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Your fast is closely supervised by Dr. Sniadach. Upon arrival, you receive an evaluation of current health status, history, and lifestyle practices. Together we discuss your goals and desires for your stay. Then we move forward to achieve them.

Trust Your Body

Unfortunately, there exists much misinformation about fasting, and many groundless fears about what happens while fasting. The fundamental fact to know and remember is that the Supreme Intelligence that created the body and mind is the same intelligence that will heal, recover and maintain the body and mind if it's needs are properly met. This Intelligence orchestrates and supervises the fast, and carries out all of the amazingly intricate healing and rejuvenation processes that occur while fasting. The body knows exactly what it is doing, and when and how to do it. Though we sometimes detoxify faster than we might like, this is rarely if ever dangerous. The body detoxifies with precision - at exactly the rate and intensity that it knows it can handle.

The Stages of Fasting

Your body goes through several distinct phases when you begin to water fast.

After your last meal, the body looks in your digestive tract for any nutrients or calories that it needs. This source of nutrition might last for 4-8 hours. Once your body has depleted this source, it goes to the liver for the glycogen (compacted sugars) stored there.

The liver’s glycogen stores will last between 8-12 hours, at which point the body, maximizing efficiency, goes to the next most readily available source of glucose - glycogen stores in muscle.

Once the glycogen stores are exhausted, the body will burn extra available protein for a short time, hoping that some food might be found soon. As you continue to fast, your body does not want to lose any more protein and muscle than it knows it can afford to lose.

After several hours of using protein for energy, the body will switch over to a less efficient but safer long term source of fuel: adipose tissue, which are your body's fat stores. This metabolic process of burning primarily fat for energy is called ketosis. It begins after about 48 hours, and is a natural, built-in process for extending a fast as long as necessary.

The body stores uneliminated toxic debris primarily in our fat tissues, so deep cleansing and detoxification does not begin until the fat-burning ketosis stage of the process.

Metabolic ketosis continues for the duration of your fast. Your body will consume about 1 pound (2.4Kg) of fat stores each day on average. More at the beginning, less as the fast continues. Depending on the amount of fat reserves that you have, your fast can theoretically continue for quite some time. Fasts of 40 days and longer can occur without any problems and with significant benefits. However, for most people, much shorter fasts are best. Usually 1-2 weeks is appropriate for most cases. Longer fasts can be much more difficult in our modern era as our bodies are carrying far more artificial toxic debris, synthetic chemicals and heavy metals than our ancestors ever did. Add to this the fact that many of us have eaten lots of very poor quality foods over the years, and lack adequate exercise and sleep, and you can see that the detoxification burden is much more severe for today's faster.

Detox Symptoms

There are many detoxification symptoms which may arise while fasting, and a few that almost certainly will occur: lowered blood pressure, lowered body temperature, coated tongue and a generalized weakness as the body redirects its energies toward healing and rejuvenation. These typical symptoms are not to be feared, but rather to be respected and honored as one proceeds during the fast. Trust in the body to do what is necessary, when it is necessary. Assist it however you can.

The 'healing' reactions you get from fasting are dependent on your existing health level and the toxic load present in your body when you start. The first three days can be the most difficult until one's appetite for food goes away, which it normally does after the third day. Many people experience headaches, joint pain and other localized discomforts in the first few days.

Dizziness
Blood pressure is virtually guaranteed to drop while fasting, and will stay in an optimum range after the fast if wise lifestyle
choices are followed. This is great news for the 50% of Americans who will die of the ravages of high-blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke. The drop in blood pressure while fasting is worth noting for all fasters because below-normal blood pressure, while not inherently dangerous or problematic, often results in a condition called orthostatic hypotension (i.e. temporary low blood pressure to the head due to standing up too fast and getting dizzy).

Whenever rising from bed or standing up, always move slowly and carefully, especially after several days of fasting. You may get light-headed and dizzy very quickly because of slower blood flow to your head. Get up slowly and gently - first sit up and stabilize, then slowly stand while supporting yourself with your hands gripping a stable object nearby.

Should you stand up too quickly, or feel dizzy at any time, drop to a sitting or kneeling position immediately, and lower your head between your knees. This will insure ample blood supply to the brain, quickly eliminating the dizziness. Rise again slowly afterwards to insure your equilibrium.

Body Temperature
Your body temperature is also virtually guaranteed to drop while fasting. Again, this is not inherently a problem, though it means you may need to take extra precautions to maintain your body temperature, especially when fasting in the winter season. Don’t wait until you’re chilled to warm up. Doing so means that you are wasting your body’s precious energy – energy that could be used for cleansing and healing. Rather, seek to stay warm. This may mean wearing more clothes than you would if not fasting. Keeping warm is generally not a problem when you are in bed and wrapped up in a comforter and blankets.

Coated Tongue
Your tongue will most likely become coated during your fast, possibly at the onset, and will probably remain coated during your entire fast. Foul breath will accompany the coated tongue. This is normal and is thought to indicate the degree of debris in your upper respiratory tract and upper digestive tract (sinuses, lungs, mouth, throat, trachea, esophagus). Sometimes the tongue will clear itself, and within a day or so become coated again, indicating that the body is working through pockets or layers of material. You can scrape your tongue clean, or brush the coating off with a wet toothbrush (no toothpaste). Don’t be surprised if it returns fairly quickly. This is normal. Just keep your tongue and mouth as clean as necessary to feel comfortable.

This coating will alter the sensitivity of your taste buds, and you may find the water tastes good one day, and not-so-good the next. It is not the water that has changed, but your perception of taste.

Backache
Lower back pain may occur due to toxic material stored in the low back muscles, tendons and related structures. Back pain may also result from toxins stored in the lower intestine. The pain often decreases after elimination of the toxins. Back exercises and stretching can relieve the pain.

Nausea
When waste is released too quickly by the lymph glands, some of the toxic overload is taken by the liver and secreted with bile into the stomach. This causes nausea. Drinking more water, especially warm water will dilute the bile, helping to flush it from the system.

Extended Fasting

With longer fasting you will notice some days are symptom free, then as you move into deeper layers of detoxification you will experience episodes of symptoms as your body cleanses further. At times you may feel weak or tired, so you should listen to your body and rest. Periods of high-energy and mental clarity will be experienced and can be variable, alternating between periods of healing reactions and symptom free days.

With extended fasts it is also normal to have strong emotional reactions that have been suppressed, as the body brings these to the surface for healing. This can be a difficult period, but can be dealt with more easily with meditation, counseling and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).


 


How to Fast Well

Water
Drink at least 2 liters/quarts of water/day. Hydration is essential. You'll receive the purest possible filtered water while fasting at Vida Clara.

Rest
Lying down and ceasing all activity is the ideal way to fast. Fasting is often thought of as abstaining from food, but this is really only part of the story. To provide the body with the optimal conditions in which to heal, it’s important to provide complete rest - physical and psychological. Because the digestive tract can use 50% or more of the body’s daily energy expenditure, complete rest necessitates not eating. Give your body a complete rest from digestive tasks.

Complete rest also requires minimizing unnecessary brain function, as the brain is the second highest consumer of the body’s energy, using about 35%. You can certainly read, write, and talk if you choose to, but your process will be more effective if you don’t engage in these activities any more than necessary.

During the fast the body does not want to waste energy on walking, talking, and so on. Rest is the major “activity." Healing is the priority. Fasting is a time to thoroughly and deeply rest your body and mind.

Spend most of your time lying down with your eyes closed. Doing so dramatically reduces the body’s energy consumption, providing very deep levels of rest. When we lie down and close our eyes, the heart rate slows down, the respiratory rate slows down, and brain waves become slower, more synchronized, and more uniform. These physiological changes show us that the body is in a deep resting state, and that tremendous energy has been freed up for cleansing and healing.

Closing our eyes is important because we take in about 70% of the body’s sensory information through the eyes, and as long as they are open, we expend a lot of energy processing the incoming information. Remember that we are attempting to provide the body all available energy for cleansing and healing, rather than diverting energy away for other purposes. Any unnecessary activity consumes energy, making it unavailable to the detox and healing process.

Go Within
Be introspective while here, separating yourself from the outside world in order to get in touch with yourself at the deepest level. Try to keep outside calls to a minimum as they usually distract you from this process.

Be willing to fully experience the process. Allow yourself to acknowledge and experience any physical or emotional symptoms that may surface. During a fast, you may re-experience old physical and emotional wounds that were never allowed to heal completely. Honor your process and be patient with yourself.

Though you won’t be able to sleep all the time – unless your body actually needs that much sleep – you can rest in other ways. It is very helpful to meditate often throughout your stay. Research has proven the amazing benefits of meditation, which provides a level of rest that is in some ways deeper than sleep. Please note, meditation can never replace sleep, which is a physiological necessity. If you don’t know how to meditate, ask us for assistance.

Reading, listening to uplifting music, observing nature around you - these are constructive activities suited to fasting.

Light Activity
It is good to have mild exercise, gentle stretching and short walks while fasting to keep the lymphatic fluid moving. The amount of exercise you can do is very much dependent on your existing condition and how you are feeling that day. A very little bit of exercise goes a long way while fasting! Be alert and listen to your body - don't overdo it. Fasting is resting, not a workout! You may feel weak during a water fast and may need to rest much more often. If you experience energy loss, limit yourself to stretching exercises, light walking or deep breathing.

Showers/Bathing
An occasional cool shower or bath aids in cleansing the pores and assist the removal of toxins. You may notice increased body odor, especially if you are/were a smoker or have eaten lots of intense spices and condiments. The skin is a large organ and many toxins are removed through the pores causing a gummy deposit on the surface of the skin. It may help to brush the skin removing the sludge that is deposited there. But don't get preoccupied with staying clean during your fast! Hot or warm showers are very enervating to the body. They can really tire you out, far more than you might expect, and they waste lots of precious energy you need for the fasting process.

Remember, the keys to successful fasting are:

1. Eliminate or minimize all unnecessary activity

2. Provide your body with the deepest levels of rest possible

3. Drink enough water (at least 2 quarts/liters a day)

4. Maintain your body temperature

5. Always rise slowly to minimize the likelihood of dizziness

6. Only light activity - don't waste your energy!

7. Only occasional cool showers.

6. Relax in the knowledge that you are providing yourself with an amazing gift of health and insight.

How Long Should You Fast?

The duration of your fast and the length of your stay is always an individual matter. The duration of your fast depends on your personal goals, spiritual aspirations, any illness or disease you wish to heal or improve, and how much time you have available.

Based on your initial phone consultation, Dr. Sniadach will give you his preliminary recommendation for the length of your fast and the required days of post-fast refeeding to be completed here at the retreat. Ideally, the actual length of your fast will be determined as it proceeds, depending on how you do from day to day.

If you are able to be flexible about the length of your stay, that would be best. You can fast and recover for as long as you need, without the hindrance of schedules or distractions.

For every 2 days of fasting you should plan on a minimum of 1 full day of post-fast eating; for example, a fast of 8 days requires a minimum of 4 days of proper eating after breaking your fast. The best way, however, is to budget enough time so that the length of the fast and the time spent recuperating and regaining strength afterwards are the same; for example, 8 days fasting and 8 days recuperation after the fast for a total of 16 days. This way you are much better able to sustain and integrate the benefits of your fast, as well as getting a good start toward developing better lifestyle practices for yourself.

If you are new to water fasting, with little or no experience with it, then most likely a relatively short fast will be recommended. Different personal circumstances, different spiritual goals and different types of disease all have somewhat different needs for resolution, and so the length of your fast will be uniquely suited to you. In all cases we want to help you achieve the greatest benefits that you can.