WHY SHOULD WE CLEANSE?
In the classic healing philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dr. Elson M. Haas wrote Staying Healthy With The Seasons. In it, we are taught that most illnesses are the result of excess toxins in the body, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional unusable materials.
The cleanse manual I received from Pachama said it best: "Every day we are exposed to thousands of toxins and chemicals, through the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the pharmaceutical drugs we use,". It explained that "Sugar and processed food is being consumed more than ever before in human history, we can often find ourselves regularly abusing our bodies with various stimulants and sedatives, and continuously being in stress at work and at home and then find it hard to relax and rest." Those are powerful words. Starting to get the picture? Our bodies need us to show up for them now more than ever.
+ slow the metabolism
+ physically impair the absorption of nutrients
+ weaken the immune system
+ create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and parasite growth
+ toxins and dead processed foods create poor digestion and toxic build-up in the colon
That's a lot of really bad stuff right?
WHEN DO I CLEANSE?
Dr. Haas and many others would agree that springtime is the best time for major cleansing, and suggest "drinking nourishing liquids, such as fruit and vegetable juices, for a period of five to ten days or longer." This is different from fasting, as that would be only herbal teas and water. Fasting is another important philosophy we can talk about in more detail another time. The second most notable time for cleansing is in the fall. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine these times of year have specific qualities that are setting the body up for the transition between temperatures and seasons. They carry a certain type of vitality that is ideal for cleansing the body's systems. Dr. Issac Eliaz of the FAIM wrote an amazing and totally comprehensive article that says,
"Fundamental philosophies in TCM state that the energies which manifest as seasonal changes in our external environment are also reflected in the body, and spring offers a unique transitional period of time when internal energies rise and expand, providing movement and growth to carry us away from the conservation and stagnancy characterizing the energies of cold winter months prior. This expansive energy helps to move things to the surface and expel some of the body's burden of toxins in preparation for the high activity of summer, and this energy of upward growth toward the sun means emotions and issues stored deep within the past also have an opportunity to be released. With a little preparation and mindfulness, the forces of renewal and rebirth that are so pervasive during the spring season can be harnessed and used to greatly benefit the body, mind and spirit during a spring cleanse."
Of course that is not to say that one can only cleanse in spring. How do you know it's time to purge you body of accumulated toxins, parasites, and built-up waste? One or more of the following signals from your body can be a sign it's time to clean up:
- Gas and bloating
- Excess weight
- Food allergies
- Impaired digestion
- Mood swings
- Bad breath
- Frequent colds
- Recurring headaches
- Chronic constipation
- Food cravings
- Skin problems
- Candida infection
By this time, you've probably done a little Spring Cleaning around the house. Why not give your body a gentle and nourishing cleaning too?
BEFORE the Cleanse
With the rise in popularity of raw foods, smoothies, juicing, and juice cleanses, it is easier and more affordable than ever to participate in a group cleanse. The options are seemingly endless these days - you can even have juice delivered right to your doorstep. (More on this a the bottom of the page!) It's also a highly marketable and trendy concept right now, so conversely we have more conflicting information to sort through. Cleansing can take many forms. Many people jump right in to doing a fully raw juice cleanse, not realizing it can be a big shock to the system without the adequate physical and mental preparation. Here are some ways to get your body and mind prepared for cleansing:
+ Eating a vegan diet is a type of cleanse in itself: Removing the major inflammatory foods like sugar, grains, gluten, caffeine, meat, and "the like" for 1-2 weeks before a cleanse is a great way to slowly adapt the body instead of diving in head first to the deep end of the pool. It can also really help you maximize the effects of your work should you decide to continue on with a liquid juice cleanse.
+ Remember that the cleanse won't last forever...even though it can feel that way at times! Shifting your perspective to cleansing as a period of time for gentle and low-impact foods, rest, meditation, and general period of slowing things down can help you get over essential willpower hurdles . And yes, those WILL come up. Count on it. I like to think of as a gift to your Longevity 401K. Just like we make regular deposits towards saving for the future, we also need to invest in the vessel so we are worth a darn once we get there!
WHAT KIND OF CLEANSE SHOULD I DO?
This one section could be an entire blog post in itself, so I am going to share from my personal experience with what has worked best for me. In my city we have a friend who, for years, on January 1st of every year, invites us to participate in a playful exploration of our diet and lifestyle choices through The Argon Challenge. It is fun, silly, and in the end, all about self-responsibility. This really empowered me to start cleansing at my own speed, and on my own terms. For me, it was really all about connecting back to the inherent intelligence of this body-healing-machine. There are practically endless options as to types of cleanses, but these are the ones I am most excited to share with you for now:
+ Dr. Hyman's 10-day Diet Detox Challenge - If you want a lot of support but don't have time to deal with all the logistics, he is completely brilliant and was a major inspiration to me during my nutritional training!
+ I am so excited by what Lydia of Portland's Pure Simple Juice is doing! She has awesome tasting 3 and 5 day packages made with LOCAL and ORGANIC produce, all bottled in glass. I know she is legit as she is regularly one of our customers at Gathering Together Farm during the PSU Farmer's Market!
+ Making juices with your own juicer at home can also be a great option if you live in a more rural area (or just like to save money and have the time to prepare your own juices). Juices are best when we can drink them immediately after they have been processed; this ensures optimal nutrient absorption and availability. Feel free to browse my Pinterest board Raw To Live By for juice and raw/cleansing food recipes! Remember green juices with less sweet fruits will be more alkalizing than acid or sweet fruit/vegetable juices. But have fun with it and go at your own pace! Your taste buds will also adapt as the days go on.
+ Holistic Hydrocolon Therapy has become pretty much the main reasons I cleanse any more. The whole period of cleansing for me is about preparing my body for the detoxification of the colon. If you are in the Portland area, I highly recommend Chakra 17. They will take immaculate care of you! I believe colonics are best once to a few times a year. They are a huge event to your system and should not be taken lightly. Always remember to replenish with probiotics and LOTS of water after a colon cleansing.
+ Enemas can be done at home and are a powerful healing tool for stimulating the bowels, clearing impacted waste and toxins from your colon and long intestine, as well as soothing many other emotional symptoms.
BREAKING THE FAST
Playwright George Bernard Shaw, who was an experienced faster, said," Any fool can fast, but only a wise man can break the fast properly." The man knew what he was talking about! The return to normal eating after a fast or cleanse, signifies that the daily functioning of the metabolism and digestion are being rebuilt. It is much easier for the body to switch from eating to fasting than from fasting back to eating. The organism has stopped the flow of digestive juices, and the body has to get them started again. It happens gradually, not like the flip of a switch. For that reason, the return to eating is as vital as the cleanse itself. Give yourself and your body as much care in the 3-5 days after your cleanse, as you do during the previous days. I suggest doing another 1-2 weeks of the vegan transition (like I mentioned earlier) on the back end of your cleanse. Your body will thank you for it!