Two months ago I wrote a post about the cleanse I designed for myself. I outline the steps I took, the foods I chose and why. If you want to check it out: Designing A Cleanse To Fit You. I enjoyed this cleanse so much and it was so easy that I decided (since it was designed for me) that I would do the cleanse two days a week, every week and see how it made me feel. After a month of this, I went down to one day a week. The question is: Is there any merit to this?
The problem is that there is little research on detoxing or “cleansing”. How do you research it and who would do it? Unless it is a cleanse product, there is no financial gain to measuring the results of juicing or fasting or just eating raw foods for a few days. I read an article this week called 10 Bogus Health Trends That Waste Your Time and one of the trends was cleansing. They were assessing it as a perceived weight loss method and it is true that a lot of its current popularity is the based on the perception that when you cleanse you lose weight (thanks to Beyonce, apparently). For anyone under that illusion, that is not why you cleanse. Cleaning is for aiding the removal of toxins.
However, they did state, which goes to the heart of the true reason for cleansing: “Your body doesn’t need a break from digestion in order to get rid of toxins. In fact, it’s a self-cleansing machine—trust that your liver, kidneys, and intestines will get the job done.”
The problem with this statement is that it assumes you can trust your kidney, liver and intestines. It’s assuming a perfect world scenario and does not recognize the wear and tear that goes on with our body and its organs and systems year after year, especially if we have been overindulging with a bad diet and lifestyle. The writers are presuming that they always work perfectly. We know this is not the case and we do not need research to tell us this as plenty of people develop issues with their kidneys, liver and intestines.
It is also not unreasonable to assume that those who develop serious health conditions did not just wake-up one day and have a health issue – the body progresses toward disease and the theory of cleansing sits soundly on the side of prevention. The key is to do it smartly and that is why I like my designer cleanse. It contains plenty of nutrients that support the liver and the detoxification process and has sustaining fats, carbs and protein. The foods are all raw, providing the necessary break for the digestive system and the extra energy for detoxification.
This brings us back to the question as to whether doing it one or two days a weeks has any benefit. The short answer is yes. First eating lighter for a day is always a good idea. We all often overindulge at some point during the week or get so busy we do not eat properly. Having a simple day of eating with nutrient-dense whole foods is a good idea. You may have heard the expression “A change is as good as a rest”. Well the body thinks so too and changing the diet even for a day can provide a much needed “rest”
Secondly, from a detoxification perspective, the foods in my cleanse all support the liver, kidneys and the intestines. That alone makes it worthwhile. What seems to be lost in the understanding of our detoxification system by those who see cleansing as a “trend”, is that we detox using nutritients and supplying the body foods with the right nutrients, beneficial to detoxing, is how the body “gets the job done”
Now we are not talking about water fasting here or doing the master cleanse, we are discussing the consumption of good quality foods as a cleanse. Doing it one or two days weeks is an easy way to support detoxification, and more importantly, by consuming food instead of juice, it is more sustainable especially in the winter months.
Doing a cleanse day, once a week, is an easy way to ease pressure on the body and speed detoxification. The liver, kidneys, and the intestines will like this as long as whatever you consume has phytonutrients, fibre and good bacteria. If you included raw foods that also have carbohydrates, fat and protein, then you and your body will feel sustained, allowing you to function.
If you eat whole foods as much as possible the rest of the time, there will be a cumulative benefit that you will see over time. I currently am finally feeling stronger and more energetic than I have in years. I still have a long way to go as I am trying to recover from physical injuries and years of bad habits and most importantly, unrelenting stress. But I am finally seeing progress. So, for me, it make sense to keep doing my cleanse one day a week to support the good habits I am currently following and to help me recover from the stress of the week and any days where I cannot control exactly what I eat. Give it a try. You might be surprised how this adds up for you in a few months.