The What, How, Do’s and Don’ts of Cleansing

By Jasmin Lim

It all started when I opted to “change my life” by attending Viva Sessions Change Your Life seminar a couple weeks back where Megan spoke along with other leading health and wellbeing experts, Rebecca Wadey, Jason Shon Bennet and Damian Chaparro. I couldn’t believe how incredibly young and vibrant they all looked – like glowing billboards for health! And what did they all have in common? (among many other things like yoga, meditation and breathing exercises…), they were all big advocates of fasting as a means of cleansing, expelling toxins, boosting your energy levels and prolonging your life.

So following on from my Viva Sessions healthy-living-high, I decided to find out more about cleansing (and to make more of an effort to breathe properly, take more time out to myself, go for long walks and re-connect with Nature – lets be honest, I’m still working on these…). So what did I find? Well, enough for me to immediately book in a 3 day cleanse with my mum the following week!

The evidence is now overwhelming that exposure to everyday hidden toxins such as the pesticides and herbicides in our foods, chemicals in our cosmetics and pollution in the air we breathe contribute to low energy, poor immunity, allergies, weight gain and chronic disease – with a study by the British Medical Journal concluding that 75% of all cancers are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors… Wow!

Although it is becoming increasingly hard to avoid these toxins in our everyday lives, we can help our body cope with and effectively eliminate them with a well-designed juice cleanse. By lessening the need for the digestion of food, providing easily absorbable and digestible plant nutrients, and eliminating the constant supply of toxins to process, a cleanse helps support your kidney, liver, colon and intestines to rest and repair, allowing them to effectively remove toxin build up and help the body heal itself.

A few days prior to commencing my cleanse, I decided to have a chat with Nellie, the Little Bird Naturopath and Nutritionist who helped design and develop Little Birds cleanses (oh, and did I mention that she radiates health and vitality too). She was happy enough to talk me through all the do’s and don’ts of cleansing (I mean, if I’m gonna do it I may as-well do it right, right?)

So here it is, Nellie’s list of the DO’s and DON’TS of cleansing to best optimise your cleansing experience!

  • DO make sure it is ORGANIC! We cannot stress this enough. A non-organic juice cleanse defeats the purpose of cleansing, as you will be ingesting many of the same toxic pesticides and herbicides that your body is trying to eliminate.
  • DO drink at least 2 liters of filtered water with a drop of fresh lemon juice to keep you well hydrated and help your body flush out toxins.
  • DO provide your body with additional healing through practices such as yoga, meditation, massage and relaxation. This will reduce your body’s natural stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which increase inflammation and reduce immune function, thereby reducing your ability to metabolise and detoxify.
  • DO give your liver some extra support. We recommend taking some liver herbs such as milk thistle or drinking a detox tea to maximise the benefits from a cleanse.
  • DON’T consume coffee, alcohol, sugar or heavy foods a few days prior to and during a cleanse. These stimulant foods are toxic and need to be metabolised by our livers, thereby giving your body more work to do rather than allowing it to rest and repair.
  • DON’T over-exercise. You can still exercise while on a cleanse, but keep it light and don’t over do it with a rigorous routine or your body will need to expend more energy to heal and repair your muscles.

So now that I had my method down, it was time to commence day 1, and I’ll be honest; it wasn’t all sunshine and roses…

I’m a serial grazer… (yup, if you live in my household you will often find bits of half eaten food in the pantry and fridge to the amusement (and annoyance) of my family…), so not being able to constantly nip into the kitchen for a snack (on a half hourly basis…) was a real struggle for me. On the other hand, mum gloated all morning over how she didn’t feel hungry at all.  

But boy-oh-boy did she speak too soon…

Now, my mum drinks one or two cups of coffee and at least three cups of English breakfast tea a day… So by 3pm the caffeine withdrawals had kicked in, and she was feeling a god-awful headache. On the contrary, my hunger pangs had begun to subside and (being a non-coffee and non-tea drinker) I didn’t experience any headaches. So if you’re a caffeine fiend… well, now you know what to expect… with the general rule being: the more toxins you have to eliminate, the worse you’ll feel (sorry!)

Day 2 was the hardest… Mum experienced more headaches, and for me there was just a general feeling of hunger (boy did I miss food!!) and some brain fog. By the evening we were both feeling really tired and ready for an early night.

Surprisingly, day 3 was a breeze! I expected to wake up hungry, but wasn’t at all! Mum’s headache had eased, and we happily skipped breakfast and lunch, and were both quite content with our juices (not to mention pleased that we didn’t have to dedicate hours of our lives in the kitchen preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner – because lets be honest, sometimes it feels like all you’ve accomplished in a day is feeding yourself!). We soldiered on through day 3, and came out the other end feeling refreshed and energized!!

For the next few days we were definitely living off the aftermath of a cleanse high. I had never felt so energised! I had more clarity of mind, and better concentration at work. I also noticed my picking habits had changed. I found myself making less trips to the kitchen, and picking up snacks only to think “wait, I’m not actually even hungry, and don’t really want this” before putting them back down again. My relationship with food seemed to have evolved. I had broken my obsession with it, and taken a much more relaxed approach to eating with the idea of it being more for nourishment than indulgence. I had become much happier and content with eating simple wholefoods, rather than indulging in something extravagant.

All in all, I had a great experience on my cleanse, and will definitely be doing them more often (especially following the Christmas period…). As my mum and my experience shows, everyone will experience a cleanse differently, and gain different positive outcomes. It may be hard (especially if you consume a lot of heavy foods, alcohol and caffeine), but power through it! and expect to feel more energy and clarity, and even perhaps change some eating and lifestyle habits by the end of it!

In addition to Nellie’s tips, here are some others from my personal experience…

  • Take it easy during your cleanse days. Minimise cell phone and computer use, your general workload and do some gentle exercise or an activity you enjoy such as reading, walking or going for a light swim.
  • Don’t make plans with friends around lunch, afternoon or dinnertime – or you’ll be tempting temptation… Catch up for a walk instead, or take this as an opportunity to shut yourself off from the world and all social commitments to completely rest, relax and Zen out.
  • Ensure that you get at least 8 hours of restful sleep. Limit your interaction with screens (computers, TV’s, tablets and smartphones etc.) at least 1 hour before bedtime, as studies have shown using these close to bedtime can delay sleep onset by up to 1.5 hours.
You can find out more about Little Birds Naturopath and Nutritionist designed raw, alkalizing and nourishing cleanse packs here. Or feel free to email cleanse@littlebirdorganics.co.nz if you have any more questions about cleansing and detoxing that haven’t been covered.
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