As a reasonably fit man in my 70s, I have water fasted once or twice a year over the past 5 years to deal with several health problems, reset my system and strengthen my immune system.  I had been getting a bit of osteoarthritis in one of my knuckles, recently developed a Baker’s cyst behind my right knee and was becoming concerned with high systolic blood pressure readings. I was hoping that all these things would improve…

My fasts have been of various durations – 4 days up to 8 days, with my recent fast of 4 days in August. I reduced my food intake for two days prior to starting, focussing on fresh salads and fruit.

The first 2 days are usually the most difficult and I felt hungry with a bit of a headache and low energy. Days 3 and 4 were much easier although I still felt hungry, especially smelling the food my partner was eating! However, I began to feel clear-headed and rejuvenated. On day 5, I broke my fast with 50% diluted fruit and vegetable juices. These were made from cucumbers, carrots, pears, spinach, beetroot and ginger. The flavour is amazingly intense and which I found very exhilarating.

It is important to rest and drink plenty of filtered water during the fast.  I have a Reverse Osmosis water filter at home and it is surprising how refreshing a cup of hot water is for variety. Although I physically rested, I did use the time to catch up on work on my computer. This is certainly not recommended as your brain also needs to relax too. I enjoyed some short walks in the garden with fresh air and sunshine which always makes you feel better.

From day 6, I began eating easily digestible plant-based foods like watermelon, papaya and salads. As a whole food plant-based advocate, I avoided any processed food for 10 days.  I follow the natural health society guidelines, which is “what you eat 95% of the time is important”. I have chosen to be dairy free and try being gluten-free and my digestive system feels much better.

I am in good health and in my experience undertaking a short fast at home is fine. This may not be the case for others, especially people who take medications or have other health issues. Despite my good health I still use supervision and monitoring and would recommend this approach especially for the first time or for a longer fast. After 3 days, the body enters a ketosis state which means it uses the body fat for its energy and helps the body to detoxify.

You can see from the following table that I lost 5kg and my blood pressure reduced considerably. It does vary during the day but the overall trend is important.

  Weight Kg Blood Press 1 Blood Press 2 Blood Press 3
Day 1 77 137/77 147/80 138/81
Day 2 75.5 124/77 125/79 126/78
Day 3 74 129/70 127/75 125/73
Day 4 73 132/68 130/77 132/79
Day 5 72 115/66 120/68 118/65
Day 6 72 124/73 125/77 114/62

Some of the benefits:

2 Responses

  1. Well done Richard,
    As a man about your age I too have found fasting the simplest and an effective way to deal with most of the health issues that crop up from time to time. The 95% rule is a good one to use for daily living.
    I read that research done at the University of Southern California suggested that a fast induces changes that stimulates stem-cell regeneration of the immune system. It was suggested that a 72 hour fast provided the necessary changes but was not too demanding for those not used to fasting.
    One question, when were you taking your blood pressure each day?
    All the best,

    1. Usually took my BP readings after getting up in the morning, around midday and then before going to bed at night…