It’s this time of year when I, in my desperate devotion to longevity, go through an intestinal cleansing process. It’s usually just before or after my birthday and it does have, I believe, a near quarter century history. It is not spiritual nor psychological. It is physiological. This well-respected, perhaps misunderstood process, is simply called JUICE-FAST meaning that all food is liquid and that carbohydrates are limited if not non-existent. I’m not a biologist chemist or doctor, so some of my explanations may be inaccurate, but it is my understanding that for vegetarians like myself, carbohydrates are the main source of physical energy and their digestion converts their chemicals to glycogen and this is the principal energy storage element. Through glycogen metabolism, principally in the liver and muscle tissues, glycogen is converted to glucose, the neuro-chemical supreme god of energy. ‘It is the most basic fuel in biology, the energy source in most organisms from bacteria to humans. It supplies almost all the energy for the brain.’ [Wikipedia].
So one of the purposes of the 7 day juice-fast is to not supply new glycogen to the metabolic system so that the reserves of glycogen will be used to fuel daily activities during the fast, and that the normally intense metabolic activity in the intestines and other organs will take a holiday to repair themselves, and create a foundation for when I return to normal food ingestion that my choices will be more measured and perhaps modified for age, for season, for better wiser nutrition.
The food processes involved are extraction, squeezing and broth-making. All foods are of course vegetable and fruit. They are chosen for how those three processes best break down the food to juice. Squeezing is primarily done with oranges and lemons. My extraction is done with apples, beets, carrots, celery, cabbage, broccoli. My broth-making made with everything under the vegetable sun, the just mentioned veggies plus parsley, kale, spinach, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, onions, cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potatoes, etc. The extraction is done by pushing vegetable and fruit through a shredding process machine like in health food stores. The broth is made in a large pot, 2 quarts [2 liters] half-filled with low-boiling water for 30 min where I fill the other half with all those ingredients cut into 1 to 2 inch [2 to 4 cm] pieces, and then let stand for 30 min, pour the broth into glass jars to be drunk warm adding crushed garlic or cayenne pepper or grated ginger. All the broken down food is thrown out which makes me almost cry for the waste and tempts me terribly to nibble at the cut carrots and other delicacies. The extraction is the most potent of the drinks – it is like compressing all one day’s normal eating into a single 8 oz [0.25 liter] glass.
One of the main problems with initiating the process is that there is a very normal close connection between food and a sense of well-being. And not eating feels like deprivation and that feels like stupidity and even doing harm to myself. However, if I can get through the first four hours without, that loss of energy supply begins to make some sense because the BODY ADJUSTS. The second problem is the emotional connection to food – a reward for doing physical or mental work. There are other rewards such as feeling in more intimate connection to my body and my digestive, circulatory, glandular, respiratory and nervous systems. It gets better and better with the hours and the days.
Today is only my third day, and each of the first two days, besides the above mentioned juices, I also rewarded myself with one cracker with soy cheese. Anyway, I think the results of the entire process over one week are hard to measure without scientific chemistry, such as blood-test, and cardiovascular measurements. I keep up my regular exercise activities during and nothing in my life is interrupted except the seemingly constant preoccupation with juice preparations. Green tea and ginseng teas are also good at this time plus other gland focused cleansing drinks. One definite result is that I usually lose 10 lbs [4.5 kg] in one week and so far already 2.5 lbs [1.1 kg] are lost. At 84, aging deposits abdominal fat that exercise can NOT reduce – it is part of the deterioration of vital functions, weaker blood, slacker muscles, sagging skin, less energy etc. And then there’s also the pleasure of hearing others say: “That’s great. I wish I could do that!”