Why Spring Cleanse?
Recently a student sent me a great list of questions about my upcoming Spring Cleanse, and I answered:
I’m not entirely sure of the purpose(s) of a cleanse…could you please explain?
Most of us take in far more food/emotions/experience than we can fully digest or integrate in the moment. If we don’t eliminate this undigested “stuff” it gets pushed deep into our body (fat cells especially) as acidic waste. This waste causes problems in the form of excess weight, mucous, inflammation, joint pain, constipation, poor digestion, depression, anxiety, mental fogginess etc. Cleansing twice a year using an alkalizing, easily digested diet helps move this waste out of our body so we feel better in many ways. We also do a specific liver-gall bladder cleanse to help with post-cleanse digestion (which aids waste elimination and thus reduces waste buildup.)
Also, exactly what will be my body’s experience of this, in a general sense… literally, what happens?
Your body starts to detox when it has little else to do, and especially when you stop putting toxic substances into it. A cleansing diet is purposefully very bland and easily digested so that your body can direct maximum effort into digesting older stored waste. The easiest way to start the detox process is to stop eating common toxic-waste producing foods such as caffeine, gluten, dairy, processed fats, refined sugars, dense acidifying proteins etc. Literally what is happening is your body moves stored acidic waste from your fat cells into your digestive tract where it can be eliminated.
Am I likely to experience fatigue/weakness/lethargy during the cleanse that might change my ability to perform well in my workplace?
It is possible to detox so rapidly that the body cannot eliminate the waste that is brought-up fast enough and as a result you can feel terrible. This is why, for example, coffee drinkers often feel miserable when they quit cold turkey, but feel ok when they wean themselves off slowly. The most effective cleanse helps your body release waste at the same rate that it can eliminate it. Thus, if you are experiencing uncomfortable cleanse reactions (excess fatigue, weakness, or headaches) I recommend you add in specific heavier foods to slow the detox process down, while at the same time you can speed up elimination by drinking more water, using mild laxative herbs, or trying an enema. There is no reason to be calorie hungry during a cleanse. However you might feel “stimulant” hungry, especially while you get used to eating only three meals a day. Your body does use a good amount of energy to detox – it is best to get lots of sleep and to avoid vigorous exercise while you are cleansing.
Has it been your experience that working people are able to fit this routine into their lives relatively easily?
Yes, especially if you choose a mono-diet plan, then you are just cooking once a day and you can bring your meals with you in a thermos or jar. I find that people do best when they detox at the rate that their lifestyle permits – trying to aggressively detox while maintaining a full daily schedule doesn’t usually end well. If we have the luxury of easing-up on our schedule and eating a light diet of lovingly prepared meals our body will respond by letting go of more stuff. If we maintain a full schedule and don’t have enough time to cook (so maybe we end up eating prepared food, or even junk food) while we are on a cleanse, that’s ok, we’ll still be detoxing, it’ll just be at a slower rate. I really encourage people not to underestimate the value of a slower cleanse. For many of us it is the only option right now and it is still absolutely worth doing.
And…I’m (fortunately) a healthy, energetic person. Feeling well is fairly typical for me. While it is not based in Ayurveda or any other specific system, I believe that my diet is a healthful one. Could you say a bit about why the cleanse is a good idea for someone like me?
In general, even on a very good diet, we take in more than we can handle – emotionally and physically. Add to that the heavy burden of environmental toxins in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the electronic, EMF-filled environment we live in, plus the daily stress of modern life, and most of us have something to loose. In Ayurveda this excess undigested stuff is called Ama, and it blocks our natural intelligence – the light or “Agni” that fuels our innate knowing of the infinite freedom that is our essential nature. Cleansing is a way of creating space for more of the stuff we want in our life.
Also, at the risk of offending you (and many of my friends) I argue that many of the popular modern American concepts of “health”, “health food”, and “healthy eating habits” are terribly misguided and harmful to our wellbeing. I use my cleanses as a forum to debunk some of these poorly founded (though widely accepted) health food myths. (I give you the evidence or the original studies in their original context so you can decide for yourself.)
Ayurveda refers to the following physiological cues as evidence that one has good strong Agni and very little Ama:
- You sleep well and wake up light-hearted and refreshed.
- You have an easy and complete bowel movement first thing each morning.
- Your skin and eyes are shiny and clear.
- Your breath is clear and fresh smelling.
- Your tongue is pink and plump (versus coated with white gunk, thin, trembling or slimy).
- You have a good amount of energy and you can relax.
- You have a proper balance of muscle, bone and fat.
- Your body feels supple and resilient.
- You are snot and allergy free
- Your digestion is efficient and thorough (no bloating or acid reflux)
- You eat in sync with the seasons and your environment.
- You naturally desire all six tastes (you do not consistently crave one or two tastes more than others.)
“Out of trillions of organisms that were alive at the beginning of time, are
alive now and will be alive at the end of time, only one tampers with its
food. You do not want to bet against those kinds of odds.” ― David Wolfe