Published on | by redblob
This post is going to be about a ten day water fast I completed some years ago in the summer to try and heal my psoriasis.
The good: my skin improved by leaps and bounds. The bad: hallucinations by day 8 were a bit unsettling.
To begin at the beginning, fasting is powerful stuff. It allows your body to stop expending most of its energy on digestion, and put all of that into repairing itself and flushing out toxins.
I was partially motivated to try it by my sister, who had done various intermittent fasts in the past to alleviate her rheumatoid arthritis. They helped her, and at that point I was convinced I would see similar benefits for my psoriasis.
The type of fasting I did was simple: plain old H2O. No juice, no tea, no urinotherapy if that floats your boat, just good old water.
The first few days
The first few days were excruciating! I spent most of the time chilling out in my bedroom and watching all ten seasons of Friends, and I could literally not stop thinking about food. Every little whiff of food exploded a torrent of saliva in my mouth. I was like Pavlov’s dog.
To understand why you have to consider where the body gets its energy. In simple terms it’s either through directly consuming the food we eat, or by metabolizing stored energy, such as fat, and yes, even other body tissue – such your own intestines. Like a cannibal.
To switch to the second mode, which is called ketosis, it takes a couple of days. In my case it took three… but once it happens you no longer feel hungry. At all. You also pretty much stop pooping at that point, which is pretty neat.
Yeah, I didn’t have any bowel movements for a week. I felt as light as a feather. My body was detoxifying and I could feel myself becoming healthier and more energetic. And no, that wasn’t starvation-induced euphoria.
No, you won’t die
The biggest challenge with going on a water fast is having to deal with people who adamantly believe you’re psychotic and will probably die in a couple of days from starvation.
That may be true, if you’re already lean. For those that have a body-fat percentage of below 10%, I wouldn’t recommend fasting for that long because you literally don’t have a lot of stored energy sources to burn through to begin with.
Luckily, I was chubby at that point in my life, and knew I had plenty of rolls to feed my belly for ten days. The other side-effect is that I did lose quite a lot of weight; it was roughly 8 kg in a week.
Things get interesting
To recap my experience, everything went great the first week, and then it went a bit downhill.
Days 1 to 3: Could not stop thinking about food. My own flakes looked delicious. I was obsessed to the point of having borderline OCD symptoms. No change in psoriasis symptoms.
Day 3 to 7: Massive energy boost as my body went into ketosis. Bowel movements stop because I’m empty. Feeling great. Psoriasis patches are smooth, no discernible flaking at all.
Day 7 to 10: I’m still feeling great, but fatigue is creeping in. Memory gets worse. Mild hallucinatory-like mental feelings. Psoriasis still looking great.
By the end of the ten day water fast, I started feeling worse. And this is to be expected, so it didn’t really faze me. When fasting, your body goes through such rapid and heavy detoxification that you experience die-off symptoms from all the toxins being expelled. I knew that.
But my summer holidays were coming to an end, and it was unsustainable for me to go back to university and continue it there. I would have ended up getting dragged out of a lecture with someone’s elbow in my mouth.
What I took away from it
I am very glad that I did my ten day water fast.
My psoriasis did not go away completely, but I stopped flaking completely. My patches had been reduced to slightly raised areas of pink.
The self-discipline factor alone is also reason enough to do it. Afterwards, I literally felt like a boss for having such mental control, and I’m still proud of it today.
Another benefit was that it reset my taste-buds and showed the extent to which I had been conditioned to eating food. The power it had over me. With this realization it made it a lot easier for me to restrict my diet in the years to come.
But would I do it again? I’m not too sure. I have successfully done a five day water fast too, and think it’s great for kick-starting a round of detoxification for your body.
However, I currently think that, if you have a nine to five, and an active social life, it’s nigh on impossible to do a ten day water fast without affecting your productivity and other areas of life.
In this respect, fresh juice fasting, with green juices, is the best balance. For one, you give your body a partial rest as the digestion load is reduced, and secondly, you pump yourself full of inflammation-fighting nutrients. It’s a win, win.
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