I’ve been “cleansing” on an off for 8 + years. I’ve had a lot of mysterious health issues that doctors don’t really know how to fix, so I’ve been on a journey to learn how to heal myself. I’ve always hoped that some day I could share what I’ve learned so it could make someone else’s journey a bit easier. Writing this blog is a big step for me in this direction. Hopefully some of what you find here will be useful.
I had a friend write me recently asking my advice on detoxing/ cleansing. I’m no expert but I guess I’ve posted enough on facebook about all the weird health trips I’ve been on to be perceived as someone to ask.. Anyhow. It got me thinking about the best ways to cleanse , especially in the colder months. The key thing I’ve learned over the years is this: it takes energy and nutrients for the body to do the work of letting toxins go. When you are depleted, you need to fortify your self with healing , easy to digest foods and liquids before you think about doing deeper cleansing protocols like fasts and flushes (liver/kidney etc).
You need to add before you can safely and efficiently subtract. You can really do more harm than good, and weaken your self, if you jump right into heavy detox mode (water/ juice fasting for example) before your body is ready. So what would be a healthy and nourishing way to build your health? I have a few ideas to recommend that are universally beneficial and that have helped me a lot over the years.
Kitcheree (aka Mung Beans and Rice) is an Ayurvedic dish made from mung beans, rice, vegetables and spices that dates back thousands of years. It is known to be balancing and beneficial to all three doshas (all body types) . It is also delicious. There is something so comforting and nourishing about this food. You can make it as mild or as spicy as you like it, and it keeps well so you can literally make a pot of it and be well fed for days. My husband makes the best I’ve ever had and he published his recipe here on his blog. Have a look at his recipe and then read my notes below if you want some more tips to make it even easier to make.
Mung beans and rice is a staple at our house. We eat at least one batch per week but some times we eat it a mono diet. This means mung beans and rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we do this we also usually have steamed vegetables and homemade yogurt on the side. This is a super healthy and easy way to gently re-set your digestive and glandular systems. The dish is considered to be “pre digested” because its so well cooked, and the ingredients are so health giving to begin with. When you eat it, your body does not have to work very hard to assimilate the nutrients. The less energy your body needs to use to digest your food, the more energy it has to repair and detox itself. It is also my understanding that when you consistently give your body everything it needs then it can balance out your gland secretions, which then gives all your body systems a reset. Sounds great right? All I know is that I feel real good when I eat it – it truly is a nourishing situation that you can easily add to your routine.
* I would only make a few small suggestions to his recipe, that makes it even easier to prepare. You can skip making the masala mixture separately, and literally throw it all in the pot together. If you do it this way, skip adding the ghee or coconut oil till the very end. You do want to let the mung beans cook first – let them get soft and kind of “open up”- and then you can add all the vegetables and spices in the pot, raw. Also add the salt at that time, not before. Cook for a while, let the vegetables get soft, then add the rice, cook about 5 – 10 more minutes and then shut off the heat and let sit with the top on for at least 10 or so minutes. And for a super delicious finish, add the juice of one lemon to the pot before you eat it. YUM. The lemon brightens the flavors and allows you to use less salt, if you want.
Add living , cultured foods into your diet. Your gut is alive with all kinds of bacteria – good and bad. When your intestines have plenty of good bacteria then it allows your body to easily digest and use all the nutrients in the food! When your body can properly digest food, you will be balancing any deficiencies you may not even know you had. Some times you can eat plenty of iron rich food, for example, and still be very anemic, because your body simply can not break down the food into the forms it needs to access the nutrients. That’s how it’s possible to be eating all the right things but still be feeling weak and unhealthy. When you heal your gut, you truly can start healing all the organs. True cleansing and detox can happen when the body has the support it needs from all the good food you are eating.
Eating cultured probiotic foods help your body grow more of the good kind of digestive bacteria and they are also delicious. Super cheap too if you make them yourself. You can buy raw sauerkraut and lacto-fermented pickles from health food stores too, but you will find them to be pretty pricey. We’ve been making our own for a few years now and it is EASY. Before we ever tried it though it seemed really intimidating. Check this post out for more info on making your own pickles!
IN ADDITION :
Take a good probiotic in pill form , as well. I have been recently learning about how there are thousands of kinds of good probiotics, but it is important to take the kinds that live in specific parts of the human body to get the best – or any – results. I’ve done a lot of research and its not too clear which brands contain the kinds that are native to the human body. The brand I am currently using is Renew Life . These are the best I’ve ever tried, giving the best results. It is important that the kind you take are in a capsule designed to resist stomach acid, because your stomach can kill all the good guys before they reach your intestines and then you wasted your money. This a big subject but for now, just know that all brands are not created equal . This is also one product that I always buy at a health food store you trust, because how the product is handled is really important. Even if the pills are shelf stable, the good bugs will die if the bottles get too warm, and the worst part is that you would never know it! Also, to really get results – take 50 – 100 billion CFU’s of probiotics daily. For a long time I thought that 5 Billion per pill sounded like plenty (we are talking billions after all!) , but the more I’ve been reading I am understanding that the body needs much more. Try one month of taking 10o billion CFU’s a day and see what happens. Worth every penny.
3. Super Greens
Eating plenty of green vegetables of all kinds will help everything and give you that unmistakable healthy glow. Steamed, raw, blended, sauteed and baked. Just find the kinds you like and eat as many of them as you like. Get them organic and from a farmers market if you can. The fresher the better. Eating green vegetables both fortifies you and gives the body a way to eliminate stuff it does not need. Toxins can leave better when your intestines have enough fiber, but there are many more subtle yet powerful chemical combinations that happen in your digestive system when you eat vegetables. For example, did you know your body can dump excess estrogen when you eat broccoli? I read that and was like wow! Our bodies naturally grow towards health and balance when you feed it the right stuff.
Spirulina, Blue Green Algae, Chlorella , etc are all powerful ways to gently cleanse while also fortifying the body with nutrients. Try different kinds and find what you like. Personally I am not fond of the taste so I usually take them in pill or tablet form. Powders are usually cheaper though and you can disguise the taste ( somewhat) by adding them to other foods — like smoothies. Also – Having green superfoods as a part of your routine when you travel is especially smart because a lot of times its harder to eat a lot of green vegetables on the road.
Well there is so much more to write on all three of these suggestions, but hopefully this is a good jump start. If you want to read more about the subject of using foods to cleanse, check out the Body Ecology Diet book, as well as Paul Pitchford’s classic tome, Healing with Whole Foods.