Cleansing, “clean living,” and detox programs, are more than just buzz words today, they’re subjects people are turning into lifestyles. We’re all about healthy living on Self Help Daily, so these are ideas we get excited about.
by Mona Morstein, ND
Today, we are all surrounded by unclean air, polluted water, processed food made with thousands of chemicals, pesticides sprayed on our homes and offices, xenoestrogens leaching from plastic, tobacco smoke drifting over to you–if you eat, drink or breathe on Planet Earth, you’re toxic.
The typical American has 80-90 serious chemicals in their fat cells. We eat and drink huge amounts of refined sugar, which slows down the liver’s capacity to detoxify environmental chemicals; we drink coffee and alcohol which aggravate the liver, too; we down over the counter and prescribed medicines; we have low fiber diets so toxins reaching the gut are not taken out in the stool, but instead are reabsorbed; we eat little fruits and vegetables so have little vitamins and minerals to strengthen tissue and prevent oxidative damage from toxins.
We overeat, which causes stagnation in our intestines, and low beneficial bacteria, and those lead to toxemia and ill health.
Is any of this looking like YOU?
All in all, Americans are exposed to chemicals unwillingly, ingest chemicals regularly, and have bodies which have lost the capacity to efficiently and effectively eliminate toxins. We then see patients walking around fatigued and depressed, with sore bodies and headaches, stiff joints and gut problems, food allergies and skin rashes, developing hormonal and autoimmune conditions, getting no help from standard medicine, and becoming hopeless.
Historically, in Europe, when patients felt very poorly, they went away to the “spa”. There, they ate a simple diet, did gentle exercise such as walking their bare feet in dewy grass, got away from the stresses in their lives, did some hydrotherapy, breathed fresh air and were able to detoxify and heal. Today, the spa treatment is very hard for working parents with children to do! And, it’s very expensive.
Another logical route to take is to do the most natural detoxification in the world–fasting. Stopping eating is the best way to cleanse the body, have it rid itself of toxins, and begin the journey to successful healing. The purest fast is a pure water fast, done while one puts one’s life on complete hold, but that can be as difficult to do as going to a spa.
An alternate is to do a modified fast, using fruit juice. The Master Cleanse has been around for decades and consists of drinking only a mixture of lemon juice, cayenne pepper and grade B maple syrup for 7-10 days. How can this drink benefit you? Lemon juice is one of the most effective bile stimulants, and since toxins are excreted through the bile, you would be promoting detoxification by increasing bile production in the liver. Cayenne pepper is a marvelous herb for the intestinal tract, and the heart and circulatory system. Cayenne pepper helps heal the gut, and promotes better digestion. Cayenne also promotes blood movement, lowers the blood pressure and aids the heat actions. Maple syrup is added just to give a person some energy to continue their daily activities.
If you’re too busy to make up your own Master Cleanse concoction and don’t want to fast for 10 days, you may want to try something I found. It’s called Simply Slender (http://www.simplyslenderdiet.com/) and it is essentially a pre-mixed version of the Master Cleanse with added Acai, Noni, Mangosteen and Goji juice to supply additional antioxidants. Simply Slender is a 2-4 day cleansing diet and you can eat fruits and vegetables while on it. Something like Simply Slender gets the job done, and fits better into most people’s busy schedules.
Who would benefit from cleansing? Any adult who feels run down, stressed out, fatigued, who has any chronic disease, who has never given their body a rest from eating, who feels “toxic”. However, you should check with your physician if you are going to dedicate yourself to a cleanse, as you may have to decrease or stop certain medications as a result of the program you choose.
After you finish your cleanse, work with a naturopathic physician (www.naturopathic.org) to improve your diet, and work with you toward regaining and maintaining your health. You can cleanse 1-2 times each year for health purposes, but you need to learn how to live healthily each and every day of your life. Cleansing can be a VITAL part of health, but works best when it is combined with a whole look at all of you.
Dr. Mona Morstein is Chair of Nutrition at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and professor of gastroenterology. As a naturopathic physician, Dr. Morstein is grounded in the knowledge that most illness comes from a bad diet and poor gastrointestinal health. Healing up the gut in combination with excellent nutrition while fixing maladaptive lifestyle habits is a core focus of her medical practice. Dr. Morstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.