To cleanse or not to cleanse….That is the question.
One of the more common questions that patients ask me is “Should I cleanse?” And, if so “What cleanse do you recommend?” I have a personal rule that I won’t recommend anything to my patients that I haven’t tried myself. Over the past fifteen years I have tried several cleanses, including the Master Cleanse, the Fast Track Detox cleanse, the Watermelon Cleanse, a Gallbladder Cleanse, and many different protein drink-type cleanses. The challenge with many of these cleanses is not so much doing the cleanse (although that can be a challenge), but how to reintegrate your “normal” food back into your digestive tract. You can feel fabulous while you cleanse, but if you are drinking a special cleansing shake/drink for 10 days, it can take several weeks to a month for your body to feel like it is digesting food properly again. I especially noticed this with people who do the Master Cleanse.
In my opinion, cleansing is a very personal decision. No one can tell you to do it. You have to REALLY crave a cleanse. You need to be highly motivated to make a change in your health. Because of that, I have been a little gun shy to recommend cleanses to people. It’s difficult for me to prescribe a cleanse. You have to really want it. Recently, two things happened that made me change my mind on cleanses. The first one was a movie called “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” which is a story about a man whose lifestyle and bad food habits were literally killing him. After being fed up with all the medications he was taking and getting very little result, he decided to take his health into his own hands. For 60 days he drank nothing but fruits and vegetables. His results were remarkable! Not only did he lose weight, he got off his medications and massively turned his health around. All of this came from drinking fruits and vegetables. What I love about this movie is that it is a very simple concept that I preach daily in my office: less processed foods, more fruits and vegetables. It is a very inspirational movie and, if you have any desire to cleanse, I highly recommend you watch it.
The second thing that changed my mind on cleansing is the staggering statistics on how our poor eating habits are the cause of 80% of all chronic illnesses in our country (including most cancers), and the overwhelming number of my patients who are waking up to this fact and seeking more information on what they can do nutritionally to avoid certain diseases. I have another personal rule: when people reach out to me with a desire to live a healthier life, it is my mission to help assist them on that journey.
So two weeks ago, as an office, we did a five day fruit and vegetable cleanse. It’s called the Reboot Express Cleanse. We had over twenty people participate. It was simple, not always easy, but the results were huge. The options for food were vast. It required that we cook more and constantly eat so our energy did not dip. What I witnessed over these five days was that it required people to reach for healthy alternatives throughout their day. They couldn’t reach for a Starbucks at 3 o’clock when their energy dipped. Instead they looked to good, nutritious food to help boost their energy. Patients pointed out to me how acutely aware they became of the bad food choices they normally made and how great they felt replacing them with an apple or carrot. Some people discovered how much they loved fresh vegetable juice and how much energy it gave them after they drank a glass. Many people were more committed to cooking in their kitchens and discovered some new recipes that they will continue to use long after the cleanse. My son and I invented a new recipe called the sweet potato taco. The reward for several people was the feeling of pride they had about themselves for accomplishing such a feat. Most everyone dropped weight and enjoyed the benefits of feeling lighter. I also noticed that people had a healthy glow to them at the end of the five days. Was it all the good nutrients with which they had just saturated their bodies? Or was it the incredible feeling one gets when you know you are doing something great for your health? Whatever the reason, I saw twenty healthier people at the end of the five days. Many of those people implemented new, healthy habits that will stick with them for years to come.
Who should go on a cleanse? In my opinion, anyone who is looking for a change in their health could use a cleanse. If you have reached that point where you are sick and tired of how you feel, then a cleanse is a great option for you. If you have just come off a holiday or vacation and have overindulged, cleansing is a great break to give to your body. If you are on several medications and feel like you are getting sicker as the years go by, ABSOLUTELY try a cleanse. Cleanses are also great for people who are trying to lose weight and feel like their metabolism is stuck. If you plan on following healthy eating habits after the cleanse, then go for it and cleanse a couple of days to reignite your metabolism. And perhaps the best reason to go on a cleanse is to get a fresh start on implementing new healthy habits into your life. It’s like a clean slate for your body. Just remember: it’s what you give your body after the cleanse that will determine your health for the future.
What type of cleanse should you do? I strongly urge you pick a cleanse that teaches you good eating habits. We did the Reboot Cleanse and you can find all the info you need about that cleanse at www.jointhereboot.com. We did the Reboot Express, which was 5 days long. They also have a cleanse that goes 15 days. That requires 5 days of juice fasting. Although that may sound challenging, I know several people who have done the 15 day cleanse and felt fantastic.
How should you expect to feel on a cleanse? It depends on your eating habits prior to the cleanse. If you currently eat a lot of processed foods, sugar, alcohol, or caffeine, the first few days may be challenging. What I like about the Reboot cleanse is that they recommend you do a pre-cleanse the week before and remove those items from your diet. I strongly recommend this!! It will make your cleanse more enjoyable. In general, you will have highs and lows on a cleanse. Some moments you will feel fantastic, and other moments you may feel tired and irritable. If you hang onto a cleanse long enough, you should feel more energy, feel lighter, and even feel euphoric.
What’s the best way to succeed at a cleanse? Surround yourself with people who support you. I loved doing this cleanse with our Family Life Chiropractic community. It was fun to go into the office everyday and hear the process everyone was going through. We gave each other ideas and cheered each other on. We also were accountable to each other, which can be extremely helpful during the tough moments of a cleanse. We also chose to do it Monday through Friday, when we were the busiest and couldn’t be distracted by social gatherings or downtime that might let our brains decide to give up.
No matter which cleanse you choose, anytime you take a few days to commit to being a healthier you is a win for your body.