Last week, I talked about introducing your body to fasts with a relatively gentle juice-only fast. This week, we’re moving on to a couple other fasts; although juice fasts have a clarifying effect, the fasts I’ll discuss today have the express purpose of “detoxing” or “cleansing” the body.
The difference between juice fasts and the kinds of fasts specifically for detox is that they can be much more difficult to deal with, both physically and spiritually. They are quite rigorous and mostly involve no solid food of any kind; for many people, this makes cleansing fasts a kind of endurance feat. One of the most notorious detox fasts available out there is the Master Cleanse.
This is a FAST and NOT a Diet
First, a note on the element of overlap between “diets” and “fasts.” Although the Master Cleanse is also known as the “Lemonade Diet” (and can result in moderate to extreme weight loss), I want to make it VERY clear that this is a FAST and NOT a diet. The weight that comes off is quickly put back on at the end and has nothing to do with healthy fat reduction.
The Master Cleanse is not a good idea for people who are seeking to lose weight in a safe and healthful way, since losing weight has nothing to do with “cold-turkey” denial methods. Healthy weight loss begins with a lifestyle change from self-torturing consumption patterns to positive choices in life and food alike. That having been said, the fast does have its advantages.
Rid Your Body of Heavy Metals and Other Poisons
Advocates of the Master Cleanse claim that it helps the body rid itself of heavy metals and other poisons that may have accumulated in the course of living our pollutant-filled lives. The body is designed to act as a filtration system, so a healthy person will, to some degree, already filter out the unnecessary. But sometimes a detoxifying diet can help clear out the buildup.
And another thing that the full 10-day Master Cleanse does achieve is a reduction in compulsive addiction to sugar and other food additives. When you introduce nothing except the recommended lemonade mixture into the system for ten days, you virtually eliminate your habitual craving for sugar – that thing that most people call a “sweet tooth”(a treacherously cute nickname). Then, after the cleanse is over, the faster will find it much easier to only consume healthful foods. Fasting will help you realign with your body and learn to listen to its needs.
There are many kits out there, but the Master Cleanse can be done with home ingredients as it only consists of the following: approximately 10 daily servings of the “Lemonade”, a daily saltwater flush in the mornings, and (optional) some form of laxative tea at night.
The Lemonade Drink Recipe:
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed (per serving)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (NOT pancake syrup; this has to be 100% maple)
- Dash of cayenne pepper, or about 10 drops of cayenne extract (per serving)
- 8 oz water (per serving)
The Saltwater Flush:
Mix 2 teaspoons of sea salt to a quart of warm water and drink as you rise in the morning. Continue for ten days.
After you choose to end your cleanse, ease back into food as with any fast. Do so slowly, however, because your system is not used to solid food now: introduce juice on the first day or two, and then shift to raw fruits and vegetables on the second or third day. From here, it is easy to keep eating good, raw, organic food – junk has been eliminated from your body, and you are ready to pursue the lifestyle diet that you know is good for you.
However, at the end of your fast, consider adding probiotics to your food – the weeks’-long food-less fast will have eliminated all bacteria, including the good, from your stomach and you may need help starting it up again.
Follow the Guidelines
Following these guidelines for ten days will ensure a successful Master Cleanse. You may experience headaches, although some attribute this to the detoxification. Others mention a sense of great clarity on the fourth or fifth day. As with all fasts, be careful. The results are different for all people, and this fast may not be right for you. If you find it too difficult (especially if you’re a first-time faster), go back to last week’s article and consider that juice fast instead.
(Photo credit: Ilco)
Maria (Niina) Pollari is a poet, editor, writer and translator. She wrote two chapbooks, Fabulous Essential (2009) and Book Four (2011). Pollari’s writing has been featured in numerous literary journals as well as the Brooklyn Rail and Jezebel.com. She has received her Master’s in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.