Cleanse to Heal
Cleansing is a great way to get regain control of your health, enhance your immune system, and battle all sorts of health problems. We've all built up toxins throughout the year, whether it be from alcohol, sugar, caffeine or junk food, everybody could use a fresh start. But when you look at a cleanse you should try to find one that you could follow all year round, not one that uses all sorts of pills and powders. The best cleanses are the ones that are based around vegetables and enable you to continue that way of eating after the 4-6 week cleanse is over.
The backbone of any cleanse should be green leafy vegetables and more specifically cruciferous vegetables. This includes Kale, Collard Greens, Bok Choy, Turnip Greens, Cabbage, Broccoli and Brussels sprouts. The cruciferous family of vegetables have more detoxifying power than any other group of food. They contain a group of phytochemicals called glucosinolates, which have been shown to aid in cellular detox and repair. They're also showing the ability to protect our DNA from free radical damage. This inborn ability to detoxify our cells has led to further research about how cruciferous vegetables can help protect us from cancer, autoimmune diseases, arthritis and all sorts of immune dysfunction.
Along with the cruciferous vegetables all other veggies should be consumed, especially the allium family of vegetables which includes garlic, onion, and leeks. These also contain phytochemicals that fight all sorts of malfunction in our cells. So that's the backbone of any good cleanse... Vegetables.
Next should be fruit. Now it's important that we differentiate between types of fruits because the health benefits of a banana differ greatly from the health benefits of blueberries. The rule of thumb is that the berries are king. They contain more cancer-fighting detoxifying phytochemicals than all other fruits. That's not to say that other fruits such as oranges, apples or mangoes don't have their place because they certainly do. Just make sure that you eat a wide variety of fruit and that the majority of your fruit intake comes from berries.
Next you will need a high fiber food to keep your digestive system moving. We normally turn to laxatives and fiber supplements when we buy a cleanse. This is a terrible idea. The point of a cleanse is to get your body working properly again without the help of artificial supplements. Using supplements further slows down your natural ability to digest and eliminate food. So I always turn to legumes, or beans. They're very easy to buy in a can, as long as you get the ones without salt added. You can eat them for a snack or with meals. This will add a large amount of fiber, and healthy protein, to your diet.
Lastly is Fat. I know most cleanses don't talk about fat very much but it's an essential part of the process. Nuts and seeds contain all sorts of nutrients that help your body detoxify. This type of fat will help repair cell membranes and enhance brain function. The avoidance of fat is why some people feel a bit crazy while doing a store bought cleanse. Since the brain is made up primarily of fat the body starts to freak out if fat isn't consumed. So make sure to eat a handful of raw nuts or seeds daily.
Now a basic cleanse should have all of these things in it. Vegetables, Fruits, Beans, Nuts and Seeds. If you did nothing else other than ate these five things your body would undergo an amazing cleansing transformation. However, there is a healthier way to cleanse and that is by incorporation fresh made green juices into your cleanse.
Green juices have all their vitamins and minerals available for instant absorption. Many people have poor absorption in their digestive tracts due to years of unhealthy eating or constant stress. By using juicing you could increase your absorption up to 100 times over simple chewing. It's a phenomenal way of enhancing your cleansing process and is necessary to achieve dramatic healing.
You've probably realized by now that this cleanse doesn't use meat, dairy, whole grains, pills or powders. That's because a cleanse should be about getting your body back to baseline, and most people don't know what that feels like. If we use harmful foods such as meat and dairy or use pills such as laxatives or digestive enzymes we're not allowing our body to fight for itself. This type of cleansing does cause you to feel the detox symptoms more intensely than other cleanses. But this is a good thing, it means you're detoxing quickly and those symptoms won't last more than a few days.
5 Week Cleanse Basics
Vegetables - focus on cruciferous leafy greens
Fruits - focus on berries
Beans - no salt added
Nuts and Seeds - one handful, make sure they are raw
If you eat these 5 things all day for 5 weeks you are cleansing your body.
Breakfast: One bushel Kale, 5 Carrots, One Lemon, Piece of Ginger - Juice and drink
Snack: as many berries as you'd like, or an apple or orange
Lunch: Huge Salad - spinach, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, onions, cucumber, etc
Snack: as many berries as you'd like, or an apple or orange
Dinner: Steamed Collard Greens with Lemon Juice, Home made vegetable soup, Salad, etc
Desert: Fruit of any kind
What to Expect:
The first 3 days aren't going to be fun, I'm sorry to tell you that but it's true. It's not because of all the vegetables and fruits that you'll be consuming but it's because you'll be going through withdrawal. This could be from alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dairy, meat or gluten (a protein found in wheat). Regardless of what you're withdrawing from it's not going to be enjoyable, and this is why most people give up on cleansing and diets in general. Our bodies get addicted to things that are bad for us so when we stop using these things our body gets upset. We start to crave these harmful things and get unpleasant feelings throughout the body. Please be strong during these first few days, it will pass. Once the withdrawal is over you'll feel wonderful. After the first week you'll start to taste actual food again. You won't be so fatigued and irritable. You'll have more energy and clarity than you've had in years. And you'll most likely lose a substantial amount of weight.
*If you don't have a juicer you can just eat some fruit for breakfast instead of a juice
*If you're hungry you aren't eating enough, this isn't a fast, it's a cleanse. If you're hungry, you should eat more vegetables and fruits!
*Plan on feeling tired, achy, and irritable the first few days, this will pass
*Some people may need to incorporate some fish oil into their diets if they deal with certain disorders.
*People with specific digestive problems may need probiotics or other alterations to their cleanse so always work with a healthcare professional.
Luke Piretti is a Chiropractic Physician, Author, Former Personal Trainer, and Nutrition/Weight Loss Expert. He specializes in Nutritional Healing and Pain Management. Please visit his website for more information.
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