Monday, 17 August 2015

Mack and May on a gut cleanse programme #1 The introduction and preparation

Following "Clean Gut" by Dr Junger
A couple of weeks ago, we were moaning to each other about feeling sluggish and tired, and that we hoped this wasn’t just the way we had to feel as we, erm, had increasing numbers of candles on our birthday cakes…Ever hopeful, we launched ourselves into some internet research and decided that maybe a gut cleanse was the way to go (ooh, sounds so exotic…). Neither of us are great at sticking to diets for more than a few days at a time (or a few hours to be more precise) but we thought that if we were both doing it at the same time we just might be able to spur each other on. The cleanse entails a 21 day elimination phase and further 7 day reintroduction phase. We’ll be doing a weekly update so stick with us and we’ll let you know how we get on and whether we’d recommend it if you are looking for something similar.

Neither of us had heard of this until a couple of weeks ago. We were both aware of clean eating, but that’s where our knowledge ended. Luckily for us, it turned out that a family member was a pro at doing this cleanse and really swore by it so he has been a great source of help.  We were pointed in the direction of the Clean Gut book by Dr Alejandro Junger (pictured above). According to Dr Junger, “All of today's most diagnosed ailments can be traced back to an injured and irritated gut. The gut is an intricate and powerful system naturally designed to protect and heal the body every moment of every day”. The strapline of the plan is “The Breakthrough Plan for Eliminating the Root Cause of Disease and Revolutionizing Your Health” and we definitely wanted to get in on that!

The basics are that you cut out all caffeine, sugar, alcohol, dairy, and gluten from your diet for the first three weeks, start each day with a smoothie then follow the 80:20 (veg: protein) rule for lunch and dinner, drink a lot of water, eat nothing for 12 hours overnight and take a bunch of probiotics and other supplements to aid digestion and feed your insides what they need to work properly. In week 4, you start to reintroduce gluten and diary to work out what your triggers are.

May: I bought Junger’s book, keen to read more about the plan and learn what to eat and avoid during the cleanse. It all sounded very promising as I learnt that "The root of almost all chronic diseases starts in your gut" and "a damaged gut will lead to premature ageing".    It was also interesting to read that 90% of our seratonin is produced in the gut, so keeping your gut happy is also a great thing to do if you suffer from depression.  However, I was faced with page upon page of personal stories about the author’s experiences when I really just wanted to understand why I should do the cleanse, and then be told what to eat and not eat. Typically for me, I skipped a fair few pages until I found the all-important list of do’s and don’ts. It sounded do-able, at least for a few weeks, but then I saw the list of supplements – eek! I had never heard of most of these, and certainly could not pronounce them. A quick trawl around the internet showed me that many were not readily available on the high street (certainly at such high strengths as recommended) and I’d need to spend at least £100 on getting everything that was on the list. Did I want to spend that much on pills I’d never heard off, from companies I didn’t know? I was a little reticent to say the least. I was about to look more into whether it was worth doing the diet part without taking the supplements, when Google threw up a link to Inner Me, who have recently launched their own gut cleanse programme…success I thought! I know the company from Mack’s recommendation of their products and their supplement package was CONSIDERABLY cheaper at only £20 for 28 days’ worth. OK so this didn’t cover the whole lot recommended by Junger, but many seemed to be there, packaged as their other products are in handy strips for each day.

photo of Inner Me tablets

photo of strip of inner me tablets

Inner Me had a free pdf available online which went through much of the same information as in Junger’s book, but in a more direct and straightforward way, although still clearly carefully put together by an expert. Their recipe ideas looked delicious – even their recommended breakfast smoothies looked more tasty (you can put a banana in them… this makes me happy!). The process was packaged in a much more ‘user friendly’ way that I found it easier to engage with. Anyway, it didn’t take long for me to order the set of supplements and setting up a account to start making a meal plan. I’ve shopped for the ingredients I’m going to need for the first few days, and I’m ready! I found most of my recipes from the Inner Me manual and recipe guide and the Clean Program sample menu plan

Mack and May's gut cleansing experience Mack and May's gut cleansing experience

Mack: I'm impressed with May's strategy.  However, I know if I am going to stick to gut cleansing, it needs to be super easy.  The thought of planning healthy meals for me (separate to my family's meals) is too much hard work for me with work, the kids (and all their activities), the dog and everything else going on (when I can't resort to chocolate for comfort and stress-relief).  This is why when I have dieted in the past, I have had to go down the pre-ordered packet food route.  So for my gut cleansing experience, I have stocked up on Broccoli Sprout Juice from Vegus Juices, bottled mineral water, the same supplements as May from Inner Me and I will be making chicken and veg soup in bulk for lunch and dinner.  Some days a bit of cabbage, some days a bit of spinach, some days some Chinese leaf...variety is the spice after all!  Ok, so this may sound repetitive and bland but I know, for me, it will be easy to stick to and I love veg-filled soups!  The less time I spend shopping for and preparing food, the happier I will feel about sticking to this short-term gut cleansing plan. So as you can see, our plans are quite different, which just goes to show that there is room for adapting this programme to your likes and dislikes.  In all honesty, I recommend May's more thought-out approach to others (as I suspect the vast majority of people enjoy planning meals and cooking).  But maybe one or two of you might empathise with me - this is a 4-week plan and I need it to be easy, straight-forward and no-fuss.

In conclusion, we have seen plenty of warnings about the side effects of this programme, and are prepared for the effects of cleansing – we’re expecting (although hoping to avoid!) headaches, breakouts, possible dizziness which we hear are often experienced when eliminating toxins from the system.  So, wish us luck as we get going with this.  We will be posting weekly updates on our gut cleansing experience.  May is already convinced that she is going to be hungry all the time…Mack is convinced she will be able to write a "50 ways to cook chicken and veg soup" recipe book next month.

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