7-Day Juice Fast Part III: Detox & De-stress
To the uninitiated, flushing five gallons of water through your lower GI tract can seem a bit daunting. Unlike a colonic, which is administered via machine in a clinical setting, a colema can be done in the privacy of your own bathroom with little more than a bucket, a tube and a specialized board. Gravity pulls the water down into your large intestine, which you periodically expel along with toxins and, depending on the person, various quantities of mucoid plaque.
This "plaque" is formed by intestinal glands as a defense against toxic, acid-forming foods like bread, cereals, and hard to digest proteins. Other irritants like alcohol, soft drinks and wheat can also contribute to the build-up of mucoprotein that ultimately decreases your ability to absorb nutrients. A veteran faster, I knew the process was painless and after my first two colemas, they became a routine part of our daily schedule. A coffee colema in the morning helped flush the liver of toxins, and a lemon juice colema in the afternoon cleaned the pipes of all debris.
The four of us shared intimate details of our lives, not surprising considering our unique environment and common plight. We spent hours together every day, but had the space to be alone whenever needed. Some people napped a lot, Hani played online poker, and I floated into the zone of relaxation. Like a barfly at happy hour, you could always find me loitering about the kitchen area whenever juice time rolled around. Some days it was kombucha -- a fizzy brew made from a special type of fermented mushroom. Packed with amino acids and vitamins, the drink reminded me of a fruity beer.
Other days, Menlha whipped up a less-satisfying but highly nutritious mix of chlorophyll, bee pollen and noni. One afternoon, after turning up a little late for our 3 p.m. juice, I saw Hani downing a bottle of something green and frothy. She pointed to the table, where two identical bottles beckoned me. The bitter taste of noni was somewhat repulsive, but I drank the juice in stride. Minutes later, Menlha asked where the colema additives had disappeared to, and in a fit of laughter we realized that the pure noni was not intended for our mouths.
On Day 4 of our fast, a certified acupuncturist named Mitra from a nearby commune paid us a visit. After a brief interview, pulse and tongue check, he assessed my Chi, or life energy. He understood my battle with migraines and purposefully placed ten small needles in my neck, wrist, foot and legs. This was my first experience with acupuncture and I had no idea what to expect. A warm sensation overwhelmed my body, and for 20 minutes I lay motionless. The scent of sweet grass swirled around me as Mitra burned sage while he repeated a healing mantra. In addition to dietary suggestions, he recommended that I practice more emotional release, and consider future acupuncture sessions in my hometown.
The next day we piled into Menlha's car and drove 30 minutes south to Nosara. A first-time visitor to Costa Rica, Hani wanted to see the beach just once before she left. Her first wildlife encounter was days earlier, when a noisy troop of howler monkeys descended on our yoga session. They wandered the dense forest at Hacienda del Sol, waking us up every morning with their deep, throaty calls.
Before visiting both Playa Pelada and Guiones, we stopped by Jane's house, which sat perched in the hills. All week we had talked about our horses and it was so nice to finally meet her three lovely mares. We bopped around town for a bit, and four hours later, while visiting the Nosara Reserve, I realized I was doing the tired kid shuffle. It was time for a nap and I was cranky. We had brought our juices with us, but it was Day 5 of the fast and my energy waned in the late afternoon.
That night, we had the option of an additional liver flush, which entailed drinking Epsom salts dissolved in water followed by a cup of olive oil mixed with orange juice. We were warned that the flush had different effects on people -- some felt nausea, others vomited, while others slept soundly through the night. I had done liver flush drinks in previous fasts (sans the Epsom salts) and figured since the liver was the "seat" of anger in our systems, why not flush that out as well?
After a rough hour of extreme nausea and dysentery-like symptoms, I finally drifted off to sleep. The next day, my body flushed out bile (some people expel gallstones) and what I hoped to be the remnants of my anger. I was on the homestretch now! Other than the liver flush, which definitely had its value, my cleanse had been a joy to experience. Looking at my gaunt face and baggy shorts, Hani told me that I had definitely lost some weight. At that point, I really didn't care about fitting into my size 3 jeans. What I loved was how I felt -- the energy, the clarity and the heightened sense of awareness.
We broke our fast with papaya, and with each little bite a burst of sweetness filled my mouth. My digestive juices once again flowing, I felt the first twinges of hunger in my belly. A new group of fasters had just arrived, wide-eyed and curious about our experiences. When asked how I felt, I responded truthfully: I felt absolutely amazing. And the best part was that I got to start all over again and be good to myself.
Was I going to give up meat and become a raw foodie? Nope. I knew myself better than that. However, I would incorporate more raw in my diet and, as usual, avoid processed foods. I already led a happy, healthy life, I just needed to slow down, reassess, and remind myself that you indeed are what you eat.
(Three-Month Follow Up: During the fast, I dropped 8 pounds in seven days and now, 3 months after the fact, I am still eating 80% RAW and feeling great.)