The Importance of Water While Fasting
We know that water is important for every aspect of health, but did you know that it becomes even more vital during a cleanse or a fast? Water enables the body to handle the stress of fasting or cleansing, eliminate toxins, avoid headaches and tiredness and reduce cravings.
Water is the human body's most-needed nutrient after oxygen. Our bodies are roughly 60% water by weight and depend on water to function. Every bodily process, from digestion to the functioning of the brain, involves water, and dehydration has some severe health risks, including fever, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, unconsciousness and even hallucinations. Even mild dehydration can result in tiredness, headaches, confusion, dry skin, muscle weakness, dizziness, irritability, and lightheadedness, so it's vital to make sure to drink plenty of water.
How much is enough? Experts differ on exactly how much water we need daily, but some of the most common recommendations include:
- 8 10-oz glasses per day,
- 2 to 3 liters per day, or
- half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces – e.g. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water each day (roughly 7-1/2 full glasses)
If you're involved in strenuous exercise, live in a hot climate, or if you're doing a fast or a cleanse, you need even more water than usual to take care of your body's increased needs. Athletes lose more water through sweat than the rest of us, and people who are cleansing or fasting need additional water to flush toxins out of the body.
In a total fast, where no food is being consumed, your body relies on stored energy (mostly in the form of fat) to keep your cells running. The trouble is, fat cells are also the storage centers for many kinds of toxins that the body finds it easier to store than to eliminate. During a fast or a cleanse, these toxins are released back into the bloodstream along with converted energy stores, and the body must find a way to remove them. Water is the key to flushing these toxins out of the body – the more water, the better.
Many people don't get nearly enough water in their daily diet, in which case, food becomes an important source of water. Foods like fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with water. Fasting takes away this water source, so it's even more important to drink more water during a fast.
Even less intensive fasts that only restrict certain foods, like the Lenten fast in which Christians avoid sweets, meat and alcoholic products, can trigger a cleansing reaction and cause headaches, fatigue and cravings. Water is key to fighting all three of these symptoms. If you don't enjoy the taste of pure water, herbal tea or diluted (watered-down) fruit juice can also be great sources of hydration.
Mayo Clinic, "Water: How much should you drink every day?" April 19, 2008.