Three Day Water Fast and its Benefits
A three-day water fast can be taken up by those who are well versed with the one-day fast. A three day fast is little more intense than a 24-Hour fast. It is good to have prior experience with the shorter one-day water fasts. This experience will give one the confidence to take up the longer three-day water fast, which gives much more physical, mental and spiritual benefits.
How to prepare for a Three-day fast?
Longer fasts are recommended in traditional medicine like naturopathy for its various health benefits. In such cases, the fasting is done under the supervision of a qualified doctor and one can follow the instructions from the doctor.
In case you want to do the three-day fast at home, you will need some preparation. The first and foremost is preparing your mind for the practice. Most people will have many fears about attempting a three-day long fast. It is advisable to get guidance from an expert before you do it. Also there are plenty of books on natural healing which recommend long fasts for health benefits. It is good to understand the basic principles of fasting, the various bodily reactions and its benefits. Also, read up on the testimonials of those who have attempted long fasts and learn about their experiences. That will give one confidence, to take up this practice.
A normal human body can go for weeks without food. Hence a three day fast is not difficult. Once you start doing it, you will experience the great health benefits that accompany it. If you have a serious illness, consult your physician first, before you attempt fasting. Those with certain contraindications like tuberculosis and other deficiency diseases should not take up long term fasts. Also pregnant women should avoid long term fasts.
Also, after the 3 day fast, you need about 3 – 4 days to slowly come back to regular eating habits. Hence you should plan for a total of 6 – 7 days for the complete process. Ideally you should be on a retreat or a quite holiday to attempt this.
How to do a Three-day (72-hour) fast?
In a three-day fast, you must drink only water for 72 hours. No solid food or other liquids that contain nutrition (like fruit juice, milk, etc) are allowed. Simple pure mineral water is good. You can also use boiled and cooled water. One may drink about 1 ½ liters to 3 liters (or more) of plain water in one full day, according to ones capacity. Slightly warm water is also good to aid the cleansing process.
Continue this for 3 full days.
Body reactions and experiences during a Three-day fast
If you are attempting a three-day fast for the first time, you will notice few reactions in the body which you should be prepared for. As a habit, the body is used to consuming food multiple times a day. When there is sudden lack of food intake, you may feel weakness, dizziness, nausea, etc which is quite normal. Sometimes you may feel very energetic, but don’t exert yourself during this time. The very next moment you may feel weak. These fluctuations are common and normal. There may be also a drop in blood pressure and slight headaches. One need not get frightened with these reactions. You should take rest or lie down, when ever these symptoms become intense. Consult a doctor if these reactions are too intense.
One may even feel a sudden bout of hunger. To overcome it, just drink one or two glasses of water. Then lie down and take rest. The hunger should go away in a short time. If the hunger keeps recurring, consult your doctor. You can discontinue the fast if the hunger is unbearable. But in most cases, it is not a serious issue during a three-day fast.
Food craving is another reaction in the mind that is common. One starts thinking of various types of food. One may even start imagining and day dreaming about preparing and eating all the sorts of food that one likes.
Fasting is a time for intense cleansing at physical and mental level. The body has a natural mechanism to throw out toxins from the body during the healing process. These toxins are mostly thrown out through digestive system into the intestines. At this time, one gets a thick white coating on the tongue. The coating may remain even after scrapping the tongue. This is a sign that the toxins are being eliminated.
An enema is advised by the doctors during this time to speed up the removal of toxins which are accumulated in the large intestine.
The toxins may also get removed through the lungs. At that time one may get foul breath which may last for a day or two.
Feeling of nausea may be caused by acidity in the stomach, which can be removed by drinking a liter of salt water and vomiting it out immediately. This is called ‘Kunjal Kriya’ or ‘Vaman Kriya’ in yoga and is a common practice in both ayurveda and naturopathy to cleanse the stomach.
The important thing is to understand that these are normal reactions. Continue the 3-day fast with courage. Keep the mind as peaceful as possible. Sometimes the mind can throw up lot of pent up emotions from the past which is stored in the subconscious mind. Maintain a witness attitude during this time. Practice slow deep breathing to make the mind steady and peaceful.
How to break a Three-day fast?
Breaking the fast is equally important as the fast itself. When the body goes without food for three days, it sort of gets used to it. The digestive fire goes down. At that time, one cannot eat or digest large quantities of food. It will be like a shock to the system, if you consume solid food. So one has to gradually increase the digestive fire and bring it back to normal.
The fast is usually broken by drinking lemon juice or orange juice. On the first day after breaking the fast, don’t take anything else. Only lemon or orange juice should be taken about 3 – 5 times in a day. If one feels too much hunger, add half a spoon of pure honey to the juice, to get some calories.
On the second day after the fast, one can go on light vegetable soups, coconut water or fruit juice with honey 3 – 5 times in a day. Some may also be able to take light milk (milk with equal amount of water), while some may find it hard to digest milk.
On the third day, one can have fruits and boiled vegetables as they are easy to digest.
On the fourth day onwards one can get back to normal diet along with fruits. At this point one has to be careful. There is a tendency to overeat and overload the stomach. One can eat smaller amounts a number of times, rather than eating too much once or twice. One should eat in moderation and slowly come back to the regular food habits.
Benefits of a Three day (72-Hour) fast
- A three day fast will give tremendous health benefits. Our digestive system works without any rest, day and night. A fast will give the much needed rest to the entire digestive system to repair and heal itself. Toxins are removed and one feels improved energy and vigor.
- Fasting can improve immunity and gives longevity.
- Fasting is the easiest way to lose weight. One may lose anything from 1 – 3 kg during a 3-day fast. But you will gain back most of this weight once you return to normal food. Following a controlled diet after the fast can help in maintaining the weight reduction. Fasting can also be integrated with yoga management for further benefits. See articles – Obesity and Yoga Management & Pranayama for Weight Loss.
- During the fast, one gets to observe the mind closely. It helps to understand of our food habits and cravings. This understanding helps to control the diet after the fast, thereby helping in weight loss.
- All known religious faiths in the world have encouraged the practice of fasting. Fasting is a time of introspection and emotional cleansing. One has to maintain the witness attitude and watch the various thoughts and emotions thrown out from the subconscious mind. By witnessing the blocked energies are released and the negative mental impressions are brought under control.