Before getting started, many of you are probably more concerned about the reference to “Oops I did it Again,” a song by Brittany Spears. So let’s start with some true and false on my relationship with Brittany, on the record, once and for all.
1) I once sang (and danced while singing) “Baby One More Time” karaoke-style in front of over 200 people, not even slightly under the influence of any substance (except sugar), with long shaggy greasy hair, a gnarly beard, and an old plaid shirt.
2) I found Brittany to be extremely attractive the first time I saw her.
3) I paid hard-earned money to see Brittany’s movie Crossroads in the movie theater.
FALSE (someone else bought my ticket)
4) I recently downloaded the song “Toxic,” burned it to a cd mix, and often turn up the volume when it comes on to really get my groove on.
5) I’ve been employed at a place where I have reluctantly sold Zantrax-3, a highly caffeinated weight “loss” pill that Brittany was once photographed carrying around in her purse, to several devastatingly misinformed customers.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way once and for all, let’s dig in to Oops I Did it Again Part I…
Nearly two years ago I began to take interest in cleansing and fasting. It is a trendy detoxification procedure that people, hundreds of them and growing, recommend for health and vitality. Although I never could totally get into the idea of doing a liquid-only cleanse, I was a big fan of eating raw fruits and vegetables only for three to ten days.
Right away I was sold on this whole cleansing thing. I lost weight, I felt better, sinuses cleared, breath freshened up, digestion functioned flawlessly, aches and pain disappeared, skin, eyes, nails, etc. glowed with radiance. “This is the best!” I felt incredible, looked good, and was thoroughly sold on cleansing and detoxification. Until now.
Like many health fads (raw veganism, low fat/carb diets, food combining, etc.), cleansing at first feels like the ultimate health maneuver. The short-term “benefits” give you a feeling of having found the Holy Grail of Nutrition. I do still feel like some chronic conditions can be eliminated, or at least improved, by cleansing. It is not totally without benefit.
However, it’s easy, really easy, to overdo it, and cleansing is the last thing that many people need to restore their health and basic function. Cleansing for more than ten days at any given time, or in any given year unless you’re on your deathbed and attempts at proper nourishment haven’t worked, is excessive and harmful to the body.
Health “gurus” like Dr. Schulze have helped thousands to overcome chronic illnesses no doubt, but at the same time they have over relied on cleansing and have guided thousands to poorer metabolism and further malnutrition. It is certainly no coincidence that even the great Dr. Schulze himself is fat and bald, a sign of impaired metabolism and improper nutrition.
Likewise, it is no surprise that my hair suddenly began thinning out. Cleansing wasn’t the only reason for it – a decade of fanatical exercise and poor diet certainly didn’t help, nor did a 44-day starvation backpacking trip where my thyroid slowed down to the point of constant coldness – even lugging a 60-pound pack up 3,000 vertical feet at a near jog with three layers on (others were hiking in t-shirts).
Over a period of about a year I performed about a dozen cleanses, from two to eight days each. I too fell into the dangerous mindset of thinking that “man, that last cleanse just didn’t feel as good as the first couple, I know, I need to do it longer. Maybe two weeks next time, oh yeah, maybe a whole month. Ah man, I’d be like so healthy if I did that.”
Is it just me or are these stories about how stupid I used to be incredibly entertaining? Life is funny because at each level of life we think we’re so smart. “I’ve really got it all figured out now!”
Anyways, where were we, oh yeah, cleansing…
Cleansing allows the body to perform functions that it otherwise cannot. It frees up the body to do important repair work. The body uses this essential mechanism often when you are sick and lose your appetite. People keep trying to shove food down your throat, but you’re not hungry for a reason. Your body doesn’t want to divert energy to digestion when it’s got bigger emergencies to take care of. Emptying out the digestive tract or eating easily digestible raw fruits and vegetables, juices, or broth can be therapeutic.
But most of us are healthy enough that more than a cleanse or two is unnecessary and sends signals of scarcity to the metabolism, slowing it down and doing hard-to-repair damage. It’s similar to starving yourself on a low-calorie diet, which depletes your body of much needed muscle and other bodily tissues, leaving you with a more sluggish metabolism and less nutritional reserves than before.
In conclusion, don’t be afraid to do a cleanse of some kind. It could be very beneficial, but don’t make it a habit or use it as a way to lose weight. A more sustainable and effective long-term way to nourish yourself is to eat balanced meals, part raw and part cooked, always with plenty of healthy fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates found in whole, real foods cultivated in accordance with nature’s guidelines.