Body Cleansing

BODY CLEANSING Patricia Thompson M.Sc Registered Nutritionist Q.  It has become very trendy for persons to "detox".  There are many programmes about and people are doing all sorts of things to cleanse their bodies.  I also remember that as children we would be given a "wash out".  Is this really necessary and does it work?  What would be your recommendation? Answer: Body cleansing is generally accomplished by two main methods:
  1. ‘Wash out’ done by either herbs (for example senna) or through colonic cleansing/irrigation.
  2. Fasting also known as detoxing.
‘Wash outs’ are traditionally done annually especially for children on summer holidays and by other individuals but this can be harmful if the nutrients especially the minerals are not replenished.  Colonic cleansing is best done by a trained health professional and is usually on request by a doctor for medical reasons. Fasting is done for religious, cultural, health or other reasons and generally no health professional is consulted.  Detoxing however, is best done under the supervision of an experienced health professional especially for programmes lasting more than one day. Daily Fast/Cleansing A daily fast is the most common method of detoxing although individuals do not recognize it as such.  Doctors will recommend a 12 hour fast before undertaking certain blood tests such as cholesterol or fasting blood glucose.  This means that if you estimate that the test will be conducted at about 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. the following morning then your last intake of food the night before should be 9 p.m. – 10 p.m. and no other food or drink taken during the 12 hour interval. As Nutritionists we feel the ideal is a natural cleanse by regular bowel movement. This method of fasting for 12 hours practiced on a daily basis (as described above) is recommended for healthy living.  That way, the body rests from food for 12 hours each night (overnight fast) and if the diet is high in fibre and water content, a sizable bowel movement should occur daily, thus clearing the body of undesirable waste products. A high fibre diet is one which consists of plant foods in their most natural and unprocessed form.  Examples are ground provisions (yam, potato, dasheen etc.), fresh fruits and vegetables, dried peas and beans, nuts and whole grain cereals.   Water intake is dependent on individual needs but it is recommended that a minimum of 6-8 glasses should be taken daily. Periodic Cleansing We appreciate that persons are exposed to thousands of toxins and chemicals on a daily basis at work, in the home, through polluted air we breathe, our food and water supply and through the use of pharmaceutical drugs. In addition, we are eating more sugar and processed foods than ever before in human history and regularly abuse our bodies with various stimulants and narcotics.  As long as we continue to eat processed foods, live with excess stress, and push ourselves beyond what is good for the body, we can never hope to be completely toxin-free. We can help the body greatly to eliminate toxins before they present a health challenge with daily cleansing as indicated above. Persons who have become so clogged up as with constipation may need to consider and artificial cleanse but the frequency of this type of cleanse should depend on your individual health status.   You are best advised to seek individual counseling from a qualified health professional. How to Fast/ Daytime Cleanse Be aware, that when the toxins are released by fasting, a number of negative symptoms may result such as nausea and acidosis.  Regular physical activity is not recommended during a fast.  If the 12 hour or more fast is to cover daytime hours when you must work, it is best not to do a total fast as the overnight fast.  A water or juice fast is most popular.  Examples of juices are below. Coconut water is used as the water and there should be no sweeteners. Other fruit juices Green juices eg Callaloo are recommended for best effect – at least 1 - 2 glasses (1 glass= 8 oz cup). Other vegetable juices include carrot or beet. Aloe juice may also be used – up to 3 glasses If desired, you may add to the juice ginger, garlic, leaf of life and blend. Ensure you get adequate sleep (at least 8 hours) and stop drinking for at least 2 hours before retiring.  

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