Many of us find that our diets and lives get off balance - we celebrate the holidays and eat more sweets than we'd like, or we have a big project due at work and stay up all night drinking diet cola.
For some people, the solution to getting your mind and body back in order is to follow a self-cleanse. The purpose of going through a self-cleanse-or a detox--is to rid the body of poisonous toxins that have accumulated within our inner organs and tissue. These toxins may come from eating too much junk food, living a stressful lifestyle, breathing in polluted air-or, in many cases, all of the above.
Your body will strongly benefit from undergoing a self-cleanse. But which type of cleanse is right for you? A fast that eliminates specific foods from your diet? A 7-day liquids-only fast? We have listed ten cleanses below in the order of difficulty that will aid you in your path to physical self-purification.
Whatever cleanse you choose to pursue, keep in mind that many of these cleanses are a way to clean and restore your body, not an easy way to lose weight. Each cleansing technique has its own benefits, and its own unique way of balancing the body.
• Dry Skin Brushing: This skin self-cleanse is easy and effective. Take a natural thistle brush with a long handle, and without using any water, simply brush yourself from head to toe before taking a shower to get rid of your dead skin cells. Dry skin brushing encourages the body's lymphatic system to effectively drain waste materials away from your body tissue. Integrate it into your everyday schedule, and you will find yourself with smoother, more glowing skin.
The upside: Smooth, glowing skin. Not to mention a nice sense of relaxation.
The downside: It feels nice, but it doesn't nearly have an impact as much as a dietary cleanse. We suggest you combine the two for maximum health benefits.
• The 24 Hour Cleanse: If the idea of limiting your diet for an entire week intimidates you, the 24-hour cleanse may be a good way to get your toes wet in the cleansing scene. For the duration of the day, your diet is limited to pomegranate juice, slow-cooked brown rice, raw almonds, and a high-power vegetable salad. A hot shower in the morning and the evening stimulates your blood flow, and 45 minutes of physical exercise helps expel toxins. It may not be as intense and thorough as a week-long cleanse, but it will certainly prepare you for your next self-cleanse adventure.
The upside: A great way to get your toes wet in the cleansing scene.
The downside: You may need more than one day to make a permanent impact on your dietary and exercise habits.
• The Water Fast: Drinking only liquids for seven days may be too extreme for some people. In a water fast, you choose a day during the week when you do not eat any solid foods and only drink water, thus allowing for your digestive passageways and organs to completely rest. This is a very easy and effective way to internally heal your intestines, and also an opportunity to replenish your body with the many benefits of drinking water. Beware not to overeat the next day, as it will reverse all the internal healing that you have done.
The upside: This fast only lasts a single day, and will keep your body well-hydrated. If you are like most people, you are probably not drinking enough water, anyway.
The downside: You will be going to the bathroom a lot. Also, not eating any food at all can be grueling for people who have never done a complete fast.
• The Spring Equinox Fast: Even our bodies need a good spring cleaning from time to time, but you don't have to wait until springtime to utilize this fast. First, you cleanse your body with an intestinal bath. From 8 A.M. to noon, your diet is limited to certain fruits (solid and liquid form) and herbal tea. From noon to 8 A.M., your diet is limited to certain vegetables (solid and liquid form) and herbal tea. While you are doing this for 3 to 10 days, you also utilize laxative tea in the morning and evening.
The upside: Though this is a "fast," your food options are still quite diverse.
The downside: Eating only fruits in the morning and only vegetables in the afternoon can get kind of annoying.
• The Pineapple Lung Cleanse: According to some health experts, pineapple helps cleanse and tone the pores in your lungs, which directly effect the elasticity of your lung sacs. Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelin, which helps expel intestinal worms from your lung pores. This fast involves eating pineapples as much as you like for three to seven days in conjunction to drinking ginger tea and eating frozen castor oil capsules. Combine this with light exercise and yoga.
The upside: You lungs will become more efficient at oxygenating your blood. In layman's terms, your breathing will improve significantly.
The downside: You may never want to eat another pineapple again. Ever.
• The Kidney Cleanse: Our kidneys are important because they separate the toxic waste products from our blood. You can cleanse your kidneys by passing large amounts of water through them and helping your kidney flush out impurities. One common kidney-cleansing technique is to eat watermelon in large quantities, or to drink tea composed of watermelon seed or celery seed. This technique can also be used to clean out your liver as well. Eating only watermelon may become monotonous, so be sure you are fully committed to cleaning your kidneys before you start!
The upside: Your kidneys and your liver will benefit greatly from this cleanse.
The downside: Just like the pineapple lung cleanse, be prepared for the monotony of this restrictive diet.
• The Anti-Candida Diet: Candida albicans is a type of yeast that lives in your system. According to health experts, antibiotics, birth control pills and other diet factors may contribute to candida overgrowth in the intestine, which can potentially cause headaches, mood swings and other health problems. Removing excess candida from the system involves a colon cleanse followed by a special diet that avoids all sugar (including sugar found in fruit), yeast-products (bread and bread crumbs), and dairy. By eating a lot of vegetables, fish, rice cakes, yogurt, oats and brown rice, your intestines will eventually be populated with "good" yeasts.
The upside: You can brag to your friends that your intestines no longer have candida overgrowth. Those pesky yeasts will no longer wreak havoc on your moods.
The downside: There are a lot of dietary restrictions to remember-and follow.
• The No-Sugar Self Cleanse: Eating too sugar can weaken your immune system, cause mental anxiety and make you more susceptible to diseases and illnesses. If giving up your sweet tooth is hard, beware that the first few days may increase your temptation of going on a major junk food binge. Nonetheless, completely eliminating processed sugar from your diet and increasing your intake of natural foods-even as a temporary fast-will immediately and undeniably increase your body's well-being.
The upside: Your taste buds will learn again to appreciate the natural flavors of foods that aren't artificially enhanced.
The downside: Being deprived of your goodies may cause some crankiness. That, and there is always the possibility that your sweet tooth might come back with a cold-blooded vengeance when you are done.
• Ayurvedic Cleanse: Ayurvedic cleansing is an Indian detox technique cleanses both the mind and body of toxic impurities. Based on Eastern philosophy principles, Ayurvedic cleaning is a three-phase process. The first phase (the "Purva Karma") is mentally and physically preparing yourself for the cleanse by changing your diet and lifestyle, such as eliminating sugar and caffeine from your diet and increasing the consumptions of vegetables and physical activity. In the second phase (the "Pancha Karma"), the actual cleansing takes place-through a combination of herbal drinks and laxatives. Finally, in the third rejuvenation phase, you come full circle by repeating the dietary and lifestyle changes of the preparation phase.
The upside: This detox tackles the purification of the whole mind-body-soul triangle in one comprehensive swoop.
The downside: It does require a hefty time commitment.
• The Raw Food Self-Cleanse: According to the raw foodist philosophy, cooking food over 118 degrees Fahrenheit destroys the valuable vitamins, minerals and enzymes contained within plant-based foods that are essential to our health. Avoiding all processed foods and eating only raw natural foods over a window of time, whether it be a month or a week-with an emphasis on legumes, fruits and vegetables-can increase your physical stamina and mental clarity. By keeping everything au naturel, your body can completely focus on absorbing all the healthy nutrients that come directly from Mother Earth.
The upside: You will have more energy, think clearer and know the ins and outs of using a blender.
The downside: This cleanse requires careful planning, research and commitment if you don't want to be stuck eating baby carrots for a whole month. Dining out options will also be extremely limited.