We're already halfway through January! How are you doing with your health-centered New Year's resolutions? In my last post on diet and weight loss, I discussed exercise and making reponsible food choices. In this post I'd like to address another option for detoxification, balancing and weight loss: Fasting.
All fasting is essentially a process that gives the body a rest and restores normal metabolic function. There are generally two types of fasts: a more extreme detoxifying juice-only fast, and a milder yet still balancing and detoxifying fast based on legumes and grains.
Four-Day Apple Juice Fast
If you have previously overindulged in rich foods, meat, fat, dairy and so forth, you may reap remarkable benefits from a mono-fruit juice fast. For starters, I recommend the four-day apple juice fast.
Purchase or be prepared to juice the equivalent of at least a half-gallon of organic apple juice per day for three days.
The drill is simple: to maintain blood sugar levels, have at least one 8-ounce glass of warm or room temperature apple juice every two hours or anytime you feel like eating.
To maintain healthy fats during this (or any) diet I also recommend a teaspoon of olive oil three times daily.
After three days of taking apple juice only, you 'break-fast' on the fourth day. This day is the day that can either make or break the gains achieved by the previous three days. On that day, one can have warm vegetable soup with added beans and brown rice, accompanied by a wilted salad garnished with olive oil and Bragg's amino acids (an alternative to soy tamari sauce).
A "wilted" salad is the a traditional Asian dish made by chopping up salad greens and putting them into a cheesecloth bag and dipping them briefly into a pot of salted boiling water for 30 seconds or so. This is then placed on a dish with another dish on top and a weight to press out the excess water in the salad.
The nutrients in greens are encased in a cellulose-like bond that is difficult for our digestive fluids to dissolve. Heat dissolves this bond just as it will quickly crinkle any piece of cellophane passed over an open flame. Many may ask, "Don't you lose some of the nutrients through this flash-heating method?" Yes, but the loss is very little compared to what you will now absorb. The experiential test for this is how comfortable and good your stomach feels when you have your salads prepared in this way as opposed to greens that are raw.
Certain herbs will greatly assist the detoxifying weight loss process you are trying to accomplish with this fast. For this, I recommend Planetary's Triphala Garcinia Program, two to three tablets taken with the apple juice three times daily. This formula combines the legendary balanced detoxification properties of the three Ayurvedic fruits of Triphala with the thyroid supporting effects of kelp and L-Tyrosine, which all purify the blood and lymph. Also included in the formula are burdock and cleavers, which increase the elimination of excess fluid; Chinese white atractylodes, astragalus and ginger to help raise metabolism; and dehydrated apple cider vinegar, which regulates acid-alkaline.
It is important to note that no herbal formula will directly result in weight loss. Stimulants are used medically and do suppress the appetite to some degree, but should not be exclusively relied upon in place of dietary and lifestyle solutions such as the ones I discuss on this and previous posts.
This being said, a formula such as Triphala Garcinia Program can be a powerful aid to all the elements necessary for balanced weight loss. It can be safely used in an ongoing manner to assist the body's normal digestive, assimilative and eliminative processes.
After an initial four-day fast like the one mentioned above is a good time to implement or renew your New Year's diet principles and resolutions.
For those whose diets are not so extreme in indulgences but still would like to detoxify and cleanse, a 10-day diet based on whole grains and beans with the judicious use of spices is recommended.
The most ideal fast that has been used for millennia is based on the Ayurvedic food called kichari or kichidi. This is one of the most satisfying and healing foods. It can be taken as a complete food for detoxification, purification, weight loss, weak digestion or recovery from illness. You may modify it as you wish, adding vegetables, using chicken stock, adding fish, and so on. However, it is pretty complete unto itself. Depending on the type of fast you would like to do, you may choose to have it once, twice or for all three meals of the day.
With the addition of some cooked vegetables, one can live on kicharee. Here is the recipe:
Kicharee (Indian Dahl and Rice)
You will need the following ingredients:
- Split yellow mung beans (dahl)
- White Indian basmati rice (or other white rice)
- Ghee (clarified butter)
Spices are important to kicharee and have their own healing properties:
- Ground turmeric
- Ground coriander seed
- Ground cumin seed
- Sea or rock salt
The final product will be very soupy and not like normal rice and beans. You can choose to make it thicker or thinner by using more or less water in the beginning.
In a saucepan, cook one part rice and mung beans (can be a quarter to a half cup of each) in 7 to 10 parts water until rice is tender.
In a separate large skillet, heat a level tablespoon of ghee. Add and sautee 1/4 teaspoon each of turmeric, ground coriander seed, ground cumin seed and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
This should only takes a few minutes to lightly brown so that the wonderful aroma of the spices begins to arise. Then mix in the precooked mung beans and rice.
During your fast, have a bowl as often as you like. The ancients said that if one eats only kicharee for 10 days, it can cure all diseases. True or not, it is certainly a wonderful foundation to healing. To enhance the detoxification process, take three triphala tablets twice a day with water before or after eating kicharee.
While it is best to make a fresh batch everyday during your fast, kicharee will keep refrigerated for three or four days. Don't forget that you can add vegetables or small amounts of organic meats to the above basic recipe to make it more like a stew.
I look forward to hearing what your experiences with either of the above fasts are in the comments section.
Dhal image by © Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com