In our non-stop, high stress culture, a grueling detox program can often overburden us with more worries and commitments to somehow squeeze in.
Yet most people lean on food for a daily respite from their stressors—fats for comfort, alcohol for unwinding, coffee for a pick-me-up. It only takes one anxious week of emotional eating or a busy social calendar full of decadent dining to build up a backlog of waste that leaves our digestive organs struggling to catch up.
Undergoing the full two-to-four week challenge that many cleanses require can be daunting. The thought of going cold turkey from comforts like meat, dairy and sugar for almost a month can seem absolutely impossible when you’re already juggling too many responsibilities to add another one.
The money spent on endless supplements, the time focused on carefully planning each meal and the commitment needed to say no to eating out makes purging toxins a part-time job. On top of that already overwhelming investment, any cleanse over four days often causes a healing reaction and mood disturbance that can interfere with work and other priorities.
While a minimum of seven consecutive days yearly is necessary to re-balance the pH of the bloodstream and completely purify the tissues, you can activate a simple digestive reset with only one to three days of consuming easy-to-assimilate, nourishing foods, according to author Daniel Reid in The Tao of Detox. This shorter program gifts our intestines a much needed vacation and finally gives the bowels a chance to process that sluggish queue.
Here are four mini-cleanses that will achieve results after only 24-76 hours, depending on your personal needs. Your gut will shrink, your rate of digestion will speed up, your mind will become clear and calm, and your body will begin to feel in balance again.
1. Fruits Only
Eating just fruit for a day or two will provide enough fiber to wash clear the intestinal tract while still giving your gut nutritious sustenance and rest. Reid recommends focusing on fruits with a medium to low sugar content and high concentration of digestive enzymes, like papaya, apples, pears and dark grapes.
2. Nourishing Liquids
Start with a breakfast of fresh green juice (spinach, beet, lemon and ginger is both mild and stimulating to the system and is a popular favorite). Follow with a lunch of miso broth, adding fresh ginger and turmeric to the boiling water, before cooling and adding to the miso paste. And for dinner, prepare a healing bone broth ahead of time. Nothing is faster and easier for your organs to process than these nutrient-dense liquids.
This traditional Ayurvedic meal of slow-cooked lentils and rice serves to stoke our digestive fire and purify the mind during a panchakarma, or a total mind-body rejuvenation program in Ayurvedic medicine. By incorporating this medicinal meal for a couple days monthly, we can see deep restorative results in our bodies and minds.
Congee is kitchari’s traditional Chinese Medicine counterpart, an ancient staple with a dual function of food and medicine. Congee is a rice porridge cooked overnight with vegetables, herbs and spices of your choice. I recommend adding plenty of ginger and turmeric to assist with digestion.
Reid says the best season to start a cleanse according to Chinese medicine is during spring, though sessions have also been traditionally started on any new moon. No matter which of these mini-cleanses best speaks to you, it’s vital that you drink plenty of water throughout your detox. An excess is actually needed in order to flush out all the wastes and toxins we’ve been accumulating in our intestinal tract.
You don’t need to be a gungho health junkie to see healthy results. Incorporating just a day of digestive rest and reset into your monthly or seasonal cycle can stave away illness and exhaustion, build immunity and leave your belly humming blissfully.
Reid, D. (2006) The Tao of Detox: A Practical Guide to Preventing and Treating the Toxic Assault on Our Bodies. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press.
Author: Nicole Casanova
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Photo: Courtesy of the author