Cleansing Essentials for Natural Wellbeing
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on July 30, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
In many traditions, cleansing is considered the cornerstone of good health. And for good reason! We normally keep our body so overloaded with its daily regime of digesting, metabolizing, and eliminating, that it simply doesn’t have the time (or resources) to properly detoxify itself. Cleansing gives the body a bit of a ‘breather’… a chance to unwind and let go of toxins that have been accumulating in our fat cells. Cleansing also provides an opportunity for the body to do some deep, restorative healing that it may otherwise not have a chance to.
There are as many types of cleanses to choose from as there are traditions, yet many of them share several features in common. Here are my top 5 favorite suggestions for including in any cleansing regime*:
1. Go Green! Eat lots of steamed or lightly sautéed greens such as kale, collards, spinach, chard, and dandelion leaf for their powerful cleansing & alkalizing properties. Greens powders are also an excellent idea to augment your cleanse with.
2. Hydrate Yourself! Ensure adequate hydration (daily suggested intake: half your body weight in pounds = minimum ounces of water/herbal teas to consume). Coconut water is ideal as it’s also high in electrolytes, particularly potassium which many of us are deficient in. Potassium helps the body’s cells to actually ‘pull’ more water into them, hydrating you more efficiently.
3. Protein: Do eat high-quality, easy-to-digest protein while cleansing. Protein is necessary to help keep your blood sugar levels stable and to maintain lean muscle mass. Some good sources of protein include hemp & chia seeds, nuts, grains including quinoa, lentils, and beans. Mung beans are particularly good during a cleanse as they’re easy to digest, especially if they’re pureed after cooking. Tofu, tempeh, and miso are excellent choices, and fish and chicken provide easy-to-digest protein for those who prefer meat-based protein sources.
4. Fiber: We want to ensure that all of those toxins being released from the body’s fat cells during cleansing, are fully eliminated from the body! To maintain regularity, add some extra fiber into your diet. You can do so in the form of freshly ground psyllium, flax, and/or chia seeds (grind just prior to eating for optimal freshness). Porridge and stewed prunes for breakfast are great fiber boosters, too!
5. Fat: Good quality fats help your body to feel satiated, not deprived, and are necessary for many metabolic functions: Olive oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, avocadoes, and omega-3s essential fatty acids (from cold water fish) are all excellent choices.
*If you are on medication or have a health condition, please consult your doctor before commencing any cleansing program.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan