If you’ve not been feeling 100% and you’re not sure why or what to do about it, then it may be time to consider a cleanse.
A cleanse is like hitting the reset button. It gives your body a chance to regroup, and get back to functioning optimally. Instead of being bogged down with sugar, inflammation, and toxins, what if your body could run clean?
There are many cleanses on the market, so I’d like to share with you my top five reasons for doing a cleanse to help you know what to look for when choosing the right one for you.
1. Break the sugar cycle.
Do you find yourself looking for that next sugary treat only to have a slump in energy and mood a couple hours later when the sugar wears off? Does it seem that the only way to keep yourself going is to consume more and more carbs and sugar?
The only way to break this sugar cycle is to reduce the overall amount of sugar and carbs you are eating. All carbs, even what is found in fruit, vegetables and grains (rice, cereal, oats, corn) are broken down into sugar in the body. Each time you eat them, your body must respond, in particular by getting the pancreas to produce enough insulin to get the sugar into your cells where it can be used for energy. If you overload your system by eating too many carbs at once, you are likely to create a pattern of high, followed by low, blood sugar levels, cravings for more carbs, and a higher likelihood of weight gain. Likewise, the longer you wait to eat, the more likely it is that you’ll start to crave carbs and restart the cycle.
A cleanse that helps you to minimize sugar (white and brown sugar, as well as cane juice) will help your blood sugar levels stay balanced and will reduce your sugar cravings. Keep in mind, however—the goal is not to drop your overall carb intake to zero. We need carbs for nutrients and energy. It is actually best to feed your body a small serving of protein, carbs, and healthy fats every two to four hours (while awake). I find the easiest way to think of it is that protein (fish, poultry, eggs, nuts) and carbs (veggies, fruits, grains, nuts) should take up equal space on your plate. You will get healthy amounts of fats in fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, olives, avocados, coconut oil, and olive oil.
2. Reduce inflammation and heal leaky gut.
Feeling tired, achy, anxious and bloated? These are all signs of inflammation. While we often think of inflammation as something that causes pain, that’s not the only way it appears in the body. Research shows that inflammation can even be an underlying cause of depression, brain fog, eczema, auto-immunity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
One of the most common causes of inflammation is leaky gut—a stress-induced condition that affects the lining of your intestines. Leaky gut allows food to leak through the intestinal wall into the underlying space where the immune system is on guard, ready to protect you from viruses and bacteria. Food should never go through the intestinal lining; food should be digested and only the nutrients should get through. When the immune system identifies food leaking through the intestinal lining, it causes inflammation that then spreads throughout the body, including the nervous system.
Leaky gut is caused by stress, toxins, gluten, and antibiotic use. You can heal leaky gut with stress reduction, gluten avoidance, and nutrients that assist the intestinal lining to recover. Glutamine, for example, is an amino acid that keeps intestinal cells healthy, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) provides nutrients that help reduce the ‘leakiness’ of the gut. Taking these products, avoiding gluten in your diet, taking digestive enzymes to ensure adequate digestion of food, and probiotics to maintain healthy gut flora, can be part of a cleanse, which will help you to reduce inflammation as well.
3. Minimize toxic exposure and maximize toxin elimination.
Between plastic bottles and non-organic foods, we are exposed to thousands of toxins before we even make it to lunch each day. Although we can’t see them, these toxins enter our bodies and wreak havoc with our hormones while also creating more work for our liver.
A cleanse is an opportunity to minimize your exposure to toxins and to support detoxification. We can increase our ability to process toxins and eliminate them from our bodies using nutrients and herbs that assist the liver, such as active forms of B vitamins and the herb milk thistle. We can also promote regular bowel movements by drinking plenty of water and eating fiber, which is why you’ll find many cleanses include these in their recommendations.
Still, one of the best ways to reduce toxic exposure is to simply eat organic foods and avoid plastics. You can choose to add further detox support to your cleanse with colon hydrotherapy and/or a sauna. Be sure to work with a qualified practitioner who can help you determine the appropriate amount and form of detoxification for your body.
4. Take care of yourself and restore a healthy stress response.
Have you been spending each day taking care of others, often putting yourself second to lists, deadlines, and other people’s needs? Do you find yourself racing from one thing to the next, often without a minute to eat—and certainly not enough time to sleep?
This type of busy schedule turns on the stress response and doesn’t allow it to reset, which can lead to either elevated or low cortisol levels. Such a disruption to our cortisol levels can have a negative impact on the digestion, immune system, nervous system and hormones throughout the body. You can learn more about how stress affects your body by clicking here.
If you fall into this category, a cleanse can be the perfect opportunity to prioritize yourself, your own needs, and rebalance your stress response. Whether the cleanse lasts for 10 days, 3 weeks, or even longer, it will give you a much needed opportunity to rearrange your daily schedule and put yourself at the top of the list for food, sleep, exercise, water, relaxation and fun.
5. Motivate yourself to meet your health goals.
Whether your goal is to lose 20 pounds, heal reflux, prevent PMS or boost your energy, it is all much easier to do when you have a plan. Health goals can seem impossible when you’re looking at them as a lifetime of commitment, but when you start out with a plan that breaks it into smaller chunks and involves making changes for a shorter period of time, it becomes more manageable. Then, once you have a sense of how it feels to be taking steps that support your health, it will be easier to continue.
The important thing is to know yourself and choose a cleanse that will fit well with your daily schedule. It also helps when a cleanse includes recommendations for what to eat and access to a practitioner who can modify the cleanse for your needs. Finally, doing a cleanse that prepares you to make lifestyle choices that will last beyond the initial detox can really help you get on a path to wellness.
I find that cleanses often require such big lifestyle changes they don’t easily fit into normal daily life so people can find it hard to stick to them, never mind making longer term changes to their lifestyle. To address this problem, I designed The Stress Remedy Programs: a simple cleanse supported by protein shakes (now available in Chocolate, Berry and Vanilla flavors) that fits easily into your usual routine that can be done on your own.
Additionally, The Stress Remedy Program makes it easier to avoid gluten in your diet (as well as dairy, eggs and soy if you wish), decrease sugar and exposure to toxins, as well as supporting the healing of leaky gut. There is also the option of having a one-to-one consultation with me where I can help you prepare for your cleanse, and advise you on the right supplements and modifications for you. This package also includes daily email tips and an eGuidebook to support you along the way. If you would like this extra support, you can choose either the self-guided or Dr. Doni guided cleanse here.
Once you finish the initial cleanse, The Stress Remedy Program is safe enough to continue for longer if you wish. This means that it can be used as a platform for reaching your goals for optimal health.
My book, The Stress Remedy, is also a perfect resource for understanding how blood sugar issues, inflammation from leaky gut, and stress combine to create a perfect storm of un-wellness, and what you can do to reverse that process. The Stress Remedy includes a 3-week program and over fifty recipes.
It is stress, after all, that sets us up for needing a cleanse. If you are wondering how your body has been affected by stress, be sure to take my online stress quiz here.
I’d love to know what you think. Is doing a cleanse and changing your diet worth the possibility of feeling better? Please share your thoughts and progress below.
27th June 2014