What is a cleanse and why should I do one?
October is a great time to start a cleanse. Summer barbecue season is over and the holiday eating season hasn’t started yet. But why would you want to do this?
Cleanses are not about losing weight – although most people do lose weight, they are about giving your body a break so it can heal and rejuvenate. They’re about gaining a new understanding of what actually feels good and tastes good.
The exact benefits of a cleanse will vary with each person, but here are some general considerations.
- Feel better.
- Give the liver a break and a chance to repair.
- Gain conscious awareness of allergies.
- Change your relationship with food to ultimately make better choices.
- Improve digestion.
- Decrease free radical production.
- Improve ability to deal with harmful substances that are naturally produced.
- Clear up sinus congestion.
- Balance blood sugar.
- Decrease blood pressure.
- Normalize endocrine function such as thyroid hormones and adrenal response.
Cleanses are not fasts. Personally I don’t believe in fasting although I know that many people do and find benefits from them. Our bodies are over taxed by lifestyle, environmental toxins, stress, etc. We are constantly making substances to deal with this. If you take away food, you take away the body’s fuel source. While fasting might be taking away some of the problem, it is also limiting some of the solution.
A cleanse is a more practical approach. Get rid of some of the stress on the body, eat better foods and take additional nutrients to facilitate detox and healing.
There are lots of different cleanses and supportive supplements. Many cleanses are 21 days and I have found that most people don’t feel all that well the first week. There’s getting used to not eating certain foods, often some emotional volatility and the body is detoxing. By the 2nd week most people start to feel better. There’s more energy. By the third week they’re not only feeling better other people are often commenting on how good they’re looking.
Cleanses involve eliminating pro-inflammatory and common allergenic foods like wheat and gluten products, dairy, corn, and soy. Some eliminate meat for a certain amount of time. Elimination of caffeine, alcohol and processed sugars is also part of the cleanse. The emphasis is on eating good food, as organic as possible with specific recommendations about what to eat and what not to eat. It’s a good time to experiment and get creative with different recipes.
A cleanse is a great way to get a better grip on your health. It’s a good idea to do this with support from a knowledgeable practitioner so that you’re making the right choices, taking the best supportive nutrients and herbs and can get your questions answered. Getting information about how to do a good cleanse as well as what to do once the cleanse is over can maximize your success.
Our minds can make us well. I know it sounds hokey, but it’s true and we’ve all experienced it. Say you’ve been working hard on a project, lots of problems getting it done, lots of stress and angst, time pressure, uncooperative co-workers but now it’s done, finally. You don’t feel happy, you feel tired, cranky, resentful. A boss comes up to you and lets you know that you’ve done a really good job, acknowledges all of your work and compliments the results. All of a sudden you feel much better, you have more energy, you’re less inclined to want to injure your co-workers, and life is looking much better.
What has happened here? Your mind has started producing different brain chemicals, neuropeptides, and you are now feeling better. If you had your blood drawn it would probably show a decrease in the amount of stress producing chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline. Your heart rate will have decreased. Even your ability to digest food will have improved.
Most of us are quite good at using our minds to make us sick, even if we don’t realize it. Emotions actually get stuck in the body. Patients often ask me if what they are experiencing is physical or emotional, my reply is that there isn’t a difference. There really isn’t a point where our physical self begins and ends and our emotional self starts. They are integrated aspects of us and can’t really be separated.
It is important to be aware of where our thoughts take us. Focusing on our ailments, pain, angst does not improve the situation. It actually makes it far worse. Often people will refer to a part of their body that is hurting them as their “bad ____”. This sends a message that further aggravates that part and actually can inhibit its ability to heal. Referring to that hand, foot, etc as the one that is healing, currently in need of more attention is a better frame of reference. I’m not saying to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist, but rather to be aware of the thoughts that deter from getting better.