Monday, September 06, 2010

Detox.

So a couple weeks ago I decided I needed to go through a(nother) cleanse - doing it for real this time, doing it right. I was not feeling well at all, and in fact felt somewhat poisoned.

I always say "I need to do a cleanse", but I don't feel like I've ever done it in a way that really suits my needs or my life. Which means that I've pretty much always immediately and spectacularly failed. This is in truth part of a larger problem of mine. I have spent years, and I mean years, doing research on nutrition and the food industry. But I seem to have some sort of disconnect with actually applying my collected knowledge to what I eat. Perhaps this is a vestige of the ability I had when I was younger: to recognize animals as individuals capable of suffering and yet continue to eat them, to know how wildly unhealthy our processed "foods" are but keep putting them into my sick body.

Clearly I made it far enough to become vegan, and sheesh did that take long enough. I still have difficulty with individual meals on a frequent basis, which has to do with my troubled relationship with food. (How could it not be troubled? Have you walked into a supermarket lately?) And somehow even though I know what nutrients the body needs, what alkalizes and what acidifies, what stagnates and what purifies, and so on, and so on, when it comes to "doing a cleanse" I allow myself to become befuddled.

So I've been searching los internets for guidance, and separating the wheat from the chaff is a big job. There is so much nonsense, so many fad diets. Oprah did this, Hollywood is doing that - oh just eat nothing but coconuts! And by the way, buy my miracle product!!!!!! Bla, bla, bla. In my heart of hearts I believe I know what to do. But to accomplish it I need to lay out a reasonable plan, pace it feasibly, and then actually do it.

Here's some of the useful advice I have found. I like to share!
How do you know if you need a detox?
You know you're suffering from toxic overload if you are experiencing fatigue, memory decline, difficulty focusing, allergies and infections, irritability, anxiety and depression, difficulty with weight gain and weight loss, muscle and joint pain or weakness, skin rashes and outbreaks, recurrent yeast and fungal infections, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and indigestion.

Your Detox Meals
These meals are designed to jump-start your body into becoming healthier.

• Breakfast: Eat oat bran cereal, brown rice, or any other whole grain cereal as long as it is unbleached and does not contain any added sugar or chemicals. Pair with unflavored soy milk.

• Lunch and Dinner: Eat any combination of beans, brown rice, oat bran, vegetables, and organic chicken, turkey, or soy-products. When you eat, notice how your food affects you. You should feel satisfied and energized. If you feel tired and sluggish, try eating smaller meals so that you don't overwhelm your digestion and interfere with the detoxification process.
The long list of symptoms in the first paragraph could of course be caused by any number of things, including an acute illness. If you do actually have something like a bacterial infection, a trip to the doc really is in order. But in any case doing some cleansing will never hurt. (I am not suggesting anything like the "master cleanse" - I don't think it's a good idea for anyone to try to live off of spicy lemonade for any period of time.)

From the "Detox Meals" paragraph, I must note that the idea of eating any animal products during a cleanse strikes me as pretty silly, even for someone who hasn't adopted a vegan lifestyle. If the goal is cleansing or "detoxifying", at the very least organic meats should be chosen. "Conventional" meat is toxic city. Also, there is a reason there is no dairy listed in the suggestions - dairy is inflammatory to many people who don't realize it, even in the absence of lactose intolerance.

I found this recipe, which I don't think I'll use but may substitute with green gumbo instead:
Detox Broth: Add as many of these ingredients as you can into a large pot of filtered water: collards, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, cabbage, dandelion, Brussels sprouts, daikon radish,watercress, seaweed, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, garlic, leeks, fresh fennel, anise, fresh ginger, and turmeric. Boil until all ingredients are soft. You can make in a large batch and refrigerate for up to three days.
Depending on what school you're in on onions (I think they're just fine), I'd say caramelize one in two tablespoons of really good olive oil in your big pot before following the above directions, and you'll come out with much more pleasing results. Also, unless you are having blood pressure issues, a little bit of salt really isn't so terrible.

I have now formulated a plan, which will be fully revealed to you in future blog posts. I know, you can't wait.