Updated: Aug 23
I often here the question.....should I buy a cleanse?? Will that start my weight loss quicker? Well unfortunately there is no magic "pill" or "product". A cleanse is a process.....NOT a product. But following is the good news of what it is and what it does for you!
Those long winter months are over and it's finally spring. Ah, the splendor. The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and you're on your hands and knees, vacuuming under the couch.
Okay, spring cleaning may not be the idyllic aspect of the season, but it makes you feel better in the long run, right? So this year, why not dial it up a notch? While cleaning out your closets and cabinets, try cleaning out something even more important—your body. The winter months of hibernation trigger us to indulge in Christmas cookies, New Year's champagne, and Valentine's candy, which leave us packed with toxins, coping with refined carb-induced blood sugar spikes, and feeling generally lethargic. A great way to transition through the seasons and into a healthy everyday life is through a spring cleanse! (And the good news is that, if done right, it can be a lot more pleasant than chasing dust bunnies around your living room.)
Unfortunately, most people identify cleanses with weird, faddish cocktails of cayenne, citrus, and maple syrup that promise detoxing and weight loss, but fail to mention that they'll also leave you hungry, lethargic, and somewhat grossed out. Furthermore, they're not terribly effective. The body doesn't reboot by pushing control+alt+delete. It's a complex series of systems that requires patience, time, and the proper nutrition to realign.
Let's explore a few of the ways a healthy cleanse will benefit your body.
Clean out the junk. Think of all the processed foods, sugars, alcohol, environmental toxins, and general daily stress that go into your body day after day, year after year. Those toxins accumulate over time. Additionally, your body becomes accustomed to some of the crap that you put inside it. A proper detox functions as your body's reset button. It usually involves removing processed foods, sugar, and alcohol from your diet and consuming specific foods that promote the cleaning out your system. Benefits of this clean-out include weight loss, more energy, bowel regularity, and improved body awareness.
This happens a few ways. First, when your body doesn't know what to do with a toxin, it stores it in adipose tissue (body fat). In order to get toxins out, you need to mobilize that adipose tissue. As James Dillard, MD, assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons explained to WebMD, "When fat is mobilized, anything that is fat-soluble should be mobilized, too." Of course, it's important to do this with healthy clean foods, or you'll be putting toxins back in just as fast as you pull them out! No more toxic addictions. Sugar and caffeine are addictive. If we have a cookie, we're usually not satiated. We usually want another cookie. I may or not be speaking from personal experience. Don't judge. Same with caffeine. Do you really want to live a life in which you're required to drink a cup of coffee, like it or not, to start your day? A detox is a way to lose your taste for toxic foods, so that you don't crave those foods when you're back to your normal lifestyle. It's also a way to remove the emotional attachments you may have developed with certain foods. Learn about your body. As you take out processed foods, you begin to see how your body functions without additives, pesticides, hormones, sugar, and other nasty stuff that is added to most of the food we eat. At this time, you may see that your skin is clear, you sleep better, or you're not bloated. If you notice any of these good side effects, you may be allergic to some of the food you regularly ingest
You can begin to cleanse your body by eliminating processed foods, mainly those that are high in refined flour, added sugar, additives, preservatives, and other chemicals. Also, you can try rounds of eliminating excess protein, dairy, caffeine, and grains to see how your body reacts. When you start to notice a difference (good or bad), play with that. Try taking something else out of your diet and see how your body reacts. Slowly, and one at a time, start to reintroduce foods to see how your body reacts to them, since you are no longer "used" to them. Watch your energy expenditure at the beginning of and throughout your cleanse. Your body will not be taking in as many calories as usual, and you don't want to tax your body during this time. The key is to start slow. Don't rush your body. You will be amazed by the response.
Whichever route you go, make sure that you are following a healthy cleanse and not going into starvation mode. Keep a daily journal of how you're feeling day-by-day. This will be a good indicator of what foods you are reactive to and what foods are okay by the standards of your body. Listen closely. Your body has the ability to communicate some amazing things to you.
Detractors accuse cleanses of being just another holistic fad. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Practitioners of ancient Indian medicine Ayurveda have benefited from springtime cleansing for generations. Their practice of pancha karma, a comprehensive 7 to 30-day program designed to eliminate toxins, was around long before many of the toxins we modern folk cope with even existed. So, if you're ready to change the channel to more energy, clear skin, less headaches, and overall better living, try a detox.
Happy spring cleansing!