As the seasons change, many of us have this natural inclination to switch things up and introduce some changes to our routine. Some of us feel drawn to the idea of doing a cleanse or a detox as a way preparing for the environmental changes that are about to take place around us.
But what is the real purpose of a cleanse? The whole point of doing a cleanse should be to give your digestive system and your body a break. Think of your digestive system as your car… if you were to drive your car constantly without ever turning off the engine, would it get exhausted? Probably… so it makes sense to give it a break and do a little maintenance every once in a while.
Now, I think it is key we evaluate how exactly we go about doing maintenance on valued things such as our car and our digestive system.
You may already know that I am a big proponent of doing things in a healthy, safe and balanced matter. Honestly, I developed this philosophy after years and years of doing too much and going too hard about achieving my objectives. I learnt the hard way that anything we do to an extreme tends to backfire.
Years ago, I would embark on extreme habits in the name of health. I would go on very calorie-restrictive programs, do unnecessary diets that restricted major food groups, and exercise in an addictive manner. As a result, the weight, injuries and discomforts would not only come back with revenge, but also leave me feeling exhausted, frustrated and unbalanced.
Since then, I’ve become a big proponent of a balanced, honest and gentle approach of dealing with our health that centers in self-responsibility and self-love.
So, with that in mind, I would like to talk about seasonal cleanses and share my views with you.
Cleanses can be a very powerful tool to aid in the health journey and when done properly and timely, they can be a time changer in a person’s weight loss journey.
In the past, I’ve done 2 different kinds of cleanses: extreme and gentle. Plainly said, I found extreme cleanses (such as those that restrict all or most food and require you drink specific drinks or formulas) to be very harmful for me. Not only because of how I felt during the cleanse, but also the effects they had on my metabolism years after. Being a trained nutritionist, I now know how dangerous these practices can be, and how particularly harmful they were for me at a time when I was struggling with very unstable blood sugars and a sluggish thyroid.
Gentle cleanses, on the other hand, are and feel very different in the body. They usually require you consume foods that support the liver while abstaining from liver-loaders, drink plenty of fluids and gently aid your liver and organs of secretion (e.g. the kidneys, bowels, lungs and skin) to do a better job.
When you embark on the process of detoxification, a LOT is going on in your body. You are basically mobilizing and escorting toxins stored in your fat cells as well as tissues, blood and others outside of your body. A number of organs and systems, such as the lymphatic system participate in this process. This is no walk in the park. That is why one usually experiences side effects while on a detox. If you’ve ever done one, you know what I’m talking about.
Being that said, I do believe there is a time and place for everything and most importantly, a way to go about it. Detoxification can be a helpful and effective clinical tool to help improve symptoms of certain health conditions, however I believe this is the time to seek professional guidance from a health practitioner to ensure detoxification is done in a timely and safe manner.
Gentle cleanses done 1-2 times a year can assist you in mobilizing toxins out of your body and help re-balance hormones, helping you experience many benefits such as an increase in energy, weight loss, reduction of headaches, etc. The problem, in my view, is that many people embark on extreme cleanses with the sole purpose of losing weight. They usually do it out of the blue without preparing their bodies for cleansing.
If you are considering doing some form of detox this season, I would like to encourage you to consider taking a gentle approach and slowly begin to prepare your body for what’s coming.
One of the most important things you can do in preparation for a gentle cleanse, is to ensure your elimination pathways are working properly. This can be done by:
- increasing your pure water intake until you reach 7-10 glasses a day;
- consuming plenty of fiber by having fresh vegetables at each meal, particularly green leafy vegetables as well as some fruit;
- moving your body on a daily basis, even 15-20 minutes of walk a day are great start if you are not very active.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, be sure to check out and register for a talk given by our Holistic Nutritionist Pamela Groh this coming Tuesday October 1st. Limited sitting!