from Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis a Balch, CNC and James E Balch, MD Over time, toxins build up in the body as the result of the pollutants in the air we breathe, the chemicals in the food and water we consume, and other means. Periodically, the body seeks to rid itself of these toxins and releases them from the tissues. The toxins then enter the bloodstream, causing the body to experience a "low" or "down" cycle. During such a cycle, you may suffer from headaches, diarrhea, or depression. Fasting is an effective and safe method of helping the body detoxify itself and move through this low cycle with greater speed and fewer symptoms. In fact, fasting is recommended for any illness, as it gives the body the rest it needs to recover. Acute illnesses, colon disorders, allergies and respiratory diseases are most responsive to fasting, while chronic degenerative diseases are the least responsive. By relieving the body of the work of digesting foods, fasting permits the system to rid itself of toxins while facilitating healing. Fasting, however, is not just helpful in times of poor health or during the body's low cycles. By fasting regularly, you give all of your organs a rest, and thus help reverse the aging process and live a longer and healthier life. During a fast, the following happens: The natural process of toxin excretion continues, while the influx of new toxins is reduced. This results in a reduction of total body toxicity. The energy usually used for digestion is redirected to immune function, cell growth, and eliminatory processes. The immune system's workload is greatly reduced, and the digestive tract is spared any inflammation due to allergic reactions to food. Due to a lowering of serum fats that thins the blood, tissue oxygenation is increased and white blood cells are moved more efficiently. Fat-stored chemicals, such as pesticides and drugs, are released. Physical awareness and sensitivity to diet and surroundings are increased. Due to these effects of fasting, a fast can help you heal with greater speed; cleanse your liver, kidneys, and colon; purify your blood; help you lose excess weight and water; flush out toxins; clear the eyes and tongue; and cleanse the breath. It is recommended that you fast at least 3 days a month, and follow a ten day fast at least twice a year. Depending on the length of the fast, it accomplishes different things. A three day fast helps the body rid itself of toxins and cleanses the blood. A five day fast begins the process of healing and rebuilding the immune system. A ten day fast can take care of many problems before they arise and help to fight off illness, including the degenerative disease that have become so common in our chemically polluted environment. Certain precautions should be taken during fasts: First, do not fast on water alone. An all water fast releases toxins too quickly, causing headaches and worse. Instead, follow the live-juice diet detailed below, as this both removes toxins and promotes healing by supplying the body with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Such a fast is also more likely to lead to a continued healthy diet once the fast is over, as it will accustom you to the taste of raw vegetables and the vitality that this diet promotes. Second, whenever you fast for more than 3 days, do so only under the supervision of a qualified health care professional. If you have diabetes, hypoglycemia, or another chronic health problem, even short fasts should be supervised by a doctor. Pregnant and lactating women should never fast. A final word of advice: It took years to wear your body down, and it will take time to build it back up to its peak condition. But believe that it can be done. Then, whenever you start to feel unwell, fast and feel better. Procedure: To prepare for the fast, east only raw vegetables and fruits for two days. This will make the fast less of a shock to the system. While on the fast, consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses of steam-distilled water a day, plus pure juices and up to 2 cups of herbal tea a day. Dilute all juices with water, adding about 1 part water to 3 parts juice. Do not drink orange or tomato juice, and avoid all juices made with sweeteners or other additives. The best juice to used during your fast is fresh lemon juice. Add the juice of one lemon to a cup of warm water. Fresh apple, beet, cabbage, carrot, celery and grape juices are also good, as are "green drinks", which are made from green leafy vegetables. These green drinks are excellent detoxifiers. Raw cabbage juice is particularly good for ulcers, cancer, and all colon problems. Just be sure to drink the cabbage juice as soon as it is prepared. As this juice sits, it loses its vitamin content. As a general rule, you should not combine fruit and vegetable juices. Apples are the only fruit that should be added to vegetable juices. Follow the juice-water-and-tea fast with a two-day diet of raw fruits and vegetables. The desired effects of the fast can be ruined by eating cooked foods immediately afterward. Because both the size of the stomach and the amount of secreted digestive juices may be decreased during fasting, the first meals after a fast should be frequent and small. Herbs: Herbals teas may be consumed throughout the fast, once or twice per day or more if you wish. Try the following teas: Alfalfa, burdock, chamomile, dandelion, milk thistle, red clover and rose hips tea to rejuvenate the liver and cleanse the bloodstream. Drink 2 parts echinacea and pau d'arco tea mixed with 1 part unsweetened cranberry juice. Used four times a day, this will rebuild the immune system, aid in bladder function and rid the colon of unwanted bacteria. Peppermint tea for its calming and strengthening effect on the nerves, and for indigestion, nausea, and flatulence. Use slippery elm tea for inflammation of the colon. This tea is also beneficial when used as an enema solution. Take 2 capsules of garlic twice a day, before, during and after the fast to promote overall health, aid in the healing process, and rid the colon of many types of parasites. Recommendations: If you must have something to eat during the fast, eat a piece of watermelon. Always eat watermelon by itself, with no additional foods. You can also try applesauce - fresh, not canned - made in a blender or food processor. Leave the skin on the apples, and do not cook them. Take a fiber supplement on a daily basis before and after your fast, but not during the fast. To promote cleansing before and after your fast, be sure to make extra fiber a part of your daily diet. Bran, especially, oat bran, is an excellent source of fiber. Try to avoid supplements containing wheat bran as they may be irritating to the colon wall. Do not chew gum while on the fast. The digestive process starts when chewing prompts the body to secrete enzymes into the gastrointestinal tract. If there is no food in the stomach for the enzymes to digest, trouble occurs. If you have hypoglycemia, never fast without also using a protein supplement. During a fast, as toxins are released from your body, you may experience fatigue; body odor; dry, scaly skin; skin eruptions; headaches; dizziness; irritability; anxiety; confusion; nausea; coughing; diarrhea; dark urine; dark, foul smelling stools; body aches; insomnia; sinus and bronchial mucus discharge; and/or visual or hearing problems. These symptoms are not serious and will quickly pass. To alleviate any of these symptoms, use a daily lemon juice enema to cleanse the colon, and a daily coffee enema to rid the liver of impurities. During your fast, be sure to get adequate rest. If necessary, try napping during the day to recharge your batteries. During a fast, as toxins are released from your body, you will probably experience a coated tongue and an unpleasant taste in your mouth. To relieve this problem, try rinsing your mouth with fresh lemon juice. While fasting, continue your normal daily routine, including moderate exercise. Avoid any strenuous exercise.