Why I Do A Detox Cleansing Fast To Improve My Health

Cynthia Bailey, MD|March 2, 2010

BokChoyThe first time I did a real cleansing fast the results were extraordinary! I did a 3 week fast as an act of desperation; at the time I was struggling with pain from degenerative joint problems and on the brink of taking time off from my medical practice to figure out what to do.  One of the alternative health practitioners I know here in Northern California (of which there are of course many) encouraged me to try a cleansing fast first.  Instead of phoning my disability insurance agent, I did a 3 week cleanse.  By day 5 of the cleanse, I was absolutely and totally pain free! I slept through the night without being woken up with pain, I could bend over without pain, nothing ached-frankly it was a surprising and welcome miracle. At that point, I knew my musculoskelatal pain problem was somehow related to my diet.  Apparently my pain was caused by something reversible that was happening around my degenerative joint areas (probably inflammation) and not the structural joint issues themselves.  This was 2 years ago and since then I’ve been able to turn my pain on or off like a light switch with my diet. I’ve worked hard to figure out what dietary choices bother me and what I can tolerate.  Pain is highly motivational and I’m pretty dedicated to maintaining a diet that controls my pain.  (I’ve posted some of what I’ve learned in prior blog posts) I’m not perfect at avoiding foods that trigger my pain however, so doing a shorter cleansing ‘detox’ fast is a good way for me to reset my body. It’s much like how cleaning out my garden shed or cleaning out my email box keeps me focused and productive.  I sustain a cleanse for anywhere from 1 day to 3 weeks. I do a short cleanse when I feel like my body needs it and I always feel better afterwords.  I'm out of the office this week and I've decided to use the time to do a 1 week cleanse.  For the past 5 weeks I've been working on upping my cardio work out plus sticking to my Alkaline Mediterranean diet plan and the boost I get from a cleanse will be nice.  See my Post Holiday BMI Shocker post. These days it's trendy to talk about ‘detoxing’ and ‘doing a cleanse’.  The terms are loosely used and poorly understood.  As I see it, the necessary components of a detox cleanse are:

  1. Consuming nothing that your body is troubled by
  2. Eating only simple vegetables that don't cause spikes in blood sugar, are organic and fresh so that your body can reset itself
  3. Adding supporting herbal supplements and treatments to help your body flush out any troublesome byproducts from consuming troublesome things in the past

This last point is highly controversial among my traditional medicine colleagues where the general view is that the liver and the kidneys do just fine at getting bad things out of us.  I think extreme examples of  consumption based diseases like gout and high blood pressure make it pretty obvious that our bodies do vary in how completely we're able to process and eliminate what we consume. The cleansing program that I'm doing right now During my detox cleansing fast I only consume highly concentrated and nutritious organic vegetables.  I use support herbs and a few other products to theoretically help ‘get bad things’ out of my body.  I chose the method and picked the supporting products after investigating many of the resources and products that claim to support the body in cleansing. The supplies and information resources I use for my detox cleanse are:

  • I used The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox as a guide and modified their recommendations (I bought the book and recommend anyone thinking about doing a similar cleanse buy it and read it first)
  • I chose not to buy the Martha’s Vineyard Detox supplies. Instead I went to my local Whole Foods Market and selected the following items based on reading the labels and talking with the Whole Foods staff about product quality.
  • The products I use are:
  1. 100% pure mangosteen juice or 100% pure Acai Berry juice produced by Genesis Today
  2. Whole Leaf Aloe Vera Concentrate by Aloe Life
  3. Digestive Enzyme capsules (Wholezyme made by Whole Foods)
  4. Detox herbal support supplements called CleanseSmart Advanced Total-Body Internal Cleanse by RenewLife
  5. Green Drink powder called Barlean’s Greens by Barlean’s Organic Oils
  6. Lots of organic veggies in a rainbow of colors
  7. Lots of organic herb teas  including nettle leaf tea (which is supposed to help with detox), Yogi brand DeTox teas and my usual mint tea, chamomile tea etc.

The actual cleanse schedule:

  • First thing in the morning I take one of the CleanseSmart herbal supplement (the morning formula), have a 1 oz. shot of the mangosteen in 12 oz of water and have my usual pot of organic green tea (I try not to have soy milk)
  • Midmorning I have a green drink made with a heaping tablespoon of the Barlean’s Green Powder in 12 oz water
  • At noon I have 8 to 12 oz of freshly juiced veggies (see below) and an enzyme capsule
  • Mid afternoon I have another green drink
  • Late afternoon I have another shot of mangosteen in 12 oz water
  • For dinner I make a boiled soup (see below) and have an enzyme capsules
  • At bedtime I have the evening formula CleanseSmart herbal supplement and 1 tbs of the aloe vera concentrate in 12 oz water
  • All day long I have lots of organic herb tea and many glasses of water.

Preparing fresh veggie juice: The veggies I use for juicing always include carrots, celery and kale.  I also juice beets, fresh sprouts, and parsley.  You can juice just about any veggie, but some taste bitter.  Carrot juice is sweet and tastes good, so I always include carrots.  Beets are yummy but have to be cut and the juice will stain so I don’t always do them.  Veggies should always be organic, fresh and washed well.  I always drink the juice fresh.  If I can’t make it myself, I go to Whole Foods and have them make it.  I also occasionally do a separate shot of wheat grass, which I really dislike but it’s apparently good for me. Preparing the veggie soup: For the veggie soup, I boil about 3 cups of water and throw in whatever veggie I have.  I always use onions, carrots and celery.  Other options include cabbage, kale, beet greens, dakon radish, green beans, or whatever is growing in my garden or looks good in the fresh produce section at the store.  I sometimes add curry powder, herbs or other spices but I try not to add much salt since that’s one of the things that’s nice to clean out of the body.  Towards the end of the fast, or if I’m really getting desperate I’ll add frozen soy beans, dried lentils, potatoes or a low glycemic grain like add rice, quinoa, millet or amaranth to my soup.  I have as much of the soup as I want and I don’t puree it. Soup ingredients Additional considerations when doing a cleanse My cleansing detox fast is very alkaline for the body.  Eating alkaline foods are one of the important ways I keep my body feeling good.  I outlined the benefits of alkaline foods in my posts on the Alkaline Mediterranean Diet. While I’m doing a cleanse, I don’t have fruit, except to occasionally squirt fresh lemon juice into a glass of water. I don't do vigorous exercise while I’m doing a cleanse. Doing an intense cardio workout or maintaining a tough work schedule is difficult with so little food energy so I don't try to do either.  Fasting is a nice time to rest and spend time in contemplative activities, allowing the body to function on less fuel. The Martha’s Vineyard Detox Diet book recommends doing some additional alternative therapies during a cleanse to support the detox process.  I do some of these such as having a massage to enhance lymphatic drainage.  The book also recommends enemas and colonic therapy and I’m not going to tell you if I avail myself of those options but there are some good reasons why they would be beneficial. Of course, no one who is frail or has serious health problems should ever do a fast, cleanse or ‘detox’ without their physician’s supervision. All of the supplies I list can be found on their companies web sites.  Your natural food store may be able to order them if they don't normally stock them.  The Martha’s Vineyard Diet Detox book is also called 21 Pounds in 21 Days.  As the name states, you will lose weight doing a detox cleansing fast.   The book is written by Roni DeLuz RN,ND and can be ordered from mvdietdetox.com or from Amazon. I'd love your comments-please send me your detox cleanse thoughts and your diet/health stories. Photo attribution:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/34547181@N00/ / CC BY-ND 2.0

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