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Fasting How To's



"One quarter of what you eat keeps you alive; 
 the other three-quarters keeps your doctor alive." 

Americans eat way too much fat, way too much sugar, and way too much protein. In fact, Americans simply eat too much of everything. The way out of this dilemma is so easy that we usually miss it: consider occasionally fasting. 

I can almost hear the sound of yet another one of my books being slammed down, being put back on the shelf, or being quietly incinerated. While you are warming your hands from the imaginary glow that these pages would doubtlessly produce, may I continue? 

Look:  nothing succeeds like success. We could spend all day talking about the value of fasting, but only you can find out for yourself what it can do for you. Experience is your best teacher, and improved health is always the best proof. A fast will cost very little money, and may well be one of the best things you've ever done for yourself. 

Yes, you cannot accuse me of being in this just for the money, for not eating is certainly cheap enough. Fasting should be with your doctor's approval, and is not for growing children, and clearly not for anyone pregnant or nursing. People who are taking certain medications and people who have other compelling medical reasons should not fast. This still leaves the majority of us as more-or-less willing candidates. 

One of the reasons fasting merits your attention is that anything else is so often ineffective or downright dangerous. One of the really amazing books of our time is Medical Nemesis, by Ivan Illich  (Bantam, 1977) Dr. Illich shows, in exhaustive detail, that medical care has become literally sickening. One in five hospital patients is there because a physician's mistake put him or her there. And with that point, the book is just warming up. 

Ever since George Washington's doctors killed him with their prescriptions (No kidding: Medical and Physical Journal, London, 1800. Volume 3, page 409), people have been seeking LESS HARMFUL treatments than conventional medicine has offered.  A common "scientific" argument against fasting is that it is always unsafe. Truly the pot is calling the kettle black when drug-based medicine criticizes the safety of the therapy that all animals naturally use, namely fasting. First thing a sick animal does is go off its feed. 

Fasting has GOT to be safer than, say cocaine or heroin, don't you think? Yet each year, doctor-prescribed drugs kill more Americans than street drugs. Drug Abuse Warning Network statistics indicate less than 10,000 deaths annually from illegal drugs. 130,000 Americans actually die in hospitals each year from prescription medication. (Whitaker, J. in Health and Healing, September 1993 Supplement, Phillips Publishing, page 3) 

The following is one approach to safe, comfortable fasting. 


A "cycle" is made up of an eight day juice fast, three days to come off the fast, and then ten days on a three-quarters raw food diet.  (8 + 3 + 10 = 21 days.)  This really works. 

First, fast.  Eight days may seem like a very long time to go without food. Actually, for the first day or two of a fast, your body uses up the food remaining in your digestive tract from previous meals. For the next couple of days, your body uses stored food reserves from your liver. This means that a fast doesn't really begin until about the fifth day. Now an eight day fast is closer to a three day fast, and attainable by nearly everyone.  (Diabetics and persons on medication requiring meals should check with their physician, of course. Fasting is not for children, pregnant women or nursing women. If there is a medical reason why you should not fast, then don't. Check with your doctor first.) 

Since "fasting" conjures up visions of starvation, it is important to realize that we are talking about JUICE fasting here. Freshly made vegetable juices, taken in quantity, are not a beverage. They are a raw, highly digestible food.  It is ideal to have all the juice you want, without forcing yourself to drink it. The rules: "When you are hungry, drink juice.  When you are thirsty, drink juice also." 

It is generally a good idea to dilute your juice 50/50 with water. If you can afford filtered water, use it. If not, don't worry... the goodness of the juices will carry you. Some people, including me, do not like the taste of diluted juice.  An alternative is to drink a glass of water, then drink a glass of juice. This gives the same effect, and tastes better. Be sure to drink the water first, for after the juice you may not want the water as much. 

When we say "juice", we generally are referring to vegetable juice, freshly prepared. Fruit juice tends to be too sweet for comfortable fasting.  However, there is nothing to stop you from experimenting and coming up with your own best regimen. As long as you get good results, HOW you get them is secondary. 

You cannot buy freshly prepared vegetable juice in any store at any price... unless they literally juice the vegetables right in front of your eyes and you drink it down before they make you pay for it! Any juice in a carton, can or bottle has been heat treated and was certainly packaged at least a few hours ago. Even frozen juice is not fresh, then, is it? This means that you will need one essential and somewhat expensive appliance:  your own juicer. 

A juicer is not a blender.  A juicer makes juice; a blender makes raw baby food. There is nothing wrong with blending your foods. If you found such food to your liking, it would actually be very digestible. However, to make juice you need to extract the fluid part of the vegetable along with the vitamins, minerals and enzymes it contains. Therefore, you need a juice extractor. We are also not referring to a whirl-top orange juicer, either. 

Be sure to get a really good juicer. Good juicers make tastier juices, faster. Good juicers also clean up more quickly than cheap juicers. I have no financial connection whatsoever with anyone who makes or sells a juicer. I do not sell juicers; I only recommend owning one. I personally like the "Champion" brand juicer. It costs under $300 and might last you 30 years. Basically a motor with teeth, a Champion will virtually juice a two-by-four.  Quick and easy to use and to clean. I’ve had mine for 15 years now and it is used daily. I did buy for an extra blade assembly, but haven’t really needed it yet. 

There are many cheaper juicers and also many dissatisfied folks who thought they'd save a buck and now regret that they bought a "bargain" juicer. If you spend under $150, you are likely to be disappointed with your purchase within weeks. 

Clean-up is easy.  The moment you have finished making (and drinking!) your juice, just rinse the cleanable parts with water and set them in a dish-drainer rack until the next use.  Soap will rarely be necessary as long as you don't mind the plastic parts of the juicer gradually becoming the same color as your favorite vegetables. 

You can juice almost anything you can eat raw.  Vegetables are best, especially carrots, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes, zucchini squash, romaine lettuce, sprouts, celery and cabbage. You may juice fruits also, naturally. Freshly made raw apple, grape, and melon juices are delicious. It is not generally a good idea to juice potatoes, eggplant or Lima beans (not that you'd want to.) 

It is wise to peel vegetables that have been sprayed or waxed, such as cucumbers. Sprayed fruits are also good to peel before juicing. Carrots and other underground vegetables often do not need peeling.  Instead, give them a good scrubbing with a nylon-bristle vegetable brush while rinsing under tap water. Beets are the exception. Since beet skins are very bitter, it is wise to peel beets before juicing. A hint to save time: dip the beets for about 20 seconds in boiling water and then peel them... it's much easier. 

Your juice will taste the best if you drink it right after preparing it. I mean within moments! Fresh juice contains a great amount of raw food enzymes and vitamins, many of which are easily lost as the juice sits. So don't let it sit! Drink it right down, with the thought that this is unbelievably good for you. 

Drink as much juice as you wish.  Remember that it is a food, not a beverage and that you can have as much as you want. There is little fear of over doing it.  It is, after all, hard to hurt yourself with vegetables! 

A good rule of thumb is to drink three or four eight-ounce glasses of fresh juice a day (for an adult). The best time is right before a meal, or between meals.  Absorption of and benefit from the juice is highest then. 

You will probably find that you will be urinating more as you drink more juices. That figures, doesn't it?  You are taking in more liquid. You may also notice that you have more bowel movements now than you were previously accustomed to. This, too, is to be expected. Your body may well respond to all this nourishment by "cleaning house" a bit. More excretory symptoms would be the result. Ever notice how many trash cans you fill when you clean out the attic, basement or garage? Why, you hardly noticed all the rubbish you had stored in there until you went to clean it out.  The same is true, by analogy, with your body. 

You may drink those juices that appeal to you the most.  To find out your favorites, try each of them! 

CARROT juice is tasty and popular, and two glasses of carrot juice per day are highly beneficial. There is no need to peel your carrots if you first scrub them well with a tough brush. I recommend a vegetable brush with nylon bristles for this purpose.  Brush the daylights out of the carrots while rinsing them under water. This is quicker than peeling, and is less wasteful. 

Carrot juice is very high in vitamin A. The vitamin A in carrots is actually "provitamin A" or carotene. Carotene is completely non-toxic, no matter how much you consume. The worst thing that can happen if you drink a huge amount of carrot juice is that you will turn orange. 

No, really. You see, beta carotene is a natural pigment, a natural coloring. Excess carotene is stored in your skin until your body wants it and then turns it into active vitamin A as needed. An abundance of carotene in your skin makes you look orange. This condition is called "carotenosis" and is harmless. Okay, it looks odd to visit the folks (or the doctor) when you are orange. I know: when my son was little, he LOVED sweet potatoes, carrots and butternut squash to the point of orange skin. The relatives got a bit worried, but the coloration disappeared after we limited his orange veggies for a week or two. So, to get rid of the color, simply back off the carrot juice (and other orange vegetables) for a while and it will go away.  If someone thinks you are not well, tell them what you are doing. A doctor who thinks you have jaundice could then understand right away that you don't.  Liver function tests would also confirm your good health. Naturally, you don't have to turn orange to enjoy the goodness of carrot juice.  You can drink just enough to feel great ...without looking like a pumpkin! 

Some folks have tried canned or bottled carrot juice and they didn't like it. No wonder! Fresh juice tastes SO much better that there isn't really any comparison.  I have two teenagers who WILL drink freshly-made carrot juice. Could there possibly be any higher recommendation than that? 

CELERY juice is very tasty, but a bit high in sodium. Use small amounts of this juice to flavor the others. Juice celery leaves and all for the most benefit. 

CUCUMBER juice is remarkably tasty.  It tastes rather different than a cucumber itself. Perhaps you will find that the taste reminds you of watermelon. Peel cucumbers before juicing to avoid the waxes applied to their skins to enhance their shelf life in supermarkets. 

ROMAINE LETTUCE or BEAN SPROUTS will make an especially nutritious juice with a taste that is well worth acquiring. This "green drink" is loaded with minerals and chlorophyll. 

ZUCCHINI SQUASH juiced up tastes better than you'd ever imagine. Peel first, and enjoy. You may well be the first on your block to be a zucchini-juice fan. It also keeps the juicer from clogging on higher-fiber vegetables.

BEET juice is, traditionally, a blood-builder.  In days past, herbalists looked at the blood-red beet as a tonic more so because it worked, rather than any color similarity. Beets must be peeled before juicing. Beet skins are very bitter. The beets, on the other hand, are quite sweet and make great juice. They will also permanently stain your juicer, so don't try to remove that color by washing. More important, beet juice will color your bowel movements. 

That lovely red color of fresh beets can cause genuine alarm when it is seen in the toilet water. I know someone who had forgotten that he'd had beet juice the day before. He could only figure that he had a terrible case of hemorrhoids when he looked into the toilet and saw that red, red water.  It was the beets, of course. When you have beet juice, remember not to be alarmed. Beet juice is widely used in the food industry as a natural coloring agent.  You can (literally) see why! 

A hint: you will save time if you first carefully dip beets in boiling water before peeling them. 

CABBAGE juice was used by Garnett Cheney, M.D. to cure bleeding peptic ulcers back in the 1950's. (Cheney, G. (1952) "Vitamin U therapy of peptic ulcer." California Medicine, 77:4, 248-252) Dr. Cheney's patients drank a quart of cabbage juice a day and were cured in less than half the usual time... with no drugs whatsoever. Since then, cabbage juice has successfully been used for a variety of gastrointestinal illnesses. Colitis, spastic colon, indigestion, chronic constipation, certain forms of rectal bleeding and other conditions seem to respond well to the nutrients in cabbage juice.  Dr. Cheney called its healing factor "Vitamin U" (for unknown). More recently, the American Cancer Society has urged people to eat more of the cabbage/broccoli family of vegetables because of their protective effects against cancer. There may be something to this cabbage juice idea.  It certainly couldn't hurt to try it. 

TOMATOES are easily juiced.  Do not juice the leaves, vines, or green tomatoes. Only the red, ripened fruit is good for you. Yes, the tomato is a fruit.  A fruit of a plant is essentially a seed-containing structure that can be picked without killing the plant. Hmm. This means that cucumbers, squash and even green beans are all fruits. That's true. Think of the fun you will have at your next Thanksgiving dinner when you ask Aunt Xanthippe to "Please pass the fruits" when the only foods near her are squash and green beans. 

This may help ease the minds of those who question whether you should have fruits and vegetables together at a meal. Since few people are aware that pumpkin pie, tomato soup, and zucchini bread are all made out of fruits, why split hairs? 


Sam writes:

“I was reading a lot about juice fasting and how it might help. You’ve written that it has to be all fresh juice, so what should I do on working days? I cannot possibly carry a juicer and a box of veggies to the office. Any suggestions?”




1) Juice at home and carry it in a Thermos. Not ideal for taste, but people have done it. I’d add a little vitamin C (crush up any size tablet) to retard oxidation. Fill the vacuum bottle all the way to the top so when you close it, a little juice overflows. This also helps to reduce oxidation, insuring that there is little or no air inside to spoil the goodness. Of course you can juice as soon as you get home, too.


2) Bring a ton of little cans or bottles of “V-8” vegetable juice with you. Be sure to get the “low-salt” variety. And I do NOT refer to so-called “V-8 Splash,” which is NOT “vegetable juice.” Read the label.


3) Simply eat your vegetables. Have a salad-bar lunch. Also eat lots of fruit; great snack. (They do let you have lunch and snacks and breaks, don’t they?) Fresh fruit and veggies are as easy to pack for your lunch as they are to put in your kids’ lunches.


Still more hints at

At the beginning of this section we were talking about a 21-day "cycle"  beginning with eight days just on fresh juices, three days to come off the juice "fast,"  and then ten days of a 75% raw food diet. This makes a total cycle duration of three weeks (21 days). Now that you have a better idea about the juicing segment, let's take a look at the next steps. 

Coming off the juice "fast" is best done by eating lightly for a while. Fruit, fruit salads, vegetable soups, cottage cheese and other light foods are appropriate at this point.  A good rule of thumb here is to eat only half as much as you want to at any one time... but eat twice as often.  This is for about three days. 

For the ten day 75% raw food diet, you can eat all you want as long as three-quarters of it is uncooked. For the uncooked part of the diet, eat fresh, raw vegetables and fruits. Don't forget nuts, too. If they are raw, they count. Begin each meal with a large salad, perhaps a fruit salad for breakfast.  Then, when you've finished the salad, have whatever you want within reason. The 25% cooked portion could include whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice, cooked beans, lentils, cooked vegetables including potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, squash and other foods that you like.  Meat is not recommended, nor is chicken or turkey.

One of the best sources of flesh protein is seafood. Fish is a major source of important oils and other nutrients in addition to protein. Enjoy it as often as you wish, but avoid breaded or fried seafood. Shrimp and shellfish are good foods. Generally, it is wise to avoid eating a catch from questionably polluted waters, such as the Great Lakes. This is one statement that I look forward to striking from this writing when our fresh waters are cleaner. 

If you don't want to eat seafood, you do not have to. Eggs in moderation, cheese, unsweetened yogurt, raw cow's milk, goat's milk, tofu, miso, tempeh, nuts, and especially beans and bean sprouts are all good protein sources. The issue is not WHERE you get your protein but ARE YOU getting your protein.  If you are not yet a vegetarian, now is the time to move in that direction. If you currently don't eat meat, good for you... and remember: get plenty of protein. 

When you go out to eat, it's easy to stay right on this program by eating at salad bars. Remember, try to make the other three-quarters of your diet fresh and raw. 

All the strongest and longest-lived animals on earth are vegetarians, or close to it.

Copyright  C  2004 and prior years Andrew W. Saul. 

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Andrew W. Saul


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