Have you ever considered doing a fast but were not sure which one is the best for your needs and body? There are so many types of fasts to choose from: water fasts, juice fasts, The Master Cleanse fast, protein drink fasts, coconut water fast and even more. I have tried them all at various times in my life for various reasons. They all have benefits (except the protein drink fast!) along with their pros and cons.
In this article I describe my experience on a 5 day coconut water fast to heal chronic pain and lose some weight.
This is a long story, click here if you prefer to watch the shortened versions on video.
Pros of Fasting
The pros of fasts are numerous but a few of the ones I like the best are:
- Improved health. Giving your digestive tract a break from food allows your body to use the extra energy for detoxing the body of old or damaged cells and tissues. This release of toxins results in improved health.
- Decreased inflammation We are constantly being bombarded with things that can cause inflammation in the body and a fast is a quick way to reduce it.
- Clearer skin and eyes. After the first few days of a fast your skin generally clears up and starts glowing. My eyes look like I have put eye drops in. They are clear and shiny.
- The endorphins baby! When you release toxins your body releases endorphins that make you feel really good! Plus you know you are doing something healthy for yourself and that feels good too!
- Softer skin! Oh man, my skin gets so soft during a fast that I can’t stop touching it to make sure it is still so soft.
- Weight loss! Of course for those of us who can carry a few extra (or more) pounds the weight loss that can come with fasting is a nice benefit.
- Mental clarity. After the initial detox you are left with a lot of energy. All the extra energy running around your body clears the clutter from your mind so can think better!
- More….. I could go on and on but you get the picture!
Cons of Fasting
The cons of fasting are also numerous but generally do not last long or outweigh the pros.
- Bad breath and white tongue. As your body detoxes you get a white tongue coated with toxins. This in turn gives you bad breath and tastes gross! Don’t worry it goes away as you become less toxic which is usually in a few days. Make sure to brush or scrape you tongue during this detox period
- Detox symptoms. White tongue is not the only detox symptom! There are headaches, gastro intestinal issues which can include diarrhea, gas, bloating, stomach ache, burping and some people even vomit.
- Hunger. For some people, the hunger does not always disappear like it does for others. If you are one of those people I suggest trying another type of fast with more calories and enough glucose (fruit sugar) for your brain.
- Weakness Feeling weak is another con that is REAL! There are some days on a fast that all you want to do is lay in your bed. Again, make sure you are consuming enough to stay hydrated and take it easy.
- Tiredness. It is a lot of work detoxing your body and it can wear you out and make you want to sleep! This needed break should be thought of as a gift! Give your body what it wants or drink more if you cannot take a break.
- Lack of clarity. During the first few days of detoxing your mind not be able to focus well and you may even be forgetful. Don’t worry after the first few days you feel much better!
- Pimples! For the first few days or up to a week your body is cleaning out all the toxins and one of your biggest elimination sources is your skin. Be prepared for a little or a lot of pimples to make an appearance.
- Weight loss! If you happen to be at your ideal weight or **are under weight the weight loss is not a welcome side effect.
- More….. I could go on a bit more but I don’t like to dwell on the negative AND all of these cons go away within a few short days anyway!
**Please note! If you are underweight, under a doctors care or under 18 I do not suggest you do a fast until you speak with your doctor.
Why I Chose a Coconut Water Fast
So why did I decide to do a coconut water fast when I am already a pretty healthy vegan? The short story is I have chronic pain. Click here to watch the video if you prefer not to read the long story
A slightly longer version is, 23 years ago I was in a car accident while pregnant and was sent to the hospital. At the time of the car accident I only had mild neck pain but because I was pregnant they wanted to do a check on both of us. They did not find anything and sent me home.
A few weeks later I started having pain on the left side of my chest where the ribs meet the cartilage. It was localized and felt like a thin sword was being inserted deep in my chest and it burned but I felt no pain on the outside of my body.
It only hurt when I laid to long on my back and I thought because my breasts were growing due to pregnancy that it was a pulled muscle. When I stopped nursing my daughter the pain was still there so I went to the doctor. They did chest x rays and lots of heart tests and nothing was found.
The pain very slowly increased over the years to cause pain when I slept on my back or left side for more than a few hours. When my mom passed away from lung cancer I thought I should have my lungs checked to see if that might be the cause of my increasing pain. Other than very mild exercise asthma they did not find anything wrong in my lungs.
Finally a Diagnosis!
10 years ago I was in another car accident as a passenger and felt a pop in that same area from the seatbelt. I could not breath well and so off to the hospital I went. The ER did chest x rays and a few other tests that did not find anything. I could breath normally again so they sent me home and said to follow up with my doctor if the pain continued.
In 2012 I began to have more chest pain along with widespread body pain and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The chest pain started causing me to not be able to lay on my back or left side for more than a few minutes and the doctor told me it was probably fibro pain and the flairs would come an go.
In 2013 I got an MRI of my chest and they found a “fractured middle left third costal cartilage and possible costochondritis” the doctor (an orthopedic) said it was probably from the initial car accident that never healed correctly and said there was nothing they could do but send me to a pain management doctor who would give me drugs and do nerve blocks. I decided to do nothing because I do not like to take drugs.
Another Accident or Two
January 2016 I woke with my back feeling very stiff so I had my husband give me a bear hug to try and pop it. Instead of my back popping I felt a pulling or popping in my chest in the initial painful spot but it spread out along the wire of my bra and I could barely breathe. I went to the ER in Arizona and they did chest x rays that revealed nothing and then did a CT scan (without contrast). That scan did not reveal anything either and when I told them about the old fractured cartilage they said they did not even see that but said the scan was limited without the contrast and if I had more pain after a couple months maybe I should have one with contrast.
We moved to Costa Rica in November 2016 and although the initial pain from the bear hug lessoned I still had my original pain and it now went around the whole front of my chest sort of feeling like a tight belt around my chest all the time (only in the front). That along with the stabbing, burning pain in the front of my chest.
Just one month after moving to Costa Rica, December 2016, I slipped in the mud and badly inured my right foot. After returning home from a doctor appointment, my husband gave me a piggyback ride up our long, steep driveway. I slipped down his back and felt a pop again in my chest and experienced horrible pain. I went to the chiropractor who did a chest x ray and he thought there was a small break. He sent me to an ultrasound specialist who said there was not a break but she did find costochondritis (swelling of the chest wall) on my left side. So for the first time someone could see the swelling I had been explaining for years and to me that confirmed the possible costochondritis they found on the MRI years before. Problem is I read that costochondritis usually only lasts 6 months or a year at the most and I am at 23 years of increasing pain.
Something has got to Change!
The pain in my chest has gotten so bad that I can no longer wear a bra. When I leave the house I sometimes wear a body shaper because it does not cause direct pressure around the chest but instead all over. The last few months even wearing those for a short time causes horrible pain for an hour or more afterward.
The one and only thing that has helped to relieve a little pain is a device I bought called a back pod. It is supposed to relieve chest wall pain from costochondritis and helps with all upper back pain. It really does open up my chest and give me some relief and I use it several times a day but my chest causes pain 24 hours a day.
The constant chest and foot pain has been exhausting and is starting to affect my moods and defiantly affect my energy levels. I decided that since no one seems to be able to help me I will help myself. Fasts have helped people heal from many diseases and I figured I might as well try and see if it can help my chronic pain.
Eating a vegan diet helped me in so many ways but unfortunately it had not helped the pain. I had been eating a pretty healthy diet with a few unhealthy additions. I have a huge sweet tooth and love to make lots of desserts full of refined white sugar, and wheat and know, for me, those foods cause inflammation and other health problems. I decided that doing a fast to kick start the elimination of those foods along with a few other trigger or processed foods was a good idea. I had heard about the benefits and ease of doing a coconut water fast and was curious. Since we now live in Costa Rica where coconuts are abundant around 50 cents and sometimes free I figured it was the best choice for a short fast. I started the coconut water fast a bit sooner than I was originally going to because I woke up with a flu. What better time than when your sick.
5 Day Coconut Water Fast Series
Days 1 and 2 of my Coconut Water Fast
Day 3 of my Coconut Water Fast, I’m Down 3 lbs!
Day 4 of my Coconut Water Fast, I’m Down 5 lbs!
Day 5 of my Coconut Water Fast, The Finale & Results
The Follow up 7 days after my Coconut Water Fast
As you can see from the videos, this coconut water fast defiantly helped relieve some of my pain and inflammation. I am going to extend my next coconut water fast to 10 days and see if there is more improvement.
For now, I am eating healthy by not consuming my trigger foods which are: wheat, refined sugar, soy, corn and anything processed. I am consuming a whole food plant based diet (WFPB) that is high in raw fruits and veggies and adding in cooked starchy foods like rice, potatoes, beans and veggies. By doing these things I am able to keep off the 4.5 lbs I lost during the 5 day fast and minimize pain causing inflammation.