Fall is almost here. It’s a time to take out all the clutter that you’ve been accumulating over the summer; change over the clothes in your closets; clean up the yard; dig out the rake, ready for those falling leaves and put the flower beds to rest. Just like we perform regular maintenance on our homes, yards and cars through the fall, so, too, should we give ourselves the same kind of regular maintenance. Our bodies are well-designed machines that require regular tune-ups to keep them functioning optimally.
One way to keep our bodies humming along is a cleanse. The principles of detoxification are simple: first, limit exposure to toxins and irritants; second, increase the elimination of toxins from the body; and third, restore optimal nutrition.
Within the first four days of eating an optimal diet – one that is highly nutritious, accompanied by a vitamin supplement, and where you are avoiding the many junk food temptations – most patients notice that their headaches worsen, they are feeling more fatigued and maybe have a regret or two about starting this program. But the good news is that following these initial few days, the majority of patients find that they have more energy than they’ve ever had, feel more alive, and some even discover that their inflammatory issues have become non-existent.
What type of cleanse is best?
Many people ask if being on such a detoxification program will mean they’ll have to alter their work routine or stay at home all day long, close by the bathroom. While this may conjure up an amusing picture of discomfort, this is not the case at all when working with the type of detoxification program that I outline for a patient.
Certainly there are numerous over-the-counter products that claim their product will completely ‘cleanse your body of all toxins.’ As with all products, the good, the questionable and the bad can sit side by side. Just as with all natural products, you want to make sure that the product has an NHP (Natural Health Product) number which denotes its status of Canadian government approval. This ensures that regulated third-party testing has been carried out on the product and that it is safe for the recommended use.
Do ask the person selling you the product if it has undergone clinical trials relating to the health concerns you have. Do your own research, too. Contacting the company directly is a good way to provide yourself with specific information that you need to decide if this product it right for you. These simple ways help to ensure that you are taking a product that is safe for its recommended use.
What are the benefits of performing a cleanse?
The clinical benefits of a regular detoxification program are diverse and range from preventing chronic illness, improving energy and restoring sleep rhythms to reducing allergy symptoms, decreasing inflammation and eliminating headaches.
What simple things can we do to help cleanse our bodies?
A simple at-home program can consist of the following. Try this for three weeks:
• Reduce and or eliminate your consumption of excess fat, refined sugar and foods high in additives and preservatives;
• Increase your levels of complex carbohydrates;
• Drink 8-12 glasses of water per day;
• Take half a lemon and squeeze it in a cup of warm water –drink this first thing in the morning;
• Walk at least 20-40mins per day;
• Eat plenty of brightly colored fruit and veggies.
In almost all instances where patients complete this type regimen, they will ask, ‘When can I do this again?’ Generally, I suggest that most patients who are otherwise healthy perform this type of program twice a year – once in the spring and again in the fall. Often these simple lifestyle changes can result in extensive health benefits.
Dr. Raza Shah, BSc, ND, is a doctor of naturopathic medicine. He’s the clinical director at the St. Jacobs Naturopathic Clinic.