My three months extended stay in the idyllic paradise of Labuan, was nothing short of an over-extended food binge. From long full lunches to beer replacing water, the one meal-a-day rule bent for two meals a day, and blame it on the 50 Shades of Lockdown. Hormones, waistline, sun tan, more nasi campur, meats, fish, chocolate cookies and cakes, and self discipline temporarily flying out of my windows. I did it in Labuan like doing it in Rome. But if you know your body well, mine complained within 15 days of this road racing with no helmet on. I had to stop, slow down, resist temptation and listen 😊
DETOX THOSE DEVILS
The ancient ritual of traditional body and gut detox – as my mother would insist (when we were kids) of regular de-worming, drinking the ghastly bitter juice of Chirata leaves she boiled long and hard on an earmarked Sunday we all dreaded – are well known local cleanse practices in India. The use of laxatives or forced fasting that I complained about then, are fully appreciated now in hindsight. Mothers do know best. Most health related medicinal remedies coming straight out of our kitchens, or, the garden patch grown in the backyard. Neem and curry leaves, moringa, kafir lime, papaya leaves, or, a neighbour sending them over and added to food and drink.
For centuries, various cultures around the world have relied on the power of cleansing herbs and spices to maintain good health, in addition to eating seasonal vegetables and fruits. It’s all because cleansing spices and local vegetables boast a wealth of medicinal properties: some have high antioxidant content, others help maintain your immune system; some are liver cleansing spices, while others are colon cleansing spices. Ever since COVID slammed us in the face, I too have been heavily encouraged to look into my own kitchen, and find all the tools I need to maintain body-spirit-happy hormones in the wisdom of the old. My best cleansing spices added to my day-to-day life include Turmeric, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Black pepper, Cilantro and Cumin. Add Lemon, hot water and Mint poured into a mug of inner peace every morning.
Some of the ancient detox methods still in use today include fasting, saunas, dry brush, rebounding, herbs, water, rest, meditation, and exercises. Tea detox (simply referred to as Teatox) is also another popular tool for cleansing body toxins and losing weight to support an increase in mental performance, remaining alert and focused.
THE PAST IS WISDOM
Detox processes date back to ancient days of the Greek, Roman, Indian and Native American cultures. Traditional herbal medicine have been and continues to be used by many cultures across the world as modern day holistic health options. Some see it as a trend instead of a shift in the cultural perspective. The irony is that, even with modern detox techniques, the more they trend towards holistic and natural healthcare, the more they move towards the ancient practices. Let’s explore some:
- Ayurveda – one of the ancient forms of medicine in the world originating from India, mainly takes the form of a herbal formulation used for detoxification through food and herbs as medicine.
- TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) relates to the modern concept of chiropractors who treat toxins as a disturbance in the body, and therefore must be removed. The tools used in this system are Acupressure and Acupuncture which continue to gain popularity even today.
- The ancient Biblical society also had regulations relating to dietary restrictions, aromatic cleansing, and physical cleansing. The Greeks and the Romans had sweat baths (our modern day saunas), sweating to shed accumulated toxins within the body.
- Ancient Egyptians used colonic irrigation as a detoxing technique. believing that the cause of fever was by toxins formed when decomposition happens within the intestines. Colonic irrigation involves pumping warm water through the anus into the colon to release the matter within the bowel. The colonic irrigation method is still in practise today and mainly used in decongesting the body and clearing out the waste from the digestive system.
- Another technique used by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks was Coffee Enemas. German scientists discovered in the 1920s that coffee could be used as a detox to stimulate the liver. Just like colonic irrigation, the solution is inserted through the anus and allowed to settle in the body for about 10 minutes before it is released. The Coffee Enema method works by opening the bile duct and stimulating the liver to work more efficiently. Best recommended under medical supervision to avoid anal infection.
- Traditional Chinese used the Foot Detox Pads method. They firmly believed that the body sends its toxins as far away as possible from the Heart. This process involves sticking detox pads on the sole of your feet when you go to sleep at night. In the morning, these pads appear darker due toxins they would have absorbed. The Foot Detox pads work by stimulating the pressure points on your feet to draw out toxins. The vinegar contained in these pads is excellent for stimulating circulation in your body.
- Another method used by Europeans for centuries is Dry Skin Brushing. This process involves brushing your skin for a few minutes using a dry brush each day. It works by opening up the pores in your skin so that your body can detoxify entirely. The Dry Skin brushing method removes dead cells accumulated on your skin and enhancing the immune system and circulation. Most salons today will offer you this brushing as a treatment before performing a skin therapy or massage. The technique can eliminate both internal and external toxins.
- And of course, the hot water cleanse. Drinking hot water instead of cold or iced, before a meal/during a meal/after a meal, or throughout the day to hydrate, detox, cleanse the stomach and gut.
In India, August ushers the month of Shravan (vegetarian eating) which also marks the calendar of festivities it brings on for the rest of the year. I spoke to Ankita Aggarwal of WAVES Café on her recently launched 7 day Cleanse Challenge and Detox Menu on the idea of introducing these concepts in Kuala Lumpur.
She shared, “My aim through all my menus has always been to provide wholesome, healthy meals to people. We create everything from scratch. We take care of the ingredients that go in, the kind of produce we source, and invest in our research to understand which spices and ingredients combine to create a healthy, yet delicious dish.
With the current environment due to the pandemic, we wanted to bring more to people with our food. I felt this was the best way to do it. Everyone is moving towards living a healthier lifestyle, mentally and physically. To be able to achieve that, I believe, we need to have food that is good for the body and soul as well. Food that acts as medicine. I brought all those factors together and created this detox and cleansing challenge. The idea being that it is for you to challenge your body, step out of your comfort zone and try healthy ingredients, dishes, and flavours that add value to every meal.
All the participants appreciated the food and said it was delicious. It’s a myth that detox means bland food or boring food. That’s not true at all. The knowledge to also create awareness about what you eat, when you eat, the value of the spices and how they support the body, is important. We saw wonderful results. They felt wonderful, they lost weight. Weight loss is the ultimate fitness goal for many, but it is not the only truth. A detox program involves mental preparation to take up the challenge, understand what the whole process is going to be like, the kind of food involved, the commitment and mental prepareness to stick to the diet, and why you eat what is selected for you. I spoke to each of the detox participants everyday, so we could engage with them on understanding their body type, state of mind and state of health to create engagement.
I am not a doctor or a coach or a nutritionist. But I believe that if you understand the basics of food, the wealth of information stored in each ingredient and what it can provide to your body, guarantees results. You can plan a menu even at home for yourself and create a healthy balance of good health everyday,” Ankita elaborated. Her Cleanse Challenge goes into Round 2 this September (5-11) due to popular demand.
I miss Labuan, but I’m glad its time-out for some good old back-to-basics cleanse, de-clutter, detox and reboot time in Kuala Lumpur. Stay healthy, darlings.
Book your WAVES Cleanse Challenge at 017-260 8693
*Images sourced from Google