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Fast and Slow – The Master Cleanse

It is time for me to take stock of my eating once again. I have felt the need for a cleanse coming on for a month or two, but have been finding excuses around every corner. Once a year, for the past four years, I have done Stanley Burrough’s ‘Master Cleanse’ for ten days. I limit myself quite strictly to nothing other than the lemon juice, maple syrup (grade B), cayenne pepper and water drink that I have begun to call ‘cajun lemonade’ as well as laxative tea in the evening and water as desired. I have managed to find something in my schedule for the past couple of months that would make not eating (or drinking alcohol) for ten days a real pain in the ass socially and professionally, and I have caved to my baser desires each time.

Along the way I have been pushing myself farther and farther from the path of my ILP. I have been meditating less and less, working out less and less, doing yoga less and less, and drinking, over eating and eating crap more and more and more; culminating in the past week. I spent the past week in Stamford teaching a class on card access software. This means that I and one of my coworkers spent the week holed up in the Holiday Inn on the company tab. It also means that we felt obligated to entertain our customers who were in town to take the class. The food was wonderful. From a 3 person $600 dinner at Morton’s with amazing steaks, wine etc. to a great wine and Italian food meal at Siena’s Ristorante to copious amounts of beer at the hotel bar and numerous other locations throughout the city, I was full the entire time. This, of course, did not stop the consumption. Not until today.

Today I have not eaten a thing. Not even some cajun lemonade. I am still full. But I am excited to learn what hunger feels like once again. To experience the heightened sense of smell that comes with a cleansed palate and truly clear sinuses. I am excited to explore my desires to eat, teasing out the subtleties of boredom, nervousness, tension, stress, lust, exhaustion, loneliness, imbalance and many other things that I often confuse or mask with hunger. I am excited to feel the increased energy coursing through my body. Each time I have done this fast/cleanse I have found myself having an increase in my energy levels after the first couple of days. This probably sounds backwards, but has been an obvious result each time. I am well aware of the many ways in which I overeat, and of the many foods that, when eaten, seem to require more energy to process than they are providing during that processing, but I never realized the extent of energy required for digestion.

I recently read ‘Enzymes: What the Experts Know’ by Tom Bohager and was a little surprised to read him write that ‘the act of digestion consumes as much as 80% of our daily energy'(p101) The interesting side is what this has to do with enzymes. This is one of the strongest arguments for a raw food diet that I am aware of. Digestion requires enzymes. “Enzymes are catalysts, substances that cause a chemical reaction to move faster. For example, air is a catalyst for fire…enzymes are the catalysts of biochemical reactions in living organisms”(p7) Most food, when ‘alive’ contains all of the necessary enzymes to digest said food. “I’m sure you’ve observed an apple going “bad” because it sat…too long. You didn’t eat it, so it ate itself… The enzymes within that apple have become active in a digestive manner.”(p14) So, food, in it’s natural state contains enzymes……unless we heat it above 116 degrees (cook it). When you heat food it kills the enzymes in it. Some actually start dying at 106 degrees. But what happens when you eat something that does not contain enough enzymes to aid in its digestion in your body? Your body provides the necessary enzymes. This is one of the major roles of the bacteria in your body, they creates enzymes. The problem here is twofold. One, through ingestion of antibiotics, which kill all bacteria, good and bad, most of us are low on the good bacteria. Two, our body needs enzymes for a number of processes in the body other than digestion.

Digestion is priority number one in the body. Without it we starve and die. Number two is probably the immune system. So guess who gets robbed of enzymes when our food requires more digestive aid than we have available? I know that I started getting a bit sick this past week, and I was eating a lot of cooked food, especially meat. I was also under slept and often drunk, but the food I was eating was not necessarily allowing my bodies energies to compensate for other systems need for increased resources. I probably needed more enzymes. Getting good bacteria through probiotics is one option.

I have been making my own probiotic at home. Kombucha tea (seen fermenting here):
That’s the mother floating on top. Isn’t she pretty. I actually drink that stuff. It’s alive and it helps me to stay that way….I think. Things such as yogurt and Kefir can be probiotics as well. I am also looking at Enzymedica, one of the companies recommended in Bohager’s book, for enzyme therapy, and probably for probiotic digestive aids.

So,I will be giving my system a break for the next ten days, but I will also be doing a bit of experimentation. During my last fast I found myself really wanting to continue beyond the ten days. I felt wonderful and energetic, but Thanksgiving was impending, and I decided to use the 3-4 pre-Thanksgiving days I had available to ease my self into the feast. This time I intend to leave myself open to the possibility of continuing, in some capacity, beyond the alotted ten days. What I am really interested in is supplementing the cajun lemonade with some other things that I have been experimenting with. I find that taking a large quantity of something on an empty stomach can be the best way to get to know it and its effects on my body. So I may try out a few things such as kombucha tea, maca, camu camu, reishi, crystal manna or raw cacao ‘on their own’ as I have mostly been eating them in smoothies. Could be interesting.

  1. Maca gets me randy.

    I’ve got to say your kombucha doesn’t look quite healthy there.

  2. & How does the hydrochloric acid in your stomach treat enzymes? i’d assume they’d need to make it through unscathed for the whole theory to stand up.

    & what about amylase, an important enzyme for the breakdown of starches to glucose who’s optimum temperature is 149deg/f or about 65deg/C

    Talk of enzymes raises the quack flag for me.

  3. You’re right,enzymes are make believe, enteric coating is yet to be invented, and we’ve no idea what the difference between an inactive and a denatured enzyme is.

    Maca does make one randy, I agree.

    By the way, amylase is a class of enzymes consisting of potentially thousands of enzymes with varying optimum temperatures and PH levels. They all do work on carbs though.

  4. I’m not sure ’bout the Kombucha, the bubbles are long gone, but I’ve no idea why they were there in the first place. Perhaps too much sugar caused an over fast ferment.

  5. so enteric coatings are raw?

  6. doubt it

  7. sorry to be an ass, it’s just that i feel that there are plenty enough validations for raw-foods inspired dietary approaches beyond ‘enzymes’. Like lower intake of saturated fats, increased fiber, etc.

    but mostly i’m sorry for being an ass.

  8. no worries, I still love ya, ya prick. You seem to be getting a handle on your asshole tendencies.

    I’m mostly perplexed by your need to write enzymes as ‘enzymes’. I agree that there are many other reasons to go raw, but feel as if you’re afraid of the bogey man here and I’m not sure what you’re implying.

  9. When we eat and we feel stress about anything, including what we are eating, we spit out cortisol, which interferes with digestion.

    If we are calm when we eat, whatever we are eating will nourish us better. We’ll be able to extract the stuff we need, and process the stuff that isn’t so great. This is documented in the UR literature. When we feel we are being ‘bad’ our guts go out of whack.

    Eat what you want, feel good about it, relax, and you’ll naturally be drawn to food that gives you exactly what you need. I’ve been living a very low-carb lifestyle for about 10 years, to treat a medical condition. I’d say of those 10 years I fell off the wagon about a year’s worth. It has been an amazing lesson, and taught me to be kind to myself.