Many of us have tried at least one diet or cleanse during our lifetime to make ourselves healthier and ultimately feel better. I love to try new things, but I’m a little embarrassed to admit some of the things I’ve tried over my lifetime. Much of what I tried was during my younger years. After having kids, I tried to lose weight to fit the ideal that TV and magazines constantly showed me. Society wants us to look great, raise a family, have a full-time job, and a tidy house. Really??? I just wanted to have the energy a cleanse promised me.
The Cleanse Promise
Many cleanses promise to reduce toxins in the body. There are many types of cleanses, one of the most common being the “Master Cleanse” where you only drink lemon water with cayenne pepper for a few days. Many experts say it isn’t really possible to cleanse this way. Our body cleanses itself constantly, all on its own. The liver, in particular, sorts out what is useful to the body and what isn’t. If a cleanse stops you from eating junk food for a few days, then yes, a cleanse might be good for you in that respect. This Ted Talk by Dr. Jen Gunter briefly explains how the liver works and how a cleanse doesn’t really do anything magical for your body.
What is a toxin? This is anything that gets stuck in the body that isn’t supposed to be there. Our body is always naturally doing its best to eliminate what shouldn’t be there. If it can’t, something is wrong. When I think of toxins, I think of cellular waste. For our trillions of cells to function, they need nutrients. They use these nutrients to do their jobs, and this produces waste that must be removed from the body. This begs the question…how is it removed? Drum roll……..through the fascia! You knew that was coming.
Fascia’s Role in Controlling Cellular Waste
Your fascia is actually made up of two parts. First, there is the web that I talk about the most. This web is what holds out trillions of cells together. The second part of our fascia is the free water that clings to and surrounds it. This is called the ground substance. This water has several functions. It acts as glue to help hold the cells together, provides the sensation of glide in our body, and helps to absorb shock. This amazing substance is also responsible for carrying nutrition to our cells and taking cellular waste away.
This free water or ground substance needs to be refreshed regularly, like changing the water in a fishbowl. The fish produce waste and if we don’t clean the bowl their health is affected. This is the same as with our cells in the ground substance. According to fascia researcher Thomas Myers (2021), when our fascia is tight, it can form a barrier between our cells and the nutrition they need. It can also prevent cellular waste from being taken away. This results in cellular dysfunction or even death of the cells.
You Can’t Just Push Water, You Must Pull Water In
Myers also describes our body and the fascia as a pull system rather than a push system when it comes to hydration. Imagine a sponge full of dirty water. It represents our fascia’s ground substance full of cellular waste or toxins. We can try adding clean water to the sponge, but since it’s already full of dirty water, the clean water will just run off. Only once we give the sponge a good squeeze and wring the dirty water can we refill it with good, clean water. Ergo, we can drink (push) all the water we want into our bodies, but we don’t really become fully hydrated until we wring the body like a sponge (pull) first.
What You Can Do to Cleanse Your Fascia
If we want to make sure our cellular waste is getting flushed out of the body, we must keep our water clean and refreshed and make sure our fascia is stretchy so as not to create barriers between our cells and the nutrients they need to make us feel our best. How do we do that? Myers recommends any activity that moves your body in unusual ways through its full range of motion with lots of variety on a regular basis. Throw in some long holds at the end ranges of your joint motion, and you’ve sufficiently wrung out the sponge. You can also rely on a good Barnes style myofascial therapist to help you wring the sponge now and then. We can sometimes reach places in your body you can’t easily through movement.
The bottom line is you must move with variety as much as you can. It doesn’t have to be vigorous, but it does need to be often. My fitness classes are all fascia-focused. Join me for a good sponge wringing. More information here: Welcome! – Mayer Wellness & Myofascial Release
Myers, T. W. (2021). Anatomy trains: Myofascial Meridians for manual therapists and Movement Professionals. Elsevier.
Note: I am in no way a biochemist (I wish I was because it is so interesting), so I’m stepping a little out of my comfort zone with the biochemistry opinions, but I don’t think science has all the answers. I support and use science as much as I possibly can, but we simply can’t measure everything about the human body yet. Fascia is a good example. We finally have tools available to see and measure fascia. There is a lot of information out there to guide us but much about the human body we can’t quite explain and research on real people is very challenging. I know many people who do different kinds of cleanses for many different reasons and swear by them. A great example is trying to stop a sugar craving. Making yourself stay away from sugar and ingesting something better for you certainly can’t hurt and is sure to help you feel better. As with anything, if you’re unsure, talk to your doctor or healthcare professional for guidance.