When he turned 40 Australian Joe Cross was, in his words, "fat, sick and nearly dead." He weighed 300 pounds, and suffered from a debilitating autoimmune disease that required him to take strong steroid drugs just to get through the day.
Although he had a successful career in finance and a great family and group of friends, he was risking it all by eating terribly—he subsisted on the "typical Western diet" of processed foods and animal products, and rarely fresh produce. He decided that it was finally time to make a drastic change, but rather than just hiring a trainer and a nutritionist, or going even more drastic with a gastric bypass, he made the unusual decision to go on a 60 day juice fast and drive across the US talking to Americans about diet and health and making a documentary about the whole thing.
The result is Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Cross's film which is being screened at theaters around the country starting in April. I can't wait to see it, in part because it features regular Americans talking about issues of nutrition, and because Cross seems like a really engaging guide. I'm also interested in the whole juice fast thing—I usually dismiss the idea of juicing because I was raised by a dietician mother who preached the conventional wisdom that it's better to eat the whole fruit or vegetable than to drink the sugar-packed juice and throw out the fiber. But the central idea of juice fasting is that you can get more concentrated nutrients by juicing (since you might have a hard time eating, say, a pound of spinach, but could throw back a glass of spinach juice in a few seconds) and that by relieving your digestive system of the work of breaking down solid food you allow it to "detox" and heal. (I should point out that Cross did his fast under the supervision of a doctor, and you should certainly consult one before you attempt anything similar.)
You can find a plethora of opinions both for and against juice fasts with a simple online search, so I won't go into them here, but it certainly seemed to work for Cross. At the end of his two months without solid food, he looks and feels like an entirely different person (when he starts eating solids again he sticks to a plant-based diet). The film gets an extra boost of human interest drama when Cross meets an Arizona truck driver named Phil who weights over 400 pounds and suffers from the same rare autoimmune disorder. Cross then sets out to help Phil change his health and his life using the same techniques that worked for him.
Have you seen Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead or do you plan to? Have you tried a juice fast and, if so, what did you think of it?