For years, I have been thinking of doing a serious bowel cleansing with prolonged fasting and maybe techniques aimed at eliminating toxins. Since I remember I have always had sensitive digestion: bread, pasta, white flours in general, dairy products with the exception of aged cheeses, alcohol, caffeine are all elements that slow down my digestive system and often create rashes on my skin. But not only that: I have a tendency to eat fast, then to chew a little and to swallow semi-whole food. And this particularly hurts me: swollen belly, gas, and so on. It is also true that sometimes I eat something that usually annoys me and maybe at another moment it does nothing. In short, there seems to be no rule and me, therefore, decided to clean up thoroughly and then start eating more and more healthily, because detoxes have no sense if one doesn’t take care of nutrition in the daily, day after day.
A premise is a must: there is no magic formula that solves every problem. To have strong health in a constant way, you need to dedicate yourself every day with commitment, taking care of our lifestyle, especially nutrition. We are what we eat. For this reason, detoxing twice a year and then eating junk food is useless, on the contrary. Detoxes, however, can be excellent turning points to change your approach with yourself. Detox itself will not change your health, but it can help you develop a different, more intimate and conscious way of relating to life. Once we are clean again and we have tasted this magnificent sensation, it will be easier to keep such and remember what it means, in a clear and practical way, so that we can point in that direction. This, in my opinion, is the true sense of a detox.
The food diet
“When you start a diet, the first thing you lose is your good mood.”Anonimo
When it comes to eating, in civilized countries, the main factor is the taste factor. We choose the food to satisfy the palate without giving too much weight to the nutritional value of what we ingest. There is a common idea that healthy foods are tasteless: there is nothing more wrong! First of all, the taste can be “trained“. The more we fill our mouths with highly seasoned, super tasty and heavy foods, the more natural foods won’t satisfy us. On the other hand, the more we feed on natural and simple foods, the less we will be attracted to artificial ones, full of condiments, sauces and so on. Finally, we are what we eat, literally. We turn food into parts of our body. What we ingest should, therefore, be vital for us, beyond taste. The quality of food and its nutritional capacity should be our primary concern. How to prepare a healthy dish so that it is tasty depends only on our creativity.
As I said before, the reason why I decided to do a detox is to cleanse and rebalance my delicate digestion. Certainly not to lose weight. I’ve always been lucky about it: I range between 60 and 63 kg, although usually, my weight is stationary at 61. Then, of course, it depends on the moments: season, mood, stress level and so on.
As for my eating habits. I became a vegetarian in February 2003, following a meditation course. I stayed that way for a few years, then I introduced the seafood. My not eating meat has never been linked to a speech of violence against animals (we know, it is aberrant for how they are treated in intensive breeding, but with respect for the animal, whether raised or hunted, killing to feed has always been part of human culture) as much as one to health. We know that the meat is rich in toxins (even the organic one: once killed, the animal is left to hang and during this process develops cadaverine), hormones, antibiotics and much other crap that they are forced to ingest (and which they produce due to the high-stress load to which they are subjected).
Since the human intestine is particularly long (more similar to that of herbivores), the digestion process of the meat, therefore, lasts much longer than that of carnivorous animals. This means that we assimilate toxins, hormones, antibiotics and other crap that instead, for example, a cat discharging it long before us, does not assimilate, or if it does, it is in minimal part. Furthermore, we have an intestinal flora that meat kills and that takes between six and twelve months of a total absence of meat in the diet to make it reform. This flora allows to better assimilate proteins from vegetables and legumes. Now, I am not saying that everyone should stop eating meat, I am for freedom of choice and I believe that moderate use of meat does not hurt.
When I began to “experiment” with food, helped above all by the holistic disciplines, a Chinese doctor and a nutritionist, I came to the following diet: avoiding white flours (bread, pasta, pizza and so on), dairy products, alcohol and white sugar on a daily basis. I usually cook my own meals and try to vary between brown rice, millet, spelt, barley, quinoa. Maybe using whole wheat or even better ancient grains. We always combine many vegetables (the ideal is to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day) cooked in a pan with a drizzle of oil and water. Some herbs, some spices. Seeds. You get a comfortable single dish fast enough to prepare, knowing the necessary techniques.
There are exceptions to this daily basis which, apart from meat, they depend on the circumstance. Dinner with friends in the restaurant; a birthday or a wedding; a difficult day when I need to pamper myself and so on. Maintaining this balance between one’s own basic diet with an open mind allows me to have a solid, healthy foundation without renouncing the pleasure of socialization that eating together with others entails. When it comes to food, it is difficult to get everyone to agree, so I prefer to be flexible so as not to give up the company and sharing that are the basis of eating together with others.
Ananda Yoga and Detox center
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”Thomas Alva Edison
Ananda Yoga & Detox center was born in Koh Phangan, tropical island of Thailand, in 2006, on the idea of the Greek Evangelos Syrigos, who after a successful economic life decides to make a change by dedicating himself to the well-being of himself and others. Thus opens this centre that deals with providing quality yoga, meditation, yoga teacher training courses, organic vegetarian and vegan restaurant, detox programs. The centre is also a resort with a salt-water swimming pool and herbal sauna. It is located between Thong Sala and Srithanu, in a green and quiet area facing a spectacular sea.
Ananda offers 3 basic detox programs: 3.5 days; 7.5 days or 11 days. The following extras can be added to the normal program: anti-parasite, anti-candida and liver and gall bladder cleanse (all three can be added during a detox). The difference between the 3 basic programs is given only by the length of the detox; in the 11-day one, the fasting period is always seven days but is anticipated and followed by two days of pre and post-fast diet. For personal reasons, the length of the program can vary (with me there was an American who made 5 days since seven failed due to a commitment).
The days before fasting (7-2 days before starting) it is recommended to eliminate or reduce the following things: alcohol, medicines, tobacco, caffeine, chocolate, sugar, honey, fructose, refined carbohydrates (including white rice and white flour), artificial sweeteners, refined salt, spices, preservatives, gluten, dairy products, fried foods, meat and eggs with hormones and antibiotics, soy protein isolate. It is recommended to drink 3-4 litres of water per day and to eat mainly raw fruits and vegetables, with a small number of whole grains, seeds, nuts.
During fasting, only liquids and herbal capsules are taken. The liquids are 5 daily shakes of psyllium husk and bentonite clay, mixed with water. Carrot juice; coconut water; vegetable broth; all the water one wants. Capsules are of two types: detoxifying and nourishing. The former is a mix of Ayurvedic and western herbs, which are intended to help eliminate toxins and waste in the intestine. The latter is a mixture of nutritive herbs rich in minerals, iron, vitamins, essential amino acids, selenium, antioxidants and much more.
Liquids, whether shakes or other, are taken regularly every hour and a half, together with 6 capsules (three of one type and three of another) 5 times a day, starting at 7.30 in the morning and ending at 9.00 pm. the concept is to always have a “full” belly of something. The bentonite clay and psyllium husk (which swell in water) are used to give something pseudo-solid to the stomach (and also to the intestine to be expelled). They are rich in water so they create soft stools that are easy to eliminate. Juices give nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, as well as relatively satisfying the sense of taste. Herbs have the dual action of cleansing the colon and supplying the body with nutrients. Two colemas (self-administered) are provided twice a day to clean the intestines.
The day begins at 7.30 am with the first bentonite clay and psyllium husk shake.
At 9 am, six capsules are taken with water.
10.30 am another shake and at 10.45 am the first colema.
At 12 pm capsules with a carrot juice.
12.15 pm detoxifying massage, full body but with particular regard to the Chi Nei Tsang abdominal massage.
At 1.30 pm another shake while at 1.45 pm there is meditation (three times a week, optional).
At 2.30 pm the sauna opens (optional).
3 pm capsules with coconut water.
At 3.30 pm the detox manager was available for any type of consultancy.
4.15 pm shake and 4.30 pm yoga (optional).
At 6 pm capsules with broth.
7.15 pm shake and at 7.30 pm the second colema.
At 9 pm last capsules of the day and before going to bed a capsule of probiotics.
“I defy anybody to say what are the rights of a citizen, if they do not include the control of his own diet in relation to his own health.”Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Medical history and detox manager
The day of check-in at the detox centre is not yet the beginning of the fast, but it is just for taking place (a private room with double bed and bathroom, large enough, clean and cared for; a little dark, perhaps, but with a few euros plus you could have taken a better room on the first floor. Considering I was in the room mostly for sleeping it was more than OK) and you have an interview with the detox manager to decide how to set up and customize the program based on the health and physical condition of the fasting. The weight is also measured and then compared with that of the last day (there are those who do these detoxes to lose weight).
I weighed 58 kg, which is strange for me since I am usually around 61, but it could be that the warm climate of Southeast Asia made me eat less (like summer in Italy). When I fasted, the detox manager was Vasiliki Terzi, called Villy, a beautiful woman from northern Greece. I must say that she was certainly one of the strong points of detox: she is a very prepared, confident, empathetic and very careful person to follow the detox participants. The last few days she has been replaced by Ali Choi, an American of South Korean origin. Ali is also a prepared, attentive and pleasant person.
My first day of fasting starts at 7.30 am on March 13, 2020, with the first shake, which must be drunk quickly otherwise it solidifies. It has no flavour but gives a sense of satiety which helps not to feel hungry. The first difficulty comes at 10.45 with the first coffee colema (which is diluted in water: coffee helps cleanse the liver). The colemas are all self-administered after you are given an accurate explanation of how to proceed. However, there are assistants who are always ready to help you if necessary.
I must say that I had many difficulties inserting the cannula into the rectum and making sure that the colema was functional. The first time was quite a disaster, in the sense that if the cannula is not well inserted, the water comes out without even passing through the colon. After several attempts, I managed to find the right position, not without suffering. The rest of the day is going well, given that every hour and a half there is something to drink and there is no shortage of detox companions, time passes pleasantly, thanks also to the swimming pool. The second difficulty arrives at the second enema, even if it goes better than the first, above all thanks to Villy’s advice, but still, the cannula creates some physical pain.
The second day
I wake up extremely tired. I remember having very vivid dreams but that I no longer remembered in the morning. It seems that it is easier to enter the oniric dimension on an empty stomach. Since I can’t stand up due to exhaustion, I have a little salt (Himalayan integral) in a shake and I recover the energy needed to face the day (which is still relaxing). I have time to socialize, read and write between a juice and a shake. I don’t feel thirsty and I almost never drink outside the program (something that not only can be done, but it is recommended); I feel hydrated and pee is clear too. The colemas are better, I begin to take a little confidence even if the sensation of pain and burning during insertion is always there. For the first two days what comes out thanks to the colema is still the “old” food.
I wake up quite energetic but during the day I feel more and more tired. Although I make the staff put some salt in different shakes, the situation does not improve and so I decide to stop with the salt and try to rest. The mood is also quite negative, I often think about food (although I’m not hungry) and I can’t wait for the next juice to arrive. After a while, I notice that my skin dries up and I’m thirsty: it was definitely the salt. Thanks to a remote chat with a friend, I can get out of my black mood and resume a positive and light attitude. The colemas are fine, by now I have learned how to insert the cannula at the first try without suffering. After three days of massage in the abdomen, the pain they cause me is always the same: I must seriously consider having a check-up and targeted massage.
On the fourth day he is resurrected
Even this morning I wake up tired but I decide not to take the salt but to rest while lying down. Slowly I get energy and I go back relatively active. Being the fourth day, I begin the practice of cleansing the gallbladder and liver: green apple juice in the morning and in the evening, it is used to soften the stones. I feel emotionally well and I decide to participate in the yoga class which, despite being light, makes me tired. I also participate in meditation but both this and the previous one are not very fruitful: I get distracted easily.
In general, I thought I had a sharper mental clarity, as happened to me in 2004 when I did my first three-day fast only on water. Instead, I find it hard to concentrate in general, I can’t write and, having finished the book, given that some detox participants have concluded and left, I use social networks a lot to interact with distant friends. In the evening I feel particularly energetic and go for a walk to the nearby village with a friend.
The fifth day
The night before I went to bed late that the “excess” of energy did not make me sleep. I wake up remembering a particular dream I had. I weigh myself in the morning and I am 55.3 kg: I have never been so thin. The day flows well, my mood is very sunny and positive, I am able to devote myself to my article on Myanmar, including its translation and a certain clarity is formed on my future, or rather on my approach to the future. I am so joyful that I forget to take a dose of capsules, which I recover by adding one capsule to subsequent doses.
Liver and gall bladder cleansing
I wake up feeling even better than yesterday. By now I have entered the routine, the body and the mind are used to it, hunger is absent. The colemas are part of the day, I do them willingly and I have no more difficulties or burning. The program is the same as in the previous days until 4.30 pm (last capsules are taken at 3 pm). At 6 pm the real liver and gallbladder cleansing begins with the first dose of Epsom salt (disgusting taste). I do the colema at 7.30 pm and at 8 pm again Epsom salt. Towards 9.30 pm the salt takes effect and I go to the bathroom. I am given a mixture of oil and lime to drink then at 10 pm. I mix it well first and drink it, then I lie down immediately on my right side, according to the indications given to me. I stand still for about twenty minutes and actually feel movement in the liver-gallbladder area. I try to sleep but I can only get into a very restless sleep with a sense of nausea and heaviness in the stomach.
The last day
I wake up at 2.30 am in the night, trying to manage nausea but I can not do it and at 2.45 am vomiting in the bathroom. Salt induced diarrhoea begins shortly thereafter. I go to the bathroom at regular intervals and see a lot of green stones, which slowly decrease with each evacuation. At 6 in the morning, I drink another dose of Epsom salt and at 8 am I take the last one, not without considerable effort. I go back to the bathroom several times and I notice that the stones are almost gone. I get up to go to do the colema at 10.45 am but first I go to weigh myself: 52.7 kg! I drink some electrolytes to recover and do the enema. At 12 the program resumes its original course: I am completely without energy and I am lying or in the water most of the time. Towards the afternoon I recover and dedicate myself to socializing with the students of the yoga course. In the evening, garlic colema instead of coffee (it is used to eliminate parasites).
Ready for a new life
On the morning of day 1, as it called when you start eating again, it starts with the last colema, with only water. Then I assimilate probiotics, both via the mouth and through the colon with a special syringe. I weigh myself and I am 54 kg. I feel good, the skin has improved, cleaner than before my fast (even the rash on my chest is gone). During these seven days, I immediately felt a change in the sense of taste. When I drank water it seemed sweet, when I assimilated some juices they seemed very tasty (we are talking about a carrot juice, a green apple juice, a broth, in short simple stuff). Around 10 am finally the first meal: a simple watermelon, which seems to be the best thing in the world. After half an hour papaya with a little yoghurt, also delicious. I chew very slowly, enjoying every bite.
For the next seven days, I will have to slowly reintroduce the foods into my daily diet. It starts with raw or steamed fruit and vegetables, broths, fibres (such as hemp seeds, flax seeds, psyllium husk) preferring alkaline foods to neutralize the acidity of the stomach, this for two days. The third and fourth days can be introduced brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, healthy oils such as olive, coconut or avocado. On the fifth day, you can take proteins such as tofu, tempeh, legumes but also fish, meat, eggs and dairy products, preferably organic. The sixth and seventh days can be reintroduced stimulants such as coffee, spicy spices and simple carbohydrates. Obviously, if one is vegetarian or does not eat, by choice or necessity, certain foods can easily be avoided.
15 days have passed since the detox, and I must say that I am very satisfied. Surprisingly, I immediately started going to the bathroom and, apart from the first 3 days, when I was not very well because of the digestive difficulty (which blocked my diaphragm making it difficult to meditate) and the lack of energy, a situation that prevented me from going on in the darkroom retreat of which you can read my report here, my approach towards nutrition has further changed.
First of all, I finally manage to eat slowly, chewing well and taking my time. Considering that I have always been voracious and that swallowing food quickly was the first of my problems, I can say that I have reached a good goal. Second, I avoid to binge myself and I always eat moderately, reaching a maximum of 80% satiety (as the Japanese of Okinawa do, famous for living more than a hundred years healthy). Finally, I feel a lot more natural flavours and artificial ones annoy me. I no longer ate snacks of any kind or sweetened foods (apart from when I forgot to tell those who prepared natural fruit juices not to add sugar: in those cases, I immediately felt the excess of sweet that bothered me a lot) it’s strange for me since I’ve always been looking for milk chocolate and various sweets. I don’t even feel attracted to alcohol anymore, which I’ve always drunk a little, but now even less.
I slowly reintroduced everything in my diet (apart from the meat, which I didn’t even eat before) and I didn’t have digestive problems (apart from the aforementioned first 3 days). The gas in my intestine that I used to have, it has diminished a lot and the skin is fine (also thanks to the Thai sun). Definitely an experience recommended to everyone and perhaps to be repeated once a year or every few years, to clean up well from all the waste that over the years settles in the intestine and liver, but above all to approach nutrition with a “new” body, more inclined to healthy and natural foods.
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