Photo credit: mckaysavage
Regardless of whether or not you smoke, drink, eat right or exercise, environmental toxins are inescapable. Itâ€™s a sad truth that comes with living in our modern world. Just to name a few sources, toxins are found in pollution, pesticides in food, and chemicals in plastics and cosmetics. Itâ€™s important to remember that people are part of the environment, not separate from it. Whatever toxins harm and pollute the earth have the potential to harm and pollute us.
An internal cleanse (or â€œdetoxâ€) is a natural, healthy way to gently rid the body of some of the dangerous environmental toxins stored in its cells. Historically, many cultures embraced cleansing as part of a healthy lifestyle, including ancient Chinese medicine and saunas. The human body naturally cleanses itself, yet it becomes overwhelmed by new environmental toxins that it did not have to deal with generations ago. Therefore, cleansing is increasingly important due to the vast increase in chemicals in our society.
Today, popular cleansing programs come in a wide variety of forms, including supplement packages, blends of tea, and smoothie mixes, and usually last for one or two weeks. After all the heavy, comfort food from winter (not to mention getting ready for swimsuit season) spring is the perfect time for a whole body cleanse.
Everyone is different, and will experience slightly different benefits. Some of the benefits of detoxing are:
You may even shed a few pounds in the process!
Please note: cleanses are not for everyone. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have any serious health issues, or are taking any medications, speak to your doctor before cleansing.
What cleanse is right for me?
When choosing a cleanse, itâ€™s important to choose one thatâ€™s right for you, and that you know youâ€™ll be able to commit to for the entire time period. Generally, the longer the cleanse, the more it will do. One-week cleanses usually only address water soluble toxins, whereas two-week cleanses are able to tackle the more important fat soluble toxins (toxins that are trapped in fat cells).
However, popular starvation cleanses (though heavily promoted) are not safe or effective. These include the famous â€œMaster Cleanseâ€â€”also known as the â€œLemonade Dietâ€. This â€œcleanseâ€ requires high amounts of sugar (from maple syrup) to keep you going, and enough cayenne pepper to keep your body temperature high enough, as the body is starved of key nutrients. The same goes for â€œcleansesâ€ consisting only of laxatives.
Itâ€™s also important that you choose a cleanse from a reliable company. It should have enough nutrients and vitamins to keep you energized and healthy while removing toxins from your body.
Good ingredients to look for include:
herbs such as milk thistle, which detoxifies the liver
fibre (soluble and insoluble) to bind to waste and carry it out of the body
vitamins and minerals, which support the bodyâ€™s normal processes
protein and amino acids, to provide long-term energy
antioxidants, which bind to harmful free radicals released in the cleansing process
probiotics, to support the immune system
How do I cleanse?
Most cleanses require dietary restrictions. Basically, you donâ€™t want to add toxins to your body when youâ€™re trying to remove them.
Caffeine (including green tea, although herbal tea is usually allowed)
Artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners or preservatives
Dairy products (can be difficult to digest, and often have added hormones)
Gluten (a difficult-to-digest protein found in wheat, spelt, kamut, rye, and other grains, pastas and cereals)
Highly acidic foods, such as tomatoes and vinegars
Red meats (often have added hormones)
All cleanses differ, but generally, foods allowed include:
Lots of water! (and herbal tea)
Lean protein, such as skinless chicken and fish (except for tuna due to mercury)
Nuts and seeds (these provide long term energy and healthy fats)
Fresh veggies (organic is best, to avoid pesticides)
Beans, lentils and other legumes
Herbs for seasoning
Itâ€™s important to stay motivated. Remember, itâ€™s only one or two weeks long, and to get the benefits, its important to complete it. Try to get a friend or two on board with you, so you can motivate each other. And although itâ€™s hard, when the cleanse is over, donâ€™t go overboard on the junk food to make up for lost time! If you follow the rules and complete the program, your body will thank you and youâ€™ll feel great.
Happy spring cleaning!