Patients always ask me about the latest cleanse “du jour”. There are a variety of cleansing regimens out there – all with the goal of cleansing your organs, resting your digestive system, and reducing the toxic load on your liver. However, how you go about your cleanse is very important. The benefits of cleansing are enormous but improper cleansing can be dangerous. Here is what you need to know before embarking on your favorite cleanse.
Feed Yourself First!
The mistake one often makes is wanting to jumpstart a detox regimen too quickly. So often we just try to lose weight or detox quickly, which can be extremely dangerous and very harsh on the system because you may be taking an already weakened system or deficient system and weakening it even further. Before you embark on that juice fast or pledge to eat wheatgrass for 1 week be mindful of how you ease into any cleansing process. Be careful to not drastically reduce your consumption of food and embark on draconian diets that fling the body into crisis mode. There are several reasons for this.
1) First our bodies digestive metabolism runs on our parasympathetic system. When we suddenly reduce our food intake the body goes into “fight or flight” mode and diverts its attention away from digestion and often the result is we end up holding on to what we need to expel rather than processing it through our system.
2) In addition, our fatigued organs need sustenance and nutrients to better perform its functions. Starving the body when it is already over-extended and run-down becomes counter-productive.
3) More importantly, along with the emergency releases that the liver will be forced to perform to respond to the “crisis” it can unleash a wave of toxic substances that it has been storing, which can have deleterious consequences.
Thus begin the process first by eating well and eliminating the toxic foods you have become accustomed to. It is important to start off by eating good protein sources. If one is a meat eater you may start out with organic meats because those are so fortifying and strengthening for the body. They’re also full of amino acids, which the liver needs to support healthy detoxification. If one has not otherwise already developed an allergic reaction to certain grains, eating healthy non-GMO grains is also a way to start.
Its All About the Chlorophyll
A green drink full of chlorophyll rich foods is a must to support your liver. Include any cereal grass sprouts or fresh greens such as kale, parsley, watercress, spinach, collard greens, etc. and have a green drink everyday.
And the Fats
Make sure to incorporate great sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in your Diet in the form of fish oil, coconut oil – either through food or in supplement form. Berries are also a great ingredient to add to the diet as they are full of eleagic acid to help the liver detoxify.
Incorporate Lemon Water and Herbal Infusions
Hot lemon water in the morning and herbal infusions throughout the day, especially in the morning is a great way to support the liver and help it to eliminate toxins.
Ease Into Your Cleanse
All the above serve to upregulate the detoxification system. You can then ease into a stricter cleansing program by gradually eliminating foods (such as proteins in animal form and then vegetable proteins) and by the time you start a stricter cleanse your body will be stronger and you will have all the prerequisites to support a really healthy liver detoxification. The body and liver will be more prepared “to relax” and take a breather from all the work it does for you all year.
Remember Cleansing is the first step in a long-term lifestyle change
Once the cleanse is over commit to cleaning your diet going forward. It is believed that after every successful cleanse people on average improve their diets at least 20%. It is counterproductive to go back to business as usual. The fact that you have chosen to embark on a cleanse already means that you are being more mindful. Cleansing is always a step to get you closer to your goal!