New Year, New Cleanse

(published in Island Eye News)

The word “cleanse” is a buzzword. We hear it in the media from celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyoncé. The word invokes images of juices, powdered concoctions and frequent trips to the bathroom. For some it seems ridiculous. For others, it may seem glamorous, like a surefire fix when you need weight loss and clear skin for a red carpet event.

But what is a cleanse, really? And who needs a cleanse, really?

The word “cleanse” conjures up so many different images because there isn’t a unified definition of cleanse. People promote whole body cleanses, bowel cleanses, juice cleanses, raw foods only, and water cleanses. One of my professors used to say that a cleanse is different for everyone, depending on where they are in their health journey. For one of his patients, an older gentleman without much regard to his health at all, a cleanse meant stopping the nightly box of Oreos and starting to walk 2 times per week. All of this variety leaves the public confused about whether or not they need a cleanse.

In my practice, a cleanse is a concerted effort to eat and live in a way that supports health and vitality. It is about making conscious choices and being aware of how the foods, activities and environmental exposures affect every aspect of your health. It is about learning how to eat clean, unprocessed foods and eliminate inflammatory foods that cause vague symptoms like, fatigue, headaches, gas/ bloat, weight gain, allergies and skin issues. It is a learning process- food affects every aspect health.

Each one of us needs a cleanse because each one of us carries a body burden load. Body burden or toxic burden is the term scientists give to measure the amount of environmental chemicals found in the body. With increasingly high levels of daily chemical exposure, from the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the chemicals we put on our skin, everyone has a body burden. As far as you can get from your body burden, or toxic load, the better you will feel.  A cleanse is about learning ways to reduce your body burden, creating a new and lasting level of health.

I recommend a cleanse, like the one I have described, at the change of each season, ideally 4 times per year.  We all get off track and this is a great way to help you re-focus and re-establish your health goals. Remember, a cleanse does not have to be extreme and it definitely does not have to be a “celebrity fad”  diet.  Choose a cleanse that has been around while, time tested with exciting testimonials. Make sure the cleanse offers support and guidance throughout and make sure it is something that makes sense to you. After all, you want to be healthy for a lifetime, not just for a red-carpet event!

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