Spring Cleaning: To Juice or Not to Juice
Juice Cleanse? Maybe Not.
The first time I ever succeeded in completing the Master Cleanse, I felt incredible. I lost weight, had tons of energy, and felt “clean”. I’ll never do it again. I had a challenging time with my digestive system after completing the cleanse that took years to repair.
I had been warned by my acupuncturist that juice cleanses were taxing on the digestive system, but the stubborn part of me refused to believe that something regarded as healthy and essential could possibly have negative side effects. Surely all of these flourishing juice bars couldn’t be wrong. However, once I acknowledged the imbalances occurring in my body, I begrudgingly began researching these symptoms – as they appeared in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tibetan Medicine, and Ayurveda – and slowly conceded to the possibility of truth behind my acupuncturist’s caution.
Eastern Medicine works with balance and elements. Our bodies and our foods have temperature qualities to them. We naturally seek this out for ourselves; we crave cold foods in the summer, and warm foods in the winter. The recent food trend of eating local and seasonal foods is really just a throwback to the days before refrigeration and packaged foods. Mother Nature provides exactly which foods we need for balance at each season. Eastern Medicine believes that when we respect this balance in our bodies, we can not only heal but also prevent illness.
Foods are qualified as hot, warm, cool and cold–not in the way you’d think, but in the way they affect the body. A few examples of hot or heating foods are ginger, black and red pepper, meat, raw garlic, raw onion, and pineapple. Some examples of cold or cooling foods are pork, watermelon, melon, milk, almond milk and lettuce. Juicing is also considered cooling or dampening. Continuous, cold liquids not only extinguish the digestive fire, but are also burdensome on the body since it has to work extra hard just maintain the body’s ideal internal temperature. All of this is exacerbated when we take into account that the most popular time to do a juice cleanse is in January, the coldest time of the year. Such extremes could definitely compromise the immune system. Eastern medicine practitioners frown upon juicing so much that they don’t even recommend doing it in the summer since it’s still hard on your spleen.
The negative ramifications of juicing seem to show up in the spleen and the stomach.
The stomach’s happy environment is hot. EM likes to call this the digestive “fire,” (thanks to the acid naturally occurring in the stomach to help digestion). Therefore, drinking lots of cold liquids will “dampen” the fire, which will greatly interfere with your body’s ability to break down food. Ever drink a glass of ice cold water when you’re hungry? It can temporarily quell the hunger pangs because it the cold water puts out the fire. The spleen pairs up with the stomach and aids with digestion. When it’s off-kilter it is considered “cold” and “damp”. Emotional signals that your spleen is off are anxiety and worry. The physical symptoms of an imbalanced spleen and stomach from minor to severe include fatigue, pale face and tongue, teeth marks on the tongue, cold hands and feet, water retention, bloating, acne, poor appetite, thirst with little to no desire to drink, loose stools, a desire for warm food and drinks, dizziness, acne, gingivitis, weak or heavy limbs, nausea and vomiting. Not to mention that high levels of raw cruciferous vegetables, which include the infamous kale, are linked to hypothyroidism.
I’ve known quite a few people who have done juice cleanses several times, and seem to love them. Every body is unique and has a different way of responding to things. I do think it’s nice to give the digestive system a break, but I now see the benefit of a GAPS diet cleanse, or sugar detox instead. Whichever way you choose to give your digestive organs a break, I wish you happy cleansing!
What are your thoughts on juicing? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.