A health-focused guide to cleansing.
I’ve been doing a great deal of purging lately. Winter’s long-sleeved tops and bulky wool sweaters are being shed in favor of lighter cottons and linen fabrics. And thinning out my wardrobe has led to the rest of the house. Old magazines are being hauled to the recycling bin and I’m carting books off to Half Price. Pantry shelves will also get their annual deep clean. Even my Facebook friends list is taking a hit. Nothing is free from my wrath.
So it’s no surprise that I’m beginning to wonder if my body wouldn’t also benefit from a bit of a cleanse as well.
I start each day with three or four cups of coffee, I've never met a dessert I didn't like and with all of the restaurant dining I do for work, I eat really good quality food, although I consume my fair share of fat and calories — and probably a bit of everyone else’s as well. Add to that hearty, rib-sticking dishes whipped up on cold winter nights, typical holiday binging and my two-week trip to Spain with its ham-heavy diet, and the beach vacation on the calendar with its requisite bikinis is beginning to look ominously close and panic is setting in.
But when I say “cleanse,” I certainly don’t mean one of those insane “drink gobs of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, lose 25 pounds in a week” types of nonsense I see splashed on the web and on the cover of almost every tabloid. I’ve gleaned enough about nutrition over the years to know that quick fix “plans” aren’t based on real science at all. They’re simply stopgap measures that can be seriously detrimental to your health. What I’m talking about as far as cleansing is lighter eating — less meat, more fruits and vegetables — with maybe a bit of a jumpstart at the beginning.
Jennifer Kagy, a locally based certified holistic health and nutrition coach totally agrees. I checked in with Kagy to make sure I was on the right path before starting my cleanse. (Calling your doctor or a nutritionist is something you should do if you’re planning any major diet or exercise change.) I wanted to get her feedback on the idea of cleanses in general — after all, since they are everywhere, maybe there’s something good about them I don’t know about — as well as some ideas to “clean-up” my own eating plan. It turns out I was spot on as far as nutrition, but did have a few things to learn.
“As far as those types of so-called ‘Master Cleanses’ go, they’re crazy and nonsensical,” Kagy says. “Those things are really not good for you. You get nothing [nutritionally] from them and when you’re done, you go back to eating crap. And, not only do they offer you nothing nutritionally, they also strip your body of good things.”
Kagy, who subscribes to the concept of enacting meaningful, manageable and permanent lifestyle changes, suggests that, “If you really feel as if you need to cleanse and want to do just one thing, get up in the morning and drink one glass of room-temperature water and do a shot of two tablespoons organic, cold-pressed olive oil with the juice of half an organic lemon. This flushes out all of the toxins from your liver, gets your bowels moving and helps to cleanse your lymphatic system.” She also suggests drinking a lot of warm water in general, as most people are dehydrated and don’t even know it.
For those who feel that they’re game for an even bigger commitment, Kagy suggests the program put together by Dr. Mark Hyman, a general practitioner located in Massachusetts, and television doctor Mehmet Oz. Dr. Hyman and Dr. Oz created a three day detox cleanse based on whole foods that feed your body the nutrition it needs while supporting your organs. It claims to: “Reset your hormones and detoxify your body.”
There are no processed foods allowed and caffeine and sugar are no-nos as well. The plan consists of ingredients that are affordable, available in any grocery store and features nut butters, plant-based shakes, green tea, vitamin supplements and, my favorite part, an evening bath laced with lavender oil. I’m not quite sure if that’s a worthy replacement for my coffee addiction, but for three days and a healthier me, I’m willing to try almost anything.
While I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater unless I’m on vacation, I do agree with the notion that it’s important to start the day with some nutrition other than my daily jolt of caffeine. The cleanse recommended by nutritionist Kagy features three different smoothies, and although this particular one is meant to be for dinner, the hearty dose of fresh fruit suits me as more of a morning beverage.
Visit Kagy’s website at jennkagyhealthyme.com and doctoroz.com to find the ingredients and instructions for the “Three Day Detox Cleanse” Kagy recommends.
DETOX CLEANSE SMOOTHIE
½ cup mango
1 cup blueberries
1 ½ cups coconut water
1 cup kale
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. flax seed
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately. Makes one serving.
Photo by Jesse Fox