Hooray, autumn as arrived! It is a time of slowing down from the pace of long days and outside play of summertime. It is also a time to switch up eating and can be a great time to support your health with a fall cleanse.
Many cultures, particularly those that practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda follow seasonal cleanses. This is an important, long forgotten practice in our modern times because it provides a time of rest for the gastrointestinal tract. Imagine all the food you eat throughout six months and the incredible work your gut does to digest it all. Most of us eat a variety of modern foods, including processed foods that are loaded with chemicals, added sugars, fat, and salt. These are difficult to digest with limited nutritional value, affecting digestion and nutrient absorption. A seasonal cleanse can help restore digestion and address chronic health complaints like headaches, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, body aches, rashes, blood sugar imbalances, high blood pressure, and a leaky gut.
A fall cleanse is a standing cultural practice primarily for the purpose of resting the gut and boosting absorption of nutrients. It is followed for 7 days using rice porridge and vegetables as the primary food with warm water with lemon and/or tea consumed throughout the day. The herbs used are healing to the body and gut. The broth is protective of the gut lining and provides protein for the body. The rice is beneficial for gut bacteria. In TCM, congee, a soup of rice and broth are used to rest the digestive tract in addition to other herbal infused broths. It creates a rice porridge that is warming for the body and helps protect the lungs. The lungs are considered to be a delicate organ in TCM due to constant exposure to the outside elements especially with the cooler fall air. There are a variety of recipes for congee, here is a simple and nourishing one:
- 1 ¼ cups long grain rice
- 64 oz vegetable or chicken broth
- ½ tsp salt
- 2” fresh peeled and sliced fresh ginger
In a large pot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 1-2 hours. Rice will become mushy making it easy to digest. Optional add ins are vegetables like onions, garlic, mushrooms and bok choy and protein like chopped chicken or beef, tofu, or egg.
In Ayurveda, a similar healing soup is used, called kitchari. Like congee, there are a variety of recipes, adding in different vegetables for added nutritional value. It is a mixture of rice and beans, boiled in water or broth with herbs for flavor and healing properties. The soaked rice and beans are easy to digest, allowing the body a break from the heavy load of digestion. Similar to a seasonal cleanse in TCM, Ayurveda traditionally uses kitchari as the primary food source for 5-7 days, allowing more protein after 4-5 days. The herbs used provide nourishment and healing in their role of promoting appetite, reducing inflammation, and their antioxidant properties. A recipe I like to use is:
- 1 cup yellow mung beans
- ½ cup basmati or jasmine rice
- 2 TBSP ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil
- 6 cups water or bone broth for added protein
- 1 tsp each black pepper, ground coriander, ground cumin, fennel seeds, ground ginger
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1”-2” fresh ginger peeled and diced (based on your flavor preference)
- 2 tsp organic turmeric (I prefer to add 4 tsp)
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 6 whole cloves
- 1-2 cups vegetables (onion, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato)
In a large pot boil water with salt and add mung beans and rice. Simmer for 10 minutes. In a pan, add ghee or coconut oil and all spices. Saute lightly, careful not to burn. The herbs will darken and create a warm aroma in the kitchen. Add all ingredients to the rice and mung bean mixture and simmer for 1 hour, or until rice and beans are soft and mushy.
With the arrival of fall and the added stress that 2020 has brought us, it is a wonderful time to consider a fall cleanse! It is a way to protect your gut, promote healing in your body, and improve immune system functioning through restored gut health. These 2 recipes can be a guide to help you through a 7-day nutritional cleanse, allowing your gut a break from its job of supporting you. I have a 21-Day Detox Formula as well, created as an online course with modules to walk you through the process of cleansing and detoxifying your body. https://columbiarivernutrition.com/get-started/21-day-detox/
Enjoy autumn in its magnificent display of color and be well!