You are probably familiar with the scenario of a person who eats unnatural food from diners, convenience stores and the take-out place across the street from work. They think it’s OK to live like this because they’ll just cleanse their system with the juice of produce like apples, kale, ginger and celery for days at a time.
Many people live like this, in that they have embraced juice cleanses as a cure-all for an unhealthy lifestyle or even just as a staple of better health. And why wouldn’t they? Consuming nothing but juice for days can leave us feeling light, clean and free of toxicity. It helps us to lose weight as well. People swear by them as a way to jump-start one’s lifestyle.
But, are we cleansing in the healthiest way we can?
Below are seven misconceptions that most people have about juice cleanses, and why you will benefit from knowing more about them before starting one.
Many people think that it’s okay to fill the body with processed foods, alcohol and other unhealthy substances because cleansing will reverse all of the damage and make everything okay. But whenever we consume these toxic substances, the body must invest significant resources into purging them from the body. These are resources that would otherwise be committed to maintaining our immune system and our well-being as a whole. Each time we burden the body with more toxicity, we wear the body out. The body is responsible for cleaning itself, and the juice is only responsible for helping that process to take place. So a juice cleanse can only help clean to the point that the body has the capacity to do so.
I’ve had many clients who came to me for physical issues, but it wasn’t until they resolved some mental blockage of stagnant energy that they truly got better. The reverse can also be true. Cleansing may seem to be all about reversing the toxicity in the body, but it actually can affect the workings of the mind as well. And if a person is in a particularly compromised emotional state, endeavoring to make such a radical shift in lifestyle, even for just a few days, could uncover significant issues. This situation is best monitored by a trained professional who can help to turn the emotional turmoil into a lesson in awareness.
One of the great misconceptions that exists throughout much of Western culture is that all people need the same routine at all points in time. We’re told that we must each consume 2,000 calories and eight glasses of water a day. But what about the days when we use more energy, or sweat less? Along similar lines, some people cleanse on a regular schedule, like for three days a month, once a week or even every other day. But some days cleansing is more valuable than others. Rather than commit to a regular cleansing schedule, it’s ideal to consider time of year, activity levels and other factors so that the cleanse does not have an adverse effect on our well-being.
In the scenario that started this article, it was suggested that the person drank a lot of apple, kale, ginger and celery juice. But according to Ayurveda, these types of produce create a lot of air in the body which then dries the body out. Traveling around a lot also imbalances the air element in our system, which is why we often feel constipated when we spend a lot of time on the road. Not every fruit and vegetable has the same effect on the body, so rather than drink whatever mixture strikes our fancy, it’s important to be informed. Consume produce that creates balance in the body rather than exacerbates imbalance.
Often, when someone feels particularly toxic in their body, they will drink large amounts of juice. They think that because this volume of liquid makes their pee clear they are cleansing more deeply. Though this does purge the body, it’s not an ideal way to go. Purging the body in this way drains not only the toxins but all of the good nutrients as well. Though this leads to cleansing, it means we are also peeing out many of the nutrients in our system. The amount of liquid we consume must vary according to our body’s needs in the moment.
Though we might feel validated after a cleanse because of the lightness we feel, the body is constantly and continually consuming more toxins: in the air, in the water and everywhere else. Our body, by its very nature, is a toxic vessel. We take in air, food, and liquid and our body synthesizes these components to turn them into energy. The rest is continually flushed out as toxic matter. Though by living a simple, natural life we certainly have an opportunity to craft a lifestyle that lessens the amount of toxicity we experience in any given moment, we will not solve our problems by consuming nothing but juice but by living a more balanced lifestyle.
Cleansing, like everything else, is unique to the individual. Before setting out to cleanse, we must first explore why we want to go through it, for how long and in what quantity.
If you think it’s time to conduct a cleanse, observe the state of your particular body and mind. Seek the counsel of a trained holistic practitioner, if available. But if you cleanse, be sure to do it as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Eat natural foods in small quantities. Avoid leftovers and alcohol. Commit yourself to a daily practice of spiritual growth so that you’ll crave toxic substances less.
And when you do, you will welcome greater balance into your life as a whole.
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