So I decided this morning to start a 21 day cleanse. Why? Well, during my nutrition studies I learned a lot about detoxing but have never actually done one! Fancy coming on this journey with me? Whether you decide to do a cleanse or not, over the next three weeks I'll be sharing with you:
- Why people do cleanses
- How to tackle a cleanse
- The challenges you may encounter (eg how to eat out when on a cleanse)
- How it makes you feel
- Cleanse friendly recipes (sign up to receive my free newsletter to get these!)
- Whether it was worth it!
What is a cleanse?
Ok so first off, a detox and a cleanse are the same thing (well as far as I can tell!), but I'm using the word cleanse. Cleanses are designed to remove toxins from our bodies and provide us with the tools we need to embark on healthier lifestyle choices.
"What toxins?" you might say.
Well, we consume toxins all the time. In the food we eat (yup, those clever pesticides that keep the bugs off our food... well they're not so hot for us either), and the hormones and antibiotics they give the animals we eat to make them big and strong... well, they go straight from the animals into our own bodies. Gross huh?
There are toxins in the air we breath. There are toxins in the deodorants we use, the make up we put on in the morning, the cleaning products we buy... the list goes on!
So, even though some may say I don't need to do a cleanse becuase I'm pretty healthy when it comes to food, there are years worth of toxins in my body that I'd like to get rid of thank you very much!
The cleanse I'm following is from Dr. Alejandro Junger's book The Clean Gut. Dr. Junger is a Functional medicine doctor, and just like Dr. Frank Lipman, Dr. Mark Hyman (both of whom taught me when at IIN) and Dr. Jeffrey Bland, he believes that the body should be treated and healed as a whole, rather than in it's individual parts. Let me give you an example.
If you had a rash on your arm your GP might refer you to a dermatologist (a skin specialist), or if you were having trouble with your vision, you may be referred to optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye specialists). These doctors are of course experts in their field, but Dr. Junger and other Functional medicine practitioners believe that when we have an disease or illness - of any kind - our body is trying to tell us that something is wrong, something much deeper than the symptoms we can see on the surface, something in our roots, something in our gut:
"Before chronic disease, there is inflammation; but before inflammation comes gut dysfunction. Anti-inflammation treatments help, but gut repair corrects the problem right at its source." (Clean Gut, Dr. Alejandro Junger, Chapter 1 - full chapter available to read online)
Functional medicine and gut health
Phrases like "follow your gut" have been around for centuries, and there's no denying that when we're unsure about which path to take, our 'gut feeling' often leads us in the right direction. Alongside ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, Functional medicine has long believed the gut is your second brain, and that it's health is directly linked to the health of our mental and physical beings. Modern medicine also shows direct links between the two.
So what would a Functional medicine doctor say about a rash? They would probably ask you a ton of questions about your birth, events in your childhood, the health of your parents, where you live, the diet you eat, what job you do, what your commute is like, whether you're in a relationship, what that relationship is like, and so on. Pretty different to your GP huh?! This is because in Functional medicine every person is an individual, should be treated as such, and diagnoses are based on much more than the surface level problem (ie on the skin in this instance).
As the quote from The Clean Gut says above, before chronic illnesses comes inflammation, and before inflammation comes poor gut health. Repairing gut health is the primary course of action for many Functional medicine practitioners, and has helped millions of people across the world recover from 'incurable' chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, alzheimer's, colitis, depression, and so many more. Because repairing gut health alleviates so many symptoms and illnesses, what remains can then be treated accordingly.
This approach to health absolutely fascinates me. It's so far removed from "a pill for an ill", and takes into account an individual's life circumstances, rather than treating every illness in the same way. It just makes so munch sense, don't you think?!
The Clean Gut Programme
The Clean Gut programme (and other cleanses based on Functional medicine) is broken into four phases:
- Remove (toxins)
- Replace (nutrients through diet and supplements)
- Reinoculate (vaccinate with good bacteria)
- Repair (intestinal wall)
As I go through each of these stages on my 21 day cleanse, I will explain to you:
- What they mean
- Why they're important
- What foods I'm eating
- How it's making me feel
The Week Ahead
Even though we eat pretty 'clean' in our house, I'm already missing my morning coffee and have already had sugar craving number one! Yesterday I would have grabbed a date with some nut butter, an apple or banana, but only the nut butter is allowed on this cleanse! But that's ok. I just ate a load (probably more than I should have) out of the jar.
Other struggles I can already foresee will be red wine over the weekend, particularly as we're out for dinner with friends on Saturday night (argh!), afternoon cuppas, yoghurt with honey and nuts after dinner, and my delicious home made raw treats which often use maple syrup or dates in them (nooooo!)
I'm looking forward to adapting my recipes to fit with the cleanse though, and I'm certain there will be some tough times ahead in terms of planning meals, cooking and of course the detox effect itself... that will be interesting for sure!
I'll be sharing my cleanse friendly recipes with Live Yama subscribers so make sure you pass this on to any friends or family who you think may benefit.
Ok, wish me luck, and if you join me - whether today or a week down the line (go on you can do this!) - let me know how you're finding it, which recipes you like best and what tips you'd give others who are thinking of doing the same.
Peace out, namaste and all the jazz,
Abi Manders is a mum, nutrition and health coach, yoga teacher, business woman and complete and utter foodie. In a previous life Abi ran global corporate events, operated at a million miles an hour and used yoga to find balance in this crazy world we live in. Since having her little boy and studying with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, her journey has veered towards a healthier way of living through diet and lifestyle. Abi believes we all have the power to heal ourselves, and that one step at a time, without judging ourselves or others, we can make better choices that will nourish our souls and help us live yama (be the best version of ourselves).