The Western way:
My good friend Shelley is an avid juicer, dehydrator, raw food guru. A qualified physio and nutritionist, she has been extolling the virtues of green juices (not apple juice though – too sugary) for years before the world became obsessed with smashed avocados.
Over time I gave in and tried them, bought myself a juicer, upgraded to a nutribullet and went on several Thai detox “holidays”. Along the way I found I actually liked them, even the really woody kale and broccoli ones, and yes, they actually did make me feel much better and steered me off the caffeine-sugar-alcohol cycle that it is so easy to fall into in our busy urban lifestyles.
So, can the “Science of Life”, Ayurveda, really add to this?
Ayurveda is unique in that it is not a cookie-cutter system of practice and is tailored to the individual’s needs according to her unique balance of the 3 doshas (elements) of Vata (Air), Pitta (Fire) and Kapha (Earth). It’s a centuries old system of teaching and healing encompasses our minds as well as our bodies. Compare this to the Western world, which has only in recent years openly embraced mental wellbeing as Mindfulness and Meditation have become more mainstream and the therapeutic benefits of alternative remedies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy and reflexology better understood and accepted.
Re-light my fire:
The central influence in Ayurvedic teaching is the dominance of the agni, the digestive fire, which is the key to metabolism, digestion, absorption of every single thing that we are exposed to – not just food and drink, but also emotions. This is where old and new thinking are aligned: the focus on gut bacteria has increased in Western medicine too as the key to a healthy immune system and is often now referred to as the “Second Brain” of the body.
Supporting, protecting and maintaining the agni is of prime importance as toxins build over time and block channels, leading to (you know where I’m going here) decreasing energy levels, tiredness, and a general apathy. The easiest and simplest ways to detox, rebalance and relight your fire, is a cleanse.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy?
A cleanse really isn’t for everybody but remember it can be done at different levels of intensity, with even a hot water and lemon start to the day being a step in the right direction. A full cleanse is called panchakarma and lasts for up to 60 days and is advised only under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner, but it is easy enough to do a simple version at home that will go some way towards the kick-starting the rebalance.
Interestingly, Ayurveda does not recommend the liquid-only cleanses that dominate the scene here in London, as the belief is that the agni becomes imbalanced. It also advises to avoid fasting - I do love the theory that missing breakfast irritates the dosha responsible bringing joy and contentment (the Sadhaka Pitta) - and winter detoxing.
So with Spring now here we need to re-energise, rejuvenate and get ready for the return of warmth – odd though it sounds, your body isn’t prepared for a sudden unpredictable rise in temperature, especially you sensitive Kapha types, who tend toward excess water, mucus and congestion. Look to lighter, astringent and bitter foods to help dry up the moisture – radish, pickled garlic, and greens such as rocket, watercress, coriander and parsley to include alongside the main detox food of Ayurveda, the Kitchari, a flavoursome, soupy rice and split-yellow mung beans dish served with a big dollop of ghee (clarified butter). Interestingly, Kitchari is also traditional comfort food in India, but unlike the foods we typically find comforting in the West, Kitchari actually has nourishing and cleansing benefits.
To go alongside these, here are a couple of my favourite juice recipes – hopefully simple enough to blitz together on a daily basis. Remember that vegetable juices are not as stressful for the system as fruit ones and ideally should not be mixed, so no banana or coconut smoothies in here.
Juice 1 “The Spring Cleaning Green One” : a lightly clean, refreshing and incredibly invigorating juice, this will blast your senses into Springtime, help cleanse the liver and wake up the digestion. Whizz it all together and drink straight away (If you really need some sweetness, add an apple):
- a few large handfuls of liver-cleansing greens (kale, spinach),
- 1 chunk of fresh ginger (to increase Agni),
- ½ tsp of turmeric (curcumin blocks cancer causing enzymes),
- ½ an avocado (densely nutrient, containing nearly 20 vitamins and minerals)
- the juice of half a lemon (detoxifying and waste-eliminating)
Juice 2 “ The Detox Red One”: liver-purifying and detoxifying beetroot and alkalising celery are the mainstay of this cleansing juice. Add in parsley and garlic to make this the perfect daily liver tonic! Drink as soon as you have blended – chilling or storing will meddle with this liquid goodness..
- 1-2 beetroot (powerfully detoxifying and liver cleansing),
- 3-4 celery stalks (aids digestion and regulates the body’s alkaline balance)
- a handful of parsley (helps flush the system),
- 2 x carrots (great source of alkalizing antioxidants)
- 1 clove raw garlic (helps reduce cholesterol)
Oil me up, baby:
I stole that line from our website, but this is a really brilliant bit about detoxing Ayurvedic style- it advocates dry brushing, oiling and self-massage, which not only helps drive out the excess toxins but also helps you relax. Try an abdominal massage, moving your hands in bigger, then smaller, clockwise circles, which not only helps drive out the excess toxins but also helps you relax. Good job we have a couple of rather fabulous massage techniques and an amazing body oil for you to check out here
Balance the imbalance. Happy Ayurvedic detoxing!
This article was written to provide information only about Ayurveda. It should not be used in any way in treatment or prevention of disease and we would recommend your consult with a doctor before radical changes in diet or for any serious or ongoing health concerns