I just spent 4 days in a fasting retreat located in Nebugawa, next to Odawara, for a body and mind detox. It’s nice to escape the hassle of the city, take things off your mind, enjoy nature and rest your digestive system once in a while! Here is my review on the fasting experience, especially seen from a beauty point of view.
I have tried a fruits-and-vegetable-smoothies-only fasting by myself a few years ago and it was a nice and new experience, where on the third day, I felt a brand new sensation; vegetable never felt that tasty and sweet and a feeling of gratitude towards food was born. It was quite enlighting. However, fasting while working in everyday life is not easy. It’s exhausting and there are too many temptations. At least for me, it was too hard. Also, it can be dangerous, unless you know exactly what you are doing, so it is often not recommended to fast by yourself. So this time, I really wanted to fast again properly in a dedicated environment. That’s how I decided to go to IARP Yoga Center in Nebukawa, which offers a program that combines fasting, yoga, meditation, and walking/trekking.
Fasting and its benefits
Fasting is originally a part of different religious observances. By the way, the retreat I chose is a Shinto shrine, though open to anyone. Also, they do not obligate you to participate to any of their activities.
Fasting has many advantages, many of them related to beauty as well:
- Weight loss: less/no food, obviously less/no calories
- Secretion of human growth hormone: it improves skin cells turnover, therefore helps to maintain a beautiful skin and fight against ageing.
- Eliminate toxins: which leads to a clearer skin and a skin less prone to acne.
How does fasting remove toxins from the body? When you go without eating for more than a day or two, the body enters into ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body runs out of carbohydrates to burn for energy, so it burns fat.
“And the fat is where the body stores many of the toxins it absorbs from the environment,” Fuhrman says. (source: WebMD)
- Rest the digestive system: when the body does not need to spend energy digesting, it is released from a big stress and can focus on other processes. It’s how the body’s self-healing ability is increased which can accelerate the cell regeneration process, therefore lead to a clearer and luminous skin or heal the acne scars.
- Cleanses your digestive system: with less/no food, excression is the only task remained to the digestive system. Organs flushed out of waste lead to a beautiful skin. In Japan, we say the skin is the mirror of your digestive system.
My own fasting experience at IARP
At IARP, it’s a semi fasting with light meals so even first timers can overcome it without struggles.
Food served during the semi-fast
In the morning we were served a delicious glass of fresh smoothie made from carottes, apples, fermented prunes, along with 5 tablets of Spirulina supplements to compliment in proteins.
Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria so by consuming fermented foods you are adding beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your overall intestinal flora, increasing the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and enhancing the immune system.
(Source: BBC good food)
All the food used in IARP are organic, sometimes, cultivated in their own garden.
Some hot ginger water was served to accompany the smoothie.
We ate lunch in between the trekking / walking in the nature. Every day we were given a rice ball made from fermented brown rice with salted prune, 2 dry prunes, with ginger hot water.
I had the fermented brown rice for the first time and I’m totally addicted to it! The rice is first cooked normally and then fermented by being preserved at a temperature around 75 ℃ for 3 days. This process creates amino acids GABA that regulate various functions in the body. Plus the enzymes produced through the fermentation make the digestion easier. The fermentation process changes the taste and the texture of the rice too: it becomes much sweeter, chewy and bouncy. In one word it’s DELICIOUS! It’s very rich in minerals, and vitamins so it supports the daily long outdoor activity too.
In the evening I was surprised by the big quantity of salad we were given. Every day different vegetables were served with protein based food which could be “natto”, the Japanese traditional fermented soy beans, tofu or soy milk. The vegetables were sweet and fresh and it was a real moment of happiness for the hungry stomach. Spirulina supplements were to be taken again with the meal.
At the retreat, every day was filled with many activities that you could choose to participate to or not. I participated to all of them, which kept me very busy all day, making the feeling of hunger more tolerable.
Nebugawa was surrounded by beautiful mountains, forests, lake, and sea. Everyday we were given a ride to a spot from where we would trek / walk for around 3 hours.
In addition to the outdoor activities, the yoga like exercises that we do in IARP allow to improve your metabolism and balance your mind and body. It was developed by Dr. Motoyama, founder of IARP, psychic, yogi and scientist specialized in life science, and uses oriental medicine foundation.
The morning and evening meditations help our spirit connect with God…all this can sound mystical and weird but I think meditation really helps finding peace of mind.
Fasting combined with the other spiritual and nature-related activities, makes the whole experience not only about a body cleanse but a holistic detox of mind and body. I received a lot of positive energy from the nature.
Fasting result and conclusion
Changes on body:
- Although I didn’t go to the retreat for a diet purpose, I lost 2 kg in 4 days.
- After 2 days, my nails became very beautiful: shiny and pink. I read a few sites about the relationship between nails and health and according to Chinese medicine, nails reflect your internal organs. So beautiful nails means healthy organs.
- After 3 days, my skin increased in glow and some recent acne scars faded. Fine lines around eyes dissipated.
- My hand rushes improved. I was released from continuous irritation.
I think these results don’t come only from fasting, but from the total experience, from being relaxed in a natural environment, feeling peaceful and eating organic and healthy food without any food additives or preservatives.
Changes on mind:
- I felt much more relaxed and light headed than upon my arrival.
- My concentration increased: especially during meditation.
- I felt grateful towards my body and food.
Every day we are used to eat and the abundance of food around us make us greedy and often times, we reach and pass beyond the limit. I never really thought about my digestive system so far, how hard it’s working in processing all the food we eat and the stress we provide. Now I’m more conscious about the wonderful organs and I want to be even more careful about what I eat, what I give to my body. The changes I have seen on my skin clearly show that when you treat your body right, you can be more beautiful. Beautiful inside=beautiful outside.
I think I will try in the future to go to such a retreat regularly to rest my digestive system and reset my body and mind.