I've been reading a book called "Quantum Wellness" by Kathy Freston. Basically the book describes the many dimensions of health--spiritual, emotional, physical...and how they all work together. While some of the stuff she says I don't really agree with, the hippie side of me really appreciates much of what she has to offer. Normally, I'm against cleanses. I'm totally against fasting (or, I should clarify, fasting for non-religious purposes. Fasting with prayer is different) or liquid diets, etc. I believe that our bodies are designed to cleanse themselves and doing such drastic things basically throws off the rhythm your body wants to function in. However, the cleanse recommended in this book is different. First, it doesn't require limiting your food intake. Food types, yes, but not food quantity. It's still possible to get energy, protein, etc from the cleanse she recommends. All you're basically doing is eliminating the hardest foods for your body to process and digest so that your body can focus on other things (in my case, fighting off infections and giving me back my energy.) It's in no way a permanent way of life; it's just basically a jump start to wellness. So, here's a list of the foods we'll be avoiding, and a brief explanation why:
Sugar: Sugar turns to glucose in your body. High levels of glucose triggers the production of insulin in your pancreas. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your body produces and when the storage areas in your body are full, the sugar will be turned into fat. Insulin can cause inflammation in your cells (and thus is possibly linked with cancer.) Sugar can also be addicting and trigger cravings. Digesting refined and processed sugar also upsets the balance of vitamins and minerals in your body. By avoiding sugar for just a few weeks, you can actually reset your body to get more energy from less food. (And just for the record, we'll be avoiding not only white sugar, but all natural sugars including honey, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.)
Alcohol: Many of the same effects of sugar, since it also turns to glucose. Also highly addictive, and damaging to vital organs. (This will be the only easy part of the cleanse for me.)
Caffeine: Besides being addictive, caffeine can also be linked to anxiety, sleep disorders, body tensions, and headaches. Giving up caffeine lets you body restore its settings without the false adrenaline of caffeine. Since I think coffee is something that my stomach doesn't handle well to begin with, I'll be avoiding decaf as well. And since I can't have sugar or dairy, a cup of coffee isn't something I would have enjoyed anyways!
Gluten: The most common of all small intestine irritants. Because it's very difficult for the small intestine to digest, sometimes it leaks out into the bloodstream. It then attatches itself to certain brain receptors (which is why many times a gluten free diet will help children with ADHD, autism, and other learning disorders.) Eating too much gluten also takes away the small intestines ability to absorb nutrients from other foods. By giving it up for a few weeks, the small intestine can heal itself and get back on track.
Animal Products: Dairy is another commonly known allergen. It can lead to inflammation in your small intestine. Most of the idea of eliminating animal products though, is because of the hormones and chemicals that are in the cows and other animals we eat. Avoiding them for a short time also gives your body a chance to rest from these hormones.
*I will say we will most likely compromise on the meat--because we work out so much, it's difficult to get a high level of protein from vegan sources. We will most likely add in some fish a few nights, and maybe some chicken.
This will be difficult. But I'm hoping that the few weeks of it will give me renewed energy and health. I'm mostly telling everyone so that it's motivation for us to actually stick with it! 21 days. Wahoo. We'll keep you updated! =)