Cella’s Chat: Is Detoxing for You?

Detoxing or fasting, can be quite controversial. Two years ago I did a five day juice fast - mostly green juices.  I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy to not “chew” food and drink it instead, but it was a great way of jump starting my system and helping my body rid itself of cravings such as sugar and caffeine.  Fast forward two years and my husband and I decided to try the Master Cleanse (also called the Lemonade Diet).  This cleanse consists of easing into the fast by consuming liquids such as broth and orange juice and then the actual cleanse is a concoction of distilled water, fresh lemon, cayenne pepper and dark amber pure maple syrup which supplies needed calories, glucose and minerals.  You can also use the Smooth Move tea which helps your body eliminate throughout this cleanse.  I personally do not suggest the salt water flush, as I believe that sends the body out of the proper electrolyte balance you need to sustain good health.  Some people prefer water fasting only.  This is a bit radical for me.  (I know, some of you might be thinking "any of this is radical - what are you talking about?") Actually though, for me as with many people, it is like a general housecleaning of the body once or twice a year.  According to Linda Page, ND, PhD, a naturopathic doctor, lecturer, and author of the book Detoxification, "it's a way to recharge, rejuvenate, and renew. Anybody can benefit from a cleansing. The body is coming out of what might be called hibernation. It's a way you can jump-start your body for a more active life,  healthier life." 

The next question is, does a detox diet really detox the system?  According to WebMD's interview with James Dillard, MD, assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City and the author of Alternative Medicine for Dummies, "Theoretically, yes," he says. "When fat is mobilized, anything that is fat-soluble should be mobilized, too -- should , that is," Dillard tells WebMD. 

Beyond the obvious reasons of detoxing the body or for weight loss, another widely held reason many people fast is for the spiritual or mystical experiences.  Dr. Dillard concurs that "almost every religion has some type of fasting ritual -- Lent, Ramadan, Yom Kippur ... the Hindus and Buddhists fast, too," "There's definitely a spiritual factor," Dillard tells WebMD. 

In some cultures, such as with Chinese medicine, fasting is part of preventive health care.  For many ancient cultures, fasting helped people "lighten up" after a long winter, shed the extra winter fat layer that provided warmth. Our bodies naturally detoxify every day, Dr. Page tells WebMD. "Detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands, and skin," she writes in her book. "Just as our hearts beat nonstop and our lungs breathe continuously, so our metabolic processes continuously dispose of accumulated toxic matter." 

Regardless of all the reasons to cleanse (or not to), I found that the process allowed me to understand how much we think about food.  Constant thoughts of what, when and where we are going to eat, with whom, clutter our minds throughout the day.  Try not eating for a few days.  I found I was certainly getting more done and sometimes didn’t know what to do with myself during our normal “dinner hour,” as the whole social aspect of sitting down to eat together was non-existent.  Of course, toasting to a nice glass of “lemonade” was our coming together dinner hour.  Personally, I missed the social aspect of sharing food as a family, not to mention tantalizing my taste buds with different flavors.  However, I felt awesome to think that I was giving my body and digestive system a break and giving myself a “tune-up” to start fresh. 

If the thought of a cleanse or fast is not for you, then just try the good old-fashioned way of eating the right foods, getting exercise, clean living, and keeping a positive mental attitude.  Remember, our bodies are incredible healing machines and we need to take care of what we have as we only have one shot at this – so lets make it a good run!

Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the spirit. 
- Ezra Taft Benson

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