Juice Fasting with Type 1 Diabetes
I’ve written about juicing in the past here. Last week I decided to try a few days of juice fasting. I drank about 2 to 3 liters of vegetable and fruit juice each day and the only other thing I consumed was water. I used a high quality omega brand juicer and drank mostly non starchy vegetables. I lasted 4 whole days. Here’s how it went down:
First of all, why did I do this?
Several reasons. First of all, I just felt like it was the right time for me, motivation-wise. But, also I was extremely curious to see how someone with type 1 diabetes, like myself, would manage such a drastic reduction in calories and a juice fast. I also wanted to welcome springtime with tons of fruits and vegetables without their pulp for an infusion of vitamins and minerals. And I wanted to reset my way of eating. I hate Winter and so every year when it’s cold and dark, I tend to comfort myself too much with sugary and fatty foods. It doesn’t matter how healthy walnuts and almonds are, eating too many will make you fat. It seems easier for me to do something extreme like a juice fast in order to remind myself how much better it feels on a really healthy diet. Last summer I did a raw food detox for a few days and felt so great, lowered my need for insulin, and felt ready to eat healthier again so I figured this would be similar.
I started on a Saturday. I felt fine until mid afternoon when I developed a headache. I was outside much of the day and running after the kids. It was probably good I stayed a little active. I don’t know if the fast caused my headache because I have allergies and during this time of year I get the type of headache I had that day so maybe, maybe not, I don’t know. Either way, the headache got worse and worse (it was like a migraine). By 10pm I was in agony and threw up 5 times and shivered violently for a good hour. My blood sugar dropped and I had to get orange juice in me. My husband was my nurse and checked my blood sugar every hour until 1am while I slept it off. This wasn’t uncommon for me. I am very sensitive to nausea and migraines often make me throw up several times a year so again, I don’t know if this was something I can attribute to the fast but it certainly was a miserable start and I worried if I was going to last another day. That night I injected half of my long acting basal insulin and it ended up working perfectly.
The next morning I woke up feeling perfectly fine. No headache, no weakness, no morning stiffness in my joints. I jumped out of bed in a majorly uncharacteristic way and got straight to juicing breakfast. The entire day went amazing. I felt great though I did take a nap (something I never, ever do) in the afternoon.
I woke up wonderfully again and this time felt like I was floating on air. This was so strange. I told Alex, “I feel…euphoria!” And then I googled “symptoms of a fast” and found that people often feel “euphoria”. Wow. Ok, so it’s not just me making this up. I felt extremely peaceful and calm and happy. I napped again this day.
I felt fine again but started getting loose stools and that progressed for the worse during the day, leaving me feeling a bit dehydrated and uncomfortable. And my peace was decidedly disturbed. I chose to end the fast that night because during the next 2 days I was to drive a total of 12 hours to presentations about diabetes and didn’t want to be stuck in a car on the interstate while needing a restroom. Not to mention diabetes and dehydration is a bad combination. It only takes one high blood sugar for things to possibly swing out of control. I made a pact with myself before I started the fast to above all, be safe. I would have liked to continue but I think for my first juice fast 4 whole days was probably ideal.
Random things about this experience:
-I am an A blood type which is associated with eating more of a vegetarian type diet. I looked into my metabolic typing a while back and found out I’m what they call a “carb type” which happened to correlate with my blood type. Ignoring all this information, I have to admit I’ve always felt best on fruits, vegetables, and light protein sources like chicken, white fish, and legumes. A juice fast is really great for my “type” (whatever that really is) and perhaps that’s why I didn’t have a lot of the negative symptoms others report during these fasts. Just a thought.
-I’ve heard of people doing a juice fast by blending fruits and vegetables in a blender and then straining the pulp. I wouldn’t recommend this as the best option because the fast motion of the blender is harsh on the valuable nutrients in the foods. An Omega single masticating juicer is gentle and while it completely separates the pulp from the juice, it leaves all your vitamins and minerals intact. The downside is these juicers are expensive and take up a lot of space. I love mine (and am grateful I bought it before the kids were born-you know back when I had more money).
-I also know some people do a juice fast with store bought juices. This is not a “juice fast”. Store bought juices are miserably deficient in the valuable nutrients the foods once contained because they’ve been pasturized and stored for far too long. Making your own juice means you know how fresh your fruits and veggies and herbs are, you ensure their cleanliness, and if you drink them right away, you get loads of nutrition in a glass that many people rarely get in a full week.
-It’s probably not correct to call this a “detox” because from what I understand, and I could be wrong, to detox you need fiber which will act like a sweeper of your colon. Maybe what I’ll do next is just use the same foods but put them in a blender for green smoothies. A green smoothie detox!
-Juicing omits all the fiber so nutrients are more easily digested and absorbed by the body.
-I juiced the following foods: kale, collard greens, spinach, celery, beets, carrots, ginger, mint, cilantro, bok choy, arugula, cabbage, watermelon, blueberries, apple, lemon, oranges, and grapefruit. You’d be surprised how good mint and ginger makes these juices taste :)
-I lost 4 pounds on the fast, my skin looked great, I felt more in tune with my body, and very satisfied with life. All in all I can’t wait to do it again, if only for a weekend. It’s been a week since my fast and I’m still using lowered insulin requirements so this seems to help me with my insulin resistance problems. Now I just have to continue to eat right. But if I slide out of place I know this may be just the encouraging boost I need to get me back on track.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor nor any kind of medical professional. So don’t take my word for any of this, it’s just my experience and I’m drawing from my personal knowledge base. Some people do not eliminate on fasts (which is important) and endure irreversible damage to their vital organs such as their kidneys and liver. A fast is something very serious if you have a health condition and you want to really research the topic, perhaps talk to your medical team, and definitely listen to your body through the entire process. Beginners should do very short fasts at first as should people who eat an unhealthy diet. Drink plenty of liquids, rest as needed, and stick to light exercise. A fast should not feel awful and if it does, stop.