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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Roberta G
Roberta G
My experience at the sanctuary was out of this world - I booked online & I didn’t know how my husband and I would have found it, but the experience definitely outweighed my expectations. It is a dream location with Km’s of secluded beach and fabulous cabins. The food is all vegan and honestly outstanding and very varied. We did not miss having meat at all, they even had fish twice but only because it was a fresh catch. The treatments are also fantastic. I was on the verge of a burnout when I went to Sen Wellness and honestly came back feeling like a human again. So much so that I still think about the little moments and my husband and I have decided to go again next year. We can’t imagine our March trip to be the last one to this magical place.
Lozzy Emily
Lozzy Emily
Fantastic retreat, I loved the personalized approach a lot of other retreats do not provide this you really do feel part of a family. The staff were so attentive and relaxed even the way they cleaned around you was relaxing! I enjoyed all the treatments I would just warn that you will be asked to remove underwear for some massages and steam baths for me I felt a little uncomfortable being massaged naked and couldn’t fully relax. You can tell this to the doctor prior to them scheduling treatments. The food was so delicious I enjoyed everything I ate in the 5 days I was there. There were yoga sessions twice daily however I would say they are definitely meditation/breathing workshops. It would have been nice to do some active yoga to get the body moving but still enjoyed the breathing and gong baths. I would advise if you struggle with the heat to upgrade to a cabana with AC as the rooms were so so hot! I did so much research on retreats in Sri Lanka and I’m 100% certain this is the best for a wellness retreat/spa. It showed me a new way of looking after my body with sleep and nourishing food Thank you!!!
This is a rare jewel of a place. Nestling in forest, beside a sacred stretch of protected ocean, where endangered turtles ay their eggs and give birth. Just to witness this alone is a life changing experience. Everything about Sen gently lulls you into your heart, tensions melt away, with incredible organic food, camaraderie of other like minded souls there to relax and heal, and a smiling staff who genuinely care about your well-being. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the co founders, even the story of how this stunning yet simple structure came into being, exudes love, heart and above e all vision and bravery. In a corporate, unfeeling world gone mad, intent on destroying all life on our planet, this place offers a glimpse of hope. Where kindness is the currency and healing and transformation the aim above all else. World class yoga, breathing, Ayurveda, and if you are lucky enough a treatment or tow with sam the co founder. This is something not to be missed. Just go there and see for yourself how it revitalises and offers a new perspective on life. now that is something that money cannot buy.
shanto mathew
shanto mathew
I recently stayed at San Wellness Sanctuary in Sri Lanka for nine days to treat my long COVID brain fog and shortness of breath. Overall, my experience at the sanctuary was excellent. The staff and people there were incredibly welcoming and made me feel at home right away. The food was also fantastic - I looked forward to every meal.While I didn't see much improvement in my long COVID symptoms after the treatments, I still greatly appreciate the care and attention I received. The treatments themselves were great, and I felt like the practitioners really knew what they were doing.Overall, I would highly recommend San Wellness Sanctuary to anyone looking for a peaceful and rejuvenating retreat. The location is beautiful, the facilities are top-notch, and the staff is truly exceptional. Thank you for a wonderful stay.
Ankur Kamalia
Ankur Kamalia
Having known Sam for a few years, I finally made my way to the Sen Wellness Sanctuary in Sri Lanka in Jan 2023. And what an experience it has been. Words (and pictures) will never do justice to the care, warmth, generosity, expertise and the beauty of the 9 days I spent at the Sanctuary.Whether it was the morning wake up with a gentle and persistent "Good morning, Sir" at 5.30 and a hot cup of cardamom tea being held outside my room (till one got out of bed and opened the door), the morning yoga sessions (for the first time I was able to drop into that practice), the pre-breakfast walk to (a good little work out too!) and dip in the rock pool or a gentle raft-ride along the mangrove lagoon, the Ayurvedic doctor customising a daily treatment plan which included 3+ treatments a day, the early evening meditation (or sound healing or Breathwork) sessions, the ceremonies, an opportunity to be with the Reverend Monk or the little mini-excursions they organised, was all really special. Add to this the delicious and locally sourced food, the incredible team, the small community where we ate and checked-in together and the beautiful sanctuary itself and their cabanas. All that one needed was to be embedded in nature, and on the luscious beach, a protected turtle sanctuary (with an opportunity to see the turtle come out and lay eggs!) - which I enjoyed too.I have come back refreshed, rejuvenated and excited to enjoy what 2023 has in store. I will certainly be heading back - perhaps this time also to their sister Forest Retreat center in addition to the Sanctuary. Thank you Sam, Sudheera and the kind, generous and capable team at Sen Wellness.PS: Their selection of reading materials while lazily lounging waiting for the "next" treatment, was a treat and Sam's clinic in London, has been a real blessing and gift too!
Staying at the Sen Wellness Retreat in Sri Lanka was one of my best experiences from the moment I entered the retreat I was enveloped in all the warmth and love you could possibly wish for. The delicious food, Ayurvedic treatments, relaxing on the comfortable furnishings in the common areas and the well appointed bedrooms. The thrill of enjoying the sunrise while doing kundalini yoga on the golden sand where the turtles had struggled up the beach the night before to lay their eggs. Sunset yoga, meditation and sitting around the fire chatting to my new family is unforgettable - I am planning on returning in November!! A pool would be lovely - Sam had best start digging!!!!
Thanks to Sen Wellness I'm starting my year completely refreshed from the inside out. It's the most beautiful, serene, welcoming place located between the sea and a lagoon. The team has gone over and beyond looking after every single guest with individual treatment plans and always being around to support. Not to mention the amazing food.. I've only stayed 6 days and would have loved to have some extra days. Can only recommend it and hope to be back again!
Arjuna Devas
Arjuna Devas
Whether you are looking to take a break from the busyness of life, a complete overhaul of the mind, body and soul or just a place to completely relax and get a good sleep, look no further. You have the ability and opportunity to completely unplug here with no outside distractions. Completely rest and rejuvenate at this very private location with super comfortable beds, nutritious food, amazing daily Ayurvedic therapies and supportive staff. It is called a sanctuary for a reason. The only distraction may be your minds addictive behaviors, for most the rabbit hole of the internet. With the limited wifi, you can turn off your phone for your entire stay or limit it to an hour a day. Then you may get to discover what truly makes you happy from within.My partner, Jamie, and I worked here for 3 months as therapists, yoga teachers and hosts. We fell in love with the place and the staff, we now call friends, that we would often here laughing while they worked. Something that we have discovered working at other retreat centers was not the case.We also noticed the pure synchronicity and harmony of the individual guests who showed up. Most of them became, not only friends with each other, but the perfect support persons in their transformative processes and I'm sure many will stay in touch for years to come.Please consider staying here to not only find your light but to turn it up so bright so you can be a lighthouse onto everyone around you. This world needs more light-bearers.Last but not least when considering how long to stay we noticed guests who stayed for less than 7 days felt their time was cut short and were only starting to get into a rhythm. Those who stayed for 2 weeks or longer were completely transformed and were literally floating by the time they left.Jamie and I look forward to coming back, for our own wellness and to support others in finding theirs. OM.
Jonathan Z. Lee
Jonathan Z. Lee
What an incredible, transformative week at Sen Wellness. A beautiful coccoon for the soul, in such a beautiful location. It's hard to describe what happens here, with the great yoga sessions, personalized Ayurvedic treatments, workshops, meditations, ceremonies, and mindful just all works together to provide a healing experience, one which expands the mind and heart, and gives the soul room to breathe. Stress lines and wrinkles noticeably vanished from everyone's faces over a few days, bodies began to unfold and stand strong once more, and smiles continued to grow day after day. Everyone at the center was incredibly kind and attentive, and it was a joy every morning to greet them. Madhu at the main desk was a ray of sunshine, Dr Harnika radiated peace and warmth, and all the therapists and kitchen staff took such good care of us. A very special thank you to our yoga teacher (and SO much more) Jamie, who helped to create a safe and nurturing space while helping us to free our bodies and minds. She is an exceptional guide, and a powerful beam of light, helping strangers from all over the world turn into a supportive community. And such deep gratitude for Arjuna who has what can only be described as the most healing hands, who helped me work through my chronic pain of 10+ years in such an intuitive manner - I'm still speechless!!Thank you so much Sen for helping so many people in deeply personal ways. 🙏
Manuela Capelle
Manuela Capelle
Thank you Sen Wellness for providing an outstanding stay for Jon and myself. It really felt like a warm cocoon, a safe space to be guided towards our essence, to feel nurtured, grounded, healthy, and to be allowed to just be. The yoga was very integrative to all levels, and Jamie helped us understand and integrate the true meaning of yoga beyond the classes. The ceremonies led by Jamie and Arjuna were so great and genuine heart openers for people from all walks of life. Arjuna’s massages were out of this world, and with a lot of love.Beyond this, the whole staff was incredibly friendly - every single one of them.Madhu’s smile simply unforgettable. Best wishes and we will hopefully be back very soon!!
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