What Is The Deal With Cleanses?

Post by Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Co-Owner, Nourish Northwest

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You are probably sick of hearing the words “cleanse” and “detox” in the media.  Like many ways of eating, cleanses or detoxes (I will use these words interchangeably) have been popularized by celebrities and big business alike.  So what do these words mean?  Is it just a trend, or is there actually some value in it?

The main problem with providing a straight answer to this question is that there is no standard definition for a “cleanse.”  It can mean anything from a complete fast from food to the other end of the spectrum, which is basically taking a break from unhealthy foods, like the cleanse we host.  The basic science behind doing this is to give your body a break from so-called food toxins and help provide your liver with an extra dose of the nutrients it needs to eliminate them from your body.  Research has been done to determine whether or not a cleanse is actually effective at improving the efficacy of your liver.  Again, the problem is there isn’t a standard diet for what constitutes a cleanse.  Research has been mixed, with most of it showing that cleanses do not improve your liver enzymes.  However, many popular cleanses that are centered around food deprivation do not provide the body with enough health promoting nutrients, so it would make sense that biomarkers would not improve. Starvation is never a good idea.

Whether or not your liver function actually improves as a result of doing a cleanse, the main reason that we see value in doing one (the right one) is to re-set and improve your eating habits.  We look at our cleanse as a period of time that you really focus on your well being by making only healthy choices, cooking all your own food, slowing down, and experiencing mindfulness, rest and relaxation.  By making these lifestyle changes, you will often see other side benefits, such as relief from allergies and food sensitivities, clearer skin, enhanced energy and modest weight loss.

So what does our 12 day cleanse look like?  We follow a basic elimination and re-introduction plan.  The first day we remove sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates and some other potential offenders from the diet.  We continue to gradually remove food groups until we are in the middle phase of consuming mostly fruits and vegetables with some legumes and nuts.  We then slowly re-introduce foods back in and take note of how they effect us.

What sets our cleanse apart from others is that it is intended to promote long lasting change.  We approach the meal plan by including recipes we like to eat regularly, with maybe some small modifications that make them more “cleanse-friendly.” The idea is not deprivation, it is nourishment.  The point is to reflect on how your body does without certain unhealthy behaviors that you are used to relying on.  You may realize that you stop craving sugar, or a small snack of some crunchy chickpeas and a piece of fruit is more than satisfying.  You may learn how to successfully meal plan.  You may notice some major physical changes, such as those mentioned above.

Everyone has a different experience and whether or not it is a major “a-ha moment” there will be a benefit to doing this cleanse.  Maybe it’s gathering a few more healthy recipes for your repertoire.  Maybe it’s completing kicking your nightly dessert routine.  It’s challenging but always worth it.  And speaking of the food, here are some of the delicious things you can expect to eat during the cleanse:

Rosemary Roasted Cashews
Rosemary Roasted Cashews
Egg and Farro Breakfast Bowl with Garlicky Kale
Egg and Farro Breakfast Bowl with Garlicky Kale
Butternut Squash and Farro Salad with Pickled Onions
Butternut Squash and Farro Salad with Pickled Onions
Overnight Oats
Overnight Oats
Skillet Chicken with Apples and Cranberries
Skillet Chicken with Apples and Cranberries

 

Chana Masala Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Chana Masala Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
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Pink Power Detox Smoothie


Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Basil Tomato Sauce
Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Basil Tomato Sauce

 

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Roasted Winter Veggie Bowl with Orange Miso Dressing

 

Our next group cleanse starts on November 9th, with a pre-cleanse meeting on November 7th from 1-2.  If you would like more information on what this includes and how to register, click here or feel free to email me at olivia@nourishnorthwest.com.  We hope you will join us!

 

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