To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse, this is the Question
So here we are, in January 2021. Phew at least that weird year is done.
Now is the time many people set their new years resolutions, and by the end of the first week they are all forgotten. LOL.
This is one of the reasons I do not set any.
One day of good intentions, doth not a healthy body make.
I find that one of the big health questions at this time of year is whether to cleanse/detox (pick your word) your body or not. So, I am going to run through my opinion on this matter and give you some options to think about.
Firstly, a little bit of biology lesson.
Your liver is the organ that is designed to naturally detox your body. We have a barrage of toxins coming at us all the time. The air we breathe, chemical and additives in food, caffeine, the body’s natural chemicals like hormones and inflammatory chemicals like histamines, medications, and alcohol are a few contributors to toxins in our bodies. The liver is designed to deal with these toxins and eliminates them.
It deals with this in 2 phases, phase 1 either neutralises toxins or modifies them to be dealt with in phase 2. Phase 2 uses a variety of enzymes to process and break down the toxins which can then be eliminated. For these phases to work properly, you need a range of nutrients and hydration to eliminate. Constantly feeding your body with chemicals can overload the body and basically the liver can struggle to do the job it was designed for.
So now the question of whether to cleanse or not.
The truth of the matter is that you can actually do quite a bit of damage to your liver if you go about a cleanse in the wrong way. There are so many products and so called easy detoxes that can be bought that are meant to help you. It is such a complicated process that damage can be done if it is not done correctly and each and every one of us is different, so there is no one size fits all. When it comes to supplements, we all need something different. So, if you feel you need to do a cleanse using supplements, please make sure that you do it under the care of a natural health professional, so that it can be designed for you, and not just buy some dodgy expensive product off the internet.
The good news is that a gentle cleanse or at least a reset can be done using food.
Again, there are so many different ways to do this too, but at least you are not introducing something that could do more harm. The main question I have here is, “What are you going to do after the cleanse?” What is the point of doing a 2 day or 2 week cleanse if you are going to go back to the way you were eating and drinking before? Why put your body under all that stress if you do not intend to actually live a healthy life. A cleanse should not be done to try and reverse the effects of too much partying, so that you can do more. A cleanse is a great way to kick start a healthy change. To make a change in your lifestyle, not a way to justify your unhealthy lifestyle!
Here are a few of the options available with my favourite at the end.
1. Juice cleanse. This is where you just drink juice for a nominated time. There are a couple of down falls here. Firstly, if you are using mainly fruit, you will get to much sugar and therefore doing the opposite of what you are trying to do. You will also be missing out on lots of nutrients and fibre. So, if you choose to juice, then my advice is to mainly use vegetables to juice, with a little fruit. To avoid missing out on super important fibre, I would suggest using some smoothies too, as at least you get the whole food including fibre! I would not do this for more than 2 or 3 days.
2. Lemon water detox: this is more of a fast, with just drinking lemon or apple cider vinegar in water. Not something I would recommend, as you will not be getting any nutrients, but if you choose it, only do it for 2 or 3 days.
3. 10 day/ 2 week balanced cleanse: this should include a combination of vegetable juicing, broths and whole food. It can be really good for a reset if it is done properly and designed by a professional. If you choose this option, I recommend that you continue on with eating healthy whole food afterwards. Go for the 80/20 rule where you are eating nutrient dense foods 80% of the time with 20% of the more treat variety to savour and enjoy.
4. What I do: As part of my program, we do a 2 day cleanse that involves eating simple food and inducing a thorough bowel cleanse and digestion relax. There are a few options you can choose from for the 2 days, like vegetables or potatoes, or rice. The idea is to eat loads of fibre, nutrients and water and allow for great elimination. This sets your body up really well to introduce a healthy eating plan that is designed for you individually on your own blood chemistry. By doing this cleanse before your plan, you help to stop those cravings. Again, this should be done under the care of a trained professional.
In conclusion, doing a cleanse just for the sake of it and to continue the way you were before is pointless and may even cause you some damage if you use products that are not designed for you. If, however, you are going to improve your lifestyle and you are using the cleanse to kick start your new healthy habit, then go for it, just make sure that you are getting all the nutrients and not going anything to extreme. Balance is always important.
Cheers to a happy healthy 2021 for you all.
Written by Zita Dixon
Qualified and registered Nutritionist, Metabolic Balance coach, Chef and Fitness Coach.