September is a time for new beginnings and routines as we come off of summer holidays. In the Jewish religion, September signifies a new year and a cleanse of the old year with the holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 10 days after the New Year is celebrated (5774 this year!), a 24-hour fast is observed in order to cleanse the body and soul from any wrong doings over the previous year. Perhaps part of the tradition spurred out of an innate understanding that a yearly detox or cleanse is exactly what the body needs in order to feel energized and strong and prepare for cold and flu season.
Fall and spring are often recommended as the best times of year to go on a cleanse. The purpose of a cleanse is individual but has common goals of resetting the body into better patterns, removal of excess toxins and improvement of metabolism. When eating patterns are disrupted over summer and indulgences are made, it can at times be difficult to return to healthy routines. This is where a primarily diet-based cleanse comes in. By going back to basics and removing the foods that are most likely to cause inflammation in the body, we can reset the digestive system in 3 weeks. It takes roughly 3 weeks for the immune system to settle down and shift focus from primarily the gut to other areas in need of protection.
Cleanses are best developed to be specific to an individual with their health and overall goals in mind. Protocols involve the use of supplements as well as dietary restrictions, addition of exercise and proper sleep habits. The basic guidelines that I prescribe and follow myself bi-annually are as follows:
- Remove foods from the diet that can lead to inflammation for 3 weeks. This includes dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, tomatoes, sugar (all forms except fruit), red meat, high mercury fish, corn, coffee and alcohol. If there are known food sensitivities, these should not be consumed either.
- Exercise. Move that body! While toxins are being released from storage in fat cells, it is important to increase circulation and metabolism by working out. As a guideline, 4-5 days a week of mixed cardio and strength training for 45 min – 1 hour is recommended. Those with specific medical conditions may be advised differently.
- Stress reduction. The stress hormone cortisol can slow down metabolism by blocking thyroid hormones and add to abdominal weight accumulation. Using stress-lowering techniques such as journaling, reading, yoga, meditation and walking can all contribute to an improved stress response by the body. If life is too busy, try scheduling in a half-hour per day just for you.
- Sleep. Maintaining a sleep routine will help the body’s natural ability to function optimally. Taking a break from screens an hour before bedtime and sleeping in a dark room will enhance the hormone melatonin to aid with sleep.
- Fibre. If your bowels are not moving regularly, your body will re-absorb the toxins that have been released and put them back into storage. Ensuring that your diet is full of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and additional fibre such as psyllium husks will help promote daily bowel movements.
- Supplements. A detox smoothie 1- 2 times per day will provide vitamins, minerals and herbs that improve the liver’s ability to breakdown and remove toxins from the body. Some of the most powerful liver herbs include curcumin (from the spice tumeric), milk thistle, artichoke, burdock and dandelion roots. These pre-made powders are available at the clinic from professional-grade supplement companies. At times, a B-Complex, fish oil, probiotics and additional herbs may be recommended for individual protocols. IV Vitamins can also enhance the detoxification process.
What will you gain? A sense of energy, reduction of sugar cravings, perhaps some weight loss, better skin, reduced headaches, reduced abdominal pain/gas/bloating and empowerment of your own health. What are you waiting for? Please feel free to comment or ask questions about your previous experiences on a cleanse and consider booking an appointment to have an individualized cleanse developed for your health needs.