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On juicing, fasting, and inflammation...

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Traffic Lights

Last night I joined the Vegan Business Tribe (VBT) online networking session. I have been a member of VBT since I met co-founder David Pannell at Vegan Camp Out in July 2023.

During the session I mentioned that I was on day two of a 60-day juice fast.

Hmm. Today is day three. I have drunk lots of juice, but I have eaten some food as well. I have had a conversation with my mother about safety.

There are a few things I want to say.

I have never juice fasted before.

I am not a juicing guru.

In general, I recommend establishing a sustainable, long-term, healthy diet style that works for you. That is, in most cases, what I will suggest we aim for if you come to me for advice. If that includes a moderate amount of juice, I'm okay with that (I'm not 'anti-juice'), but I don't recommend diet fads, cleanses, 21-day challenges, or swinging between extremes.

So why am I doing this?

At VBT I said that I still need to lose a few post-Covid pounds and that's true, and will be a bonus, but it isn't the real reason.

There are always exceptions to every rule.

Everybody's situation is different.

Maybe I'm just curious to see what happens!?

Yes, and no.

Back in early 2020 I developed a skin infection on my left knuckle that spread up my arm to become cellulitis, and the swab grew a bug called Group A Streptococcus (GAS).

It was probably 'nosocomial' in origin (i.e. hospital acquired), although I will never prove it.

Seven weeks after the initial infection I started to get some post-streptococcal inflammatory symptoms: gritty eyes, joint pains (small joints, early morning stiffness... some of you will know what I am talking about), these weird painful red nodules on my fingers.

These are not debilitating, but they are unpleasant and worrying in terms of how things could potentially evolve, and they come and go with no apparent triggers. I'm a bit frustrated that they haven't gone away by now.

In the past I've done short water fasts (1-2 days) and I always find it amazing how any inflammation in my body disappears really quickly, but of course you can't live on water.

I need to function as a busy doctor and mother. I drive long distances to work.

Needing to get on top of acute inflammation to prevent ongoing tissue damage is one indication for fasting, and it works.

Wanting to lose weight is not an indication for fasting, for several good reasons. Mainly, because if we don't invest time and energy in developing new habits, when we stop our bodies just put all the weight back on again and more.

It's important to understand the metabolic transition that takes place when we start to fast, or calorie-restrict. If we suddenly cut off the glucose supply to our brain by stopping eating we will experience symptoms like (potentially extreme) weakness, lightheadedness and fatigue. It takes about 48 hours for the body to start to produce ketone bodies (from fat) as an alternative fuel for the brain.

It's better to wean slowly, if you can. Otherwise, it's definitely not safe to drive.

So I want to see if this helps. That's it: it's a personal experiment. If it doesn't I'll probably stop, but it already has, so I probably won't...

N.B. The 'Traffic Lights' are my top three favourite juices:

  • Red = beetroot, apple and celery

  • Orange = carrot, orange, ginger and turmeric

  • Green = kale, apple and cucumber

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