Juice cleanses are all the rage – if you haven’t done one, chances are you know someone who has or you’ve definitely considered it. The only trouble is that most of us don’t know where to start and have so many unanswered questions about the myths and truths of detoxing. One person who is a strong advocate, and swears by them so much she created her own, is Little Bird Organics and Unbakery founder Megan May. We sat down for a chat with the raw-food guru to find out how you too can get that coveted inner glow by simply doing a juice cleanse…
Why should we detox or cleanse?
The evidence is now overwhelming that exposure to everyday hidden toxins such as the pesticides and herbicides in our foods, chemicals in our cosmetics and pollution in the air we breathe contribute to low energy, poor immunity, allergies, weight gain and chronic disease – with a study by the British Medical Journal concluding that 75% of all cancers are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors.
Although it is becoming increasingly hard to avoid these toxins in our everyday lives, we can help our body cope with and effectively eliminate them with a well-designed juice cleanse. By lessening the need for the digestion of food, providing easily absorbable and digestible plant nutrients, and eliminating the constant supply of toxins to process, a cleanse helps support your kidney, liver, colon and intestines to rest and repair, allowing them to effectively remove toxin build up and help the body heal itself.
When is the best time to do one?
I like to do them regularly, about once every month. However, if you are new to cleansing, they are a great way of breaking the cycle of cravings for caffeine and sugar – so if you are looking to transform your health and drastically cut these from your diet, a cleanse is a great way to do it. Cleanses are also a good idea for when you are feeling run down, bloated, or having issues with concentration at work.
What are the pros and cons of doing a juice cleanse?
Different people will experience a cleanse differently, as your experience largely depends on how toxic your diet is. Therefore, the more processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine you eat prior to commencing a cleanse, the harder it will be for you. This is because during a cleanse your body is working hard to eliminate all of the toxins that have built up in your system over time, and therefore, the general rule is the more toxins you have to eliminate, the worse you will feel. However, it’s not all bad… This should pass after about 1-2 days, and by the end of a 3 or 5 day cleanse you should expect to feel a lot more energy and clarity of mind, and even perhaps have changed some eating and lifestyle habits by reducing cravings for toxic foods.
Are there any benefits to only doing a one day cleanse?
Yes, definitely. Giving your kidney, liver, and digestive system a rest from constantly processing toxins for even just one day will work wonders! As it allows them to remove built up toxins from your body, and repair. This is why even if you are a light drinker, it is recommended to at least take a few days off drinking every week, to allow your liver to rest, as even if it is just a small glass of wine each evening, your liver is working overtime if it has to process the alcohol on a daily basis.
What is the most beneficial amount of time to cleanse for?
This would definitely depend on the person, as everyone is different. I would suggest consulting with a health practitioner or naturopath before commencing on a cleanse any longer than 5 days. If you are on medication, this will also play a factor in how long you should cleanse for.
What are the do’s and don’ts?
- DO make sure it is ORGANIC! We cannot stress this enough. A non-organic juice cleanse defeats the purpose of cleansing, as you will be ingesting many of the same toxic pesticides and herbicides that your body is trying to eliminate.
- DO drink at least 2 liters of filtered water with a drop of fresh lemon juice to keep you well hydrated and help your body flush out toxins.
- DO provide your body with additional healing through practices such as yoga, meditation, massage and relaxation. This will reduce your body’s natural stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which increase inflammation and reduce immune function, thereby reducing your ability to metabolise and detoxify.
- DO give your liver some extra support. We recommend taking some liver herbs such as milk thistle or drinking a detox tea to maximise the benefits from a cleanse.
- DON’T consume coffee, alcohol, sugar or heavy foods a few days prior to and during a cleanse. These stimulant foods are toxic and need to be metabolised by our livers, thereby giving your body more work to do rather than allowing it to rest and repair.
- DON’T over-exercise. You can still exercise while on a cleanse, but keep it light and don’t over do it with a rigorous routine or your body will need to expend more energy to heal and repair your muscles.
What mistakes do people often make during a detox?
People often make the mistake of doing a non-organic juice cleanse, thinking that it will help their body eliminate toxins, when you are actually injecting a concentrated amount of herbicides and pesticides into your body, adding to your livers toxic load. Another mistake is doing a ‘binge’ prior to commencing a cleanse, as you should actually give your body a few days to process toxic foods, caffeine and alcohol before commencing a cleanse, to ensure that you receive the maximum benefit.
When juicing, you lose out on some of the fibre content found in whole fruits and vegetables. What effect does this have on the body?
When you consume a fresh juice I think of it as liquid energy going straight into your cells, there is not a lot of digestive work required so you can use that energy instantly and your body doesn’t have to expel a lot of energy to get it. Juices are very cleansing and help give your body a rest for all that digestive work so your cells can get to work removing the rubbish you’ve accumulated in them.
But yes it does mean you’re not getting all that good fibre which is so important but does take a bit more work for your body to process, fibre is a natural prebiotic and has a really important role in creating a healthy gut which – creates a healthy you.
That’s why in our little bird cleanse we combine the best of both worlds – we give your body a rest from digestion during the day and fill you with an abundance of cold press juices and tonics, then end the day with a large raw organic fibre laden salad to help keep your digestion fire working and flush things through….
How can you combat the ravenous cravings of regular food while cleansing?
There is a massive connection between mood and food – we can all relate to reaching for that chocolate bar or glass of wine after a stressful day at work. This is a form of emotional eating, we tend to crave certain foods when we are feeling stressed, angry, sad, or bored, and therefore, in order to get these cravings into check, we have to address how we deal with our emotions. Before you reach for that chocolate bar, try going for a walk or doing some yoga, this will help you relax and you might find that those cravings have passed by the time you are done. Treating yourself to a sauna or massage is also a great idea!
I’ve heard that you’re meant to combine juice cleansing with dry body brushing to increase circulation. Is this something you recommend and why?
I definitely recommend doing some body brushing to compliment your cleanse. This encourages lymphatic drainage and increases detoxification through the skin and muscles. Use a long handled soft bristle brush or a loofa, brush in a circular motion from the bottom of your feet up your body towards your heart and then from your hands, down your arms and your upper body towards your heart. Follow with a warm shower and if you can stand it, alternating warm and cold to further stimulate the body and improve circulation.
Related video: How to dry body brush
How should you ease out of a cleanse once you’ve finished?
In order to maximise your benefits from a cleanse, try to incorporate cleansing foods into your everyday diet following a cleanse. Make sure you have plenty of vegetables, organic or spray free where possible. Give your liver some extra support with beetroot, celery, spinach, capsicum, asparagus and globe artichoke and cleansing herbs. Also try to make sure you are having prebiotic rich foods such as kimchi, saurekraut, kefir, kombucha and miso regularly, and prebiotic, fibre, enzyme and nutrient rich foods such as bananas, broccoli, cabbage, kale and brussels sprouts.
What non-fruit or non-vegetable ingredients are found in your Little Bird Organics juices and what are the benefits of consuming these?
Activated Charcoal – this is found in our tonic. It contains stacks of internal pores that are perfect for trapping chemicals and preventing their absorption. It has also helps with digestive problems and reduces bloating.
Kefir – Kefir is very alkalizing and is a potent probiotic packed with good bacteria to help recolonize your gut with the bacteria you need to get more goodness out of the food you eat.
Moringa, Spirulina & Chlorella – These green superfoods are rich in an assortment of micronutrients making them incredibly antioxidising, cleansing and revitalizing.
Reishi – Nature’s ultimate anti-stress antidote. It balances an overdriven hormone system and improves sleep quality, immunity, longevity and sustained energy.
Can you explain the role of each juice in the Little Bird Organics cleanse?
We have a couple of cleanse options – this is the role of our drinks in the total wellness cleanse.
- We start our cleanses with a lemon and activated charcoal tonic to cleanse and alkalise.
- Fresh grapefruit and passionfruit kefir – fills your body with living probiotics to help balance your gut bacteria and further alkalise you.
- Cold pressed green juice – with over 13 green veggies that cleanse and revitalise your cells.
- Cold pressed Beetroot, carrot and ginger – will enliven you with energy and cleanse you blood and liver.
- Cacao almond and reishi – boost energy and immunity as well as reducing food cravings.
- Cold pressed cucumber, coconut water, spinach with spirulina – to hydrate and cleansing.
- Finish the day with a large raw organic salad to flush all those toxins through and leave you feeling satisfied for a good nights rest.