Article at a Glance
- The aim of juice fasting is to only consume fluids from fresh fruit and vegetables in place of solid food.
- Juice fasting provides a concentrated dose of nutrients to the body while eliminating damaging substances from the diet.
- Beginners should start by juice fasting for a maximum of five days and then gradually increase.
Juicing has grown massively in popularity in recent years, so much so that many people include juicing as an essential part of their diet.
Juicing is a great way of making the most of the numerous vitamins, minerals and other nutrients fresh produce can provide, and juice fasting is considered by some people as a great way to cleanse and detoxify the body.
What Is Juice Fasting?
Juice fasting is a dietary regime where the idea is to consume large amounts of freshly prepared fruit and vegetable juices and other healthy fluids to fuel the body while eliminating unhealthy or potentially harmful foods.
The aim of juice fasting is to only consume fluids – ranging from between one to three liters a day – from fresh fruit and vegetables in place of solid food. This can be supplemented with vegetable soups, herbal teas and lots of water to refresh, cleanse and heal your body.
The Benefits of Juice Fasting
Fresh fruit and vegetables are packed full of beneficial nutrients – vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, including antioxidants.
Fresh juice contains roughly the same amount of nutrients as whole fruits and vegetables, and extracting the juice from the pulp makes these nutrients more concentrated and easier to digest, allowing increased absorption of essential nutrients.
The potential health benefits are widespread, from improving current ailments and reducing the risk of serious health conditions to weight loss and improving the condition of your hair, skin and nails.
Who Needs to Juice Fast?
The short answer is anyone who wants to give their body a boost!
Frequent headaches, migraines, coughs, earaches, cold and sniffles are all signs that the body isn’t working to its full potential.
Feelings of low energy, poor concentration and lethargy or tiredness, dark circles under the eyes, bloating, indigestion, constipation and excessive flatulence, eczema, acne or breakouts, body odor and bad breath are all potential signs of the body asking for help.
Juice fasting can also help alleviate many health problems, but it is important to research juice fasting in relation to any particular medical condition, and seek professional advice before embarking on a juice fast for a specific reason.
How Does Juice Fasting Work and How Will I Feel?
Juice fasting is thought to stimulate the metabolism to work more efficiently and eliminate toxins. The theory is that fresh fruit and vegetable juice provides a wealth of easily accessible, high quality nutrients for the body to use.
The body responds by releasing inferior materials and waste products to make good use of the newly available superior quality nutrients.
This is thought to stimulate a deep cleanse of all the cells in the body – a bit like spring cleaning your home. It’s important to remember that going through deep cleansing process doesn’t always feel good – especially at first.
Juice fasting causes the liver and kidneys to work overtime to eliminate the unhealthy substances in our body. This temporarily increases the amount of toxins in the bloodstream, which can lead to some unpleasant side effects, like headaches, bad breath or body odor, skin breakouts, weakness, tiredness, lightheadedness lower energy levels and joint aches and pains.
The most important thing to remember is that this is a normal part of our body’s cleansing process – it’s no different from the headaches and lethargy people often experience when they first give up caffeine.
So if you experience these symptoms, don’t give up – they are actually a good sign that juice fasting is working well. The symptoms are temporary, and in the long term you’re likely to feel much better, healthier and more energized than you did before. Some juicing experts think that the effects of a juice fast can continue for more than three weeks after fasting.
How Long Should I Juice Fast For?
People new to juice fasting should start by fasting for one or two days, and as an absolute maximum, five days. However, some juicing experts advise that a longer juice fast is much more beneficial. Juice fasting should be done intermittently, with a well-balanced healthy diet in between juice fasts.
Aim to gradually build up the length of your juice fasts, aiming first for seven days, then fourteen, twenty-one, and thirty days. It is possible to juice fast for 40 days or longer.
Why Not Just Eat Whole Fruits And Vegetables?
When we eat whole fruits and vegetables, the stomach and intestines have to work hard to separate the nutrients from the pulp, which is difficult to digest. In addition, some foods can take a long time.
As a consequence, we often aren’t able to absorb all of the nutrients from whole produce before they pass through our digestive system and are wasted.
Consuming fruit and vegetable juices as opposed to whole produce gives your digestive system a well needed rest period while still providing it with all the nutrients it needs to work effectively.
Choosing Your Juicer for Juice Fasting
There are a wide variety and quality of juicers currently available on the market, with costs ranging from under $100 to more than $3000. A good quality juicer is essential as the results of juice fasting can be dramatically influenced by your juicer.
There are a number of different types of juicing machines available, but the most widely available and best known are centrifugal and masticating or gear juicers
Centrifugal style juicers are generally the least expensive. They finely chop produce and spin at high speed to separate juice from pulp.
While a low cost, easy to use option, centrifugal juicers expose produce to higher levels of friction and cause the most oxidation and enzyme destruction, causing loss of nutrients and faster spoilage of juices.
The leftover pulp tends to be wet, so not all the juice is extracted, leaving behind valuable nutrients and wasting produce.
Centrifugal juicers are also ineffective at juicing leafy vegetables, wheatgrass and herbs, can be hard to clean and are noisy in operation.
Many people also find that the juice produced by a centrifugal juicer isn’t as tasty as juices from other kinds of juicers.
Masticating, or gear juicers grind produce and press it through a strainer. They work at low speeds, causing less oxidation, preserving the nutrients and enzymes, meaning juices can be stored for longer before spoiling.
Masticating juicers are good at juicing leafy greens, soft fruits, wheatgrass and herbs, and can eliminate some of the pesticides and chemicals from produce.
Due to a smaller feed chute, it takes a little more time to prepare produce for juicing. Many people report that masticating juicers produce much tastier juices than centrifugal juicers.
Although the initial cost is higher compared to centrifugal juicers, masticating juicers often come with a 10-20 year warranty period, are easy to use, easy to clean, and the pulp tends to be very dry, so a much higher percentage of the juice is extracted.
This makes them more economical long term and results in nutritious concentrated juice – essential in juice fasting.
How to Prepare Juice Safely
Make sure your work area and utensils are very clean before preparing your produce.
It’s a good idea to clean your juicer immediately after use, as produce residue can be easily removed, reducing the risk of mold growth.
Separate all the working parts and rinse them well under running water and if necessary, a mild detergent. Use an old toothbrush to clean hard to reach places and clean the strainer.
In preparing produce for juicing, the FDA recommends first washing your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds and removing any damaged areas of the fruit and vegetables.
All produce should be washed thoroughly under clean running water, and any fruits and vegetables with firm skin should be scrubbed well before cutting – even if you plan to peel the produce.
Drying the fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth or paper towel also helps to eliminate more bacteria that may still be present on the surface. Chop your produce to the required size, and juice away! (source)
Storing Your Juice
Research shows that nutrients in fresh fruit and vegetables can begin to deteriorate in as little as 15-20 minutes after being cut open. This means that the longer we store our homemade juice, the more nutrients are lost, so it’s best to consume them immediately.
However, juice fasting involves consuming lots of juice, and unless you’re home based and have lots of time to prepare fresh juice which can be consumed straight away, you’re probably going to need to store at least some of your juice. (source)
Scientific studies indicate the optimum temperature for storing produce is at a constant four degrees centigrade to avoid spoiling. This applies to fresh produce prior to juicing, and to storing your freshly made juice. (source)
Think carefully about the storage containers you use. Plastics and metals can leach undesirable and potentially harmful chemical into fresh juice.
Clear containers cause more oxidation than dark containers. Store your juice in a glass container with an airtight lid to keep it as fresh as possible, and consider an amber-colored glass jar, or wrap a clear glass jar in dark fabric or foil.
General guidelines for storing juice are seven to eight hours if made with a centrifugal juicer, and up to 24 hours for juice made with a masticating juicer.
How to Plan Your Juice Fast
First, decide how long your juice fast will be. A few days before you begin your juice fast it’s a good idea to reduce the amount of meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, processed foods, soft drinks, tea and coffee you consume. Instead, increase your intake of fresh fruit, vegetables and water. This transition helps to prepare your body for juice fasting.
Decide which juices you are going to focus on, aiming for as wide a variety of fresh produce as possible, and remembering that green juice rocks!
The day before your fast begins, buy all of the produce you will need for the first three days. Plan your schedule to take account of the fact that you may feel more tired than usual, and allow for extra sleep if you need it. A quiet weekend can be an ideal time to start your juice fast.
When considering which produce to buy for your juice fast, ingredients like beetroot, broccoli, spinach, chard, kale, cabbage, celery, cucumber, lettuce, cauliflower contain highly beneficial amounts of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. It’s worth doing a little research into each to find out more about what each juicing ingredient can add to your juice in terms of nutrition.
Fruit generally contains more sugar than vegetables, so it’s not ideal to use a high proportion of fruit, particularly when juice fasting. Many experts recommend a ratio of 80 percent vegetables to 20 percent fruit.
Mixing vegetable juices with apples, lemon, and spices and herbs, like ginger, cinnamon and rosemary helps to make them more enjoyable. Lemon and rosemary also act as natural preservatives if you need to store your juice.
To gain the maximum benefit from your juice fast as well as keeping the cost lower, use seasonal, local produce. The best possible produce you can use is organic fruits and vegetables. Although they are more expensive, they contain significantly more nutrients, as much as 70 percent more antioxidants, and up to 75 percent lower concentrations of pesticides and toxic chemicals. (source)
Instructions for Juice Fasting
In the morning of the first day of your juice fast, prepare enough juice to last you until at least lunchtime, or, if you’re not going to have another opportunity to prepare juice again until the evening, for most of the day.
Use whatever produce you like, but as fruit juices are high in sugar, it’s best to drink juices primarily made up of fruit in the morning, and consume juices higher in vegetables at lunchtime and in the evening. Green juices are the most beneficial for the body, so include a high proportion of these in your juice fast.
You can consume as much juice as you need to feel full and satisfied, but drink your juices slowly rather than knocking them back.
Aim to drink as much water by volume as juice. It’s up to you whether you do this by diluting your juices with 50 percent water, or by drinking water separately from your juice.
Be sure to drink an absolute minimum of four large glasses of juice per day.
After drinking juice – especially fruit juices – it’s important to rinse your mouth well with water. This helps to make sure the fruit acids don’t damage your teeth. For the same reason, try to avoid grazing on your juices all day or snacking on juice between meals.
Instead, drink plenty of water, green tea or other herbal, decaffeinated teas to keep you going until the next meal time. Expect some hunger pangs, particularly in the first few days, and keep busy to try to take your mind off them.
Continue your juice fasting program for as many days as you have planned for, buying fresh fruit and vegetable every few days. Once you have completed your juice fast, you need to ease back into eating solid foods gradually – similar to the preparation days you completed before fasting.
This makes sure your digestive system is not overwhelmed by the sudden reintroduction of food that is difficult to digest.
On the first day after your fast, eat only whole fruits and vegetables. These can be cooked or raw, but should be eaten in small portions.
In addition, chewing all solid food thoroughly will give your system a little extra help in coping with the re-introduction process. Remember to keep drinking plenty of water.
Over the next few days you can re-introduce the various different food groups.
Begin on the second day after your fast by adding a small amount of eggs and dairy products as well as keeping your intake of fruits and vegetables high.
After this, you can re-introduce wholegrain rice and cereals, followed by lean meats. To gain the maximum benefit from your juice fast, avoid eating any processed food, as these undermine all of the hard work you did while on your juice fast.
Juice fasting is thought to have the best effects on the body when used as part of a regular cycle, so consider juice fasting on a regular basis – perhaps one week in every month, and completing an extended juice fast every once in awhile.
Is Juice Fasting Safe?
It’s difficult to quantify the effects of juice fasting. There isn’t a great deal of high quality research on juice fasting. This may be due to a high level of non-compliance from participants when scientists try to conduct research studies. It isn’t easy to maintain discipline when juice fasting. Similarly, it’s difficult to find any hard evidence that juice fasting is not safe.
Some nutritional experts have expressed concerns regarding the lack of protein consumed during a juice fast, but juice fasting is a practice regularly carried out by many people without any problems, and some juicing experts think that protein is better utilized in the body following a juice fast.
General current opinion is that as long as you are consuming enough juice per meal in your juice fast so that your hunger is satisfied, and that this is in excess of four large glasses of juice per day, juice fasting is safe, certainly over a short term period.
When Not to Juice Fast
The vast majority of people can happily follow a juice fasting program with no problems but there are some circumstances where people should not juice fast.
If you are pregnant or nursing, have diabetes, any kidney or liver disease, anaemia or low blood pressure, the best advice is not to juice fast. If you have an eating disorder, close medical supervision is required when considering juice fasting.
In addition, people with cancer in an advanced stage, those with heart disease, tuberculosis or gastric ulcers should not attempt a juice fast.
If you are suffering from candidiasis or thrush, juicing is not a complementary activity, so do not attempt juice fasting until the condition is resolved.
Seek medical advice before juice fasting if you think you may have a digestive tract infection, low blood sugar level, if you put on weight easily or have a thyroid disorder.
Final Thoughts on Juice Fasting
Juice fasting is a relatively simple way to give your body a huge boost in terms of general health and well-being, and in improving many health conditions, but it’s no walk in the park to complete a juice fast.
Make sure you are prepared in terms of having the right equipment and planning your juicing ingredients and recipes ahead of beginning your juice fast. In addition, be prepared for some unpleasant symptoms as your body cleanses and detoxifies. Side-effects are completely normal when juice fasting, but that doesn’t make them any easier to manage. If something doesn’t feel right, consult your doctor immediately.
It’s important to use a wide variety of different fruit and vegetables to get the maximum benefit from juice fasting. It’s equally important to choose the right juicer for your needs and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to prepare and store your juice.
When juice fasting, it’s very important to drink lots of water to help maximize the effects of the juices. When you have completed your juice fast, re-introduce solid food gradually in small amounts.
When choosing to follow a juice fasting plan, the most important things is to make sure you do so safely.