Nowadays, more and more people are interested in a healthy diet. Here we have nutrition and healing expert Mark Ament sharing his views on this issue.
There is a saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. In your opinion, how far is this true?
That quote is from Hippocrates, the founder of western medicine and it rings as true now as it did 2,000 plus years ago when he wrote it. What we eat absolutely affects our health. When we eat fresh, organically grown foods we boost our vitality and energy. And when we eat heavy, cooked foods grown with chemicals and pesticides we sap our energy. In my experience it’s really as simple as that.
If one has to choose, which one should come first; a healthy diet or regular exercise?
I love this question. If you have to choose only one, then obviously it has to be the one that you do the most. Most people eat several times a day so that’s the place to start. Here’s the thing about eating a healthy diet – it automatically makes you feel better. And when you feel better you want to do more and exercise more. The desire to get regular exercise, to breathe fresh air, to have fun with and enjoy the body grows naturally out of eating a diet based on healthy life affirming foods.
How often one should do a detoxification?
I can’t answer this question generally – it depends on a lot of factors and will be different for different individuals. What I can do is sharing my experience. When I started with Living Foods and detox about 12 years ago, I completed 4-5 months of cleansing every year. This was a combination of fasting, herbal cleansing, juice cleansing, liver cleansing and more. Now I do around 2 months yearly.
Many people wish to lose a few pounds and think a detox might help with this. Is this the main purpose of a detox program?
A good program will almost always support weight loss, but this is really a side effect rather than a goal. The major purpose of a detox program is to support and purify the organs in your body that deal with wastes: the skin, the colon, the liver and the kidneys. When these organs function as nature intended, everything else also works better and health and vitality increase. You can think of those organs as you would think of important parts in the engine of your car. If you want your car to perform its best, then every so often you need to change the fluids and filters in those important engine parts. It’s just the same with your body.
If someone is underweighted, can they join a detox program?
Sure. I’ve worked with several people who want to gain weight in the course of my retreats. Sometimes getting some of the gunk out of the body will actually help an individual to absorb nutrients from the food they eat better and more fully and ultimately lead to weight gain.
When would you suggest doing a detox, and when not?
The only time I would say don’t do a cleanse is if you are pregnant or nursing. That’s because some of the toxins your body releases may end up in your blood stream and potentially could have a negative impact on your child.
How do you combine detox with yoga and Qigong in your Fresh Start Cleansing retreat?
The Fresh Start Retreat is different than anything else out there. We do focus on eating a light living food cleansing diet along with taking herbal capsules for the physical detox, but that’s just one part of the story. We start each morning with a very specific Qigong practice that aims at cleansing the energetic part of our bodies. This practice has roots going back 4,000 years and revitalizes the body.
Many participants from past retreats still use the practice. During the day, there are opportunities to learn the specifics of cleansing and detox as well as living food nutrition and more, combined with healing bodywork sessions. And each evening we use deep relaxing yogic breathing to still the mind and release tensions. It’s a fun, educational and social way to cleanse and I have to say that I LOVE being part of it every time.
Would you mind sharing a simple detox tip to get people started?
Sure, I’m very happy to share the most simple and natural way to detox possible. This is something that every wild animal and every child instinctively understands. Pick any convenient day out of your week and commit to a water fast. Stop eating on the night before. And then in the morning instead of breakfast (breaking your fast) continue it. Drink only pure mineral or distilled water—with a little fresh lemon juice if you want. Drink plenty of water during the day as it will help flush your kidneys. Continue the fast either until dinner time (total of 24 hours) or all the way to the next morning (total of 36 hours).
Giving your body this kind of break from digestion is an amazing gift since your body can devote energy to getting rid of toxins and healing rather than digesting food. If you did no other detox for a whole year, you would have eaten about 150 lbs (70 kg) less of food plus saved almost 15% on your grocery bill. There’s a lot more to say about the power of fasting, but I’ll leave it for another time.
Mark Ament is a nutritionist, the founder of the Maca Team, and a guest leader at ONEWORLD retreats. Through his Fresh Start Cleansing Retreat Mark shares his knowledge and experiences in health, healing and detoxification.