“4 WEEKS TO YOUR BEST SELF”
“28 DAYS TO HEALTH”
“DETOX WITH YOUR DOCTOR”
You've probably seen ad headlines similar to the above. It seems that everyone is cleansing these days. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical at first because it seemed like my friends were either doing it for the wrong reasons ("I need to fit into a bathing suit for my trip to Hawaii") or they weren't really doing it right ("I'm doing the cleanse except that I'm drinking coffee, having a few glasses of wine, and sometimes eating bread"). Also, I have numerous friends who still have hundreds of dollars of unused cleanse supplement products just sitting in their cupboards. All of this led me to wonder whether cleansing was just the latest fad, a quick fix diet, or something really worth doing for our health.
(Although there are many different types of detox and cleanse programs, I am referring to an elimination diet type of cleanse rather than a fasting or liquid diet cleanse. I use the words detox and cleanse interchangeably.)
In my studies to get a Masters in Holistic Health, I took many nutrition classes and learned about the theory and practice of cleansing. I just wasn’t sure about how it was being executed for mass consumption. Working as a healthy living coach and writer, I decided it was time to try the cleanse myself to have a more informed opinion. Would I feel differently by having a personal experience with it?
I decided to try the cleanse for a few other reasons as well. At the time, my seasonal allergies were killing me. I couldn’t even go outside without suffering miserably. My friend, Liz, did a cleanse this past winter and she had no allergy symptoms this spring. She is typically sneezing with runny nose this time of year. It makes sense that detoxing can reduce our allergic response because if our body is overloaded with toxins, it reacts when presented with more. If I could reduce the toxic load in my body, maybe I wouldn’t have such a strong reaction to the spring allergens. Another reason I wanted to do the cleanse is because my diet was gradually getting a little more lax and a lot less mindful—a piece of bread here, a cookie there, and a Diet Coke here and there. I thought the cleanse might give me the structure I needed to get back on track.
I enlisted my husband, Dave, and friend, Christy, to join me in the detox adventure. Dave joined because he’s a sport of a husband, but also because he wanted to see if the cleanse could help with his fatigue, digestion, and nagging sports injury. Christy was interested because she had been talking about cleaning up her diet for over a month, but it just hadn’t happened. She eats pretty clean in general, but wanted to give her body a break from coffee and alcohol. She also liked the idea of detoxing from the happenings of everyday life.
There are a variety of reasons to do a detox program, including:
You may notice that I did not list "lose weight" as one of the reasons. It can be a nice by-product, but it should not be the driving force for doing a cleanse. The underlying purpose of doing a cleanse is to reduce the toxicity level in your body for an improvement in overall, long-term health. Even if we eat well, we still have toxins in our bodies from the beauty products we put on our skin, the cleaning products we use to tidy our house, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the medications we take, and so on.
Our detoxification organs, such as kidneys, liver, lungs, and skin, have a lot of work to do every day. Detoxification through special cleansing diets is the best way to assist our body’s natural self-cleaning system which can get overloaded and begin to store the toxins in our body. It is especially important for immune-compromised diseases like cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and chronic fatigue. However, even for those who do not have a pressing health issue, a cleanse can revitalize the body, ridding it of harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites—helping to prevent health complications down the road. Symptoms of toxicity include acne, brain fog, circles under the eyes, constipation, digestive problems, fatigue, headache, and the list goes on. Health issues related to toxicity include arthritis, chronic fatigue, leaky gut, and obesity.
Dina Colman, MA, MBA, is a healthy living coach and writer. She has her Master’s degree in Holistic Health Education from John F. Kennedy University and her MBA from Kellogg at Northwestern University. She founded Four Quadrant Living—a simpler, natural, more fun way to a healthier, happier, and energetic life. Four Quadrant Living provides information and motivation for healthy living through nourishment of the four quadrants of our lives—Mind, Body, Relationships, and Environment. Dina has a private practice, working with clients to help them create health in their lives by eating well, finding the fun in exercise, reducing stress, managing relationships, and creating a healthy environment. Dina is also writing a book about healthy living that will be published later this year. Contact Dina at firstname.lastname@example.org