Obviously, January is a pretty big month for cleansing. Every headline I read is telling me to cleanse and why it’s such a great resolution. I can’t tell you how many folks I’ve seen in the past 3 weeks wanting to start a cleanse, and how many customers come through the Nourish department at Ellwoods looking for all the right supplements to kick off their new years resolutions.
I’ve definitely heard some of the same questions being asked from person to person, and wanted to share my thoughts on cleansing (by addressing some myths and truths) and also answer some of the common supplement questions that almost everyone seems to have.
I want to start a cleanse but don’t know where to start. What should I try?
Anything in the produce department of your grocery store. Your body is pretty darn good at detoxifying itself with the foods that you eat, and there are zero pre-packaged cleanses on the market that will make any difference whatsoever if you don’t clean up your diet. Cleansing is not a quick fix, but a long term commitment to supporting your organ systems. Food is the best way to do that, and fresh fruits and veggies are number one.
It’s the new year, so I should cleanse. What are some things I should consider before starting?
First and foremost – you should never start a cleanse if you are ill, fatigued or otherwise depleted in any way. You should be in relatively good health before embarking on a cleanse. Cleanses (depending on what they consist of) often break the body down to some extent, and you need a strong internal system to handle that. You need to build yourself up before you can break yourself down.
If you are depleted, it’s best to focus on “cleanses” that are rich in well cooked, nourishing foods, and ideally seasonal. Avoid the raw food or juice cleanses if you have a weak digestive fire (also called Agni) or it is in the colder months.
Also consider your intention for cleansing. What do you hope to gain from the cleanse? What will the cleanse include in your life (just foods? lifestyle? emotions?). Make a list of things you would like to focus on with a cleanse and set a solid intention for what you would like to experience and gain from the cleanse.
Finally, you should consider your overall diet currently and also in the future before starting a cleanse. Cleanses are not meant to give you a free pass to continue eating what is causing toxicity in your body. Instead, think of ways to clean up your diet in small steps so that your daily diet will ultimately support your body’s detoxification systems on a daily basis rather than a “one week wonder” diet.
What are some specific things I can take or do to support the body’s natural detoxification?
My favorite food for cleansing and nourishing is called Kitchari – an Ayurvedic one-pot dish that includes basmati rice, mung dal and spices that is easy to digest and nourishing to nearly all of the body systems. You can eat this alone for several days as a cleansing mono-diet and reset and recharge your digestive tract. I use the recipe from Banyan Botanicals when I make Kitchari.
Increasing your water intake (and I mean room temperature or warm water – not ice or cold water!) with a squeeze of lemon throughout the day will enhance and support your overall digestion while gently cleansing your liver at the same time.
In regards to supplementation, Triphala is helpful for mild cleansing of the lower gastrointestinal tract (most specifically the colon) while also being building and nourishing. Taking 2 capsules in the evening will help to support daily bowel elimination. I really like Triphala by Himalaya, Gaia or Banyan Botanicals.
Ultimately, a good cleanse should not only support all of your organ systems, but it should also bring you a sense of mental clarity, overall body awareness and also allow for significant self care time (including movement, meditations, cooking rituals and rest and relaxation). When you plan your cleanse, make sure to take into account all of these factors, and allow plenty of time for small changes to be made, never drastic shifts. Remember, if you want some one-on-one guidance, contact me to set up a free 30 minute appointment at Ellwood Thompsons on Thursdays!
Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN HealthCoach@EllwoodThompsons.com