I hate the Master Cleanse.
Fighting against our bodies to make them do what we want is counterproductive. Instead, if you cultivate better communication with your body's needs and reward yourself when it does what you want, you'll find you're more in control of your health.
Detoxing can be a beneficial part of doing this, and I have reaped many benefits from raw vegan detoxes. But contrary to popular belief, I think the Master Cleanse does exactly the opposite.
For those who don't know, the Master Cleanse is a program in which you drink a concoction of water, lemon, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and sea salt — exclusively — for anywhere from three to 30 days. The cleanse was recently made popular stars like Beyonce as a last-minute way to look good on the red carpet. But some experts say that the cleanse can do more harm than good.
One issue, says Carolynn Kraskouskas, owner and operator of Be Whole Again! Bodywork and Nutritional Therapy (Be Whole Again!, 3150 18th Street Mlbx 511, Suite 536, SF; www.bewholeagain.net), is that cleansing is supposed to allow your organs to rest and rebuild themselves. But the average person doesn't eat a healthy enough diet to sustain itself during the Master Cleanse. Therefore the diet creates a system where the body doesn't think you will treat it right, throwing the internal balance off. "For most people who are sick, run-down, tired, or stressed out, it simply stresses the system out more, creating inflammation and a rise in the pH of a person," she said. This can create an acidic environment that, she says, is the basis for all disease.
So what's the alternative? Many experts recommend raw juice cleansing or fasting. (Juice is considered raw when it comes from fresh fruits and vegetables, never frozen or pasteurized.) Some say a juice fast can diminish the ill effects of fatigue, skin issues, headaches, insomnia, weight loss and gain, and more.
But what of the lemons used in the Master Cleanse? Cherie Calbom, the "Juice Lady" on Raw Vegan radio (www.rawveganradio.com) admits these do provide some pH regulation and antioxidants, but not enough to deal with the amount of toxins being released during the cleanse. "If you don't have antioxidants to bind to those toxins, they can do tissue damage," she says. "Vegetable juice fasting is a much healthier way to go. Antioxidants bind the toxins and carry them out of the body."
The toughest part about a raw juice fast is that the juice is extremely perishable and should be drunk immediately. There are steps you can take to store fresh juice for up to 24 hours, but, as you can imagine, this could be a full-time job. We've assembled a list of places in the city that can help you maintain a healthy juice fast while still having a life. Some places, like Juicey Lucy's, even provide personal consultations to determine the best cleanse for you and then deliver a full, raw, seasonal, organic juice cleanse to your door three days a week. And don't forget that even if you're not fasting, fresh juices are a healthy — and delicious — addition to any diet.
(For more specific information on juice fasting, visit our Pixel Vision blog at www.sfbg.com/blogs/Pixel_Vision.)
Cafe Del Soul 247 Shoreline Hwy, Mill Valley. (415) 388-1852, www.cafedelsoul.net
Cafe Gratitude 2400 Harrison, SF. (415) 830-3014; 1336 9th Ave, SF. (415) 683-1346; 1730 Shattuck, Berk. (510) 725-4418; 230 Bay Place (in Whole Foods), Oakl. (510) 250-7779, www.cafegratitude.com
Cafe Venue 218 Montgomery, SF. (415) 989-1144, www.cafevenue.com