Autumn: A Season for Cleansing

Contributed by Dr. Elise Schroeder

I am sad to see the Summer go.  It’s my favorite season – the time in Portland when the city comes alive with  perfect weather and a plethora of amazing outdoor cafes and restaurants.  It’s always such a pleasure to brunch at Tasty n sons , or to have an outdoor happy hour IPA at Portland’s own Hopworks brew pub,  or treat the in-laws to a delicious savory dinner of local meat and wine at Olympic Provisions.  The repercussions from too much of this imbibing, like bloating, weight gain and sluggishness, are less pleasant.  This, coupled with the shorter days, the cooler temperatures and the approach of flu season, makes Autumn the perfect time to clean up the diet,  improve digestion and reset the immune system.

Every autumn my partner Scott and I embark on some kind of health diet – what Naturopathic doctors call a cleanse. Three years ago it was an elimination diet.  Two years ago it was 3 months of  the “Anti candida diet”, last year it was my two week detox diet that includes a few days of juice fasting and this year the cleanse we are doing is what I have fondly called the post summer-of-gluttony “paleo” cleanse.

There are so  many great reasons that i love this annual ritual.  It gives me a natural boost of  energy before the daylight wanes, improves my digestion, and hep me shed a few pounds.  It also reminds me that planning and preparing food  is not that hard!  Actually, the benefits of having food that doesn’t make me sluggish or pack on the pounds are way beyond the mild annoyance of having to plan and prepare meals.  One of the other reasons I do this to myself, and Scott, is because any of these diets that we try out, are recommendations that i give to my patients.  I can’t tell someone else to eat a certain way unless i have already tried it myself!  So, here we are mid-way through our paleo-cleanse 2011.

But, what is a cleanse?

A cleanse is a period in which a person might abstain form food or activities, usually with the purpose of increasing vitality, losing weight, reducing pain, detoxification, improving particular health problems and more.  It can be strictly food related, or can include abstaining form activities like TV watching, alcohol, internet surfing and more. It also can include adding in healthy activities like gentle exercise, sauna, yoga, epsom salt baths or mediation.

My cleanses always involve a diet modification. Usually eliminating things that you regularly eat or drink that might be making you feel less vital than you could be. Common offenders: alcohol, wheat, gluten, dairy and sugar. Less common but also on the list of common irritants: corn, soy, nightshades, nuts, and chicken.

How about Colon cleansing?

Some think of colon cleansing as a cleanse, and this refers to using colonics  or increasing fiber in the diet to produce more frequent and more complete bowel movements.  While normalizing bowel function is very important during a cleanse, not all cleanses need to include targeted colon cleansing.

How to choose which cleanse to do?

Every person is unique.  We all have individual needs in general and different needs at different times in our lives.  It’s best if the cleanse you choose to embark on has been tailored to suit your particular needs.  For example, a person who is very weak, yet still under the pressure of a demanding lifestyle should not try a juice fast.  And a pregnant woman, would not want to be doing a liver detox or a fast.

Not all cleansing means fasting. We’ve been eating plenty on our cleanse this month.

Here is an example of a day of eating on our paleo-cleanse :

Breakfast: detox smoothie- detox powder, blueberries, flax seeds and coconut milk

Snack: Fritatta muffins

Lunch: beef and vegetable stew ( leftover from dinner)

Snack: celery, red pepper slices, carrot sticks and a handful of home sprouted nuts

Dinner: Roasted brussel sprouts, baked cod, salad

Dessert: Figs and walnuts for me, coconut paleo “ice cream” and berries for Scott

For a personalized cleanse program, make an appointment with me (Dr Elise) at Blossom Clinic 503-287-0886

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