Fasting: How to have a healthier, happier, longer life


The history of fasting stretches back thousands of years, with all the main spiritual and religious traditions using fasting as a means to cleanse, purify, or reach closer proximity to the divine. Fasting has seen a renaissance in recent years and is supported by an ever growing body of scientific research pointing to a variety of health benefits.

At Sen Wellness we have facilitated hundreds of guests from many different countries and cultures through fasting and detox programmes on retreat with incredible results. Over the years we have observed that overeating and the consumption of certain food types are habitual behaviours. In order to create sustained change, we therefore have to take the time out to stop and become conscious of our eating habits, asking ourselves why we eat the way we do. A dedicated wellness retreat is an ideal space to do this in, but later in the blog we will also share some simple fasting practices for you to experiment with at home.

All of us have experienced feeling lethargic after a heavy meal, or after eating highly processed foods or refined carbohydrates. This is because the body is using a lot of energy to break down our food. In our culture of continuous grazing, we therefore hijack our body’s innate intelligence system which is diverted to the immediate task of digesting food. Witholding food helps the body’s intelligence to kick in, allowing the body to reset and regenerate.

So what exactly happens in the body when we fast? About 12 hours after your last meal, growth hormones start to be released, stimulating fat burning and helping to build muscle. Continuing to fast into 13-15 hours will generate ketones, switching you from burning energy from sugar to burning energy from fat, and stimulating healing in your brain and cells. After 17-18 autophagy kicks in, breaking down toxins and inflammation within your cells.

Three of your major organs – liver, pancreas and intestines – all start repairing at the 24-hour mark, making this a great solution for digestive issues like leaky gut and candida. Serotonin production also increases, and inflammation and blood pressure start to go down. 36-48 hours is the sweet spot for those who want to lose excess weight, as ketone production continues to rise.

Ancient yogis knew these secrets, which is why when they practiced meditation to attain Samadhi, a highly advanced state of consciousness, they restrained from eating for days, weeks, and months at a time.

Three fasts you can do at home:

There are different types and levels of fasting. If you are generally healthy, have no diagnosed medical conditions and are not on any medication, then it is safe for you to fast. However, it is not recommended if you have diabetes, are pregnant, breast feeding, or have problems with your blood sugar levels.

Intermittent Fasting

The most common and popular method of fasting is intermittent fasting (IF) and this is also the easiest to maintain as it won’t require you to make drastic changes to your current lifestyle. With IF it is recommended that you eat all of your meals within a six to 10 hour window. The key is giving your body more than 12 hours without food, and as recent research published by Harvard Medical School suggests, to abstain from snacking and not to eat past early evening.

Juice Fasting

Again, this is a popular and effective way of fasting without breaking too much sweat. We recommend consuming three to four vegetable juices throughout the day, and having your last juice at around 3-4pm. If you’ve never done a juice fast before, we recommend trying this once or twice a week for a period of six weeks and then assessing how you feel. For those looking for hard evidence of results, we can arrange ‘before’ and ‘after’ blood tests via our London Clinic. We are also happy to chat to you about incorporating fasting into your lifestyle longer term.

Water Fasting

In our personal experience, a 36-hour water fast is the most effective form of fasting, giving a complete break to the digestive organs, especially your pancreas and liver. If your lifestyle allows, we suggest aiming to do this once a week. This will help your body break down toxins at the celluar level and reduce inflammation in the tissues, which a 24-hour juice fast will not. With time, we recommended continuing to fast for up to 72 hours for even more mental and spiritual clarity. Go gently with reintroducing food after the fast, for example by eating a broth or warm soup before solid food.

Fasting and Detox Programmes at the Sanctuary:

At Sen Wellness Sanctuary, we offer a variety of detoxing and fasting programmes under the expert guidance of Dr Waruni, our much loved Resident Ayurvedic Doctor. As well as walking you step-by-step through the technical process,Dr Waruni will also attentively support you with the mental and emotional aspect of your fasting journey.

Both our juice fasting programme and our one-day Ayurvedic cleansing programme are very popular for their impressive results within a short time period. If you are looking to lose weight, reduce cholesterol, or balance your blood sugar levels then we offer highly personalised detox programmes which are tailored for your individual health profile.

We are now offering special discounted rates on all Bespoke and Signature Retreats at Sen Wellness Sanctuary, valid from our reopening in October 2020 until April 2021. There has never been a better time to reap the benefits from fasting! To enquire please email [email protected].


Coming from a lineage of healers, Lina works with somatic embodiment, breathwork, energetic healing, sound, and naturopathic nutrition. She channels her practice into words and thoughts to share with you. Her warmth and radiant energy will capture you through her words

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Mithi Thaya
Mithi Thaya
Heaven on earth. A must-visit if you wish to disconnect and self-connect.
Elaine Lynskey
Elaine Lynskey
The most nourishing, relaxing and healing week I have ever experienced in the most beautiful setting!! 7-day Ayurvedic and Yoga retreat left me feeling like a new person. I will definitely be returning.
Jill Long
Jill Long
My two trips to the Sanctuary were equally special. Both were in January, one in 2016 and then again in 2020. It was a perfect way to start the year. The sheer beauty of this part of Sri Lanka is restorative in itself, but when coupled with the luxury and care of the Sanctuary, it becomes a deeply healing experience. I will go back again as soon as I can.
Di Sherlock
Di Sherlock
I arrived exhausted and frazzled from a flight that had lost my bag in transit with the clothes I left London in and raging sinuses from the plane's insanely fierce aircon. Within days the sinus infection was healed with Ayurveda. This was the start of a 10 day healing journey that was pure magic. I stayed in an eco cabana - bed super comfy! - waking up to amazing birdsong. The nature here is lush (bring your mozzie spray!) , the complex open and airy, the food delicious (mainly veggie). Everyone on the team - from the Ayurvedic doctors and practitioners, the amazing manager, the chef and his crew, the yoga teachers to the boys who do the cleaning know what they're doing and radiate positive energy. Days are structured but the vibe is relaxed, open and easy. The Cacao ceremony was amazing. The Fire ceremony also. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Emma Chadwick
Emma Chadwick
I came to the sanctuary at a difficult time for me personally. I came home feeling mentally and physically restored. It was just the tonic for me.The sanctuary is set in a beautiful and peaceful location, a stone’s throw from the sea and never-ending empty beaches.I loved the daily yoga sessions - I had a brilliant teacher the week I was there - which has an open front so we often saw monkeys swinging by.But it were the Ayurvedic treatments and meals, made with fresh local produce, that were out of this world.The communal dining is such a great idea, particularly if you come on your own like I did. And the sanctuary is run by a fantastic and caring team who went out of their way to make my experience truly unforgettable.I really do hope to return again one day.
Sen Wellness is really a Sanctuary where you can really connect back to you, your body and nature. The 10 days Spring Retreat was so fantastic, the breathing, moving and the food was always great. The location is far off from everything and you pretty much have the beach to yourself. All the animals like baby turtles, monkeys, squirrels, peacocks combined with nature was just magical. Also all the staff took great care of everyone induvidually. I will definitly be back!!
Lara Y
Lara Y
My husband and I stayed at Sen Wellness Retreat for 11 days in February 2023. We highly recommend Sen Wellness. It is not a resort, it’s a true retreat. Our stay was an absolute dream come true. From the moment we passed through the gate, took our shoes off, and set our feet on the grounds, we found ourselves in a serene atmosphere that washed away all the stress and worries of everyday life. It was an absolute peaceful heaven with calming sounds of the ocean and nature. We stayed in eco-cabana. The blend of natural materials and elements with simple but modern amenities created a perfect balance between rustic charm and contemporary luxury. The room was daily cleaned and had everything we needed for our stay. After meeting with doctor on the first day, our Ayurvedic treatments were tailored to our individual needs, and they were the best part of the experience. Our yoga teacher Thilini was local and made our yoga sessions very meaningful, connecting our body and mind. We still do yoga with her over Zoom ever since we returned home. In a week, we had a new teacher Megan coming. She wasn’t local but she had an extensive knowledge about Ayurveda, local culture and she was great too. The people we had a pleasure of meeting during stay were from all over the world and truly exceptional. The best part was having all meals together around the table and having conversations. Every meal was a delightful journey of flavors and nourishment. The food had many varieties and left us both satisfied and intrigued to try more. Thilini explained to us each food ingredients and shared many stories and information about the local culture. She even took us to the beach late at night for stars gazing and listening to the sounds of the ocean. The staff was very caring, attentive, and tried to provide the best service. By the time we had to leave, we felt so much genuine care and felt like a part of a close-knit community. After returning home, I had a question about medicine for the doctor. Davia sent my question to Dr. Harnika and she replied to me. We left retreat feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, deeply relaxed, and with determination to change our lifestyle.
Rahela Rajh
Rahela Rajh
My time at SEN Wellness Sanctuary for the Ayurvedic retreat was an incredibly relaxing experience. The immersion in pure nature, the sights and sounds of flora and fauna wildlife, and the rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatments made it a standout wellness sanctuary worldwide. Daily yoga and meditation sessions, as well as a meeting with a monk, added a spiritual dimension. The wholesome meals were a delight, and the romantic boat ride they arranged for our wedding anniversary was unforgettable. The staff's warmth and dedication created a peaceful, welcoming atmosphere that truly fostered a deep connection with nature. The private beach felt like a personal paradise, offering an exclusive bond with the ocean and sand. My stay at SEN Wellness Sanctuary was truly transformative.
Ghurair Shaikh
Ghurair Shaikh
Our time at SEN Wellness Sanctuary was like discovering a whole new world during the Ayurvedic retreat. Every second felt like a soothing melody of relaxation and refreshment for both of us. Being surrounded by untouched nature was like a dream, with all sorts of plants and animals creating a calming atmosphere. The Ayurvedic treatments were like magic, making this place stand out as one of the best wellness spots globally.Each day, we got to do calming yoga and meditation. We even met a monk, which was pretty cool and added a special vibe to our days. The food was delicious and healthy, giving us energy and making us smile. The cherry on top was a romantic boat ride on our anniversary, showing how much they cared about our happiness.The staff was incredibly friendly and worked hard to make the place feel like a peaceful escape. It was like they understood how much we needed to connect with nature. The private beach felt like our own little paradise, where the waves and sand seemed to give us their full attention.And guess what? We're already planning our next visit to SEN Wellness Sanctuary. Our stay changed us in a big way. It felt like we were woven into a beautiful story that mixed nature's beauty, calming activities, and friendly vibes. This experience is something we'll always remember and it inspires us to bring more harmony and renewal into our lives.
I was looking to fill my cup with good energy and that’s exactly what I got from Sen Wellness. Highlights for me were the delicious healthy food, the setting surrounded by nature and a protected nesting-turtle beach, the soothing Ayurvedic treatments and the daily yoga/ meditation sessions in peaceful settings or gentle dips in the seaside pool. The staff are superb, treating you like family in their lovely home. The cabanas were super comfortable and had everything I needed. Bring lots of insect repellent, camera storage for all the baby turtles you might witness, and a positive attitude and you’re golden. Worth the three-hour trip from Colombo!
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