There are a million different ways to cleanse the body, but the icy smoothies of summer aren’t the best for you when the weather is freezing. Functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama explains how to cleanse with the seasons.
Epoch Times: Why are cleanses important?
Andrea Nakayama: Well it’s important for us to remember that we actually have organs in the body that are designed to detox without us doing anything. And when we take on a cleanse in an appropriate fashion, we are maximizing the efficiency of those cleansing and detoxing organs.
Epoch Times: So if you do it the wrong way, cleansing can actually be harmful to the body. What are some of the mistakes people commonly make?
Ms. Nakayama: Oftentimes people will restrict their foods too much and we don’t want to do cleanses where we’re not eating. We can go too fast of a detox reaction, or our body may not be able to handle that much a lack of input. So I’m a fan of a food-based cleanses where we’re actually just slowing down what we bring in, so we can maximize the efficiency of those organs without doing any damage in the process.
Epoch Times: Now you talk about a food-based cleanse and many people actually don’t want to cleanse because they’re afraid of feeling hungry. So can we cleanse without being hungry?
Ms. Nakayama: We can cleanse definitely without being hungry. It’s important to eat the right foods for what you’re trying to cleanse. So talking about a cleanse as an overarching thing—can be difficult. I’m a fan of actually thinking about what organ system we’re working on—if we’re focused on the colon, or the kidneys, or the liver, (these are detox organs)—and if we can help them and focus on the foods that actually support those organ systems, then we’re cleansing without being hungry and we’re supporting those efficiencies that we need to be healthy.
Epoch Times: Can you give us some examples of what kinds of cleanses work well for certain conditions people have?
Ms. Nakayama: Absolutely, that’s a great question. I actually think that if we do it in this gentle way that we’re talking about, cleansing each season can be beneficial for health overall.
So when we’re thinking about the summer time and the small intestine and the skin—people have skin issues, this is a really nice time to think about how do I support my digestion, my absorption, and how is that going to affect my skin overall.
When we’re thinking about thinks like weightloss, we might just be thinking about how does my liver work better, how do I support my kidneys and adrenals. So we’re actually talking about things in the body that are working. … If we do this correctly all health conditions, and health overall are going to benefit just from tuning in and cleansing seasonally.
Epoch Times: Can you run us through what the different kind of cleanses are?
Ms. Nakayama: There would be different cleanses based on what you are trying to do. So it could be based on the organs like I’ve been referring to or it could be based on the food groups.
Somebody could consider an elimination diet, or a cleanse, or a detox where we’re just removing the inflammatory foods. So when I talk about inflammatory foods, the top inflammatory foods tend to be things like sugar; gluten for a lot of people; and … dairy and then there are foods that are individual to our bodies.
So a cleanse can be just reducing your food intake or eliminating foods that are toxic to your body, it could even be not eating animal protein for a week so that you could give your body a little less to do in breaking down your food. A cleanse can be many different things and I think the mistake we make is thinking that a cleanse is not eating, or only drinking water, or drinking water and lemon. And there are many different ways to do a cleanse and to experience the benefits.
Epoch Times: So can you give some tips about how to choose a cleanse that is right for you?
Ms. Nakayama: I like to teach cleanses in keeping with the seasons. In Chinese Five Elements the seasons are associated to organ systems in the body. So if we’re working on certain organ system in summer time, it’s all about the small intestine, the heart, the skin—which is our biggest detox vacation organ.
And when it’s summertime, my preferences, to really slow down the amount of food that we’re actually taking in, so that those organs don’t have to work as hard. It takes a lot for our bodies to break down proteins and animal proteins, and I am a fan in including them in a healthy diet. But during a cleansing week or a few days, it’s absolutely fine to remove them, to drink more smoothies with lots of vegetables and fruits and to just go on a more liquid diet during this summer that has plenty of calories so you’re not experiencing those detox symptoms but changes things up a little bit.
When it’s spring time, we may focus more on the liver in the winter, the kidneys which is when I also like to think of the adrenals. So just thinking about it in these delicate ways that we can support the body instead of jerking the body into too fast of a reaction.
Epoch Times: What kind of cleanse would be good for the kidneys for example?
Ms. Nakayama: In the kidneys we’re thinking about water, a lot of water. Also with the adrenals we want to make sure we have some good fats in the diet and this is wintertime, when I like to focus on the kidneys and the adrenals so we don’t want to reduce calories too much because we may be storing up for the wintertime and needing to have more energy to get us through the cold.
So in the winter I like to have lots of broths, lots of winter vegetables, good fats like coconut oil, ghee is a favorite of mine, lots of broths, even bone broths during that time of year. And just including a lot of liquids, a lot of tea and herbs so that we’re getting the flushing going that the kidneys need and the kidneys are one of those detox organs that are working for us all the time.
Epoch Times: That’s going to make some people very happy that you can do a cleanse with good fat.
Ms. Nakayama: Yes absolutely, its just got to be the good fat.
Epoch Times: Now you’ve talked about some herbs, but are there any products that you recommend cleansing with?
Ms. Nakayama: I prefer to do a whole-foods based cleanse and to think about it through a lens that’s more supportive. So when I’m buying a product, I don’t always know what’s in it. Sometimes there’s a long list of ingredients and it doesn’t feel as clean to me as I want a cleanse to be. So I really prefer to work with what’s local to me, what’s seasonal, what I have available, and what is whole-foods that I can buy.
And if you are familiar with herbs that or you have somebody you could be working with, there are herbs like nettles or dandelion to help with these organ systems that we’re talking about and with detoxification.
And we can get really specific with that as well. So it’s something that could be really fun if you have somebody to lead you through it, if you’re doing some research, or if you come to do one of our cleanses, there is a lot of exploration that can be held that makes it tasty and you don’t have to rely on something that’s packaged and been sitting on the shelf for longer than the fresh produce at the market.
With a career born of a personal family health crisis, award-winning functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama takes the idea of food as personalized medicine beyond a clinical practice. Her online programs at ReplenishPDX.com and HolisticNutritionLab.com guide her clients in taking ownership over their health. Info@replenishpdx.com