UPDATED November 1st, 2017

As the summer gradually makes its way toward autumn, it may be a good time to start thinking about your own subtle transformations—those small steps that will ultimately forge wellness. Though seemingly radical to some, juice fasting is a wonderful way to revitalize and renew the body and the mind. And given the late summer’s sweltering temperatures, liquid nutrition packs the perfect punch of freshness that the body genuinely craves.

According to nutritionist Maria Patricia Restrepo, juicing is one of the most effective ways to nourish the body with immediate freshness since the vitamins and minerals from raw fruits and vegetables are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. “A fast,” she explains, “gives our digestive system a break, so the energy that is usually consumed by it is freed up for other activities in the body, such as (but not limited to) healing. Fasters report both physical and mental symptoms, and they describe themselves as feeling lighter, more energetic and having more clarity and tranquility.”

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Restrepo advises that all healthy individuals are candidates for juice fasting, and those seeking to improve digestion, assimilation, energy levels, allergies and overall wellbeing are particularly excellent candidates. People with acute health conditions, including eating disorders, should avoid these types of fasts; and of course, pregnant or lactating women should not fast either.

So how do you even begin to tackle the prospect of a juice fast? Here are Restrepo’s quick tips on the art of liquid living:

  • First check with a professional to make sure it is appropriate for you to fast at all.
  • If you don’t have a juicer, a blender works fine and is actually great for getting all the pulp into your juices.
  • Think about how you will need to adapt your daily activities accordingly so that you don’t find yourself dehydrating because of overexertion.
  • Begin gradually, even with just a one-day fast. The next time (maybe once a month) try two days and work up to three or four, or more. According to Restrepo, almost anyone can benefit from and endure a three-day program. Even one day gives the body the digestive break it needs to heal and detoxify, at once flooding it with fresh, vital nutrients.
  • Think fresh and clean—organic produce is the key. Best are dark, leafy greens, but all produce can be used in moderation.
  • Consider using more vegetables, herbs and spices instead of fruits to avoid overconsumption of sugar.
  • Because nutrients begin to oxidize very quickly after the fruit or vegetable is juiced, try to drink your produce cocktails as soon as they are made to receive optimal nutrition.
  • Take it easy with exercise. Don’t overdo it. Fasting should be a calm, serene process, during which the body feels safe.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
  • Getting off the fast properly is key, so do this gradually by incorporating only fresh, natural, unprocessed foods.

Remember that fasting is powerful and needs to be done with great care. Dangers of juice fasting include dehydration and hypoglycemia; so again, make sure you consult with a health professional before embarking on any type of fast. If you drink enough water, take in enough nutrients, and go easy on yourself, your juicing experience is likely to inspire transformation and renewal.

Restrepo suggests starting with a one-day fast, which should first be approved by your healthcare provider. Make sure all of your produce is fresh and organic is key, as the fast is meant to eliminate toxins, and not add new ones. Quality is a priority here.

Start with vegetables that you like. Here are some specific suggestions:

  • Celery (1 stalk) and cucumbers (1/3 of one), as these tend to be easy to digest and most people like them.
  • Spinach (1 handful) or other dark vegetable; the darker, the better.
  • Parsley (small handful) or another fresh herb of your choice.
  • Lemon (1), lime, (1) ginger (1/8 tsp), or carrot (1) for added flavor.
  • Flax (1 tbsp) or other seeds, to help you feel full and satisfy your hunger.

Blend all of the ingredients together with a bit of water and ice to achieve desired consistency. Drink as soon as possible. Drink as much of the juice as you need to not feel hungry—and plenty of water as well!