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The cleanse

Friday, April 23, 2010 Leave a Comment

I just finished a 3-week doctor-supervised cleanse. The purpose was three-fold: (1) to detoxify my liver and gall-bladder, the body's filtration system; (2) to keep my blood sugar levels as stable as possible; and (3) to remove possible allergenic foods from my diet, including gluten, sugar, dairy, eggs, red meat, soy, corn and peanuts.

In the meantime, I had a whole bunch of blood tests done. And lo & behold, I showed an allergy to dairy.

I'm not talking lactose intolerance, but an allergy to casein, a protein in milk. That means my body is producing antibodies to attack casein whenever I ingest it. Which was only every day. Hello, cheese and yogurt, cream in my coffee, ice cream, sour cream, and -- oh Lord, butter!

What's amazing to me is how on earth I could have been allergic to dairy and not know it. I never had gastrointestinal distress, or gas, or diarrhea. But thanks to this 3-week cleanse, in which my body had a chance to rest, I know it instantly now if I eat it. Not pleasant.

So, I won't lie: the cleanse was tough. I've never gone on any diet, much less an elimination diet. I tried to follow it to the letter, and the times I messed up, I felt it immediately -- either through gastrointestinal distress or fatigue.

But now that it's done, I feel light, clear, energized again. And I have not gone back to my old way of eating just yet, and probably never will. Goodbye dairy and gluten. Did you know it can take months for gluten to clear out of your system?

Here's a few things I learned:

1. Eat more than you think you need and much more often. Halfway through the cleanse, I was just bone-weary exhausted. Yes, I have a teething 1-year old so I'm sleep deprived, but this was no ordinary fatigue. I went through my meals with my doctor and nutritionist, and was just plain not eating enough calories.

2. Protein at breakfast. I was starting my day with just fruit. I might as well be mainlining sugar. Led to crash at 10am.

3. Drink lots of water. I found myself ravenously thirsty by mid-afternoon, which means I was dehydrated.

4. Keep convenient snacks around. Cut up some red/green/yellow peppers and keep them in the fridge. Keep pre-cut melon around. Apples. Bananas. A bowl of nuts on the counter. When I have to work for my snack, I really just want to grab a cracker.

5. When your body gets the chance to eliminate, it really does. And I'm not just talking about poop, which is the first thing you think of with a cleanse. But allergies, particularly dairy, create phlegm and mucous. Your body gets rid of it.

6. Vigorous exercise is not a good idea. I figured sweat would help my body detox, but the boot camp class I did was just too taxing on my body. I just didn't have the reserves. My doctor didn't want me to do hot yoga, either.

So is a cleanse right for you? Ask your doctor about it.

- GOOP's take on the Cleanse. I particularly like what cardiologist Dr. Junger says about our body's amazing detox system: "The human body comes equipped with a highly effective detox system, a team of organs working together to eliminate the toxic waste of normal metabolism, such as uric acid, lactic acid, carbon dioxide, ammonia and homocysteine. Somehow it can even detoxify most of the modern chemicals. The problem is that when the detox organs get overwhelmed, toxins continue circulating and cause inflammation. As a defense, the body generates mucus to coat toxins and trap them in the tissues where they remain when digestion is kept working day in, day out."
- Also from GOOP, the Chinese medicine view of spring being the natural cleansing time for your body.

- How to avoid the health hazards of our modern grains, via Natural News