by Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
Detox diets are all rage right now, and I am often asked if it is okay to do a fasting, cleansing, or detox diet when you have PCOS. I think the answer is both yes and no.
Detox diets that promise to help you shed 20 pounds in two weeks are not the way to go. These rapid weight loss regimens can deprive you of crucial nutrients and calories. This actually forces your body into starvation mode. You may lose weight, but as your metabolism slows, the pounds will eventually creep back and may even aggravate your PCOS symptoms. Worse, many detoxes contain tainted or otherwise dangerous supplements.
Radical cleansing programs like a week-long juice fast or the infamous “Master Cleanse” does not compensate for poor diet and lifestyle choices. These types of cleanses can take a tremendous toll on your body. Extreme fasting is always a bad idea. In addition, this type of cleanse can unleash toxins too quickly making you feel terrible.
I do believe in gentle whole foods based cleanses. In order to truly cleanse and help your body rid itself of toxins, you need to have proper nourishment, lots of filtered water, and plenty of seasonal produce – especially green vegetables.
My preferred cleanse is a program that eliminates the type of food that is hard on our systems and/or causes inflammation. Easily digested foods allow us to free up energy that can be used to help rid toxins from the body. This is the way to go especially if you have PCOS. By removing common food allergens that often cause an immune response and inflammation, you boost your nutritional uptake and support your digestive track.
With a whole foods based cleanse, you don’t compromise blood sugar, and you create optimal conditions for the toxins to be released that have been trapped in our body. This type of cleanse helps support the liver in its work of neutralizing and preparing those toxins to be eliminated. The liver also removes excess hormones such as estrogens, which can help with hormonal balance. It also produces amino acids and enzymes to metabolize fat, proteins, and carbs and helps regulate blood sugar. So, it pays to be kind to your liver!
During a cleanse, you are ridding your body of toxins, so you may feel malaise for a short period, but if you wait it out, this sensation passes and you will soon feel amazing. The rewards are great – clearer skin, more energy and vitality, better sleep, less bloating, fewer aches and pains, better digestion, improved mental clarity, and loss of excess “toxic weight.”
1. Drink Lots of Water
Filtered water is best. I also like to add a glass of warm water with lemon water in the morning. It is an excellent way fire up your metabolism, alkalize your body, has a slight laxative effect, and helps with digestion. Your kidneys work with your liver to eliminate waste from your body. It is important to drink lots of water to flush the kidneys and bladder, so that waste products can be expelled before they reach toxic levels. Eight, eight-ounce glasses or about 64 ounces a day (depending on our size, air temp and activity level) is suggested.
2. Take a Caffeine Break
Our adrenal glands produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, the more these glands work overtime because of physical, emotional or environmental stressors the greater the chance of adrenal fatigue/burnout. When this happens, too much cortisol is produced which can trigger testosterone and insulin production which will make your PCOS symptoms worse. Over time, too much caffeine weakens the adrenal glands and interferes with our hormonal balance. Give your body a break from the caffeine for a while. Try it for a week. You may experience withdrawal headaches and fatigue, but I promise you – after this initial phase you will have more energy than you did when you were on caffeine.
3. Eat Lots of Leafy Greens and Cabbage
Chlorophyll, found in dark leafy greens, rids the body of harmful environmental toxins from smog, heavy metals, herbicides, cleaning products and pesticides. The chlorophyll in greens also helps to oxygenate and alkalize your blood. Dark leafy greens contain a lot of fiber, which helps to detox the digestive tract.
There are two main types of detoxifying enzymes in the liver, and cabbage helps activate both of them. Research also suggests that cabbage juice can detoxify the stomach and upper bowels of putrefactive wastes. Cruciferous veggies like cabbage are high in substances called indole 3 carbinols which help to prevent estrogen from being absorbed in the body and aids in its elimination. Chew your veggies well since it helps to release the indole 3 carbinols! For another easy way to add greens, try PCOS Diva Power Greens in a smoothie.
4. Take an Epsom Salt Bath
A warm bath is good for body, mind and soul. Add some epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to your bath and you will opens pores and eliminate toxins. Stir 2 cups of epsom salts and 1/2 cup baking soda, 10 drops lavender essential oil, and 5 drops geranium essential oil in a cup to your bath. Do not remain in the tub for more than 30 minutes. Check with your physician before taking a detox bath if you are pregnant, have diabetes or high blood pressure. The salt’s key component, magnesium, supports hundreds of enzymes in the body.
5. Try a Detox Tea
There are many herbs that help to gently detox. I like Yogi Tea’s DeTox which has many of these herbs in their DeTox blend. Dandelion tea contains nutritive salts that help purify the blood and dandelion is a natural diuretic, it is a wonderful way to support the liver and kidneys. Burdock also supports the the liver and kidneys and juniper berry to promotes kidney function. Sip on this tea throughout your cleansing week. Herbal detox tea blends provide a great way to get the benefits of different herbs, without worrying about dosage levels.
6. Don’t Eat 3 Hours Before Bed
Let’s say you are working late at the office. When the cleaning crew comes in to clean your office building at night, what happens when you are still sitting at your desk in at 9PM? They probably politely knock on the door and say they don’t want to disturb you and will come back to clean later. You finally leave your office by 10:30 and chances are the cleaning crew is finished and is long gone without ever having emptied your trash or vacuumed your floor. The same goes with your body. Your body takes care of a number of critical cleansing tasks during sleep. It’s much more than simply resting. This is a time when our internal cleaning crew empties the trash and toxins we have accumulated during our day. If we eat before bed, we tell our body that our office is occupied and the crew can’t do its clean up job. Eating before bed also drives up insulin which will cause you to store more belly fat, cause cravings, and unbalance hormones.
If you would like to try a Detox Cleansing Diet – check out my Sparkle 14 Day Detox. I do it myself twice a year, and I invite you to join me!
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.