Spring has arrived in the Front Range! As you might have heard me say in the past, one of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s philosophies is that wellness is partly achieved by staying in harmony with the seasons. Spring is a time of renewal and growth. It is time to shed our energy conserving habits of Winter and shift our focus to supporting our bodies’ tendency to detoxify and cleanse. We can help that process by eating foods that are lighter and more cleansing, moving outdoors to get more sun and fresh air, increasing cardio-vascular exercise, and abstaining from substances that are toxic for our bodies.
One question that I often get this time of year is whether I think fasting is a good way to help our bodies cleanse and detoxify. As a TCM practitioner, I try to approach fasting by first determining if it makes good clinical sense for an individual’s constitution to focus on cleansing. For those who are very weak and debilitated, I typically recommend they don’t fast, but rather first work on building their constitutional strength. For those who use fasting would support their health, I suggest more aggressive measures for robust, excessive constitutions and more nutrifying and gentler methods for those with more deficient constitutions.
There are some general rules that most people should follow regardless of their constitutional types. The first rule is listen to your body and be flexible. For instance, if during a fast one feels too fatigued or sick to attend to daily life, they are probably being too aggressive. Time to pull back a little bit. Secondly, have a suitable transition period before and after to allow the body time to prepare itself as well as assimilate the changes from a fast. Thirdly, make sure that the timing in one’s life is good for a fast. During a big project at work or times of heavy physical activity are not the best times for fasting. Fourth, if fasting on foods and liquids make sure they come from whole, organic food sources. Fifth, break the fast with a healthy, whole food diet. Avoid binging, especially on poor quality foods right after ending the fast.
The gentle cleanse…
This is for those who are looking for a slower, gentler cleansing regiment or have a more deficient constitution (pale, low energy, slow digestion, low libido, cold signs, etc.)
Start by eliminating junk and processed foods for a two week period. Then move to eating just steamed veggies and brown rice for a 5-7 days. Ideally, 2/3 of the veggies should come from green non-starchy veggies. Consume only fresh, filtered water and warming teas. Avoid fruits and juices. Reverse the fast by going back to a clean, whole food diet.
A more aggressive cleanse…
This is for those who have more excessive constitutions, with signs such as: frenetic energy, tendency towards anger, heat signs, GI inflammation, etc..
Start by following the gentle cleanse. After switching to steamed veggies, then move to either a vegetable juice fast or absolute fast for 1-3 days. Reverse the process by eating steamed veggies and brown rice for 5-7 days. Then move to a clean, whole food diet.
These two basic plans are normally modified according to individual need. For instance, one can add herbs and medicinal substances to focus the fast on certain organ systems. Each person is different. If you are unsure if cleansing is right for you, contact your natural healthcare provider for a consultation.
If you are looking for an acupuncturist in the greater Fort Collins area, check out my website at www.hughsacupuncture.com