What is a detoxification cleanse and why should we undertake one? Naturopathic and holistic practitioners believe that through nutrition and supplemental support you can gain an overall sense of well being by eliminating certain foods from your diet, and practicing specific yoga postures and meditating.
“A spring cleanse is a time to nourish and nurture yourself and be gentle with yourself.”
Spring and fall are traditionally when people engage in a detoxification cleanse. Spring is a time of renewal, rebirth, transformation and change. While here in the mountains it is still chilly and the possibility of snow still remains, starting a cleanse a bit later than the official day of spring is recommended.
There are many options when it comes to undertaking a cleanse, with the length of time and type of detoxifying cleanse are two things to consider. Typically, a cleanse can last a week while many last for 21 days depending on lifestyle. There are numerous types of detoxification diets. A basic cleanse can be done on your own or with a group. Many nutritionists, health care providers and health coaches can offer support and guidance to help their clients navigate a program best suited for them.
Giving your body a holiday from processed foods, alcohol and stimulants can be beneficial to the systems of the body. Adding more vegetables, fruits and whole foods to a diet is key in supporting the cleansing process. Eating clean helps to balance the whole being, physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically.
According to Chinese medicine, spring is the time to cleanse and aid liver function and its complementary organ, the gallbladder.
“A spring cleanse is a time to nourish and nurture yourself and be gentle with yourself. It is a time when people livers are congested and moving that congestion is helpful to support the process,” local acupuncturist Michelle Turley explains.
She recommends not eating a lot of raw foods, as they are more difficult to digest, include fresh vegetable juice as a gentle cleanser, refrain from processed foods and gluten and keep hydrated. Turley explains good fats are important and keep you satiated while on a cleanse and recommends incorporating oils like raw coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and ghee.
Do what’s right for your body
The ancient science of Ayurveda utilizes a detoxification method known as Panchakarma. It is based on a person’s constitutional makeup. The first phase prepares the body by eliminating foods that create imbalance. The second phase is a mono-diet of Kitchari, a mung bean and rice stew, which is easy to digest and assists in loosening accumulated toxins in the body. The third week is a re-integration phase, re-introducing seasonally whole foods back into the diet.
Some nutritionists recommend a gentle elimination diet for people over a designated period of time. This many or may not include animal protein while other health care providers are proponents of a plant-based diet. All recommend eliminating processed foods, dairy, sugar, white flour, gluten, alcohol and caffeine from the diet. For a vegetarian cleanse, eat lots of vegetables and fruit, seeds like quinoa, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin, and lentils and mung beans for protein and brown rice in small amounts. Eat organic.
If you are doing a cleanse that incorporates animal protein, eat 4 ozs. of chicken, fish or beef at lunch three times a week. Make sure it’s organic and grass fed. Eat lots of vegetables, fruit in moderation and consider seeds like quinoa, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin. Make lunch your largest meal and eat lighter in the evening. Drink warm lemon water upon waking to help support both the digestive and the lymphatic systems, and it is purported to reduce inflammation.
Benefits of a cleanse may include renewed energy levels, shifts in metabolism, strengthening of the immune system and revitalizing the systems of the body. Cleansing can offer the body a reprieve from emotional and physical imbalances, as well.
While cleansing it is best to ease up on aggressive exercise. Gentle walks and hikes are excellent ways to get fresh air and move the body. Practice yoga and meditate, both help reduce stress and lead to a more centered, balanced life.
There is a saying that it takes 21 days to create change. As hard as that may sound, once you set your mind to task the discipline follows. Pythagoras reminds us of the importance of caring for our long-term health. “If your body is neglected, you will not be able to find the inner harmony.”