Published by Kerry Meath-Sinkin
To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse
“It’s believed that low digestive fire can be the root of all disease.” ~Dr. Lad
It is spring, which means that it is the ideal time for a cleanse. Your body may even be craving one. I know that I am personally starting to want lighter foods, and less meat. I often get asked about how Ayurveda approaches cleansing and how people can incorporate some of these ideas into their own life. While a traditional Ayurvedic cleanse is many months long and pretty involved, there are lots of simple ways to cleanse, or great programs you can do online from home.
The first question I want to address is the difference between fasting and cleansing.
Fasting helps us to observe our hunger by taking a liquid or mono-diet for a short period of time. Ideally, we want to have a regular sense of hunger that is satiated by 3 daily meals. However, due to stress, anxiety, or overwork, adrenal secretions can lead to a false sense of hunger in the body. This causes us to feel stomach heaviness, mentally cloudy, bloated, irregular with our meals, and to have digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea. Short fasts (Ayurveda rarely recommends long juice fasts) can help us to rekindle our digestive fire, burn up toxins, unclog the channels, stimulate the secretion of antioxidant enzymes, remove free radicals, and bring a sense of mental clarity. A short fast could include choosing one per week to only drink a specific low sugar juice or water during the day, followed by a light dinner before sunset. Another option often, which my husband often does, is to eat a light dinner the evening before, followed the next day by a large lunch (no breakfast). This gives your body 12-18 hours to rekindle the digestive fire. Each body type does well with a different type of fast, so it is best to understand where you fit and how a specific type of fast may support you. Almost anyone can fast, except children under 13, pregnant women, nursing women (there are exceptions), women on their first 4 days of menses, and those with an acute illness or severe weakness. There are other contradictions, not provided, it is always best to check with your health care provider before fasting.
While cleansing incorporates a mono-diet to rest the digestive system, it also includes other techniques to help pull toxins into the digestive tract to be properly eliminated from the body. Over our life we naturally build up toxins, even with the best lifestyle, which makes cleansing at the change of seasons a wonderful way to keep our body balanced. A gentle seven day cleanse by limiting your diet to a few simple foods is a great way to get things moving, and can be incorporated more easily into one’s life.
Even before deciding to undertake a “formal” cleanse, there is a lot we can do to get the fire going! I’ve simplified it for you below! Use these tips as long as you like before moving deeper into other dietary changes.
Try avoiding foods that slow down the digestive fire:
- Ice-cold drinks
- Too much cheese, meats & mushrooms
- Avoid the process “white stuff” sugar, white flour, overly processed dairy
- Leftovers foods (more than 1-2 days old)
- Excessive caffeine (tea is better than coffee)
- Don’t forget about other triggers such as overeating, emotional eating, and excess sleep
- Too much water during meals or directly after
- Premade sauces
Try to eat more foods that kindle the fire & burn up toxins
- Eat a ginger pickle 15 minutes before eating: slice ginger sprinkled with lime juice, rock salt & honey
- Favor simple, light diets with soaked or roasted grains.
- Get your circulation moving through mild to moderate exercise
- Chew your food
- Sit while eating
- Sip Agni tea while eating
- Add pinch salt to meals
- Get more bitters. Bitter foods (ex. Swiss chard, collards, turmeric, cumin) help digestion and regulate our digestive fire
- Chew roasted fennel seeds after eating or roasted digestive seeds (sesame, fennel, cumin, coriander, pomegranate). Chew 1 teaspoon after each meal.
- Keep in mind at mealtime we should take in 1/3 food, 1/3 liquid, and 1/3 should be empty! Don’t get clogged down with too much…
If you are interested in going more in depth I am including some wonderful resources for group online cleanses, or cleanses you can do on your own.
- Sunny Rose Healey – You may have missed the Spring cleanse, but you can email her directly for more information Mamayurveda
- Cate Stillman through Yoga Healer
- John Douillard self administered 14 day cleanse through LifeSpa
- Banyan Botanicals Three Day Cleanse
Have fun and enjoy!
Kerry Meath-Sinkin is a registered investment advisor and financial planner based in Minneapolis. She graduated with honors from Brown, and works with clients not only in the Twin Cities, but nationwide. Kerry believes in a holistic approach to finance. She works with her clients to develop a practical plan with their finances, while also working on their inner relationship with money. Together, these aspects allow clients to feel healthy, abundant, and free. Kerry also has a passion for healthy living, is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, and public health educator. Click here to learn more about Kerry.
Disclaimer: All material provided here is provided for educational purposes only. You should always speak with your care provider regarding the information provided with respect to your specific symptoms or medical condition. The information provided by Yoga Illumined is not intended to substitute for medical care. Consult with your care provider before beginning the program, and ensure that they are aware of any medications or supplements you are taking.