Because we realize it’s a bit hard to understand the benefits, reasons and results of a cleanse we thought it best to ask our resident nutritionist and holistic health coach Jill Muhm-Glover and get the real answers.
Jill, what is the deal with all the spring cleanses/detoxes that I hear about everywhere? What exactly is a cleanse/detox and why are people so into them? Is it just a bunch of hype?
Jill: Great question! Yes, there is a lot of hype out there about cleanses! And there are a LOT of different types of cleanses to choose from. The basic idea behind a cleanse is to help the body do what it is meant to do – eliminate toxins. Every day we are exposed to toxins that find their way into the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. The body does its best to rid itself of these dangerous substances by excreting them through the lungs, liver, kidneys, skin, and bowels. Unfortunately, many times the toxic load we encounter is so great that those toxins don’t make it all the way out of the body. They get circulated back into the bloodstream and body tissues and many times deposited in our fat tissues. As these toxins accumulate in the body, they can become an underlying cause of a variety of health problems and obesity.
Once a toxin is stored in fatty tissue, the body will hold on to that fat as long as it can and many people find that they simply can not lose weight no matter how much they exercise until they go through the process of detoxing the body and expelling these toxins. If you find that you have a really hard time losing weight in your belly or thighs, it very well could be that you are storing some toxins there enclosed in a nice layer of fat to keep them from harming the rest of your body.
Spring is nature’s detoxification season. The heavy stores of winter no longer serve us, and nature presents us with a special harvest of bitter roots, sprouts, greens and berries to help detox any excess fats and proteins out of the system. According to Ayurveda and other healing philosophies, failing to detox properly during the seasonal transition may result in allergies, congestion, fatigue, depression, and/or weight gain during the spring months.
Here are some reasons people engage in a spring cleanse program:
- Weight loss
- Lifted, lighter mood
- Better Digestion
- More energy
- Curb Cravings
By eating clean, detoxing, or cleansing, you can give your body a break and allow it to finally get rid of those toxins that have been stored up over time. Many cleanses are designed to give your digestive system a rest which re-sets the metabolism and kick starts healthy, sustainable weight loss. You want to be very choosy however with the different cleanse programs. Some programs are based on liquids alone while others focus on eating whole foods. If you have never tried a cleanse before, I would suggest you find a program that is based on whole foods.
2) Give your immune system a spring break. 80% of our immune system lives in our intestines, and because of the damage caused by modern toxicity, it is constantly in a state of alert and in attack mode. There is a list of foods that really stir things up for the immune system and create a damaged intestine. Dairy, sugar, coffee, and gluten are the obvious culprits so I suggest you eliminate them from your diet for 1 week.
3) Cleanse your kitchen by eating with the seasons. Nature knows what it is doing. Any time of year, animals all over the planet are eating whatever is in grown locally and in season, and we’d be wise to do the same. Go to the farmer’s market, learn what is in season, and eat whole foods when they’re fresh and abundant.
4) Drink lots of water. Filtered water is best. Not distilled, unless you know what you are doing. Water with lemon is great for cleansing, as lemon is nature’s magic cleaner. In the spring, the ice melts and the rivers run strong. Imitate spring in your body with fresh water flowing through it constantly. Ideally you want to consume half of your body weight in ounces of water every day.