‘Diet’ books are now shelved at antique fairs. Instead, the health food segment is becoming more popular than ever in the modern consumerism history, so we detox. By employing a certain regime on our bodies, we clean our organs and as a result we are healthier and loose some weight as a side effect. Doesn’t this saintly, seriously health improving nourishment instead of deprivation (=diet) sound better?
Clean, detox, wholesome nourishment, … and other names for new diets
It does, otherwise we would not see more juice bars popping around our big cities with endless “cleanse” options customised to your liking. Forget calories, fat and natural sugar, as becoming healthier and loosing weight is all about putting the most nutrient dense unprocessed liquids into your body. Influenced by this trend, your New Year resolution may be tweaked a bit. Have you successfully detoxified yourself after the period of holiday indulgences?
Whether your sipped yourself through a week full of “Clarity”, “Superhero”, “Green1,2,3,4”, “Healer”, or you just dove into the work flow of the New Year without any “cleansing”, read this. Science and increasing amount of experts as well as pure reason debug the myths and seal the benefits of this approach to restoring well-being.
Healthy lifestyle in the new millennium
We are living in a decade of juice cleansing. Detoxifying through liquid consumption became the ultimate trend of our big city culture. As with more lifestyle trends, it all started in the US. Consumers became increasingly wary of genetically modified and highly processed foods. From California the word spread through Hollywood to London, Paris and even Hong Kong as well as Sydney. All these cities offer cleanses at any point of the year. So why to rush it in January? There is a reason to wait, as I will explain later.
First, beware of the cure all claims. Functional foods and super foods flooded the supermarket shelves. Hundreds of new businesses exaggerating the powers of eating only specific organic food sprung up charging high digits for their antioxidant-rich, mind-strengthening, and who knows what else potions. I got hooked as well, and my “healthy” lunching in LA magically shifted the digits on the scale up after the trip. At least these doctors in a bottle were tastier than any Chinese medicine, well at least most (Moon Juice in LA sells next to their delicious snacks some nasty tasting elixirs).
Recently I fell for the turmeric latte, sweetened by coconut sap, sure. This hot golden beverage (also titled the “gold milk”) made with nut milk has been popping out at organic cafes in London, LA and I have enjoyed it also in Melbourne and Sydney. Since dairy is not currently trendy in the health realm, I also find it more fun to try the different “milks“. True, our lactase enzyme production decreases with age, making digestion of milk lactose an uncomfortable process for the body. Feeling bloated and discomfort after a cup of milk or a palate of mixed cheese is the price we pay for this indulgence. As a teenager I could down a bottle of milk, now I know that some beverages and foods do not befriend me any more. We change as we age and our needs change too. I am lucky enough not to be seriously allergic to any food, yet I have sensitivities, so balancing the devils with the angel foods suitable for my ageing yet well observed constitution is key to my happy self.
We can clean our bodies from environmental toxins by escaping to the pollution-free mountains, but it has been a common practice in many cultures from Asia to Europe to heal through fasting. All main global religions recognised the benefits of fasting for millennia. Buddhists, Christians, Jews as well as Muslims, all include a period of restraint into their annual calendars. Mind is being constantly balanced through prayer, meditation or singing during a mass.
As your cells rejuvenate, science has proven that you can get rid of migraines, insulin-dependence, digestive problems and other ills of the physical body. Fasting though is safest to be done under medical supervision. Its health benefits are valid only when done properly by a suitable individual. Not everyone’s make-up reaps success from fasting.
Old and tried wisdom applied to modern detox
A more holistic approach to detox offer Ayurveda, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) as do the Buddhist practices of the Japanese. Recognising seasonal needs for our bodies is the soil for blooming health in all these ancient traditions. In winter we need support and strength to cope with the adverse cold weather. Unless, you reside in the Southern hemisphere, January is not the right time to sustain yourself on cold raw juices. The ancient wisdom of the East urges including hearty, oily and warm beverages and food in our daily winter consumption.
Human instinct can be tricked only for some time, and after a cold winter or two on cold juices one may crave the warming embrace of a soup. As the temperatures hybridised low even in the mecca of new diet and lifestyle trends, the Hollywood, the soup detox is catching on. This week I sampled delicious organic warm options at Soupure and was willing to make it a lunch. So comforting! A steaming bowl of soup is cosy not just in between the ski downs in Aspen or St Moritz, but also when battling the freezing winds chilling through the city avenues. Some raw juice and food only brands such as Juice Press in New York heat up soups in the winter. Imagine the annual January storm in that city. You would not make me straw in the icy green smoothie when strolling the below zero frosty streets.
Confession needs to be made here. Coming from a culture where every lunch traditionally started with warm soup I am wholeheartedly, and my belly nods too, in. Bring on the soup every day! In Czech there is a saying that goes along these lines: “Soup is the base meal, meat is just a condiment” or as I say “Soup is the wine, meat is the cork.” Therefore, support your worn out body during these months and leave the aggressive detox or fast for spring. Renewed energy will be your reward to start off the warm seasons.
As most of the world strays away from the religious paths, including a rational yet sustained balancing approach in our lifestyle is needed for our well-being. Committing to regular rejuvenating rituals waves red flags of challenges. The strong willed are lucky. Their independent, hard mind rules over their behaviour and ultimately the body. But what should the rest, more emotionally driven and vulnerable majority do? External support helps. Motivating in the new millennium, with all the supportive guardian apps that remind you of the resolve, rolls full speed ahead, so take advantage of that! An engaging book offering support while detoxifying can help. Knowledge feeds our resolve, therefore I recommend these books:
- Clean: Alejandro Junger, M.D.
- Juicing Therapy: Dr. Barnard Jensen
- The Complete Book of Juicing: Michael T. Murray, N.D.
- The Enzyme Factor: Hiromi Shinya
- What to Eat : Marion Nestle
- The Third Plate: Dan Barber
- Memories, Dreams, Reflections: C. G. Jung
Dream your balanced self
The Western lifestyle shifts our focus from channelling energy in to exerting energy out. For balance and in order to declutter our lives we also need to harness the inner strength. Not just by eating healthy food for our individual constitution, but also breathing clean air, cleaning our mind through meditation or daydreaming and incorporate energy preserving exercise such as Qi-Gong, Tai-chi, Yoga and other mostly Eastern practices.
There is one Western therapeutical approach recognising the importance of your inner wellbeing and aiding with understanding of your strengths and weaknesses – dreaming. Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology was not only into translating dreams into their archetypal meanings but he understood how individually they can guide each individual to a better, balanced self. Read his books and dream yourself healthy!
For an easy to tick on your do list start, detox your mailbox first. Unsubscribe from any mail list that you tend to delete without reading or that usually remains in your unread messages. As Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese aesthetic philosophy teaches: “Get rid of all that is unnecessary.” As simple as that.
Aside of decluttering my mailbox while waiting at the airports for flights, I must admit that January has not kicked on a gruelling detox program for me. Traveling to Australia and New Zealand for the first time, I had to enjoy this wonderful trip fully. Sipping wine daily, sampling local cheese, indulging in the free pasturing tender lamb in New Zealand, all in larger amounts than usually. Plus, one must try the Anzac biscuits, claimed as a national dessert of both the Kiwis and the Aussies. One just craves knowing, what makes these two nations so competitive about this butter cookie?
But, once spring kicks on and the temperature rise (well, with this super warm winter one gets confused which day is spring and which winter), I will depart for my new detox journey. It won’t involve sustaining on liquids for a week but rather a balanced nourishment, free of alcohol, caffeine and refined sugar. I know this works for me and makes me feel reenergised, plus I am sure that this approach will not be blacklisted by scientists any time soon as most diets did. Salut, na zdraví, santé to the healthy year ahead!