Cleanliness is godliness 

21 days on the brink of detox delirium

click to enlarge Roasted squash, homegrown lentil sprouts and a - dehydrated, raw-food version of cornbread make for a - cleanse-friendly, alkaline entree. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Roasted squash, homegrown lentil sprouts and a dehydrated, raw-food version of cornbread make for a cleanse-friendly, alkaline entree.

On pace with Whole Foods' global expansion, the yoga virus and a general increase in awareness for all things green, more and more people are turning to one practice to help sculpt their inner temples: cleansing.

Think of cleansing as a periodic oil change for your vehicle something you can do to drain the black, gritty lifeblood and replace it with clean, viscous fluid. A thorough cleanse can revitalize, renew and essentially reset many of your body's key functions. Though the process requires a heady discipline and many temporary sacrifices, it is ultimately well worth the effort and proves its merits.

My girlfriend and I recently completed three weeks of a popular and well-regarded colon cleanse sold online by a company called Arise and Shine (ariseandshine.com). I had completed a cleanse of similar length, using Arise and Shine's supplies, during my high-school vegan years and found the program to be effective.

After my first cleanse, I vowed to repeat the difficult procedure at least once every 10 years, if not every five. I confess that a cleanse is not something that one looks forward to nor enjoys in the moment, but the results and return to normal food habits afterward provide an unequivocal happiness on par with winning a lottery or being freed from prison. (I'm speculating.)

Let's flush out the central player in the cleansing battle no pun intended and enter the realm of poop-talk, which we must be willing to approach maturely in order to earnestly cleanse. Mucoid plaque is the villain of this story. The plaque is a gel-like mucus that coats the lining of our hollow organs particularly the alimentary canal, running from the mouth through the large intestine and harbors toxins while disrupting ideal nutrition absorption.

To sum a small book's stock of information in two sentences: You remove mucoid plaque by ingesting a series of herbs that condition and break it down. Then, you drink shakes that include psyllium husk and bentonite clay to absorb and sweep out the loosened plaque. In an average cleanse, a person will pass feet of mucoid plaque in the final cleansing phase. And, yes, I'm an average person.

As part the Arise and Shine cleanse, in order to aid the plaque breakdown and establish a healthy intestinal environment for detoxing, a cleanser may only eat alkaline, non-acid forming foods (read: only fruits and veggies and a few odds and ends no alcohol, dairy or anything fun and satisfying). You gradually cut down on the amount of meals per day and eventually end the cleanse by fasting, with only shake and herbal support.

I never felt hungry either time that I cleansed, though I did realize my own (and probably everyone's) mental addiction to food. I yearned for savory, sweet and heavily processed foods while simultaneously feeling like a stoic Puritan noble and unconquerable.

As our salt cravings and who-knows-what detoxings took hold, my girlfriend and I became surprisingly irritable and snippy with one another. But hey, nobody ever said that ascetic pursuits were easy.

One note of advice I offer to anyone interested in aggressive plaque eradication: It helps to have a partner and co-sufferer with whom to cleanse and discuss results. For folks who don't think they could endure a lengthy cleanse, Arise and Shine and many other companies offer milder and less strenuous cleanses. Give one a try. You've got nothing to lose ... except a few feet of mucoid plaque.


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