When Edible Health owners Corinna (almost 50 years young) and Simon (almost 55 years young) are out with their peers, they are often told how young they look. Their eyes are that little bit whiter, their skin is smoother and more radiant, there’s a bit more vibrancy and energy about their physicality. Corinna puts it down to several factors, not least of all a daily intake of Edible Health collagen powder. The other significant contributor is fasting. As part of our skin series, we’ve asked Corinna to share her fasting experience and knowledge with us.
Edible Health believes in empowering people with their health, but will always encourage approaching any fasting or detox sensibly and with caution, seeking medical supervision where necessary. As always, we are here for you so if you have any questions just contact us.
Corinna, can you explain to us what fasting means?
In terms of my own definition, it is any process that you undertake to reduce the toxic load on your system. So, that might be through the removal or restriction of food, chemical substances, and even fluids. In the truest sense of the term, for me it describes the cessation of food and/or drink over a period of time.
When did you first begin fasting?
My first exposure to fasting was when I was around the age of 18. I read a book by Lesley Kenton on detoxing. She wrote about mono eating and juice fasting as a way to improve overall health and well-being and to rejuvenate. Obviously, given my age at the time, rejuvenation wasn’t a motivation. However, it resonated with me in terms of caring for my overall health. Since then, I have explored almost every kind of fasting on and off over the years.
Why do you fast?
It makes me feel absolutely amazing! Everything feels cleaner, lighter, brighter. I also do this to create balance in my eating habits. This enables me to follow a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle, rather than jumping in and out of diets or restricting myself from enjoying some of life’s culinary pleasures. When I do a programme, I always come away from it thinking we eat way too much in western culture. So much of our food intake is unnecessary, so it also gives me a profound appreciation of and sensitivity towards food. When you break a fast (and more on this further down), your senses are so incredibly hyper alert to whatever you consume.
I truly believe it helps me live the life I enjoy. I don’t want to eliminate certain pleasures from my life. I enjoy food, I love to party. Fasting means I can do this and still achieve a really great quality of life long-term. It’s very much all about the longevity picture for me and what we are doing to help ourselves not only now, but well into the future. Restricting calories actually means we’re making deposits into our health bank, rather than the daily withdrawals we make every time we eat.
Our bodies can use something like 10 to 30 percent of our daily energy expenditure digesting food. That is a lot of effort that could be better spent on other important tasks, such as healing and rejuvenating. Fasting gives the body an opportunity to redirect some of that energy for a period of time, and invest it elsewhere, typically on healing and rejuvenation.
We’re looking at skin in particular in this series. How does fasting impact your skin?
My skin really does radiate after a fast. It’s cleaner, clearer, brighter and more glowing.
Chinese, Ayurvedic and natural medicine is based on a belief that the gut and skin have a very close relationship and connection. Hippocrates also said, “all disease begins in the gut”. The skin and gut are intrinsically linked. The nutrients we consume and how they are absorbed through the body can affect the skin directly, or indirectly through their influence on hormones and the microbiome in our system. I don’t believe skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis are a problem with the skin per se. Rather, I see them as the superficial symptoms of something deeper and more underlying, such as a hormonal, chemical or microbiome imbalance. In the western world, we’re only just waking up to the incredible power of the gut, now often referred to as our ‘second brain’. Eyes might be the window to the soul, but the skin is the window to the gut. When our gut is healthy and in order, then our skin is going to reflect that. Heal the gut and you heal your skin. Fasting is one of the best ways to maintain our gut’s health and well-being and, in turn, that of the skin.
Talk to us about breaking the fast. Why do you say it’s more important than the fast itself?
When you deny your body of something for a period of time, it goes into ancient and instinctive famine mode. When this is broken, the equally ancient and instinctive feast mode is triggered. Your body desperately wants to hold onto whatever it’s now getting, just in case another famine is around the corner.
So, you have to be hyper aware of how you’re breaking the fast and what you’re feeding your body, as it is going to latch on. You also need to be gentle on your system. It hasn’t done any work digesting food for however long and has gone into repair instead of digest mode. In the same way you wouldn’t wake up a sleeping baby by shouting really loudly or ringing an alarm clock, you need to awaken the digestive tract slowly and gently, without shocking it. The longer you fast, the more careful you need to be when breaking the fast. At the same time as being careful, you can also make it such a wonderful experience. I once broke a food and water fast with a peeled cucumber. I did this because I knew my body would need water and food, but also needed a super gentle segue back. I have to say that that particular cucumber remains one of the most incredible things I have ever savoured! Also, a friend and I once broke a three-day fast together in Glastonbury by eating (very slowly and deliberately) crystal manna (a wild blue green algae from Klamath Lake) and premium quality raw cacao. That was an almost out-of-world experience, ingesting and feeling the purity and the chemistry. It is very hard to describe, but I truly sense the energy of those foods. I could feel them enter my bloodstream and move around my body, revitalising and energising as it went. It was incredible and, no doubt, enhanced by the power of the spiritual energy in Glastonbury which is, apparently, the Heart Chakra of the World!
So, if you were to break your fast by returning immediately to coffee, red wine, pizza, smoking - whatever your vice - then you’re feasting on precisely what you’ve needed to detox from in the first place. You’re undoing all that goodness you just worked to achieve. Not to mention missing out on the potential opportunity for an amazing experience. Some people I know have had emotional releases when they break their fasts - it’s possibly the most important part of the process!
What’s the first step towards considering a fast?
If you’ve never fasted before, you should start with baby steps. It’s akin to running a marathon - you wouldn’t just attempt that out of the blue. You need to train towards it. Mental preparation as well as physical preparation is key in this. Whenever you’re about to approach a fasting of some sort, clean up first. Start implementing small restrictions. For instance, cut out the carbohydrates. Lighten your load before you begin, so it’s not a shock to your system, but equally, so that your system is prepared and can get the most out of the experience. Fasting comprises a wide spectrum, including:
- Intermittent fasting (eating only within certain time periods each day)
- Mono eating (just eating one type of food - typically fruit or veg)
- Juice fasting
- Dry fasting (no food or water)
Try something easy to begin with and then experiment - increasing the intensity and duration as you go. But remember, the harder you fast then the cleaner you need to get beforehand. Jumping into my 11-day dry fast was preceded by raw foods, juices and then water only, not to mention enemas - because “your house can never be clean if the kitchen bin is full”!
Can you explain what you mean by this last statement?
Sure, it’s an analogy I often use when explaining fasting. The bin is essentially the colon. If you want your body to be clean from a fast or detox, you have to firstly empty the bin. Otherwise, you’re going to be going around doing all that housework and the body will just be dumping all the rubbish into an already overflowing bin. What happens then is that, when the bin overflows, the rubbish can be reabsorbed into the system. This can cause what is known as detox reactions or a healing crisis. This is when people feel nauseous, get headaches, feel achy and often terminate a fast because they said it made them feel worse not better. All of which is completely unnecessary and avoidable, simply by ensuring your “bin is emptied regularly”.
OK, so how do you empty the bin?
Firstly, by that easing-in phase, where you start to restrict certain things into your body so that your colon can begin to work without a backlog, so to speak!
Secondly, enemas and/or colonics. These provide an instant and thorough clean-out and, years ago, used to be used in hospitals as ways of healing patients or supporting them with pain.
A good example of how they can transform a fast is a friend of mine who decided to fast with me. She enjoys coffee and red wine, and these produce toxins that are particularly stubborn to remove from the system. We began the detox together, and into the journey it became obvious she was having detox reactions. She was nauseous, doubled over and her complexion was grey. She looked as if she’d aged years. To go back to my analogy, her bin was already full. She was attempting a clean-out, but all she was doing was throwing more toxins on an already overloaded system. The toxins were just getting pushed back into her bloodstream. She was poisoning herself with the toxins from the wine and coffee that her body was trying to excrete. I convinced her to do an enema. It was the last thing she wanted to do but the best thing for her. She eventually heeded my advice and after doing a couple of rounds, she went and lay down for a short sleep. She came out a changed woman - a completely different-looking being. The pain and greyness were gone. Her skin had started to take on a glow and she just looked really refreshed and energised. It was a really striking transformation. She couldn’t believe it! The rest of her fast was a breeze thereafter.
What happens during a fast?
No two fasts will ever be the same because there are so many variables. Every person is different to begin with. Then you factor in the duration of the fast, what is being restricted, the intensity. Generally speaking, my experience usually involves the following:
- Day one - this is the easiest day, as I still have food in the ‘bank’. Sure, my tummy will start to rumble by a certain point, but it’s all manageable.
- Day two - this ultimately becomes the hardest day. As it continues, the grumbling intensifies and I am genuinely hungry. I begin to ask myself if I can do this. This is the day I need the most resilience.
- Days three and four - these are the days that are easiest, because already my body is recalibrating itself, working on less, becoming efficient with what it has and nothing more. Hunger eases by this point, as well. I just don’t find I am hungry - I get beyond that point. Interestingly, what usually happens after a fast is that I need less food afterwards. I am satiated with smaller portions.
- Anything longer becomes a very personal journey. The harder and deeper you go, the more you need to give yourself time and space for the journey because your body will go through a powerful and profound healing. So you have to just surrender, take each day as it comes and be super kind and gentle to yourself.
Does fasting prevent you from doing other things in life?
If you’re fasting, for example, by going on a juice diet for a period of time, then chances are you can probably continue most things as per normal. I did 30 days on green juices once and life was pretty much normal. If, however, your fasting is going to be more significant in terms of intensity or duration, then you will likely have to take other things in life down a gear or two. It’s logical, really. If your body is no longer getting the energy it needs to, for example, run five miles, then you can’t expect it to do that on an empty tank. Lie down, read a book, take it easy on yourself. Listen to your body at all times. When I dry fasted for 11 days, I had times when I was super energised and going out for power walks. However, at other times I could barely move, and so confined myself to bed and watched movies, as I didn’t have the energy or ability to do anything else.
When should you not fast?
Definitely pregnant women should never fast. Also, if you are on any form of medication or have an existing health concern, ailment or condition, you should go to an expert retreat like the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida (where, incidentally, I sent my parents for a hugely beneficial detox experience) and attempt this under their guidance. Don’t just fast without researching. Understand exactly what you’re doing and precisely how it may impact you. Be realistic and be reasonable. I would be more than happy for anyone reading this to contact me directly and I can offer more information and guidance.
Has fasting changed you in any way?
It’s positively changed my relationship with food. It has given me a much keener insight into what food does for our bodies. It’s also opened my heart to how incredible our bodies are. I now have a very deep and unwavering belief that most diseases can be healed through diet and lifestyle and I swear by the use of appropriate fasting and colon cleanses.
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