It’s been a while since I posted a blog for Plant Based Life, and one of the reasons is that for the last few months I have been very busy drinking a lot of green juice.
Now, what I mean by this is that I recently did an extended juice feast. On a juice feast, you do not eat any food, instead you juice all your vegetables and fruit and drink 4-6 liters daily. It differs greatly to what people think of as a “fast,” the ratio should be around 80% vegetable juice and 20% fruit with a large amount coming from dark leafy greens for their dense nutritional value. Usually when you fast you deprive your body of some of the nutrients/calories that it needs, whereas with a juice feast the aim is to supply all of the nutrients and calories your body needs, so as to continue functioning optimally.
When I started the juice cleanse I wasn’t entirely certain how long I would do it for. I thought I would do around 30 days and see how I was feeling before deciding to continue. In the end, I actually did it for 100 days from 30th December 2016 to 9th April 2017. I felt really good on it and also felt my body was cleansing and eliminating toxins that had been stored up over a long time. For those of you reading this who think it sounds like a crazy ideal, here is a list of some of the benefits an extended juice cleanse does for the body:
- The main benefit is that you give your digestive system an extended break from having to digest food, which in turn allows your body to heal and achieve much deeper levels of detoxification than it usually can.
- You still consume enough calories in the form of fruit and vegetable juices, making sure that you do not have any nutritional deficiencies, (there are protocols to follow to have the correct ingredients to cover all your nutritional needs).
- The weight that you lose is generally body fat and old backed up matter in your colon and intestinal tract that gets eliminated during the feast. You may lose a small amount of lean muscle mass if you don’t consume enough juice, so this is important.
- You still have lots of energy to work and train at the gym and remain social and live as normal, most of the time you actually have more energy than usual.
- You won’t get hungry, as long as you always consume enough juice each day.
- Your skin becomes much clearer, you feel more alert, and you will notice that your eyes become much clearer.
- You boost the amount of biophotons and antioxidants in your body, which in turn helps fight disease and aid in tissue and cellular repair.
I was introduced to the concept of juice feasting or a “Solid Food Vacation” by another personal trainer I work with, who informed me about John Rose. John Rose is the person who started this approach to health and wellness many years ago. John has a Youtube channel that has a lot of information, and after doing a lot of my own research I decided to give it a go. One thing I will mention, is that during a feast you will get what are called cleansing reactions, which is your body’s natural way of letting you know it is in a heavy state of detoxification. These reactions can include bouts of constipation or bouts of constant emptying of the bowels, nausea, tiredness etc. They are usually short lived, but if you have long term health conditions that are making your organs of elimination run slower you can assist the process with various herbs, enemas, or colonic irrigation if required.
A Breakdown of my experience on the feast:
- The second day I felt a bit hungry, but once I consumed enough juice it was fine ongoing.
- By day 15 I felt that I had boundless energy and people started noticing that my skin and my eyes looked much clearer.
- Around day 20 I looked at a finger on my right hand, which had a wart that persisted for years, and it was completely gone. I found this astonishing.
- From day 21 I started getting a cleansing reaction in the form of constipation, up to that point I had been regular each day. On day 24 I went for a colonic irrigation and couldn’t believe the amount of backed up waste that came out considering I hadn’t eaten for over 3 weeks.
- I noticed around this time that my persistent lower back pain was completely gone. I also noticed that other aches and pains I experience in my joints from different injures over the years had subsided substantially, but not completely gone. While researching, I found that toxins stored for long periods in our colon that aren’t adequately eliminated can get reabsorbed into the body and stored in areas of weakness, such as arthritic joints of skeletal injuries. In regard to back pain, one of the reasons we can get it is because we have low amounts of water in our bodies, I always drink a lot of good filtered water but the water contained within fruits and vegetables is structured in such a way that your body can use it much more effectively. I measured my water content before the feast using a scale that does this and my water content was at 54.1%, at the end of the feast it was 67.1%, and we need to be as close to 70% as possible for optimal health. The reason that having more water in your body can help with back pain is that when your body is fully hydrated it means the vertebrae in your back and the spinal fluid they use, function much better.
- From the fourth week of the juice feast I incorporated an herbal formula that does a parasite cleanse and I followed that for 3 weeks, (this eliminated so much that it amazed me, how much we all carry around in our intestinal tract and don’t realize).
- On the 18th of Feb. 2017 I went to a health and wellness festival in Parramatta called the Live Well Festival, and they had a stand there with a representative who had a biophotonic scanner, which is a device that measures the amount of antioxidants in your body. Antioxidants are powerful and extremely beneficial for achieving optimal health, and they come from consuming a large array of certain fruits and vegetables. They help fight off free radicals that cause human cell damage in the body that can lead to disease. The average person on a standard Australian diet would measure around 20,000 to 30,000, which is low, with adequate levels being 40,000 and optimal being at 60,000. When I did mine my reading was 88,000 which was the second highest they had ever seen, (apart from a man who was a raw Vegan for 25 years and he measured 91,000). In comparison, my wife who eats a wholefood plant based diet measured 52,000, (she hasn’t done a juice feast yet). I would be interested to know what my measurement would have been prior to the feast. I am also planning to get this done again now that I have completed the feast.
- I monitored my weight and did body composition measurements at the start of the feast and again on 27/1/17 and finally on 10/4/17 when I completed the feast. Up until the 217/1/17 I had lost 3.6 KG and 4.5 CM around my waist. I had lost minimal lean muscle mass up to this point. I do feel now looking back I should have monitored my measurements and weight more frequently during the feast as the next time I did it on the 10/4/17 I had lost a total of 9.7 KG and my waist had reduced a further 7.5 CM, (so 12 CM in total loss around waist). But the one thing I had noticed is that in the last 6 weeks or so of the feast I had lost a bit more muscle mass than I had intended and this was due to not always having enough juice to consume. Overall, I had lost about 1 CM on my bicep and 7 CM on my chest, only a little bit from my legs but I wasn’t anticipating 7 CM off my chest, although I had been doing less push up exercises during this time and some of that 7 CM would have been body fat as well. My body fat percentage dropped from 16.4% to 12.2% overall. In contrast John Rose who devised the juice feast formula has previously added muscle to his chest during a juice feast but he was consuming 6-8 liters of juice per day. So, the lesson here is to always make sure you will have enough fresh juice to consume to keep your calories up and maintain lean muscle mass.
- In the last two weeks of the cleanse I did some colon water enemas, and a couple of coffee colon enemas. These provide a deeper cleansing of the intestinal tract, as well as the liver. This brought about some deeper cleansing reactions that made me realize that even after doing a juice feast for this long my body was still healing and cleansing, which is quite phenomenal. I will consider doing more enemas in the future and these are something that some people may find a bit hard to do because of what it involves but they assist greatly with the cleansing process. They have been made famous by the Gerson Therapy that is used to treat people with longstanding diseases.
- I also had full count blood tests done at the start, mid-way through, and towards the end of the juice feast and there were no noticeable differences in key measurements. All my levels stayed within adequate ranges with some improving while on the feast. Although it is worth noting my sodium levels dropped a fair bit, but maybe that is due to the fact I wouldn’t have had any salt or other sources of sodium, besides celery, which has a reasonable sodium content.
- Overall, I have found this juice feast to be an amazing experience and it really is astonishing how much backed up waste we carry around within us for years from eating processed foods and other unhealthy habits over the years. It has also been a big learning curve and I have listed below the things that I would do next time. I now intend to do a juice feast once every year. The best thing overall, that I have got from it is that my taste buds have been completely reset and now I actually crave vegetables/fruits. I feel that I only want to eat healthy foods now and don’t crave any snacks or fried/sweet foods. I feel from this point on my diet will consist predominantly of raw vegetables and fruits with only occasional cooked foods.
What I learned and I what I will do differently next time.
- People who have no idea what you are doing or why you are doing a juice feast may get alarmed when they see you because you appear to have lost a lot of weight in a brief period of time. Even when you explain what you are doing they may still think you are crazy :)
- The next time I do a juice feast I plan to use only organic produce and to use only cold pressed juice. On this feast, I had a combination of non-organic and organic produce due to the expensive costs of organic and also convenience, I didn’t always juice everything at home and had to purchase some juices out at places like Top Juice, which isn’t ideal as you don’t know where they source their produce from and the amount of pesticides, etc, they have been exposed to. Almost everything I juiced at home was organic and we buy our produce from the Alfalfa House food co-op in Enmore, which is very cost effective. The juicer I used was the Breville Cold Fountain Pro, but in the future, I want to buy a much more high end cold pressed juicer, (cold pressing retains more of the nutrients in the juices).
- Always make sure you consume enough juice!!, (this is the most important thing), also on days that you exercise consume more and make them calorie dense. A really good combination to get a lot of calories in includes sweet potato and carrot juice with cinnamon added to give it a nice flavor.
- Make sure to consume enough healthy fats, because there aren’t many fats in fruit and vegetable juices, and our body’s need a minimum amount to function optimally. I did this by adding hemp seed oil to my juices, I would increase this to several table spoons in future feasts.
- As I work out and stretch every day, some days can be quite intense, and next time I will incorporate ways to increase protein by having hemp seed milk or other protein powder sources to help with muscle mass retention and tissue repair.
- During this feast, I did some skin brushing which aids the lymphatic system with its’ cleansing process but I feel I didn’t do it regular enough, and will incorporate this more regularly ongoing. I also did tongue scraping daily which is insightful to see what builds up over time on your tongue and in your mouth. The body’s ability to heal and cleanse is truly remarkable.
- When breaking the fast take time to slowly increase the foods you eat, this will help avoid constipation. I experienced constipation while breaking the fast, because I feel I introduced too much food too soon. I would approach this differently in the future, although I did follow John Rose’s tips on this, starting the first day with prunes and then subsequent days with some fruit and vegetables, and while still juicing I probably consumed a bit too much within the first 4-5 days of breaking the fast. When your digestive system has had no fiber through it for 100 days it takes a little while to begin processing it optimally once again.
John Cawley is a certified personal trainer and fitness advisor. He founded his company, Plant Based Life, in 2015 and has gone on to become one of Sydney's top go-to professionals for plant-based lifestyle and fitness training.