What is the difference between fasting & detoxing?
What is a Fast? and How to Fast safely?
Medically speaking, fasting is not consuming any calories. You may choose to consume water (wet fast) or no water (dry fast). Both have different advantages, and both require medical supervision. Fasting more than 7 days must be done in an in-patient medical setting.
Book an appointment with your naturopathic doctor to discuss doing a fast, so they can evaluate you as a candidate, do the appropriate blood tests and physical exam monitoring before, during and after the fast.
Fasting is used in treatment protocols for obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, psoriasis, leg ulcers, irritable bowel, deranged/impaired appetite, asthma, depression, SLE/lupus, diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain and fibroids. Modified fasting, described below, also known as detoxing, is also beneficial for the above conditions, however, may have different effects or caveats.
Fasting (Water or Dry) is contraindicated, or should be avoided, for certain conditions and if you are on your period, pregnant or breastfeeding. Speak with your doctor to determine if it is right for you.
What is Detoxing?
Detoxing is a modified fast, where we restrict certain foods, yet still consume calories. Sometimes in the way of only juicing, or sometimes in the way of a restricted foods diet. Detoxing itself, is a process your body is always doing, even now its working to eliminate toxins you've been exposed to in the environment, foods you've eaten, air you've breathed or your own metabolism's by-products. A lot of toxins get stored in fat-tissue, which is why fasting on water or dry fasting can be very harmful, as your body will switch to breaking down fats for fuel, releasing these harmful chemicals into your body in large amounts. Headaches, fever, nausea 'hangover' type effects, during a detox or fast, are all symptoms of your body switching from burning sugars to fats as fuel, and the toxins that can be released from those fats.
Also, if you think about it, you are exposed to hundreds of different toxic substances in a day. Its not likely that a radical change for 14 days is going to rid your body of a lifetime’s accumulation of chemicals. Detoxification is a monthly to yearly process for some, and requires long-term lifestyle changes. Speak to your ND to determine if this path is right for you. I usually help my patients detox for 6 months prior to attempting to get pregnant, especially after radiation, chemotherapy or heavy medications like accutane and methotrexate.
You're Ready to Detox, What Should You Do?
January is a popular time for a re-set or a detox. Not just from all the junk food eaten over Christmas, but as a way to set the stage for a new year and to start fresh mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Before making any major dietary change, you should ensure your body is capable of eliminating those toxins.
- Regular Bathroom Breaks: You should be having at least 1-3 bowel movements/day, or roughly 1 bowel movement after every large meal. Urination should be as often as you are drinking fluids and should be clear, colourless and odourless throughout the day. If you need help in this department, speak to your ND.
- Sweat It Out: Exercise is key! It will give you more energy, get your blood and lymph moving and sweat is a primary route of detoxification! When doing a detox where you are consuming calories, or a short detox in nature, exercise that makes you sweat may be appropriate. Other ways to sweat that are popular with detoxing, include infra-red sauna or regular sauna treatments, available at most spa's and wellness centres.
- A Healthy Liver & Kidneys: these are our two major organs of detoxification, that breakdown toxins released from our fats or in our liquids, and make them water soluble and non-toxic to be eliminated. Not sure if you're liver or kidneys are healthy? A blood panel and health history by your ND will help determine if you're ready to start a detox
Consider 3 days of preparation before you begin a detox and 3 days after you detox to re-introduction of foods slowly, to prevent upsetting your blood sugar and digestive system.