An Easy, Gentle Cleanse for a First-Timer

by Head Health Nutter on March 12, 2008

So you’ve been reading about detoxing, cleansing and think your body might be telling you it needs assistance in detoxifying. You’ve tried a few detox tricks, including a couple super detox drinks, but it’s Spring (or Fall) and you’re in the mood for a deeper internal cleanse.

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But you’ve never cleansed before! A little apprehensive, you want a safe, gentle and natural cleanse without trying the expensive cleansing programs currently on the market.

The following is such a cleanse based on my research in this area over the last few years. However, I highly recommend printing this out and consulting your doctor first as any cleanse (no matter how natural) may catalyze certain health conditions.

Step 1: Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins

This is probably the hardest step because you can’t possibly control every toxin you come in contact with (unless you want to live in a plastic bubble for a month). Try to plan for your cleanse, though. For instance, limit unnecessary downtown travels and walk the back streets rather than the main so you can avoid as many exhaust fumes as possible. If you have access to a swimming pool, choose other exercise during your cleanse to avoid chlorine.

Here is a fairly complete list:

  • Wean out stimulants (alcohol, cigarette smoke and white sugar) – try to cut out coffee but if you can’t, drink organic.
  • Eat organic foods when possible – wash thoroughly to remove pesticides & contaminants (use soap or hydrogen peroxide).
  • Eat all natural foods – come on, you can resist junk food for one month. No chips, pop, deep-fried foods (basically any take out) – check all ingredients and if you can’t pronounce it, it ain’t natural.
  • Reduce red meat intake (its bi-product is poisonous ammonia) to one palm-sized serving once a week – try lamb.
  • Drink distilled water.
  • Use natural or eco-friendly products – if you can eat the ingredients, the products are safe to use.

Step 2: Flush Toxins Out

Your body will naturally detoxify but try the following to accelerate the process (although keep in mind, the faster you release toxins, the more intense the detox side-effects – i.e. headaches, soreness, grumpiness, etc.):

  • Drink lots of herbal teas (like mint and peppermint to aid digestion, dandelion to increase bile flow, milk thistle for liver detox and chamomile to help reduce anxiety).
  • Drink lots of distilled water. I know, this is total repetition but it’s super important; distilled to reduce toxins and the water to flush.
  • Increase your complex carbs or veggies to about 65% of your diet. Round off your meals to approx. 25% protein & 10% healthy fats (from nuts, olive and flax seed oils, etc.)
  • Use chlorella supplements to cleanse your blood.
  • Take milk thistle supplements to cleanse the liver (but if you do, you don’t need the tea).
  • Eat detox-friendly and easy to digest foods (like garlic, onions, prunes, lemons, naturally fermented sauerkraut, green leaves – especially spinach, cabbage, kale, swiss chard & collards – papaya, pineapple, berries, etc.)
  • Exercise (cardio & strength-training) – aim for 4-6 times a week, alternating between mild, moderate and intense variations depending on your energy level.
  • Hot, steamy baths or saunas – once a week.
  • Stretch – integral for several reasons: it reduces muscle fatigue and soreness that is caused by the lactic acid (metabolic waste) released by muscle exertion; it also increases oxygen and blood flow, and decreases stress.
  • Drink green juices rich in detox-friendly foods – use as meal replacements.
  • Drink smoothies for breakfast – check out the “yummy recipes” category here on Live Lighter!
  • Do a partial fast once a week – try going without food from dinner Saturday until dinner on Sunday – or whenever works for you. Adjust your activity level on these days to compensate for the lack of food energy, like take leisurely walks, do gentle exercises, etc.

Step 3: Repair and Heal

There are different methods, at varying strengths, of repairing and healing your body. A Naturopathic Doctor is the best resource for your individual needs. However, for the first-timer, try:

  • Aloe vera juice – known to be one of the friendliest methods for intestinal repair.
  • Increase your soluble fiber intake (like psyllium fiber and foods, such as several types of beans, carrots, broccoli and Brussels sprouts)
  • Meditate – try for everyday, either in the morning or night, and as long as you can. Start with 10 minutes and practice till you’re up to one half hour.
  • Sleep – the best way to find your optimal amount of sleep is to get up at the same time every morning and go to bed when you’re tired. Because you’ve limited your stimulants, your natural sleep rhythms should emerge.

Step 4: Replenish

Not only does cleansing get rid of toxins and bad bacteria, it unfortunately also flushes out the good bacteria that live in our guts. These probiotics are essential for proper digestion. It is important to rebalance the gut flora ratio of beneficial vs. harmful bacteria (85% – 15%):

  • Consume probiotics eat naturally fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut.
  • Take acidophilus tablets (extra-strength).
  • Eat foods known to have prebiotics – unrefined wheat and barley, raw oats, soybeans, leek, asparagus, artichokes, etc.

Step 5: After Cleanse

Resist returning to a highly toxic lifestyle. Reserve stimulating substances for special occasions and incorporate as many of the above cleansing methods into your daily lifestyle habits as possible.

Duration and Tips: Try this gentle cleanse for one month, although doing it for longer will give you better results. However, we all know it’s hard to do anything perfectly the first time around so be kind to yourself and simply do your best. Use the experience from this cleanse to better prepare for next season’s cleanse, identifying challenges so you can figure out ways around them.

Additional Tips:

Cleansing should be an experience to look forward to and if you feel increasing distress as your cleanse date nears, you’re not ready for it yet. If you feel as if you’re denying yourself true pleasure, then you will create stress – which actually inhibits detoxification! You’ll know you’re ready for a cleanse when life has become too much of a burden. Then you’ll be motivated to lighten your load – starting with the toxins in your body so that you can live lighter in body, mind and soul.

Plan your cleanse. Reduce your commitments for the cleanse duration and guard against the demands of others. Plan your activity (be flexible when necessary, of course) as well as your meals a week in advance. Use the Internet to find recipes, Saturday to get groceries, and Sunday to prepare your lunches and slice your veggies for convenience. Oh, ya, throwing on some tunes and dancing around the kitchen makes this food prep time super fun.

Good luck, First-Timers! Would you like more posts like this delivered to your computer? Subscribe to Live Lighter’s RSS feed or via email!

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