutrients as we overcome many of the physical ills.
(2) Mentally, you will also experience heightened awareness that clears any brain fogs and allows you to see more clearly what you should do to get out of this sickness to become healthy again. The fasting gives you an opportunity for evaluation of your body processes and what life ahead ensues. Decision on how to take charge of your life, your sickness and the reason to get well become the more clearer as self confidence increases.
Therefore, if you are getting sick of this RA or before you decide this diagnosis is a death sentence to you, you must at least give therapeutic fast a try. And you shall be surprised to find that RA and your health is no better or worse than the food that makes it to be.
How Long to Fast?
Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball that can predict the duration of a fast for optimal health benefit because it varies for individuals and particularly for people suffering from diseases. The signs and symptoms as well as the nature of underlying conditions are some important diagnostic tools that experienced or trained observer can use to determine this.
The ideal is ‘fasting to completion‘, ie to continue a fast until the tongue is cleared or a natural hunger returns that cannot be dispelled by juice, broth or water. However, for most people, waiting until the return of a natural hunger can be a very tall task and it usually puts people off track or put them off even before they get started.
A 30-days fast is a standard, one that feels just right because if you fast less than these number of days, you may miss the best experiences of a fast.
However, here comes the * WARNING * – Fasting is not without danger —those undertaking long fasts on their own are sometimes unable to distinguish fasting from starvation. Disastrous consequences—even death—may ensue. It cannot be overemphasized that any fast longer than three days must be supervised by a competent professional. Long fast is also not suitable for certain individuals with hypolycemia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, Wilson’s Syndrome, type 2 diabetes, AIDS, tuberculosis or certain cancer eg liver cancer. Do not also perform juice fast if you have impaired kidney function.
Juice Fasting Vs Water Fasting
Water-only fast has been a favourite among many but personally, I have found that this kind of fast usually bring on very strong cleansing reactions. Therefore, I suggest settling with a juice fast using raw vegetables, as this can equally enable our body to clean, purify and rebuild itself while minimizing unpleasant cleansing reactions.
Furthermore, for someone with RA, juice fasting is always preferred for purpose of healing a body that has already been nurtured with toxins. Juice fast can:
(1) Ensure the body’s energy level is high since we are still receiving sufficient nutrients from the juice.
(2) Take burden off digestive system due to its ease of assimilation and enhance healing by freeing up more energy.
(3) Be nutritional since it is packed with vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients and live enzymes.
There are two choices of juice fasts: (a) All-vegetable juice or (b) all-fruit juices. Make your cocktail from fresh vegetables and fruits only and you may wish to add some essential greens such as wheat grass or barley grass that can be helpful for your specific condition. Drink whenever hunger develops until just about full. Remember to remove excess fiber or pulp and dilute the juices with distilled water.
Breaking the Fast is Just As Important
Once again, determining when to break fast is based on individual’s condition such as signs and symptoms, psychological state and individualized personal circumstances. We must always try to terminate a fast during period of stability by allowing the body adequate time to resolve any cleansing reactions.
Ideally, we break fast when our natural hunger returns or when coating on tongue clears. That said, the fine line between fasting and starvation must be distinguished.
Reinforcement of Lifestyle Changes and Positive Motivation Post Fast
The crucial component of after fast is the re-feeding of solid food. It is during the re-feeding program that good dietary and lifestyle habits are reinforced. The body must be given an opportunity to develop a preference for whole, natural foods, appropriate physical activity, etc.
Fasting is not necessarily a definite cure to RA, if there are many causes of RA that need to address. To overcome a severe illness like Rheumatoid Arthritis, cancer or chronic diseases alike, it is necessary to go through a series of fasts to the point when the full cleansing of the last layer removes the diseases from the tissues.
No matter how successful your body is at resolving problems with a fasting process, long-term dietary and lifestyle changes are absolutely necessary to achieve this aim. The huge amount of officially sanctioned misinformation about RA is unfortunately unnecessary, sad and costly. On the exact contrary, fasting is not only a simple and cheap way of tackling our RA the holistic way, but it has also proven to be effective in awakening our power of self belief that our body can heal and take care of itself if we allow it to do so. As simple as that? Yes!