Detox to the Rescue: A Winter Cleanse

Many of us put on a pound or five over the holidays... Do you feel a like a sausage squeezed into your clothes? Most of us indulge in the delectable offerings of the season, usually laden with saturated fats, dairy, sugar, and white flour. In excess, these foods create congestion or metabolic waste that leaves us feeling sluggish, heavy, bloated, tired, achy, irritable, and/or depressed. Just as our automobile perks up after a tune-up, we can revitalize with a detox.

Whether you call it cleansing, detox, purification, or fasting, eliminating metabolic waste from the body is an ancient practice. All of the major religions include some form of fasting as a vehicle for well-being and spiritual awakening.

Fasting has a profound effect on all levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Increased vitality, mental clarity, and weight loss are typical detox results. Fasters often experience lasting relief from allergies, arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches, and addictions to sugar, caffeine, and nicotine as well as gaining deeper insight and a sense of joy. Fasting is considered by many to be the single most effective method of healing chronic disease.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that while your body is sloughing off congestion, you may experience headaches, light-headedness, weakness, extreme fatigue, nausea, and/or emotional release. This is why a cleanse is best undertaken when you can rest and do not need to drive or work.

Just as with diet and nutrition, there are varied opinions as to the best detox protocol. Total abstinence from food and drink is the most demanding form of fasting. On a water fast, one consumes water only. The "master cleanse" consists of fresh lemonade sweetened with maple syrup and cayenne pepper. A juice fast includes a variety of fresh fruit and vegetable juices, as well as herbal teas and water. Ayurvedic and macrobiotic cleansing practices use grains and whole vegetables. Some traditions incorporate detoxifying herbal supplements.

For the detox novice, supervision is highly recommended. The safest cleansing methods include some solid food and exclude congesting foods such as dairy, fats, animal protein, sugar, and all flour products. A mono-diet detox consists of having only grains like rice or millet, or just apples or vegetable soup.

It is always a great idea to consult with a health professional before embarking on any type of detox.

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Alison Shore Gaines is a pioneer in the field of holistic cleansing. A certified holistic health educator, nutrition consultant, Kripalu Yoga teacher, and...

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