Our livers, kidneys, lymph glands, and skin often work overtime to keep us healthy. An occasional break from the daily grind of food preparation and digestion can give them a chance to do even more.
This excerpt from Coming Clean: A Conscious Guide to Food Cleanses originally appeared at Reality Sandwich. The book, which offers information on various cleanses, was released by Evolver Health e-books, a new series of novella-length digital titles.
The Oxford dictionary definition of “cleanse” is “to make something thoroughly clean or to rid (a person, place or thing) of something seen as unpleasant, unwanted or defiling.” You can think of it as a clean-up, a tune-up or even a clearing out. A cleanse is simply meant to free your body of the unwanted accumulation of food, toxins, etc. It’s an opportunity to do right by your body, especially if you don’t treat it well on a daily basis.
One way to
look at toxic accumulation is from the perspective of a car. You would never
put soda in your car engine and expect the car to run. So why would you put
junk food in your body day after day and expect it to stay healthy? When you
use the wrong fuel, eventually you will need to clean out the system.
A cleanse can bring attention to areas of your life that you’ve been neglecting. When you lighten up on food and beverages, you ease the digestive process, allowing for more time to rest and reset. With this extra time and freedom, the body can work on a deeper level to cleanse, heal and give you more energy. It’s a way to help your body run better and feel cleaner. For many detox enthusiasts, cleansing is considered routine maintenance. We put all kinds of crazy foods, drinks and chemical into our bodies knowingly or unknowingly and more or less hope for the best. The body may not react initially but with time it speaks out through an array of health problems ranging from weight gain to exhaustion to disease. And even for those on a healthier kick with food, you may still be struggling with caffeine, alcohol, sugar or other drug-like substances in your diet. How’s it going with sleep and stress levels? Is your water from a fresh spring or from a plastic bottle with a picture of a fresh spring? Even before the world was so toxic, fasting and cleansing were part of the human experience. In Siddhartha, Herman Hesse wrote, “When a person has nothing to eat, fasting is the smartest thing he could do.”
Hunter-gatherers fasted between feasts. Jesus, Gandhi, Plato and Socrates all fasted for greater peace and awareness. Ancient cultures around the world, especially in India and China, have used detoxing to rest and relieve the body from illness for centuries. Most spiritual traditions have fasting rituals, especially during high holy days or at certain times of the year like Lent, Ramadan and Yom Kippur. Mormons fast on the first Sunday of each month to feel closer to god or to ask for help on a specific issue. Hindus typically fast on the New Moon and during festivals like Shivaratri and Durga Puja.
Before we had modern medical techniques, we had to rely on the body’s natural healing system. Detoxing is one way to enhance the system. Our bodies are already designed to detoxify every day. Our colon, liver, kidneys, lymph glands and even skin work hard to keep everything moving through. But an overload of foods, chemicals or some combination can clog the natural process. So while it might look more extravagant these days with expensive juice programs or ads for fancy supplements, we have a long history of helping the body detoxify. But the need for cleansing has never been greater.
Read the rest of this article at Reality Sandwich.
Suzanne Boothby is a health writer, speaker and regular cleanser. Her first e-book, The After Cancer Diet: How to Live Healthier Than Ever Before, empowers cancer thrivers to improve their health through simple and sustainable diet and lifestyle changes. She also co-wrote Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness with Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.