As some of you might know, I have gone through a four-week detox in the autumn of 2013. Many people were asking me about it, so I thought I’d make it easier on my vocal cords and simply write it all down, so whoever is interested can have a read in their own time. While writing it, it had grown to unexpected proportions, so I split it in digestible independent sections. You can read just the parts that catch your interest if you don’t feel like reading the whole document and it still should make sense (one can only hope). I wrote this in December 2013 and lot of things happened since then, but I am still glad I had done the detox and to this day I fast for one or two days a week. If you have any question about anything, please do ask. I’ll be happy to help in any way I can.
I’d like to start with a bit of a disclaimer. I am by no means saying that everyone should do what I had done or that my way of eating, using cosmetics etc is the best and only way for every individual. Everyone has different life style, metabolism and health issues that all need to be taken into account when deciding to make changes in one’s lifestyle, diet or to detox.
I’ll begin by giving you a little bit of background information, so you have an understanding why I had made the choices I did and why I chose this particular detox. I grew up on a typical Eastern European diet – lots of complex carbs (bread, dumplings, flour in everything), lots of meat (all kinds, but mainly pork), milk, butter, yogurts and cheese as well as lots of salami; little fruit and veg that I ate mostly cooked; drinking black tea and coffee like no one’s business. And of course there are all those delicious cakes and sweets and sodas. As a result, I cannot remember a time I’ve had not had one digestive problem or another. When I was ten, I had my appendix taken out and I’ve had Mononucleosis twice (at the age 11 and 18). I suffered asthma and severe allergies to almost everything (apart from peanuts) for my whole childhood and teenage years. My weight has also been fluctuating ever since I reached puberty… up and down few kilos between 60 and 70kg, depending on how active I was.
When I finished school and moved out to live on my own, I started to take interest in what I consume and slowly over the last 13 years (can’t believe it’s been this long) made gradual changes to my diet. Some changes happened naturally, I just stopped liking the taste of something (sodas), some changes I made consciously based on scientific evidence, simply because it made sense to me (alcohol). I’ve tried different diet fads in order to lose weight (it never lasted) and the healthier my diet was, the more obvious it became that I’ve had a compulsive eating disorder. Nothing too dramatic, but it was affecting my health.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which basically means, that the medical profession could see all the symptoms, but didn’t have a clue what they were symptoms of. There’s no effective medication; not without severe side effects anyway. And the doctors don’t know first thing about nutrition. So, I called upon the exhaustive knowledge shared on the World Wide Web and found a diet programme (candida/yeastfree diet) to help myself. It worked. It was extremely strict and limiting, but it worked. As with most too limiting diets, I didn’t stick to it for long, however I did change the way I was eating quite dramatically. I cut out bread, yeast containing products and dairy almost entirely. They became just occasional treats (unless on one of my binge sessions) rather than part of my everyday diet. That was a revolution for bread-maker-owning foodie who ate freshly baked bread every day with lots of butter and cheese. Slowly, but surely, my IBS returned and got progressively worse until it peaked during Christmas 2012/ January 2013. I was treated by an alternative therapist, who recommended a specific exclusion diet and some herbs and supplements. Yet again, it worked. I felt great and kept my diet fairly healthy even when I came off it. But then the monster of CED reared its ugly head to defeat me once more. I started to put weight on, felt sluggish and depressed despite lots of new exciting things happening in my life (new career). At the end of August 2013 I went to Czech republic for my brother’s wedding. I stayed two weeks. That’s two weeks of continuous eating. We are talking some heavy-duty stuff here. Fresh homemade bread, meat almost daily, best fried or with heavy creamy sauces, lots of fried potatoes and cheese, ice cream more or less daily and then there was the wedding and the sweets of the aftermath. When I returned to the UK, I felt like I was going to die if I have to eat anything ever again. I went straight away into 24hr water only fast just to get rid of my sluggishness and depression and enable myself to work for living. That helped. That and the book I found in my post upon my return - Cleanse and purify thyself by Dr Richard Anderson.
Dr Anderson’s Detox
I got hooked straight away by his simple yet scientific explanation of how our digestive system works, what causes its inefficiency (IBS) and how to heal it. I decided to start on that journey straight away as it just felt right and for the first time in my life I actually felt ready. Dr Anderson recommended a deep cleansing programme of the digestive system that he put together based on years of experiments and research. The main benefit of this particular detoxing method is to remove the mucous plug from your intestines and colon. When our food is too acidifying, the digestive tract protects itself by excreting mucous and coating its walls. The pancreas then produces a kind of bile that removes it every so often. However, if the amount of acidifying foods and drinks exceeds what the pancreas can cope with, the mucous plug settles on the intestinal walls and hardens into a rubber like substance. This then builds up inwards over time, depending how much you abuse your body. It prevents absorption of essential nutrients, provides great home for all sorts of bacteria (the unfriendly kind) and parasites as well as narrowing the passage through which the food stuff is supposed to pass. It can also cause damage to the intestinal wall causing the ‘leaky gut’ syndrome and therefore food intolerance and IBS. This has been documented by medical journals. There were even cases, where during a PM, 18kg of the mucous plug was found in the digestive system of the deceased! Dr Anderson, also recommends either colonic cleansing or the use of enemas to extend the benefits of the detox programme. All his advice seemed sound and reasonable, so this is how it went.
The science bit
First of all, I had to get my body to be alkaline to make it safe for me to detox. Basically, how this works, without getting too sci-fi on you, all food is divided into acidifying and alkalising foods, depending on the effect they have on the body when digested. Our blood’s PH should be at 7.4 (slightly alkaline) to maintain homeostasis (perfect, effortless health) of the body. Alkalising foods help to maintain the alkalinity of the blood. All toxins, whether air or food pollutants are positive in charge (ions) and therefore acidifying; alkaline foods are negative in charge. For the body to be able to get the positively charged particles (toxins) out, it needs spare negatively charged particles to bind them, therefore neutralise them; then they can be taken out safely without causing damage. In this day and age, we are exposed to more stress, pollution and toxins then ever before, hence our diet needs to change to accommodate that to help the body to stay healthy. Hundred years ago, living in the countryside, working outside in a smog free environment with no electronic devices charging positive ions into your body 24/7/365 and with time to sit down and eat; you could have 50% of your diet acidifying and have no health issues. Nowadays, if you are physically active, non-smoker and don’t get stressed, 60% alkaline will do you. If you smoke, drink regularly or are under moderate to severe stress, your diet should really reflect that by being 80% alkaline. However, to get the body to its optimum, it is good to go on 100% alkaline diet to start with and then balance it, once required level of alkalinity is achieved. So that’s what I had set out to do.
Alkaline vs. Acidifying foods
There is lots of contradicting information out there, when it comes to deciding which foods are acidifying and which are alkaline. I’ve researched it a lot (very frustrating work that was) and came to a conclusion that there are really three categories – Definitely acidifying, definitely alkalising and the ‘no one seems to know’ category. I will list here some examples, the list is not exhaustive.
‘No one seems to know’
“Oh, what can we eat then?!” I asked myself. When I figured it out, I was pleasantly surprised that quite a lot actually. It all depends what are you trying to achieve. If you are in perfect health and have no niggling problems. Then you can eat basically anything you want (in moderation, of course) as long as you maintain 60% of your diet alkaline. I would count all the “no one knows)” items as acidifying to be on a safe side. If you are currently unwell or overweight, then I’d suggest to go 100% alkaline to start with and once you are testing alkaline (you can get the PH strips in a pharmacy), you can then go to 80%, then 70% and 60% depending on if you had achieved your target of gaining better health or losing weight. There are of course more aspects to maintaining a balanced diet and I will mention this later.
My detox experience
In September 2013, I decided to follow this 4-week detox programme suggested by Dr Anderson. It was necessary for me to get my body to be alkaline first, so I changed my diet accordingly. I was worried I wouldn’t stick to it, if I made too sudden changes, so I started slowly. Meat and fish went first. I was already on a bread, dairy, alcohol, sugary drinks and caffeine free diet. I didn’t eat much pasta either and didn’t add salt, spices or sugar to my cooking. After two weeks, I replaced oats by quinoa and millet and reduced the amount of dry fruit I was eating. I also reduced the amount of sweets to about three a week. Three weeks before the first day of the detox, I went completely raw vegan, meaning no cooked food whatsoever and nothing processed or frozen. I had fruit smoothie for breakfast, veg smoothie for lunch and salad for dinner. I used lots of sprouted seeds and pulses as a source of protein. Occasionally, I’d have a homemade carob chocolate, almonds with bit of honey or coconut with agave syrup as a treat. I felt great. My energy went up in leaps and bounds, I started to lose weight without even trying and I became more flexible and stronger. I was exercising more, started to run and slept better. My skin started to clear and my hair didn’t need washing as frequently. All of my digestive problems, although not gone completely, were significantly reduced. I was on top of the world. I had no cravings and had no interest in the normally oh-so-tempting-foods. However, two days before my detox started, I had a real dip in morale. I felt sudden urge to have all those foods I felt I’d never eat again. I thought that the detox would change the way I eat so radically that I wouldn’t even want to eat some of my favourite treats. And so I did it again and went on a binge - with a style J. I ate in my favourite restaurant, had all my favourite desserts, including ice cream (four deserts in one day!), had fish and chips and pizza. I refused to feel guilty about it, knowing that the detox would help to prevent this happening again. I was still alkaline enough to start the detox as planned, so I went for it.
I felt really ready for the detox programme by the time it came around. It comprised of four weeks. For the duration of it, I was to take herbal supplements (to induce the detox and supply the body with nutrients necessary to cope with it), Bentonite clay mixed with psyllium husk and water, probiotics and my own supplements to help the body to cope with the demands of the detox. I took algae omega 3 oil ampoules, NHP multivitamin and multi-mineral tablets. The idea is that you start with three meals and two clay shakes a day. Then every week, you replace one meal by one shake. So in a week two you have two meals and in a week three, one meal a day. The last week is no food and five shakes. The amount of herbs taken is also increasing every week. It sounds tough and it is. It is not for everyone and Dr Anderson stresses in his book, that people will still get the benefit of the cleanse even if they stay on the first week for the whole duration of the 28 day cleanse. The benefits are not as great and the results as dramatic, but it still works. The more acidic you are before starting the detox (especially if you are a smoker), the gentler approach you should take… and perhaps repeat several times a year until you can cope with the next level.
The first three weeks were all similar in the way my body responded. The second and third day of each week I experiences a dip in energy. I was slightly tired, but not unusually so. I was still able to work full time without exhausting myself. The fourth day my energy rose massively and I felt great. I was bouncing of the walls and felt really enthusiastic. Each week passed in similar fashion. I managed to even keep exercising (albeit yoga only) and had no feelings of hunger, even when on only one meal a day. The first couple of weeks I felt strong desire for something sweet. I did give in a little, I admit, but I tried to keep it as healthy as possible. So I had some almonds with raw honey just after my meal, so I wouldn’t eat out of my schedule. I believe this slowed down the process of removal of the mucous plug a little. Dr Anderson says that it should start coming out after 6-10 days. For me it happened on day 13. I believe my lapse in staying sugar free was to blame. However, the day D arrived and it did happen for me too. The amount of the mucous plug that my body held was incredible. I was losing weight rapidly, but stayed the same size for the first three weeks. (I had 68kg upon my return from CZ. 65kg when I started the detox and 59kg after three weeks of the detox).
When the time came for the last week, I felt full of energy on just one meal a day and thought I could take the next step easily. The first couple days I felt little dip in energy, but still managed to work and go about my life as per usual, although I did stop the yoga. Day number four I barely could keep my eyes open and it didn’t get any better or easier for the next three days. I didn’t feel hungry, neither I had any cravings despite watching people eat and being exposed to all sorts of lovely smells. However, I felt really tired and weak. I spend most of my time sleeping and thanks to an amazing support from my colleagues I managed to survive the couple of days at the Spa without any harm done. I didn’t feel dizzy or faint, just extremely tired. I did feel really cold all the time though. My body was not going to waste any amount of energy on heating my body up, so I had to really wrap up even if people still walked around in shorts and t-shirts. Next time I do this, I will take time off for the last phase and I’d recommend that if any of you would like to follow this programme through all its phases, you’d do the same. It really is not optimal (if somehow possible) to strain yourself in any way during such a deep detox. What you need to remember, it is not just the fasting that takes a toll on you, it’s the fact that your body is processing lots of toxins, which can really drain it of energy due to the pressure your liver and kidneys are under. Hence the herbs and supplements are necessary to support you through the detox. There can be also lots of emotional release going on at the same time, which can be very exhaustive. I don’t think I was a pleasant person to be around that last week with all my mood swings…
So, I survived! And so much more than that! As soon as I started the recovery phase, my energy started to come in leaps and bounds, although the body was still clearly detoxing and I was still losing lots of mucous plug. In the recovery week, you stop taking the clay, but still drink the psyllium and take the herbs, although that’s just once a day. The intake of probiotics increases to three times a day and best of all you can eat. I had an apple for the first breakfast and I can tell you that I’ve never tasted an apple so delicious. I savoured every mouthful and chewed it to death. I completely focused on that one apple. What a joyful experience J. I am enjoying every meal this way now. When I eat, I don’t read, watch TV, browse the net; all my attention is on each and every mouthful and although I eat very simply still, the flavours just explode in my mouth. It’s so good it should be a sin J. I eat much smaller portions, only three times a day and feel no hunger and have no unhealthy cravings. Now my body got rid off all the addictions, I fully trust it to ask for what it needs. It demanded boiled eggs (just one every few days) and some quinoa to increase my initial protein intake as I needed to rebuild my muscle and strength. I now crave fresh fruit and veg (I am nuts about salads), nuts and hummus as well as the occasional egg or quinoa with my salad. What a difference from craving chocolates and Pavlova.
I am at the end of the recovery week now. At the end of the fast I was at nice, almost lean 57kg. Now, I am on 57.9kg, but slimmer. I am still losing fat and mucous plug, but as I started to exercise again (just yoga and walking at the moment – trying to rebuild slowly) as well as working full time, my weight remains stable despite the changes in shape. My skin is completely blemish free (for the first time in my life since I was 3), without a wrinkle and nicely balanced. No T-zone! I was hoping for such result, but didn’t think that a change in diet and detox could actually achieve that. My teeth are whiter and eyes brighter. My mind is much clearer and my memory improved tenfold. I sleep better and can get up in the morning with a smile instead of a groan and a hammer on the alarm clock. I have lots of energy, which I am able to maintain throughout the day at steady level no matter what I do (no SAD for me, thank you very much). I also find that my joints are much more flexible and don’t click so much. My massage therapist commented on how much the tension from my muscles decreased and that they were easier to work on. My yoga practice improved tremendously despite the break in practice while I was fasting. I haven’t had a depressive thought yet (I have a long history of those, but that’s another story) and I have NO digestive problems at all. I’ve been feeling truly wonderful for a week now and I am very optimistic in believing that it will just last.
Where do I go from here
I have devised a plan of how I want to keep my health and vitality by changing my lifestyle. I am a human being though so that plan might change (quite drastically either way, knowing myself) in the future. At the moment I am choosing to do what feels right and good. Lots of people asked me about these changes, so I will include them in this article, although they are not strictly speaking part of the detox.
I decided to stay on 80% alkaline diet. I eat three times a day as a general rule, but might have a small snack if I am having a long day. I drink 500ml of filtered water first thing in the morning. I then have a breakfast 90mins later. It tends to be a handful of mixed nuts (soaked over night, drained, washed and dried with a tissue – they are easier to digest this way, yet still retain their crunchiness) with one fresh cut up fruit (banana, apple or pear, etc) and cinnamon. I change the fruit for variety and eat with the skin whenever possible. About an hour later I’ll have fresh ginger, a bit of whole cinnamon and slice of lemon with hot water, which I reuse couple of times during the day (great for increasing your immunity). About five hours after breakfast, I have lunch, which is usually salad from fresh uncooked veg (spinach, mixed leaf salad, beetroot, carrot, tomato, cucumber, pepper, avocado, spring onion, raw garlic, celery, radish, sprouted pulses and seeds, a tsp of omega 3 or olive oil, a tsp of cider vinegar and a tbsp of milled seeds), sometimes I add handful of cooked quinoa or nuts. The whole portion fills a 500ml lunch box. I find it really filling and sometimes struggle to finish it. About 5 hours later I then have hummus with carrots, celery (I don’t put them in the salad if I do) and olives, or a boiled egg with avocado and tomatoes (I don’t put them in the salad if I do). I am planning to have more complex carbs once a week. One week I might have a roasted potato with salad, the next quinoa with roasted or steamed veg, then perhaps a lentil soup or brown rice with veg. At the moment, I feel like being a vegetarian as I have no desire to eat meat, but that might change in the future. If it does I am still unlikely to have meat more than once a month. For the occasional snack I tend to use nuts at the moment, but it might be a piece of fresh fruit or veg. When it comes to treats, I decided to stock up on several ingredients for raw vegan deserts and carob chocolate, which are really quick and easy to make and not as bad for you as the chemical and additive laden sweets available in the shops. So if ever I get a craving or just want to treat myself, I won’t need to go the shops and get tempted by something I later regret consuming. However, so far I’ve had no cravings despite people eating my favourite treats in front of me. It’s been only a week, so this might change and hopefully I’ll be able to handle myself with grace J. I will probably have a dessert on Sundays. I am looking forward to trying all those healthier raw recipes.
I’d like to also comment on the fact that during the detox I was drinking home made smoothies (veg and fruit). I have since come to realise that smoothies, although not as bad as juices, are actually not all that great. Because the cellulose gets broken down too much and the fibre is too fine, it causes the sugars being released too fast (the liver can’t cope and they get stored as fat) and the fibre goes through the body too quickly for all the nutrients to be absorbed and to pick up any debris in the colon. It is therefore much better to eat whole fruits and veg, preferably with the skin on – if edible and chew everything properly. For more information on the optimal way of eating see the links I provided below (Dr Lustig’s book).
If there’s enough interest, I can share some of my favourite recipes and weekly menus on my FB page A Path To Serenity.
Thanks to my aromatherapy course, I have discovered the easy and simple way of making your own cosmetics, which 100% natural, more effective and cheaper. I make absolutely everything now. Mouthwash, shampoo, perfume, face cream – you name it, I make it if I use it. It works miracles. The use of essential oils enhances the benefits of the cosmetics I prepare. If there is enough interest, I am happy to share my favourite recipes once I’ve tried them and ensured their effectiveness and safety.
I find that balance between yoga, core strengthening, bodyweight exercises, running, walking and mix of add hoc enjoyable activities like dancing, horse riding and climbing keeps me fit, strong, healthy and flexible. So I am sticking to it. If I don’t have time or energy for anything else, I always do at least 20mins of yoga…it’s what keeps me upright even after providing 7 hours of deep tissue massage (exercise in itself).
Apart from changing eating, cosmetic and exercise habits I also started to meditate regularly, de-cluttered my home and became much tidier and organised. My whole life now runs much more smoothly and everything just seems to fall into place. I have been also working a lot on my spiritual growth and development and dealing with my past and demons. I am planning to write further articles on these themes in the future.
This detox was way overdue. Although challenging, it was well worth it and I will do it once a year until I stop producing the mucous plug and even then perhaps once in five years, just to keep things on track. For the upcoming year, I might do three-day fasting mini detoxes every three month to help the body recover fully from the past 32 years of unconscious abuse.
I can absolutely recommend to anyone to follow this programme, even if you stay on the phase one for the full four weeks; it will change your life…for the better.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to message me and I will answer and help as well as I can.
Here are some useful links and resources that helped me along the way to arrive at where I am at now, including links to Dr Anderson’s website and the UK supplier for the detox programme.
http://www.ariseandshine.com/ , I recommend you get the book first, before you decide to go for the cleanse, although strictly speaking it is not necessary, I believe it is important to understand the background and research and not go on blind faith. The UK provider is: http://www.melaniedaviescleanse.com/
Balanced diet and weight loss
I really recommend you have a look at this video
and more importantly – read the book Fat Chance: The bitter truth about sugar by Lustig, Dr. Robert!
This is also good site for healthy alternatives to treats:
I recommend Iyengar yoga to help you stay balanced and supple as well as strong and healthy. http://www.bksiyengar.com/
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