Are the toxins piling up in your body, clogging up your gut and choking your life force, leaving you with crippling fatigue? If you are ever sucked in to late night tv infomercials, you will likely see pictures of "colons" with fatty-looking deposits stuck to all the walls, narrowing the lumen so only a tiny amount of stool could pass through. This image is so set in our collective consciousness that I would estimate at least a third to half of my patients believe if they complete a "cleanse" they will not only permanently drop ten pounds, but they will cure their constipation, bloating and gas, as well as significantly improve their energy level. As such, I am routinely asked not whether or not TO cleanse, but WHICH cleanse I recommend.
To be honest, for the first decade of my private practice, I would launch into my standard speech about how ridiculous the whole concept of "cleansing" was. Let's look at the facts. We know that when you truly "cleanse" a colon with a bowel prep (the solutions you drink before a colonoscopy that cause diarrhea to the point of clear liquid stool) the colon will be sparkling clean for the GI doctor. While the owner of that clean colon will have temporary weight loss from that loss of stool and fluid, within two to three days, their weight is right back to where it began. Established bowel patterns (chronic constipation, bloating, pain, etc) are not eliminated and frequently not improved (or transiently worsened) from this medical cleanse. So why bother with an "optional" cleanse if we know it won't change the outcome?
Good question, Dr. Grimes. (thanks, lol). My second decade of practice, I figured out the answer and created my own special cleanse recipe for those who inquired. I still make sure that my patients understand the purpose of a "cleanse" is not to do a roto-rooter job on your colon, arteries or liver, and that, by itself, the cleanse is not magical. However, taking a dietary step backwards (and yes, giving our bodies a break from the zillion preservatives, colorings, and extra products within our standard daily fare) can be a positive health choice. Additionally, my three day "cleanse" can be a wonderful jump start to healthy eating and, if needed, weight loss. So, without further ado:
Dr. Grimes' Master Supreme Cleansing 3-Day Detox Diet:
In one sentence: Drink water, and eat fruits, vegetables, and a protein source at every meal.
Yep, that's it. Processed foods are eliminated. This cleanse is automatically gluten-free and dairy-free (which helps those with undiagnosed celiac disease or lactose intolerance). Skip everything with high fructose corn syrup and additives or chemicals you can't pronounce. Skip carbonation, caffeine and alcohol. Yes. Those are extras our body does not need. If you are going to get a caffeine-withdrawal headache, keep one cup of coffee but drink it plain- no sugar, cream, etc. Feel free to add a lemon, lime or orange wedge to your water if you want flavor. Please skip sugar substitutes (aspartame, etc.) We are going for a "cleanse" here!
What counts as a protein source?
- Eggs, fish, nuts, beans or lean meat
Can you cook them?
- Absolutely! This is not a "raw food" diet, but a simplified diet. Feel free to use olive oil (one to two tablespoons should be enough per meal), salt, pepper, or herbs to season and cook the protein or veggies.
How much should you eat?
- Limit your protein to a serving roughly the size of your expanded, cupped hand (at each meal)
- Fruits and vegetables? No maximum, but a minimum of two servings per meal (a handful is one serving.)
- Eat four meals: (essentially breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner.)
- Make sure your first meal is within an hour of waking up.
How much water?
- One large glass at each meal, and any time you are thirsty (no maximum)
Despite the tongue-in-cheek Master cleanse name, there is nothing special or magical about this recipe. Does it work? Well, yes- it does. It "works" to help you realize what your body needs, versus what your mouth, eyes or mind want. For those with lactose intolerance or celiac disease, this often "works" to improve bowel/abdominal bloating and discomfort. For those trying to focus on better nutrition and weight loss, this frequently "works" as a great jump start. Can you modify this and use yogurt as a protein source? Certainly! The point here is to spend a few days with simple eating and no extra..."extras". Wishing you good luck and great health in 2017!
Bottom Line: If you're looking to "cleanse" your body, make it simple and stick to water, fruits, veggies, and simple proteins (eggs, beans or meat) for a healthy jump start!