21 Day (Three-Week) water fast is classified under long term fasts and should be attempted only by those who are familiar with shorter one week or a 10-day water fasts. To do a long term fast, one has to understand the science of fasting from the medical viewpoint. A 21 day water fast should be done only under the direct supervision of a qualified medical practitioner who can monitor your vital signs and other body conditions on a daily basis.
Who can do a 21 Day Water fast (Three Week Water Fast)?
A 21-day water fast can be done for various purposes ranging from therapy for chronic illnesses, detoxification of body, spiritual purposes, control over food cravings, weight loss, rejuvenation of body, etc. Whether you are attempting it for the innumerable benefits or for mere thrill of it, please consult a doctor before, during and after the fast.
Preparation for a 21 day Water Fast
Before attempting a 21-day water fast, please consult a doctor and discuss any preexisting body conditions. Ideally it should be done in a naturopathy center under supervision of doctors and nutritionists.
Please note that breaking the fast is equally important. It may take roughly two to three weeks to come back to normal diet after the fast. So, be prepared to spend a total of around 40 days for the entire process.
Mental preparation for the fast is essential as each day during the fast can throw up physical and mental challenges. A proper scientific understanding of the fasting process is essential to give you the confidence to complete the fast. Consult those who have attempted it before and read up on testimonials. That will boost one’s confidence, to take up this practice. A healthy human being can go for weeks without food. Hence a 21-day fast should not be too difficult, if done carefully. Once you complete the fast, 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 and children should avoid long term fasts.
How to do a 21 day Water Fast?
In a 21 day water fast, you must drink only water for 21 full days. No solid food or other liquids that contain nutrition (like fruit juices, milk, etc.) are allowed. Simple pure mineral water is good. You can also use boiled and cooled water. One should drink enough plain water (an average of 2 or more liters) in one full day, according to one’s capacity. Slightly warm water is recommended to aid the cleansing process.
Continue this for 21 full days.
Body reactions and experiences during a 21 day Water Fast
A 21 day water fast can be an intense experience at the physical, mental and spiritual level. Our body is accustomed to consuming food at regular intervals during the day. Without the intake of food, one can feel dizziness, weakness, headaches, nausea, etc. which are quite common during any long term fast.
One can feel intense hunger during the first few days of the fast. If you feel a sudden bout of hunger, just drink a glass of water and lie down. The hunger should disappear in short time. If the hunger persists, consult your doctor for further attention.
This can continue for 3 – 5 days depending on the body condition. Those who have Pitta Nature (as per Ayurveda) may have bouts of hunger even beyond 3 days. After about 3 – 5 days, the body understands that there is no food intake and has its own mechanism to shut down the production of digestive juices to conserve energy. One may not feel hunger after that for some days. That is normal during a long term fast. If you feel occasional hunger, drink a glass of water and take rest. If you cannot bear the hunger, then consult your doctor.
After the first few days, hunger disappears and one may feel very energetic. You may feel like even playing some games or going for a jog. But at this stage, refrain from heavy activities and stick to light activities like walking in the woods, reading, watching television, watering the plants, shopping, etc.
Sometimes you may feel very energetic and the very next moment you may feel weak. Your blood pressure can drop and make you feel dizzy. Such fluctuations are common and there is nothing to worry about. Just keep your doctor posted about your body reactions.
Food craving is a very common reaction experienced by all those who do a 21 day water fast. We all have liking or even mental addiction for various types of food. During a fast, one starts day dreaming about tasty food that we have eaten in the past. You may experience this even if you are not feeling hungry. One may even day dream of going to various restaurants and eating one’s favorite dish. These are normal. Do not fight with these thoughts. Just let go and give some distraction to the mind, like watching a movie, television, music, etc.
Fasting is a time for intense cleansing at physical, mental and spiritual level. The body has a natural mechanism to heal itself. Toxins in the body are mostly thrown out through digestive system into the intestines. At this time, you will notice 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. Scrapping the tongue with a tongue cleaner is recommended on all days, immediately after brushing your teeth.
An enema on alternate days, is advised during this time to speed up the removal of toxins which are accumulated in the large and small intestine.
The toxins may also get removed through the lungs. At that time one may experience foul breath which may last for a day or two.
In the first few days of fasting, one may feel nausea, which due to acidity in the stomach. Ayurveda and Naturopathy doctors recommend a simple way to remove this acidity. Just drink a liter or more of slightly warm salt water and vomit it all out. This is called Kunjal Kriya or Vaman Kriya in yoga and is a common practice in both Ayurveda and Naturopathy to cleanse the stomach.
During the 21 days, the mind can also throw up lot of impressions from the subconscious and unconscious mind. These impressions can bring up strong emotions. One has to take a witness attitude towards these thoughts and emotions. Remember, the mind is going through a cleansing process. Give the mind some healthy distraction during such times and it should be fine.
Please understand that these are normal reactions during long term fasts. Continue the 21-day water fast with courage. Always keep your doctor posted about your body reactions during the entire fast.
How to break a 21 day Water fast (Three week water fast)?
Breaking the fast is as important as the fast itself. When the body goes without food for long time, the digestive fire becomes weak. At that time, one cannot take normal 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. This is done by breaking the fast by drinking lemon juice or orange juice. 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.
Some experts say that coming back to normal food habits will take as much time as the fast itself. So you may take 21 days to come back to normal eating after breaking the fast. This is not 100% true for everyone. Some can come back faster depending on the digestive power. That is why you need a qualified nutritionist or a naturopathy doctor to help with your specific diet during the return process.
In the first one week after the fast, only fruits juices are recommended, 3 – 5 times a day. If one feels too hungry eat few oranges or tangerines, but do not eat the fiber. Spit out the fiber and just suck the juice.
After the first week, light vegetable soups and light fruits like watermelon, oranges, papaya, etc. which are easy to digest can be eaten. Chew your fruits fully and mix with saliva before swallowing.
From light fruits, you can move on to other fruits and boiled vegetables. Once you are comfortable with boiled vegetables and soups for few days, you can go for your first meal with grains. The first meal should be cooked well and taken in limited quantity, only once a day, preferably during noon time. On subsequent days, quantity can be increased.
Within few days, you will be able to consume regular food three times a day. But there is a word of caution. Avoid food that are hard to digest like meat, processed foods, fried items, etc. for few days, till your digestive system is fully recovered. Also, eat in moderation and never overload your stomach.
Benefits of a 21 day Water Fast
- 21 day water fast can solve chronic health problems like dyspepsia, loss of appetite, diarrhea, colic, gastritis, inflammation of bowels, sinusitis, allergies, skin problems, diabetes, migraine, joint pains, gas problem, constipation, etc. One should consult a qualified doctor or naturopath and discuss one’s health issues before attempting long term fasts.
- Fasts give a much needed rest to the digestive system. It helps to repair and heal all the organs of the body. Toxins are removed and one feels improved energy and vigor.
- Fasting can improve immunity and rejuvenates the body. It can improve the texture and glow of the skin.
- Fasting is the easiest way to lose weight. Are you obese? Click this link to find out. One may lose anything from 8 – 12 kg during a 21-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 reduced weight.
- If you are wearing glasses, long term fasting can improve eye sight to some extent.
- 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.
- Many practice long term fasts for spiritual reasons. 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 erased.