By Rachel Warren | Lemke Newsroom
Humans are bombarded with more than 70,000 chemicals at any given moment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These toxins enter the body through air, water, food, even skin care products.
The skin, lungs, and liver can expel some toxins, but others that aren’t eliminated are stored as fat cells or collect in other organs.
“We really haven’t evolved to handle the toxic load that we’re facing in our modern world,” said Mamie Burruss, who as a naturopathic doctor favors using agents such as air, water, herbs and tissue manipulation instead of prescribing drugs and surgery. “Our bodies are overwhelmed.”
To help rid the body of stored toxins, regular detoxification is important, Burruss said. Detoxification neutralizes, transforms or clears toxins from the body.
Everyday ways to detox include eating a diet rich in fiber, exercising, drinking an adequate amount of purified water and eliminating processed foods, Burruss said. Other forms of detoxing can be short- or long-term, and a juice cleanse is the best short-term detox option, Burruss said.
Juice cleanses, also known as juice fasts, have created controversy among doctors and nutritionists for years. “You have to ask yourself this question: With a juice cleanse, what are you really cleaning? Really, nothing. The bowel self-cleans. It’s evolved over millions of years to do this,” David Colbert, a New York internist and dermatologist said to Judith Newman, who wrote a 2010 New York Times column about her three-day cleanse.
Many people associate juice fasts with starvation and deprivation, but Burruss said the large amount of nutrients in a vegetable-based juice cleanse is enough to sustain the body for up to seven days, before resuming solid food.
One quart of cold-pressed, organic, vegetable-based juice contains the nutrients of five pounds of produce, and during a cleanse, people drink two quarts of juice a day.
Juice cleansing can improve complexions, aid in weight loss and even diminish long-term symptoms and diseases, said Ashley Curry, co-owner of Berry Natural juice bar in Fayetteville.
“You’re giving your digestive system time to reboot,” Curry said. “One lady, when she came to us, had symptoms of multiple-sclerosis and fibromyalgia. She was very low energy, and practically bedridden. Now, she’s lost weight, her skin has cleared up, and she’s working out for the first time in over a year.”
Several types of cleanses have evolved over the years, and some are more intense than others. The master cleanse, or lemonade diet, consists of drinking only water with lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for 10 days. Celebrities have reported using this cleanse to lose weight, and some people have done long-term master cleanses for more than eight months at a time, according to the master cleanse website.
Because that cleanse contains far fewer nutrients than a vegetable-based cleanse, Burruss said she does not recommend it. It is important to choose a vegetable-based cleanse to keep blood sugar levels balanced, she said.
People are advised to ease in and out of a cleanse by eating mostly raw foods for three days before and after. “You have to go into the fast wanting to do the fast. You have to prepare your house, and you have to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally,” Burruss said. “There’s definitely the mind game of wanting to put food in your mouth, and it’s a challenge.”
Contrary to common misconception, juice is enough to sustain energy and hunger. “We juice all day long. We forget to eat,” said Wilson Wood, owner of Native Nectar Juice Co., in Fayetteville.
“I can say that I’ve never had anyone feel hungry on a cleanse, and if they do, I’d tell them to drink more juice,” Burruss said. “People think that not eating real food means their energy is going to tank, but I think people are surprised by how much energy they have on a cleanse.”
Sometimes people might feel tired or sick because of all of the toxins moving around in the body, but drinking plenty of water helps flush the toxins out in urine, she said.
Juice cleansing also can help shift emotional relationships to food.
“It’s a good challenge. When people go away from food for five to seven days, people really appreciate food more,” she said. “They sit down and chew each bite and really savor it, rather than just scarfing it down.”
Juices can include a wide variety of produce, including kale, celery and beets. “We can use fruit to mask flavors of vegetables that people wouldn’t normally eat,” Curry said.
Berry Natural uses exotic ingredients such as schizandra berry, a Chinese medicinal berry that helps cleanse the liver and balance hormones, and Native Nectar uses locally grown produce. Both juice shops use all organic products.
Burruss works with Native Nectar to organize group cleanses for Fayetteville residents.