Brittany D. Costa
Always curious to see how I can better myself, I did my first cleanse in 2008 and in the past three years I have accomplished three cleanses. And within the next couple of days, I will endure yet another. Each time I do it, I typically change up my methods and experiment with different varieties: Master Cleanse, Liver Detoxification Supplements, Water… I have researched and looked into different types such as BluePrintCleanse and Dukan Diet. It seems everyone from Catherine Middleton to Whitney Houston (cough) is “cleansing”.
The typical reaction I receive when mentioning to my friends what I’m doing is a little anxious—and dare I say with a vague note of disgust—at the mere sound of the word…. Cleanse. Let’s not dismiss the fact that this is one of the biggest trends since Manolo Blahnik Patent Leather Mary Janes (which I thought was just an urban shoe myth), but I digress.
While searching for ways to supplement my upcoming cleanse, it came to my attention that there was a version I hadn’t tried, and yet has been heard of everywhere. Newsletters from my favorite health and wellness sites are dedicated to it; New York City icons are Tweeting about it and friends are posting Facebook pictures of their concoctions: Juice Cleanse. That’s when—suddenly—a bolt of lightning hit me. Wait, I don’t have to drink peppery lemony maple syrup? I can detox and it can actually taste… good? I mean its juice. Who doesn’t love juice?
I had to look further into this. While conducting my research, I frequently was reminded of what the term “cleanse” actually meant. Broadly speaking, a nutritional cleanse is when an individual alters their meal plan by restricting foods for a specific period of time, with a goal of detoxifying the body. When a person stops eating, the body naturally can spend more time focusing on internal cleaning.
One thing has to be pointed out though: the concept of cleansing or detoxing, is really not very new. Every single being is in a constant state of decontamination, and has been since conception. Whether we are visiting the loo or exhaling our breath, people are always ridding their bodies from metabolic waste and cellular matter. This transaction occurs because cells are constantly dying and being replaced with fresh ones.
From detox diets, which only eliminates certain food groups, to more strict water based cleanses the purpose has always been to rid the body of all the negative toxicity as a result of our environment. But, let’s be honest. Many try cleansing because they want to look like Beyonce in Dreamgirls and truth be told I was one of those people (the first time around). I was preparing for Miss Rhode Island USA, had just finished college and was about to embark on my new life in Connecticut. The timing could not have been more perfect for a detox.
My first experience I did using the Master Cleanse method, or what is known as the “Spicy Lemonade Cleanse”. It consisted of drinking a lovely mixture with a purified water base combined with fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper and oh yes, can’t forget the all natural maple syrup. Mmmm.
While that year I did place in the top five in the pageant, I did not win Miss Congeniality there or in my personal life. For ten days I survived on only that drink, the occasional tea and cup of salt water (yeah, what?). I found that the lack of protein, sucrose and…well, food for ten days was a bit extreme for someone like me.
When I began to hear about juicing I thought this could be an interesting way to cleanse, while still maintaining a life. I read about the different types of juicing from commercial which is heat treated to kill germs (safe to store, but altering taste and lowering nutritional value) to home squeezed (which retains more health benefits and some dietary fiber from the pulp).
There are two different types of bases: fruit and (obviously) vegetable juice. While fruit is found to be very good for you, its one shortcoming over vegetable juicing is that fruit based juice tends to have more sugar and less fiber.
Either way, it seemed all good. That’s when I then read this fabulous statement: consuming only fresh, diluted juices from various fruits and vegetables is a safe and nutritious form of fasting. It’s even believed to work better than a water based cleanse because the nutrients from the juice helps the body to eliminate waste more efficiently and cleanses the liver naturally.
Juicing to cleanse your liver is beneficial because every drop of our blood runs through it, removing toxins and metabolic waste every second of every day of our lives. But not only that, liver function affects everything from focus, to sleep, digestion, skin…. yeah, you’re going to want to keep your liver healthy
So how does one start? Well, the first question you need to ask yourself is which method will you do it: homemade juicing or through a specialized program?
When doing homemade, firstly make sure you remember to always use purified water. And you will need to invest in a juicer. Sadly it seems as though it’s highly discouraged to use a blender. Think of it as an investment to your health (as much as it may sting your monetary finances a bit). Juicers can range in price, but are well worth the money. And think of the experiments you can conduct with different fruits, vegetables and herbs right in your own kitchen!
Typical foods that are juiced include carrots, beets, celery, cucumbers, broccoli, kale, parsley, wheatgrass, onions, ginger, radish, apples, lemons, and mixed berries. The options really are endless. The important part is remembering the nutritional benefits of each item and what specifically they assist.
Cucumber juice is thought to clean kidneys, lower high blood pressure and improve skin problems, while beets are famous for their ability to cleanse the blood and strengthen the liver. Kale contains more calcium than milk. Doing a quick and easy search online will help you find interesting recipes and the nutritional benefit of any juice. If going at it alone makes you nervous (like I admittedly am), have no fear—we now live in a virtual world. Wherever you look there are new alternatives when trying to eat healthfully and along with it are opportunities to order online, from your local healthy café or through grocery stores. There are many options to try different pre-made juice combinations. Of course as I’m “researching” (aka drooling over various menus) I had to come up with a bucket list of specialty juices to try. My Top 5 Drinks To Try:
- “The Stand”, The Stand (Norwalk, CT)
- “Drink Your Salad”, The Juice Press (NYC)
- “Greens 2”, Pressed Juicery (Los Angeles, CA) *they promise national distribution soon, can’t wait!
- “Swan Greens”, One Lucky Duck Juice and Take Away (NYC)
- “Popeye”, Catch a Healthy Habit Café (Fairfield, CT)
There is also the option to participate in a cleansing retreat; many combining yoga practice to fully purify mind, body and soul such as American Yogini in Long Island, NY. It truly is the ultimate vacation and considered to be a perfect way to reconnect with yourself and the world around you. It literally removes you from your every day environment and provides you with everything you need to feel fully renewed.
Although cleanses aren’t for everyone, and are especially discouraged to be completed by someone who may be pregnant, I have found doing one once (or in my case twice) a year feels great. If we don’t clean our bodies, we could find ourselves breaking down and filled with health problems from the buildup of toxins. And through this I’ve also realized that completing a cleanse doesn’t have to be difficult or deprive me of me.
Image courtesy of MasterCleanseRecipe.net.