Water Fasting! How Healthy Is It Really?
Water fasting is the simplest but also the most radical form of fasting: for a few days, you only “feed” on water. As a result, your body is to be cleaned of toxins, reduces weight, among other things.
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From base fasting to interval fasting: There are many ways to fast. The simplest and most radical of them is probably water fasting. For several days, you do not eat anything but drink at least three liters of still water per day. Water fasting is a bit more complicated, because it is important that you prepare and follow up correctly. Also, water fasting is not for everyone.
This is how water fasting works: the right preparation
Your fasting does not start with the first day without food, but already three days before: Get your body into the impending food deprivation by eating less every day. In addition, you should grab some easily digestible foods: Eat a plant-based diet consisting mainly organic vegetables, salads and fruits, or just some plain rice that your body can easily digest.
On the first day of fasting the ghosts divide: Often it is recommended that you empty your intestines completely. For this you can make an coffee enema or, if you have no sensitive digestive tract, you can clean your intestines with a salt water flush.
For the second method, you mix (preferably in the morning, after you have already drunk something in the morning) about 30 grams of Himalayan salt with half a liter of cold water. Drink the liquid as quickly as possible.
Since both methods cause you to get heavy diarrhea in the next few hours, you should stay home that day and not physically overwork. Because you lose a lot of fluids, you should drink several liters of water throughout the day.
When you drain, it should flush through your digestive tract and this makes it easier for you to start the process. Critics, however, warn that this can lead to side effects such as dehydration, nausea and circulatory insufficiency.
However, you should not perform an enema by yourself, as you could injure yourself. In general, the effect of the “detoxification” is controversial, but to me it makes sense and it helps me feel better.
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This is how water fasting works: fasting and the post-processing
Drink at least three liters of water a day during the fasting days, preferably mineral water.
If you have never fasted before, you should not make a water fast for more than five days. After the fast, you should change your eating habits into a light food diet for up to two weeks. In any case it is important that you talk over your fasting project with a doctor before you start.
Best drink mineral water, which provides you with important minerals during your fast, minerals that you would usually eat through your food intake. A sodium deficiency can be life-threatening risk in the worst case on a long-term water fast, but could be avoided easily with good quality mineral water. If you do not want to drink water all the time, you can take a different beverage like an unsweetened herbal teas from time to time.
When you start with water fasting, side effects can occur as well.
These here below are especially common:
- Dizziness, circulatory problems
- Bad breath
Since water fasting is exhausting for your body, you should not burden it with extreme sports or physical efforts during this time. Go for a regular walk in the open air or the woods. Avoid unnecessary stress and make sure you sleep well. Usually those symptoms last for three days but, if the symptoms are getting more severe and persistent over time, you may want to stop your fasting cure and consult a doctor to avoid health issues.
When the days of fasting are over, you should not immediately eat a multi-course meal, but be careful about your “diet”: just as you have reduced your intake of food for the three days preceding your fast cure, you should now gradually increase your food intake over next three to five days. Start with easily digestible foods, best would be to go on an organic fresh plant-based diet.
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You experience heartburn, stomach ache, flatulence? Then your stomach needs a breather. With my plant-based recipes on my blog, I present you easily digestible food and tips for stomach-friendly and easy digestible preparations.
Water fasting: Not suitable for everyone
If you’re pregnant, water fasting is not for you!
It is especially important that you talk to a doctor and make a check-up before fasting – because many people should not fast. This is especially true for extreme methods such as water fasting. In the following cases, you should refrain from fasting:
- if you are underweight or heavily overweight,
- if you have an eating disorder,
- if you are not yet fully grown,
- if you are pregnant or breastfeeding,
- with many diseases I do not recommend water fasting as well especially, for example, if you suffer from thyroid, kidney or liver disease.
If you need to take medication regularly, you may not be able to fast without medical supervision. It obviously all depends on the type of medication but, you should be aware that the effect of many medications could be influenced by fasting.
If you follow my advice you should be safe, a short-term fasting period is generally considered harmless. As far as water fasting is concerned, there are also critical voices: according to the “German Pharmacy Journal”, water fasting is not recommended, partly because it can cause nutrient deficiencies. This is not my opinion but to avoid any risk here, it is important that you only fast for a short period of time and get a full medical check-up upfront to be safe.
Water fast as a detox method: Do we really have to detoxify?
Like many other methods of fasting, water fasting is supposed to help your body get rid of toxins, especially if you’re starting to drain your intestinal tract with an enema or salt water flash. Here again this so-called “detox” is however controversial.
According to the “German Consumer Agency”, there is no scientific evidence that the body needs to be helped to detoxify itself. As kidney and liver already take care of that. Another review from 2014 comes to the a similar conclusion. Thus, there are only a handful of poor clinical trials that suggest that enemas as well as salt water flushes can detoxify the liver.
My personal experience as well as my blood tests after my fasting cures speak a totally different language. My results always show directly non-negligible improvements of my health and overall well-being.
Water Fasting: Positive effects of calorie restriction?
Can fasting extend life? This question however is intensively researched in science.
Again they say that the fact that detox cures might have positive effects on ones health are controversial. But what about fasting in general? There has been a lot of research in recent years on whether it’s beneficial to your health if you limit or reduce your calorie intake.
According to a 2014 review, some studies indicate that fasting periods help to better protect cells of oxidation and reduce stress. This again should also reduce the risk of many diseases, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
The German Federal Center for Nutrition and Health also mentions studies, according to which fasting cures help with rheumatic diseases.
When you fast, your metabolism changes: stored carbohydrates and fat deposits are broken down, amino acids are released, and your hormone balance changes. In part, these processes are not well understood because they are so complex. Accordingly, there is still much uncertainty about all the positive as well as negative effects of fasting.
Currently, for example, there is intensive research into what is happening with the so-called “autophagy”. This self-cleaning process of the cells should be stimulated by fasting and ensure that the cells live longer and remain healthy. Autophagy is therefore very interesting, especially for age research.
Many people want to do a water fasting cure to lose weight. However, you should be aware that the risk of a yo-yo effect is great. In this context, the German Obesity Society advises overweight people not to fast.
Again in my opinion and based on my experience this is not accurate. I believe that fasting is a great way to start when you decide to make a change in your life but in order to avoid a yo-yo effect and benefit from weight-loss on the long run you should also switch your diet after the fast cure to a fresh organic plant-based diet.
Water Fasting: There are gentler alternatives
Juice fasting is a gentler fasting variant, that I like to practice usually.
The current state of research suggests that it may be good for the body to fast every now and then. Whether you have to resort to the extreme form of water fasting is questionable so they say.
There is no indication that especially water fasting should be healthy. Instead, it is sometimes associated with severe side effects as mentioned above and therefore for some folks difficult to sustain. In addition, it is particularly important in water fasting, that you are healthy and best is to fast under medical supervision. Other fasting methods on the other hand such as juice fasting, or interval fasting are less stressful for your body and therefore easier to do.
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I’ll try a water fast right now for five days from Monday till Friday and will share my experience when done here below.
My Water Fast Experience
Done! My 5 days water fasting is behind me and I have to say I feel great!
The first couple of days wasn’t easy, but mostly because of the headaches I had and the third day I wanted to quit. But then I have thought about it and remembered that when I do my juice fasting’s I always have the most difficult time during the first two to three days. It was the same this time with my water fast.
Once I overcame these difficulties, I really felt the benefits of fasting, my head got somehow clearer and my energy levels went up. The paradox was that I didn’t feed my body any nutrients, not like when I drink my fresh juices full of nutrients during my juice fasts, but the same effects took place. And from fourth day moving forward it was a kid’s game to finish my challenge.
One other non-negligible side effect was that I lost over 18lbs or 8.2kg from the weight I had when I started my challenge this time.
As I didn’t follow my own advise I gave you guys here above I have to admit that I didn’t consult my physician before starting my water fast and didn’t check my blood levels, which means I can’t tell you the results here, but none the less as I said earlier already I feel awesome.
Now I go back to a plant-based intermittent diet till the end of the year. Thank you for following my water fasting challenge and I have to say it was worth it for me. Tell me your “Water Fast Challenge” adventure here below.