For those of you who follow me on social media, you'll know that I have recently completed a 14 day cleanse. That's 14 days without eating. I know, right - insane!! All for the sake of my colon and my general wellbeing.
I'm not a stranger to cleanses. I generally cleanse/fast every three months to give my digestive system a rest and to do some very important gut healing.
Generally people are surprised that I would commit to such a cleansing ritual because my diet is generally pretty damn good. Now, I'm not a saint when it comes to eating, but I do make it a priority to eat a whole food, clean, plant based diet.
That's not to say I never eat "naughty" things.
I've been known to chow down a vegan donut, eat vegie chips, and gorge on chocolate biscuits like they're going out of fashion. I occasionally have a tipple or ten.
I also live a pretty hectic lifestyle, which sometimes gets the better of me. I neglect my yoga mat and meditation cushion much too often and sleep can be a struggle at times.
When there is too much of the naughty stuff, my gut lets me know. It gets quite sluggish and uncomfortable.
So cleansing gives me an opportunity to, well, cleanse. To undo the damage that is caused by... living.
So this Spring, I decided to embark on a more serious cleanse. Enter Tyler Tolman.
Tyler Tolman is a holistic nutritionist who offers a range of healing detox programs. I first signed up to his free online juice fast quite some time ago. It was winter then, and I'm not one to do a juice fast in the colder months.
In Ayurvedic terms, I have a predominantly Vata constitution. This means I feel the cold and crave warmth, feel anxious, suffer from dryness - externally and internally, I'm introverted, and I have a tendency to keep busy. To balance Vata, it's especially important in winter to eat warming foods, hence my abstention from eating raw or undergoing a juice fast in winter.
So as soon as the weather started to get warm, it was time for me to do the juice fast. In my preparation, I came across Tyler Tolman's Colon Cleanse. This is an effective detoxifying blend of psyllium, buckwheat, chia seeds, bentonite clay and salt. The cleanse acts like a scrubbing brush, cleaning every nook and cranny of your large intestine.
With my oft-sluggish colon, I decided this would be a beneficial thing for me and my colon.
I ended up purchasing his 7-day detox kit, which consists of the Colon Cleanse and three bags of Pulse, a raw mix of seeds, nuts and fruit. Kind of like a bag of bliss ball mix. Yummo!
To get the ultimate in cleansing benefits, I timed my cleanse around the full moon. A full moon is said to be a great time to cleanse because of the energy of the moon is all about letting go. The new moon is also a good time to cleanse.
It is recommend to prep before commencing a cleanse. As my diet is generally clean, I didn't feel the need to change my diet, apart from cutting out the sometimes naughty-ish foods that I treat myself with. The preparatory phase should consist of clean, whole foods.
With the rise of the sun on 15 September, I started my cleanse.
The cleanse consisted of three phases - the Colon Cleanse, juice fast and Pulse.
The day before the cleanse, I took myself down to the local naturopath and got a colonic. In hindsight, I think this really helped to keep detox symptoms at bay. It was nice to start the cleanse with a cleaner colon.
Tyler Tolman recommends enemas or colonics during the cleanse. I prefer colonics for a number of reasons:
1. They clean the entire colon whereas enemas only clean out the base of the colon.
2. I don't have to lie on the bathroom floor and stick a tube up my bum - a qualified professional does that instead.
3. I don't have to buy an enema kit.
The Colon Cleanse aka Slurry
Ahhh slurry. This I can say, without a doubt, was the most unenjoyable phase of my cleanse.
The first four days I abstained from all food and only consumed the Colon Cleanse mix. The mix is recommended to be taken five times per day at two hour intervals e.g. 8am, 10am, Noon, 2pm and 4pm. I generally stuck to this schedule, however there were times when the intervals were longer, say 3 hours. In between each two hour interval, you need to drink 1 litre of filtered water with a pinch of Himalayan salt.
I found the best way to eat the mix was to stir it with about 1/2 a cup of boiling water and two tbsp of fresh, cold pressed apple juice. This was my slurry, as I liked to call it. On the first day I initially tried it with just hot water. Agh, I needed some sweetener. For the remaining doses that day, I combined it with about a teaspoon of maple syrup.
I was lucky not to experience many physical symptoms during this phase. Shortly after the first dose on day 1, I experienced a slight sensation of pain. That pain increased after the second dose, localised at the left lower section of my colon.
I extended the time between the second and third dose. My belly wasn't feeling the best and I just felt like my body needed a break from this high fibrous mix. I drank some organic fennel liquorice tea instead which helped to soothe my belly.
I started off day 2 with a surprising 75 minute walk! I had only intended to take a quick 45 minute walk with the dogs but we stumbled across a new space at the end of a hidden path. It was beautiful and as we walked, the song "A Whole New World" played in my mind. I felt really good!
For my first dose of slurry, I subbed the maple syrup for fresh, cold pressed apple juice. This was much better! I didn't feel very hungry on day 2, until the evening. In the afternoon I had another colonic. This was good! We managed to clear out some faecal plaque, candida overgrowth and fat. No evidence of parasites, which was great!
After the colonic, the naturopath ran a Quantum Resonance Magnetic Analysis. A QRMA is a simple test that highlights those parts of the body that may not be functioning optimally. You simply hold a sensor in your hand and without moving or talking, the sensor is said to gather the weak magnetic field of cells throughout the body for analysis.
My report showed that my body was functioning sub-optimally in various areas including the gallbladder, lungs, gastrointestinal function, iron, toxic pesticide residue and heavy metals (lead). The test also showed abnormal lipid metabolism coefficient which can lead to obesity (and I'm not even fat!!). We scheduled another test for the end of my cleanse to see how things might improve as a result of the cleanse.
It's quite normal to experience cravings whilst cleansing. I craved carbs. Crunchy carbs. Things like baked bean and (vegan) cheese toasties! And vegemite with melted cheese on toast. I haven't eating those things for years!
After four days of slurry, I was so looking forward to my juice fast!
The juice fast went by without much drama. I enjoyed having a variety of juices which provided me with a wide spectrum of nutrients. I made all of the juices myself with my Oscar Neo juicer using organic produce.
There really is no point doing a juice fast if you're consuming fruit and veg thats been sprayed with pesticides. Unless of course you want a chemical cocktail!
I found that my detox symptoms were more emotional than physical. Stuff was dredged up
from the past. I dealt with this by just sitting with it, observing it, without making any decisions. I also found that spending time alone was really important during these periods.
I had another colonic on day 5. There was more candida overgrowth and still no sign of parasites. Phew!
What I did find during the juice fast phase of the cleanse was a dislike for the sweetness of the juice. To remedy this, I added in vegie broth. In addition to adding a savoury element to the juice fast, the broth provided me with something warming, which I found important whilst the nights were still a bit chilly.
The eve of day 10, I cheated.
I was feeling a bit bloated and felt like I needed some fibre to help move things along. I reached for a bag of Pulse. I was a good cheater (if that's even possible!?!) and just had a pinch. It was so yum!
I cheated again on the eve of day 11. This time, three pinches of Pulse...
After seven days of yummy juices and broth, I was ready for the next phase - three days of Pulse.
I continued the juice every morning, adding in the Pulse at about 11am. For the first day of Pulse, I nibbled on it throughout the day. For the second and third days, I pretty much ate it one sitting. It filled me up through to dinner time when I had some broth.
By day 14, after almost three days of Pulse, I was bloated. I don't generally respond well to a lot of sugar, and I think the bloating was a combination of the fibre I was now consuming and the sugar from the dried fruit. I think next year, I will skip the Pulse and introduce smoothies and soups instead.
Lucky for me, I had a colonic scheduled for the next day.
Wow. 14 days of cleansing. I did it! I feel lighter. I have lost about 4kgs. I have a flat tummy. I am smaller all over.
At my fourth colonic on day 1 post cleanse, the naturopath came across a blockage. This explained the bloating I had felt the night before. Likely due to the three days of fibre I had eaten after seven days of no fibre.
Blockage cleared, colon clean, beautiful.
We did the QRMA again. Wow! The areas within my body that were functioning sub-optimally had significantly reduced.
My test report had gone from three pages to just over one. No longer was my gallbladder, lungs, bone mineral density and blood sugar suboptimal. The toxic pesticide residue had gone so to the abnormal lipid metabolism coefficient and collagen eye wrinkles. I was no longer deficient in iron, vitamin A and vitamin B6. I still have some suboptimal health trends but everything has improved. Needless to say, I am very happy with the result.
The post cleanse period is really important. If I was to launch back into food, I could have really done some damage.
My digestive system had essentially been in hibernation for 14 days so it was important to slowly reintroduce food.
Many detox and cleansing experts recommend to break a fast with raw foods. If you have a sensitive gut like I do, raw is not always best.
I chose instead to break my fast with juice, smoothies and soup.
On day 1 post cleanse, I had a juice for breakfast, a smoothie for morning tea, soup for lunch and soup again for dinner. My dinner soup was the vegies that I removed from my broth during the cleanse. I froze these in preparation for breaking my fast. I simply blended, added a bit of tamari for additional flavour and then served with some nutritional yeast sprinkled on top. Warming and filling.
Root vegies are really good for the post-cleanse is they are easy to digest. They are high in water and soluble fiber which help improve regularity and constipation. They also contain a large amount of potassium and magnesium, which help prevent bloating and constipation. And what's even better - cooked and cooled potatoes are a great prebiotic food i.e. they feed your good gut bacteria.
I repeated the juice-smoothie-soup sequence on days 2 and 3 with the addition of an acai bowl for lunch.
From day 5, I will slowly reintroduce some raw food. First on the menu will be vegie crudités with homemade tzatziki. Following raw food, I will introduce legumes and grains.
I am slowly reintroducing exercise. The only exercise I did whilst on the cleanse was walking. Yoga is also beneficial but I didn't get around to this until day 3 post cleanse. My first PT session is next week and I'm leading into that by doing bodyweight exercises and incline walks on the treadmill.
The post-cleanse phase will take about 2-3 weeks.
Recolonizing the Gut
Throughout the cleansing period, the gut is cleared out. Not just of the bad stuff, but the good stuff too.
Hence why it is so important to spend time following a cleanse recolonizing the gut. I'm doing this via the following protocol:
Psyllium husk with water in the morning.
Probiotics first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
Probiotic foods like coconut yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir every day.
1 tbsp of coconut oil before bed.
500ml of hot water before bed.
I'm also taking aloe vera juice (40ml upon rising) to help support the gut as I reintroduce food.
My Tips for a Successful Cleansing Experience
All in all, I have had a very positive experience from my cleanse. This was the longest cleanse I've done and I will continue to do it every Spring, albeit without the Pulse.
To benefit the most from a cleanse, I recommend the following:
1. Like the scouts say, be prepared. I was so mentally prepared for my cleanse that it made so much easier to stick to it. If you're not mentally prepared, it's too easy to slip.
2. If you don't normally have a clean, whole food diet, take some time to prepare. Cut out alcohol, caffeine, meat and dairy. Eat lots of fruit and veg.
3. Do colonics. You might be repulsed by it, but once you try it, you will be amazed at the results. Trust me. They are also really great for reducing detox symptoms.
4. Choose organic produce. I can't stress this enough. This is not a retox, or a continued toxification. This is a DETOX. Organic produce is more expensive, especially when you're juicing it. But in the long run, it is a huge investment in yourself. You will not get the full benefits of cleansing if you are "cleansing" with pesticide laden produce.
5. If high amounts of sugar in your diet cause your gut grief, skip the Pulse. Consume smoothies and soups instead.
6. If you have a predominant Vata constitution like I do, only juice fast in the warmer months. In Spring, when the nights still have a bit of a chill, have broth instead of juice.
7. Gentle exercise only. You might be a keen exerciser and the idea of skipping exercise for 14 days will do your head in. Stop right there. Give your body the chance to rest; the chance to heal. You will come back with more energy and have a greater ability to achieve your exercise goals. Stick to walking and yoga. Be kind to yourself.
8. Reintroduce food S-L-O-W-L-Y. If you normally have a sluggish digestive system, reintroduce food with soft root vegetables (cooked, soups, mashed), smoothies and juices. Then add in raw foods and finally, grains and legumes.
9. Make the effort to recolonize the gut with probiotics, coconut oil, psyllium, spirulina and hot water. Take aloe vera juice to provide your gut with support as you reintroduce food.
Have you done a cleanse detox before? What are your tips and tricks? What was your biggest struggle? I'd love to hear in the comments below.
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