Today I received an email from reader, Michelle, saying:
One of my good friends is contemplating doing a 10-day juice cleanse. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about them that I could pass on to her and/or any good resources.
First I’ll give a little bit of perspective, including from traditional Asian medicines’ beliefs on cleansing, then share what I replied to Michelle.
Juice cleansing, also sometimes referred to as fasting, detox, or dieting, or any other highly restricted food plan usually comes with some doubts, worries, and controversy. But the benefits, if done right, can be pretty amazing. For anyone with blood sugar issues or other serious health concerns, please see a health care professional, such as a naturopath, before beginning a cleanse.
Chinese medicine does not have much of a history of fasting, nor detoxing through restricted diet.
Ayurveda, on the other hand, uses such programs frequently. In Panchakarma treatment, restricted diet and fasting are keys to the program. As part of the completion of the detox program, a food regimen, known as peyadi krama, offers guidance on how to slowly reintroduce normal foods back into the system. And while, I don’t necessarily agree with the food recommendations, the concept of slowly readjusting is important and very applicable here.
As it is not always feasible, nor even necessary to go all the way to Asia to engage in a cleansing, below you’ll find advice for doing a juice cleanse at home, as I passed along to reader Michelle.
Juice cleansing is a great idea
depending on her goals. If it’s her first time, 10 days might be a bit long; 3-7 days are usually more feasible.
Offering advice really depends on whether she’s done a cleanse before. If not,
some warnings of what she’ll feel:
- Perhaps occasional vertigo
- Dry skin and chapped lips
- Softer, more frequent bowel movements
If this scares her too much or she’s not willing/able to tolerate these feelings, then stop now and choose a less restrictive plan, such as 1-2weeks of veganism or 5-7 days of raw food.
Warning #2: Juice cleansing is not a good weight loss plan if the goal is to keep the weight off beyond 2 weeks. It can be a good weight loss plan in the long-term, if she is going to juice cleanse for 7-10days every month. But as one-time diet, she likely won’t be able to keep the lost weight off longer than 2-3 days beyond the end.
If she’s making her own juice, great! Use organic produce whenever possible.
If buying bottled juices, be careful of:
- added sugars (beet sugar, HFCS, cane sugar, honey, etc),
- other additives.
I usually go for Naked Juice or Odwalla, but even there, read the labels. It is best to select juices with at least some vegetables. You’d never guess how good cucumber-pear or celery-apple-cinnamon juice can taste until you’ve tried it. I’m even coming to appreciate kale-spinach-beet-apple juice.
Drink enough water!
- Preferably warm/hot water to relieve feelings of cold; adding ginger will warm the body from the inside, too.
- Hot water with lemon will flush by-products of the cleanse.
- Drink 1 teaspoon cinnamon daily mixed with hot water (as tea) or added to the juice. This helps to stabilize blood sugar which is otherwise spiked by liquid fructose entering the body.
General Cleansing Advice
Is she trying to do a liquid diet or a raw diet? If just liquid, then she should also consider having hot broth (veg or meat) to warm her and fake her stomach into feeling fuller. Adding turmeric or cayenne to the broth is good for the body, warms it, and aids the cleanse. If raw juice, then forget that suggestion.
As explained in both Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, foods have certain warming or cooling properties, with most fruits and vegetables being cooling. This partly explains why many people feel cold much of the time during a juice fast. The other reason is that the reduced digestion activity is generating less warmth for the body. Hot water and teas, meat broths, and spices, which typically are warming, can all reduce the cold feelings. Spices to use include
- white pepper,
- Use a tongue scraper or toothbrush to clean the coating off the tongue (which is a cleansing byproduct).
- Journaling is a good way to track progress, feelings, reactions, and experiences, and to release aggravated emotions that sometimes result from cleansing.
Coming off the cleanse is the tricky part
- Day 1 – Only fruit! Cut it into small pieces & eat slowly. She’ll get full really fast. And don’t forget to keep taking the cinnamon! Applesauce (no preservatives, no sweetener) is also good here.
- Day 2 – Fruit & veggies. Again small pieces, chewing thoroughly & eating slowly are the keys. Whether she cooks the veg or eats them raw is up to her.
- Day 3 – Adding onto the above, add a tiny bit of high-fiber grain (e.g. steel-cut oatmeal or wheat bran), thoroughly cooked. If she’s not a vegetarian but didn’t have meat broth soup as I mentioned above, she needs to add that in today, as well.
- Day 4 – Adding on: If she can tolerate dairy, a small glass of milk, or a small bowl of non-fat, non-sweetened, no-additive, non-flavored, i.e. plain yogurt is good (look at Chobanior other greek yogurt).
- Don’t have the fiber and the dairy within 6 hours of each other! This is a day-by-day test to see if her body tolerates well both dairy and grain products, which it certainly can’t when they’re in the same meal 4 days after a 10-day juice cleanse!
- Day 5 – Adding on: lean organic chicken or grass-fed beef, cooked, and cut into small pieces. Chew thoroughly and aim for 20 mastications per bite.
- Day 6 – Now she is good to go.
- Be careful, adding slowing back in beans, oils/fats, cheese, sugars, chili/pepper-type spices. Each time she adds one, do it alone, again as a test.
- Have her notice if she feels gasey, bloated, constipated, is experiencing diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, upset stomach, fatigue, mental cloudiness, etc. All of these are usually signs she’s not meant to eat that.
Going back to my original point about goals,
Good goals for a juice cleanse:
- Clear food cravings and addictions.
- Get the undigested junk out of the digestive tract. Adding psyllium husks can aid this process, but be careful because it also strips nutrients from the body.
- Rest the stomach, liver, and intestines, allowing them to purify and clean out accumulated chemicals.
- Better mind-body connection / spiritual renewal.
- Determine food triggers, allergies, or intolerances.
- Reduce food triggers, allergies, and intolerances.
- Shrink the stomach.
Bad goals for a juice cleanse:
- Weight loss (long-term),
- Proving your willpower (long-term habits are more ‘sticky’ than short-term willpower),
- Annoying everyone around you (yes it’ll work, but why would you want to?),
- Saving money and time.
If you have anything to add, please leave a comment below. Otherwise email any other questions to me and I’ll be happy to answer them.