It finally feels like spring has sprung, the days are longer, the sun less shy and delicate blossoms are tentatively returning to our trees and parks. It is the most beautiful time of year and the one that Ayurveda recommends we do a post-winter detox. During the cold winter months, our bodies crave food and but in the spring we are naturally inclined to eat less and have access to the freshest greens and produce to start the detox process.
A quick word on Ayurveda. It is the ancient science of how to be healthy and whilst it encompassed different, curative branches of medicine such as surgery and psychiatry, it focused a lot on prevention rather than cure. One of their preventive measures was and still is regular detoxes. Ayurvedic doctors believe that food that remains undigested in the gut will ferment and produce toxins. These toxins build up in the gut until they finally “overflow” out of the gut and into the body. They then take up residence where they find a weakness and are the eventual cause of an auto-immune illness. Regular detoxes were recommended to prevent the build-up.
I know there are many doctors who feel the liver removes toxins from the body and that detoxes aren’t necessary. My personal belief is different, I fully buy into the Ayurvedic science. Many scientists are now researching the effects of fasting on the body and finding those who do fast, have fewer chronic illnesses (fasting is a form of detox, read on).
How do Ayurvedic detoxes work? A thorough Ayurvedic detox is called panchakarma but takes 3 weeks, is intense and is done under an Ayurvedic doctor’s supervision. The aim is remove as many toxins as possible, I know many who do this once a year to clear arthritis, psoriasis and other such issues for another year. This isn’t possible at home but you can do a simple detox at home to keep yourself well.
Kept simple, the Ayurvedic theory is that when your digestion is not busy working on digesting foods, it burns toxins instead. So when you fast or eat little, easy to digest foods, it focuses on burning toxins instead. You can do a short intense detox for 2-3 days where your 3 meals consist of steamed or lightly sautéed green vegetables and a thin, spiced lentil soup made with a little ghee. Gentler detoxes can be achieved by eating small, warm and freshly prepared meals which are easy to digest for a couple of weeks or more.
Digestion is key so you would need to avoid hard-to-digest foods; meats, dairy, processed foods, fried foods and salads as raw food can be hard to digest. Nuts are good but soaking them and skinning them makes them easier to digest. Fruits and cooked fruits which are easier to digest, warming, nourishing and filling but need to be eaten away from other foods. These are best at breakfast. Soups, vegetables, lighter lentils, simple grains, spices to help digest foods. Add lots of naturally detoxifying greens to your diet, bitter ones especially, sip on warm water or herbal teas throughout the day. Give in to being sleepy which will happen and take on as little stress as possible.
Detoxes can be tough especially if it is your first but stick with it, it is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the short and long term!
Detox Lentil Soup recipe from Eat Right for your body type
If your head wants bread but your body thinks grain is a pain, or you’re practising a Paleo diet, you might think Indian food is off the menu. After all, the nation’s northerners eat bread by the bucketload.
Chaat Magazine has featured Anjum’s recipe for sticky barbecue chicken wings using our original mango chutni as a cheat, so- click here for the recipe and if you need some BBQ inspiration!