Incorporating Cleansing & Fasting into my Holistic Health Coaching Practice
Book #5: The 3-Day Cleanse by Zoe Sakoutis & Erica Huss (S&H)
This book was pretty fantastic. It was written by two hip, young ladies who live in NYC, follow a mostly raw diet, and own a company called BluePrintCleanse. Their company provides flexible options for juice cleanses, ranging from 1 to 3 days, and varying levels of intensity, based on the user’s current diet and experience with juicing. It’s based in Manhattan- their customers order their juice online, and the company delivers it to them. Their philosophy is that juice fasting shouldn’t be an agonizing experience- that it can be euphoric, pleasurable, and even fun!
Now, I have experience trying different types of fasts. I have done the “master cleanse” (water, maple syrup, lemon, and cayenne pepper ONLY for several days), juice/water fasts (drinking 1 or 2 green veggie juices and lots of lemon water each day for several days), juice cleanses, and I’ve done totally raw food fasts (a la last week), and I have to say, with the exception of the last two, they are usually a struggle. While I appreciate the benefits of a cleanse, they have often seemed like a burden, and the one time I even convinced my boyfriend to do water-cayenne-maple syrup-lemon fast with me- oh MAN, what a disaster!
Which brings me to Ms. Sakoutis & Ms. Huss. Based on their book, it seems like they have ingeniously created a fun, flexible system that sets people up for success. Before I just start shamelessly advertising for them, though, let’s go over some of the basics of what a juice fast is, and why it is good for you:
Our world is highly toxic. Even if you don’t eat a processed or meaty diet, you breathe in toxins, they are in our water, and for most of us, they are in our bathroom and household products. Even though we can’t ever escape them while living in modern society, we can do a pretty good job “detoxing” by doing a juice cleanse. This is a time when we ensure that we are not consuming anything toxic, and allow our body to eliminate the toxins we have been ingesting.
Why the need for detoxing? Well, for one, S&H explain oxidative stress. Our cells are constantly busy making energy, removing toxins, fighting germs, etc. As they do this, they produce toxic by-products called free radicals. Free radicals are essentially unstable oxygen molecules. They are missing an electron on their outer layer, and as anybody familiar with chemistry knows, molecules are constantly trying to stabilize themselves. So these free radicals bounce around in our bodies and, as S&H state, “as they ping around, they seek to snatch electrons from healthy molecules so they can make themselves ‘whole’ again. If they succeed, they damage those healthy molecules in the process of damaging the cell by attacking proteins, the DNA and nucleus of the cell, and the cell’s membrane.” These types of damage are known to be the underlying causes of certain types of cancer, diabetes, aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic diseases.
Another reason to detox is to reduce inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation is a helpful process when it means your body is fighting infection (like when you cut yourself), but when it is chronic, it can really stress out your immune system. Toxic foods like sugar, processed carbs, and too much meat or dairy trigger acidity and thus, inflammation in our bodies. If this is what your normal diet is like, your body will constantly be “inflamed.” If your body is inflamed for long periods of time, your immune system can get hyperactive trying to fight the inflammation. S&H state, “this, in turn, can trigger autoimmunity, in which the immune system- which is only supposed to attack foreign compounds- begins attacking the body’s own tissue. This is the process at work in diseases suck as lupus, multiple sclerosis…” I’ve read about this before- chronic inflammation seems to be the underlying cause of so many chronic diseases!
Now, the theory behind juice cleanses is this- it’s a chance to give all of your body systems a rest from fighting toxins, and also from digesting foods. I’ve read that the single biggest thing our bodies expend energy on, day in and day out, is digestion. We simply are eating foods that our body has to work very hard to digest! Think about it- a pure, whole fruit or vegetable is 1, nature-made, ingredient. Apple. Spinach. Our body knows what to do with it, and it contains water, fiber, and digestive enzymes to aid our body in breaking it down. Now take a frozen pizza. Have you ever tried to read the ingredient list on one of those? It’s like a novel written in another language! I guarantee there are words on a frozen pizza ingredient list that you and I cannot pronounce. Imagine the strain that puts on your body when that puppy shows up in your stomach! It takes A LOT of work to break that thing down and eliminate it from your system. And all the while, your body is becoming acidic, and your cells are becoming exhausted and less able to do their jobs properly.
So why is juice so detoxifying? First, going back to those damaging free-radicals, fresh fruit and vegetable juices are absolutely loaded with anti-oxidants. Therefore, while juice cleansing, you will be loading your system with anti-oxidants that will not only protect your cells from oxidative damage, but will fight off free radicals, allowing your cells to more efficiently do their jobs (like eliminating toxins) while they are not under attack. Also, juices are much more full of nutrients than the ‘ol water-lemon-cayenne-maple syrup elixir. The blogs I read all agree that depriving yourself of vital nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols is never good, even for the sake of detoxing! S&H repeatedly point out that a juice cleanse is not a fast, which I think is an important point. It’s about moving the junk out of your body, filling yourself with super digestible and absorbable powerhouse nutrients, and feeling great- not starving yourself! Lastly, green juices (which S&H, and I, base our cleanses on) are very alkaline. Most diseases thrive when our bodies are acidic. Acidic bodies create the aforementioned inflammation, as well as a welcoming home for yeast, cancer, and most other diseases that you can think of. Raw, alkaline juices are one of the very best ways to balance our body’s pH, and thus create an environment where are cells can heal and do their jobs.
Personally, I’m planning on doing a juice cleanse this weekend. I think it’s the perfect time, as we are in between big holidays. I really love S&H’s philosophy that juice cleansing should become a regular part of one’s lifestyle (they recommend a 1-3 day cleanse once a month, with a mostly raw diet for a few days preceding and after each cleanse). This ensures that you are never going too long loading up your body with toxins. Also, if you regularly cleanse, with a mostly raw diet on either end of the cleanse, that just adds up to you treating your body well more often than not!
I can tell you the following from personal experience: the first day of a juice cleanse is sometimes difficult. But the second day gets a lot easier. The effects that I personally receive from a juice cleanse are: brighter, clearer skin, reduced dark circles under my eyes, clean, complete bowel movements, less bloating around my stomach, clearer thinking, and a general feeling of “lightness”. Obviously, these are all wonderful feelings!
I’ve personally designed juice cleanses for my dad, myself, and several others in the past, so I’m in the process of compiling some testimonials to put up here. To be honest, reading this book has really inspired me to think I might want to specialize in cleansing and detox in my health coaching practice. There’s just so much to it, and honestly, I think it’s a really universal way to make people feel wonderful and get started on the path to healthier living. It really excites me, and I can see myself encouraging others to recharge themselves, think clearly, lose weight, and re-connect with their beautiful, sexy self this way!
Here’s to peace, love, and asking for a new juicer for Christmas,