Liquid fasting is the abstaining from all solid foods--only liquids are ingested. Listed below are a variety of liquids used both historically and in contemporary times.
Other than water, the liquids used have high nutritional value and are easy to digest and assimilate. In all
cases of liquid fasting, the intestinal tract is relieved of the "bulk" of foodstuffs, the fiber and indigestible
Some contend nutrition is not necessary during a fast as man is safeguarded from starvation by being endowed with a full month's nutritional reserves in his tissues; therefore water is sufficient for liquid fasting. Others believe that a little nutrition will aid in the body's healing processes as well as ease the faster's discomfort, as it lessens the level and speed of detox.
It's up to you whether you feel drawn to the purity of a water fast or feel more comfortable with the modicum of nutritional support offered by the other methods of liquid fasting.
Purists insist water fasting is the only true therapeutic fast, which delivers the maximum self-healing benefits, provides the greatest rest for the digestive organs, and preserves muscle even while losing weight. It is believed that the historical figures (such as Hippocrates) who promoted fasting as healing therapy were referring solely to water fasting.
While it does deliver the strongest therapeutic effect, allowing for the healing of many chronic conditions, it can be more difficult to perform, and some lean muscle is sacrificed (see Ketosis and Fasting page).
Water fasting is, of course, the most intimidating fast to consider, but not if you approach it in small steps. You
can work toward a water fast by starting with a few one day easier fasts, such as
juice or fruit.
The Master Cleanse is a system of liquid fasting utilizing lemon for cleansing and maple syrup for nutritional support, both mixed in with a glass of water. There is a large following for this type of fast, many who consistently do a 10-day fast every year. But the Master Cleanse can be utilized for shorter fasts as well, and is considered fairly comfortable to perform.
We're all familiar with a broth fast, when we got the flu and Mom would bring us a mug of hot broth, we were broth fasting.
We can fast on animal or vegetable broths, although it will usually require you make your own broth. Commercially available broths don't have the nutritional levels appropriate for fasting, being full of salt and usually MSG and a host of other chemicals. On the other hand, a homemade broth can be highly nutritious, full of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes--even an animal-based broth, actually especially an animal bone broth.
Bone broths are extremely nutritious, high in minerals and rich in gelatin and collagen. Adding an acid, like wine or vinegar, during preparation will help draw out the minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
To make a bone broth: start with the highest quality bones available, preferably organically-raised and hormone-free animals. Add 2-4 tablespoons vinegar (depending on how large a batch you're making), any vegetables you want to add, and water to cover. Let this sit for 30 minutes to an hour, then bring to a boil and remove any scum that appears on the surface. Continue to simmer anywhere from 4-24 hours, the longer the simmer, the more nutrients will be drawn out of the bones.
To make a vegetable broth: use any organically-grown vegetables you want, cover with water, and simmer 30-40 minutes. Because of their extremely high nutritional content, be sure to add some dark leafy greens to the mix. Strain, saving the vegetables for another time.
Liquid fasting on these properly prepared broths can be both nourishing and hydrating, as well as warming.Another newcomer to the scene is something called the Cabbage Soup Diet. By all means, do not fast on this recipe as written--it's full of salt and chemicals, calling for Lipton Onion Soup Mix AND cubed bouillon AND V-8 juice AND salt. Opt for a healthy version of cabbage soup if the idea really appeals to you.
Monks in the Middle Ages are known to have fasted on beer. High quality beer is sometimes called liquid bread in reference to the similar nutrient content. Modern day commercial beers not only lack that nutrition, but they also lack the purity.
On the other hand, fasting on high quality, homemade brews....?
You'd need to watch calories as well as alcohol content, and supplement with plenty of water. There is little information on beer fasting to offer guidance, so in general, would not be recommended.
A popular choice is liquid fasting with fruit and/or vegetable juices. Any fresh, raw, preferably organic, fruit or vegetable can be juiced, although one must be careful not to begin a "juice feast". Appropriate quantities are suggested in the Juice Fast daily plan.
The raw juices are very concentrated nutritionally and should be diluted with water before drinking. To further aid in digestion, swish each mouthful to thoroughly mix with saliva before swallowing. This begins the process of pre-digestion.
Oranges and grapefruits are the easiest to juice as they don't require an expensive juicer. Citrus juicers are small and quite affordable. But be forewarned, some citrus available in local grocery stores (unless you live in tropical climes) don't make very tasty juice.
If I still lived in California, this would be my favorite fasting food. (When I was young and briefly lived in California, fresh-squeezed orange juice was my favorite hangover remedy.)While some of us find commercial citrus juice too acidic on our stomachs, I've found fresh citrus juice doesn't bother me. It's likely the pasteurization process is the culprit, having killed the naturally-occurring enzymes.
The milk fast, or milk diet, is utilized in homeopathic, naturopathic, and traditional yogic practices. It is often recommended for digestive disorders in these therapeutic practices as it is considered cleansing to all the digestive tissues.
Compared to other liquid fasting choices, milk provides a lot more nutritive value and can be a very comfortable fast to perform. Don't think that it won't detox your system, because it can and it will.
While milk is known to be mucus-forming and those with mucus-related problems shouldn't do a milk fast, let's not forget that mucus is a natural and necessary component in a healthy body, and that fasting is a short-term practice. Also, it has been theorized that it is only pasteurized (cooked) milk that causes extra mucus because of all the toxins created in the process.
Only raw milk or cultured milk products are suggested for milk fasting. Pasteurization destroys the naturally occurring enzymes and probiotics that aid in the digestion of the lactose inherent in milk. It also alters protein chains and reduces vitamin content.
Milk in its whole and unadulterated state is a complete food; it is highly nutritious and easily assimilable. Cultured milk products, such as yogurt and kefir, have in effect, predigested the lactose into lactic acid. Even lactose-intolerant individuals can usually handle these products. Additionally, yogurt and kefir are full of beneficial bacteria (probiotics), thus have become favorites for milk fasting.
For liquid fasting on yogurt or kefir, it is best to make your own. Best of all is making these cultures from raw milk. But starting with raw milk isn't absolutely necessary as store-bought milk devoid of its natural enzymes will be full of healthful enzymes from the work of the cultures by the time it's done. You can take what some are calling a "dead food" (pasteurized milk) and revitalize it into a health-promoting food or drink.
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