The Myth of the Immaculate Gut

I’m so tired of cockamamie health advice that seems to start with the premise that we are nothing but a long, hollow tube beginning at the mouth and ending where the sun don’t shine.  Some presume, it seems, that keeping the tube squeaky clean at all times is the cure for every woe.  Juice fasts, enemas, and liver cleanses galore are prescribed for everything from acne to asthma.  Some of these treatments may have merit in certain situations, but I believe that total health depends upon more than an immaculate gut.

Something many people overlook in their quest for health is the fact that we are complex, finely tuned organisms, exquisitely sensitive to changes in our emotional and physical environment.  We have certain needs which are irreducible.  Physically, we need clean air, clean water, and adequate nutrition.  To be healthy mentally and emotionally, we need love, connection, and a feeling of safety.  These things are not negotiable, and any health advice that ignores these facts is likely to be harmful.

For example, the current juice fasting fad seems to be taking the world by storm.  Ask any confirmed health nut, including me unfortunately, if they’ve tried a juice fast and you’re likely to get a yes.  “If you’re clean inside, you’re green inside”, right? But the juice fast, or indeed any type of fast, ignores one basic truth: we need food.  I can already hear all the yes-buts. “Yes but, we are capable of going without food for a time, and fasting can be helpful, it’s even saved lives!”  I’m not an expert on fasting. Maybe there really are people who have turned their health around because of a fast.  What I have to go on is my own limited knowledge and experience, which tells me that fasting hurts.

Three years ago, I decided to try a juice fast.  Many of my friends were doing it.  I’d seen Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  I thought it might be the answer to some of my nagging health problems.  My goal was to sustain the fast for at least five days, knowing that, with my blood sugar issues, I probably wouldn’t be able to go much longer than that.  By day three I was miserable.  I felt scary-bad.  My blood sugar was a mess and my adrenals were shot.  I gave up and decided to eat, hoping that I would be able to regain some equilibrium within a few days, but that was not how it went down.  The fast was the beginning of a long downward slide.  It set off severe chemical and food sensitivities which I now believe were a result of the adrenal fatigue.

Because proteins DRIVE the detoxification process, cleanses based on juices, fruits or vegetables do not make a lot of sense.  – 17 Signs of Impaired Liver Detox

The “liver flush”  or “liver cleanse” is another very popular treatment intended to purge the body of toxins.  Again, I’m sure many people have benefitted from these treatments, but it should be recognized that a treatment this powerful can also be potentially harmful.  The liver cleanse requires at least a partial fast.  No protein or fat is to be taken for more than 24 hours.  After 2:00 PM the day of the cleanse, no food is to be eaten.  This type of fast is not extreme and seems reasonably safe for most people.  But for those with blood sugar issues or adrenal fatigue, it can be quite difficult, even harmful.  Some treatment protocols, including Hulda Clark’s, specify that an overdose of magnesium in the form of Epsom salts must be taken.  This, apparently has resulted in cases of hypermagnesemia.  The end result of the treatment is diarrhea, and for some, vomiting, which stresses the system and creates electrolyte imbalance.

My experience with the liver flush was extremely unpleasant, even traumatic.  I think I would have been fine with the diarrhea and vomiting, that passed pretty quickly.  But I did experience hypermagnesemia, which was really scary.  As there are very good alternatives to the liver flush, I would not ever do this to myself again.

I’ve noticed that, in addition to seeming rather extreme, many popular natural treatments seem to completely overlook the mind/body connection.  There is mounting evidence that our thoughts have a direct bearing on our physical and emotional health.  That may mean, among other things, that it’s not just the carotenoids in the carrot that affect our health, but also our thoughts and feelings about carrots.  Sound far-fetched?  Take a look at this .

But the mind/body connection goes far beyond digestion. If your thoughts can affect your gut, you can bet that they affect every other part of you as well.  Epigenetics Shatters the “Central Dogma”

So maybe it’s time to rethink this puritanical urge of ours to purge our bodies of impurities.  Maybe it’s not what we can squeeze out of our bodies that matters as much as what we put into them.  Maybe if we nourish ourselves, body and soul, the trash will take itself out.

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