Lately, I have been reading a lot about “cleanses” of different types. As far as effectiveness and opinions, most of the information I have found is split right down the middle. About half say they are bad, not worth doing, silly, etc. and about half say that  they are effective, awesome, and work well. Personally, I have never done a cleanse before. I know a couple people who have had great success with them, as well as a couple people who swear they are garbage.
In my opinion, if a person is in good health, I don’t think that doing a cleanse for a short period of time would harm them. Human beings can survive on water alone for up to 2 weeks. Granted that would not be very pleasant or healthy for you. Often when I am considering something, making a decision, I like to sit and think about what people would have done hundreds of years ago. I really like to get back to basics. And in many ancient cultures, fasting for a period of time was really very common. Some did it for spiritual reasons, or religion. Sometimes it was a ritual, or right of passage. Sometimes it was not by choice, but by necessity.
The biggest reason I think people do cleanses now-a-days is for weight loss. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t hope to lose a few pounds doing this cleanse. But for me it is so much more than that. I want to change my relationship with food. I want to cleanse my body (One of the recurring points in almost everything I have read about beginning a cleanse is that during the first few days, you will poop. A lot. And pooping is our body’s main cleansing system, is it not?) and I want to re-set my relationship with food.  I have heard that sugar and salt become addictive in their own way. That you begin to crave it, and it becomes a habit that is hard to break. I also have a very big appetite – I am a small woman, 5’4″, 135lbs +/-, but I can often eat as much as a grown man. If not more. My portion sizes are out of control. While I do realize that I can make changes to my diet and habits, I think that a cleanse would be a great catalyst. Also, once you are only drinking this cleanse for 10 days, food becomes less important for a little while. It is not so forefront in our minds. I will not be able to “boredom eat”, pick at leftovers, etc. Overall I think that this cleanse will help me develop better eating habits, place more value on sitting down and enjoying a healthy meal in small amounts, re-set my capacity to eat such grandiose portions, remove my cravings for sugar and salt, make unhealthy foods less appealing, and let my body rid itself of a lot of the junk that is built up in my system. Oh and maybe loose 5lbs. 😛

mastercleanse

The general idea of the Master Cleanse is that you make a “lemonade” fresh each morning, drink only this “lemonade” and filtered water (and you are allowed decaf herbal tea, a small amount in the evenings) and some recipes I have seen also call for 1 glass of salt water each morning.

The ingredients of the “lemonade” are: filtered water, fresh squeezed lemon juice, organic dark 3 maple syrup, and organic dried ground cayenne pepper. I doubt if this will be the most delicious thing I’ve ever had… However there is reasoning behind these ingredients. Obviously the water is to dilute the ingredients, keep your body hydrated, and flush the systems. The lemon is full of vitamin C, which boosts your immune system and helps with stress. They also contain potassium, which helps with brain/nerve function and blood pressure. They balance the body’s PH level, and also help to control the appetite by fighting hunger cravings. It helps with digestion in many ways – it encourages the liver to produce bile, which is the juice in your stomach that breaks down food. It is a mild diuretic, which means it helps you pee more, thus remove waste and toxins faster and helping with water weight/bloating. It purges toxins from the blood and organs. Oh, and it freshens your breath :). Now for the maple syrup – I understand this is to sweeten the drink, and make it taste a little better. It also contains zinc and manganese, which are natural antioxidants. It has fewer calories than sugar. The cayenne pepper – I love spicy foods for many reasons, similar to the use of cayenne in this drink. It boosts/speeds up metabolism, controls appetite by helping to remove cravings for sweet or fatty, greasy foods, helps burn fat, and improves cardiovascular (heart) health. It has also been studied and proven to reduce inflammation and pain. It is also an antioxidant and immune-booster. *be cautious when using cayenne, if you get it in your eyes or other mucous membranes it will burn and sting.
So it appears that all of these ingredients are chosen for specific health reasons. Also, these ingredients are usually not allergenic. In the recipe that I will be using, it states that each drink you prepare will have about 650 calories/day. This is pretty low for me, and very low for my boyfriend who is doing the cleanse with me. (He is 6’2″, 230 lbs) So I am interested to see how we both handle it. It is initially recommended to do this cleanse for 10 days, and that you can do it for longer once you are an experienced “cleanser”. To me, 10 days seems like a long time to limit yourself so drastically. I am thinking perhaps one week (7 days) would be more reasonable. Who knows if I will even make it through day one! haha. We shall see. Below, I am going to include the “lemonade” recipe that I will be using, as well as tips and recommendations that I have found so far. I am also going to write an update every few days throughout the 10 day period to let you all know how it is going for me, and write a final post outlining my experience with pros and cons and tips and whether or not I will try this cleanse again. In the literature I have read on it, real die-hard fans claim that they do this cleanse every season (so every 3 months). Between my boyfriend and myself, we decided that perhaps that was a bit much, but we would like to see about doing it twice a year – in January to get rid of all the Thanksgiving and Christmas chub, and then again in June. Right in time for swimsuit season, and an even 6 months after the January cleanse, so it would be a well laid out 2x a year plan for us.

So here is the recipe for one person’s daily serving:

-7.5 cups of fresh, filtered water
-3/4 cup pure, organic dark maple syrup 3
-3/4 cup fresh squeezed organic lemon juice (about 4 – 5 lemons)
-1/2 tsp organic dried ground cayenne pepper

You are supposed to drink all of this lemonade throughout the day. You are also allowed to have 1 cup of herbal, non-caffeinated tea (recommended: plain green tea decaf, or peppermint tea, we are going with pure peppermint tea which naturally has no caffeine.) You can also drink a gentle laxative mixture in the mornings of 1 cup of warm filtered water with 1 tsp uniodized sea salt. You can also drink more plain, filtered water if you like, although I would have to assume that you might be pretty bored of drinking just liquids after a few days of this!

The total amount of ingredients you will need to purchase for one person for a whole 10 day cleanse is:

-7.5 cups/ 60oz of syrup
-7.5 cups/ 60oz of lemon (about 45 lemons, apparently, but I keep you posted on how many we actually need to use)
-5 tsp/ about 25 ml cayenne
And of course water. We also bought a lemon-juicer thingy to squeeze lemon juice by hand, and extremely large water bottles, enough to fit our whole days worth of lemonade in 1 container. I would actually have to call them water jugs, not water bottles. They need to hold about 9 cups / 72oz.

This drink, plus water and herbal/decaf tea, is ALL YOU ARE ALLOWED TO INGEST. No other drinks. No other foods. No other supplements, herbs, or pills. No Advil/Tylenol/aspirin etc for headaches. No cough medicine. No tonis. No oils. No coffee. Nada!
(Unless of course you have a prescription or something like that which you must take every day, obviously, take it, consult with a medical professional before doing this, or any cleanse, etc.)

Other tips: write out the recipe on a piece of paper. tape it to you fridge or a cupboard door right where you will be preparing the drink. Leave all your ingredients out the night before. (drinking this at room temperature is best)
The lemons MUST BE FRESHLY SQUEEZED EACH MORNING. You can NOT use already prepared lemon juice, you cannot squeeze it all ahead of time, and you definitely cannot use a store bought lemon juice product. Sorry, no shortcuts here, folks. Make your lemonade all at once in one large container. We are using one large jug each, however you could also use a large jug left in the fridge, and pour it into a smaller water bottle a couple times/day. You need to make sure that you pay attention to the amount that you are drinking, and ingest the correct amount per day. You can not pre-make this drink ahead of time. It should always be made the day you are drinking it. Also, in much of what I have researched on cleanses in general, most people say that the beginning of the cleanse is the most difficult. Day 1 you will feel miserable. You will make several trips to the bathroom. You may be grumpy and hungry. You may experience some nasty headaches. (your body withdrawing from sugar, caffeine, etc.) Day 2 will be pretty similar. The end of day 3 is apparently a turning point. You begin to feel less grumpy, and less hunger pangs. You won’t be suffering headaches, and you won’t be spending as much time in the bathroom. By Day 4, most people begin to feel the positive effects of this cleanse. They report feeling “lighter” and more energetic. Apparently you even get a nice glow to your skin, and some have claimed help with acne and other skin problems. You will likely begin to feel a little slimmer, and definitely less bloated.

This is the general routine that you are supposed to follow:
Day 1 – morning – drink 1 cup warm, filtered water, with 1 tsp uniodized sea salt. (this will make you poop within about 1 hour +/-). Mix your daily serving of lemonade. Drink it throughout the day. You must drink it all. You can also have some filtered water, preferably at room temperature. Evening – once you have finished your lemonade, you can have some herbal, decaf tea. No black tea, no “real” tea. Only decaf green tea, herbal tea – peppermint is recommended.
Day 2 – repeat Day 1.
Day 3 – 10 – repeat Day 1 but without the salt water in the morning. (I may not partake in the salt water at all, I have not yet decided)
Day 11 – this is the day you will be “coming down” off the cleanse. It is important to bring foods back in very slowly and allow your body time to adjust. DO NOT jump right back in to eating full meals.
Begin with drinking LOTS of room temperature filtered water, and freshly squeezed organic orange juice. You can also have some maple syrup and herbal/decaf teas.
Day 12 – LOTS of filtered water, fresh squeezed orange juices, fresh organic juices of other vegetables and fruits, herbal/decaf teas, maple syrup, and organic clear vegetable broth.
Day 13 – More water, more tea, any organic fresh squeezed juices you like, organic clear vegetable broth, and any mild fruits and vegetables you wish, raw. Examples: apples, bananas, carrots, etc.
Day 14 – All of the above mentioned things from Day 13, as well as any other raw foods you would like. You may now slowly begin introducing all foods. It is recommended that you limit heavy, greasy, foods, meat, dairy, and gluten for the first few days after coming off of the cleanse.
It is also recommended (and I am definitely going to do this) that you take probiotics after completing any cleanse. Probiotics replace the good bacteria in your digestive system and help keep things running smoothly. They are extremely beneficial and will likely need to be replenished after all this cleansing.

Remember that part of the point of the cleanse is to also be more mindful and healthy with your eating habits. You will not have cravings for salty, sweet, fatty, greasy, processed foods. You body doesn’t want or need these things, it is only your mind that does. This cleanse makes it easier to eat healthy because you will be more inclined now to eat “real food” instead of garbage. Say goodbye to fast food, say hello to healthy food.
In simpler terms, do not re-introduce bad things to your diet, and you will not crave or want them.

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