As spring is nature’s time of renewal, it is also an excellent time for our own. I believe that cleansing is an ideal way to remove toxins from the body that can build up over time from environmental pollutants, emotional stress and the chemicals added to our food supply. Although there are some that feel detoxification isn’t necessary, for me it is a natural and important step in achieving and maintaining good health. Even so, it’s important to approach cleansing with a good understanding of what it is and what it isn’t and how to do it safely.
First of all, cleansing is not a quick weight loss plan. Although you will likely lose pounds when you reduce calorie intake, more often than not you will gain at least 50% of what you lost back when you begin eating normally again. However, if you use cleansing as a jump-start to begin a healthier diet and lifestyle that you plan to maintain, long-term weight optimization can be an added benefit.
Instead of weight loss, cleansing should be viewed as a way to give the digestive system a break and allow the organs a chance to repair themselves and eliminate toxins that may be impacting your health. According to Elson M. Haas, MD, author of The New Detox Diet, symptoms of toxicity include frequent colds, immune weakness, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, fatigue, indigestion, headaches, constipation, bad breath, allergies and much more. These symptoms are often associated with other health problems and conditions including obesity, most of which can benefit greatly with detoxification.
There is not one right way to cleanse. Varying levels of detoxification programs exist, many of which may or may not be necessary to achieve the results you are looking for. For some who eat poorly, simply switching to a diet consisting of primarily whole organic foods can instigate an internal transformation and the alleviation of toxic build-up. For those who have a more or less healthy diet, cleansing can be as easy as eliminating animal products, processed foods, alcohol, sugar and coffee/caffeine in exchange for a diet consisting of primarily fruits and vegetables for 1-3 weeks. For those who would like to do a deeper cleanse, a smoothie or juice fast, even for just a few days of longer cleanse where certain foods but not all foods are eliminated, can be very effective.
Although water fasting is the most intensive type of cleansing and one that is practiced in many spiritual traditions for both short and long durations, this is only recommended under the guidance of a supervised medical doctor or trained professional. This recommendation also holds true for first time cleansers and anyone with preexisting health conditions, regardless of any of the methods mentioned above.
While cleansing, it’s important to realize that there are some harmless detoxification symptoms that many experience, especially in the first few days. These include headaches, irritability, fatigue, and the possible resurfacing of previous or current health conditions. Although most are able to successfully and productively go about their normal routine during a cleanse, some recommend beginning over the weekend if possible. For those that have the luxury to go on a cleansing vacation, there are many supervised retreats offered by various qualified health professionals and organizations that can further enhance the experience.
Once you finish the restrictive period of a cleanse, it’s important to reintroduce foods slowly over time. One general rule that I follow is to take half the time I cleansed to return to a normal diet. If you have the time to do so, you may even want to reintroduce one food group at a time to identify potential food sensitivities that you may not have been aware of. This is an optimal time to become aware of your body’s most honest response to the foods you eat and to know yourself more deeply.
Regardless of the type of cleanse or way in which you choose to participate in a detoxification program, it’s important to do a bit of research beforehand or speak to a professional to ensure that the program you are doing is safe, effective and right for you personally. There are many herbs available that can assist with the release of toxins, some of which come in kits with detailed cleansing instructions.
In addition to physical detoxification, cleansing is also an excellent time do some reorganization and cleaning of your external environment. It’s also a time when the emotional and spiritual channels are opened, allowing a detoxification and renewal to occur in other areas of your life as well. For many, it’s a period of heightened clarity, creativity, motivation and overall renewed vitality.
If cleansing feels right to you, enjoy the experience and the vast benefits it has to offer, but do so consciously, intelligently and safely.
Published On: May 07, 2010