sexta-feira, 1 de junho de 2012

My First Cleanse Attempt

Inspired by the Gerson Therapy, and my friends Elizabeth and Brenda, I began a cleanse this past Monday. I removed gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs and supposedly alcohol and coffee. I say supposedly because I never actually stopped consuming them. I rationalize this by pointing out that imagination is the first step towards action. One day, if I just consider it enough, I will have the will power to not be crazy before my morning cup of joe or race home to my nightly glass of wine. Besides removing typically unhealthful foods, I have supplemented my diet with a superdose of vitamins, minerals and healthful, non-dairy bacteria. My meals have consisted of fresh juices which I have made with the help of Brenda's amazing juicer, rice, beans, and fermented radishes, kale, and onions from the farmers market and our backyard garden.

Besides my lack of will power over addictive beverages, I keep accidentally cheating! On day two I was so hungry that I just heated up an organic roasted pepper and tomato soup without reading the ingredient label on the back. My first bite tasted so creamy and delicious that I purposefully put the box into the fridge so I could enjoy each bite without remorse. In the morning, when I felt strong enough to handle my obvious failure, I read "CONTAINS MILK" in bold and all caps. Whoops. In another deliriously hungry moment I stumbled into Cherry Republic thinking I would buy some cherry jam to bring on my upcoming trip to India as an emblematic Michigan gift and was of course overwhelmed by free samples. I devoured about 10 chips with cherry salsa before examining the jar's back label and finding SUGAR written all over it. I know most salsa contains sugar but I have realized that memory is selective and not nearly as convincing as hunger.

Besides accidental slip-ups, I've also made some really bizarre dietary choices. I went to lunch yesterday at Olga's with two coworkers from Greenhouse Montessori. Olga's is a chain restaurant that purports an Eastern European image through it's name though it's food suggests more of a McDonald's version of Bulgarian peasant cuisine. I had some veggies sauteéd in a mystery MSG sauce and a side of grainy hommus. It probably would have been healthier to just order a sandwich than to get that superdose of congealed, processed slime. This morning I had an especially uncomfortable bowel movement due to an inordinate amount of trail mix I ate last night. After a quick trip to REI yesterday where I bought a mosquito net hammock for when bugs attack me in the backwaters of India and I curl into a defeated ball between two trees until rescue or death comes, I popped into Whole Foods. They had some trail mix on sale and, desperate for protein, I got a whole pound. Three fourths of that pound were gone by morning, and my bowels are not happy.

Another unusual component to the cleanse is the coffee enema. The Gerson Therapy is a cleansing method used primarily by people who have seemingly incurable cancer. Practitioners are cured through the removal of unhealthful foods and all their latent affects, paired with a superdose of vitamins and minerals from juicing and eating a mostly raw diet. The practitioners also undergo coffee enemas, administered by medical professionals, various times throughout the day. Dr. Gerson, the founder of Gerson Therapy, discovered that caffeine and palmitates (the chemicals in coffee) work together to stimulate and cleanse our blood and liver. The coffee is absorbed through the bowel wall where it is directed to the liver. The liver and bile ducts expand as a result, increasing the release of diluted toxic bile. Peristalsis (intestinal muscle contractions) then expel the toxins. The liver is now less congested, allowing space for future filtering. Though drinking coffee can loosen our bowels, it has none of the detoxification properties of coffee enemas.

When I first read about this in the Gerson Therapy, it reminded me of my childhood as a reticent pooper. Fortunately I am no longer squeamish about natural physiological processes, and when I decided to do this cleanse I was actually pretty excited about the idea of administering a coffee enema for myself. It was a little awkward, though, and I had to practice a couple of times in the shower with water before I wasted some of my prized dark roast. I used an old camel back which I will never drink from again. I held the enema for a grand total of 15 minutes, as is recommended, and then had an amazing detoxification experience. The first time I did it at around 8:30pm. Poor choice, as I was up half the night with the shakes. Now I do it once in the morning and I feel energized and clean the rest of the day.

In general, I feel much better due to these dietary changes. Drinking vegetables is actually more effective than eating them, since the digestive enzymes in our saliva break down much of the vegetable before it has time to deliver it's health benefits to our system. And in the past week I have had about 10 pounds of carrots, 6 pounds of apples, 2 bunches of spinach and 1 bunch of chard, not to mention all the bacteria that I ate in the fermented foods. I flushed out a lot of toxins that I was just carrying around needlessly in my digestive tract. I would like to do this twice a year. Though I was initially considering doing the cleanse for two weeks, my boss invited me out to brunch on Saturday at one of my favorite restaurants and I absolutely cannot imagine eating something besides cheese-bread-grease-sugar delightfulness. I guess it's a good thing to prepare my digestive tract for the food poisoning which seems an inevitable initiation for anyone who has ever traveled to India.

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