Everyone looks forward to a good holiday. We often return refreshed with stories and pictures to share- our luggage a little heavier and our souls a little lighter. However, sometimes we return with unwanted extra baggage and return home bigger, backed-up, or bloated. Holidays can be rough on our digestive systems. Maybe you indulged too much at the dinner buffet, tried new and exotic foods that didn’t agree with you, or simply refused “to go” when nature called. Whatever the case may be, returning home is a great time to cleanse your system and get your health back on track. There are many types of cleanses and detox regimens to write about but here are a few tried and true approaches for your internal house-cleaning.
The use of herbs is probably the easiest way to catch up your elimination routine. Revolving around the use of laxative and digestive tonics like senna, peppermint, or ginger, your intestines are given the urge to purge and push waste through. If you want to focus on cleansing specific organs, there are herbs for that too! Your digestive system is the major channel of elimination, but your kidneys, liver, lungs, circulatory system, and skin do a lot of filtering too! Some herbal cleansing systems take you through a step-by-step process that focuses on a given organ at a given time. Herbal teas are a gentle way to start but herbal tinctures, extracts, or capsules may pack more punch. Laxative herbs are generally used temporarily in varying amounts, until you’ve achieved regular bowel movements. No dietary changes are required but healthier choices can only help!
If you’re freaked about trying those strange and unusual hippy-dippy herbs at the health food store, then eliminating certain foods may be a more palatable approach. Removing constipating foods like cheese, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods is a good way to start. Replacing those said foods with whole grains, fresh produce, and plant-based protein will nourish your system while losing the excess gradually. In short, this is like adopting a vegan diet, so the results are not instantaneous but you can gradually clear out your system.
Raw Food Cleanse
Raw foods can be potent detoxers. Chocked full of vitamins, enzymes, and pure fiber, your body can’t help but let go of accumulated impurities in your body! Raw meals are more than smoothies and salads! There are nut-based dips, seed-based pates, and filling desserts to make your raw experience tasty and satisfying. Eating raw plant-based foods can even help enliven dull taste buds that have been saturated with overly salty or sweet foods. A recalibrated tongue can enjoy the natural sweetness of ripe fruit and the subtle taste of fresh veggies.
Sister to the Raw Food Cleanse, a Juice Cleanse is all that raw goodness in a glass. A quality extractor is essential for quality juices, especially for dense produce like carrots, apples, and beets- all staples in a juice cleanse. Some prefer the ease of juicing their fruits and vegetables, as opposed to chopping and prepping them. Also, juices are so easy to assimilate that your digestive system can literally take a vacation too! It’s always best to drink your juices freshly-pressed but for the busy, on-the-go folks, you can do large batches of juicing in advance, store your juices in glass jars (filled to the brim or covered in plastic wrap to prevent oxidation), and keep them refrigerated. A juice cleanse is very potent, so plan your outings appropriately.
Fasting is generally considered a religious rite but can be used for dietary aims, with or without the added spiritual ingredient. There are varied traditions of fasting but a common theme is abstention. Abstaining from food and/or drink for a period of time goes beyond giving your system a vacation; it’s a complete hibernation. The constant work of processing three daily meals, every single day, can be tiring and taxing for the system. This is why many advocate giving your system an occasional maintenance break to clear out any accumulated waste. In college, one of my engineering professors from China told me that he didn’t understand why Americans complicate good health. “It’s a simple mass balance: Output = Input + Accumulation. What you don’t eliminate is accumulating in your body”. My recent herbalism studies attest to the same. When waste accumulates in your system, this becomes the source of dis-ease. The waste has to go somewhere if it’s not being eliminated, so it may be forced to accumulate in our arteries or organs until it can be released. Some advise that a complete fast without water should not exceed 24 hours, but with water, can be done for up to three days.
For the nuances of how to cleanse, when to cleanse, and for how long, please consult a medical professional, herbalist, or holistic health counselor. Our bodies are unique, as are their needs. Some health conditions or predispositions may contraindicate the advice given herein, so be informed, be wise, and be well! J