Since reading the book, “Clean” by Alejandro Junger several years ago, my wife and I have selected a 3-week period each Summer to complete a 21-day Cleanse, touted in the book as a revolutionary program to restore the body’s natural ability to function more properly and heal itself. That 21-day period ended 3 weeks ago and we are both still benefiting from the experience in terms of more energy, better ability to sleep, and we pay better attention to the kind and amount of food we consume. It is not about losing weight necessarily, but more about cleaning out toxins and restoring the body’s ability to absorb nutrients; although typically, I do lose around 10 pounds which always makes me feel better.
The program consists of a liquid “meal” in the morning and at night with a solid meal only at lunch. They have a corresponding recipe book with meals that are acceptable for lunch such as fish or chicken with a vegetable, salads with a protein included, etc. For breakfast they have smoothies you can make and for dinner, soups that are pureed. Or you can take the easy way out like we did and just purchase cold pressed juice for morning and evening and make lunch. We did occasionally make our own smoothies and soups.
The idea is to avoid all of the toxic foods known to cause food allergies, food sensitivities and digestive strain. Given all of the cravings and distractions we have in our daily life, it can be a challenge to make it through 3 weeks; but after completing the program, we have a clean canvas to discover what foods are causing havoc in our body. They, by slowly reintroducing foods – like processed dairy, wheat, gluten, refined sugar, etc – we discovered the irritants. My wife discovered she was sensitive to gluten and reconfirmed her allergy to certain types of dairy. Not a lot bothers me personally, but what I always experience after a cleanse is that I have more energy, sleep better, and feel better overall. I also found that my skin complexion was much more vibrant. And, of course, I have a huge sense of accomplishment.
Along with the immediate benefits. come longer-term benefits; 1) a realization that we can live on smaller portions of food at each serving, 2) eating real foods as opposed to processed foods makes you feel better and finally, 3) the constant awareness of the consequences of eating “trigger foods”. I’m no doctor, but seeing and experiencing the positive effects that completing the cleanse has made in my life and the health of my wife, I can tell you first-hand that reading the book and going through the program has had a major positive impact on how I view what I eat and I am more aware than ever of the choices I make.
At the end of the day, cultivating the discipline to eat real food – as opposed to processed foods – provides tangible health benefits that can be measured in terms of blood pressure monitoring, resting heart rate, cholesterol levels, etc… Pretty much confirming that “food is medicine” in my mind.