The Ayurvedic Detox Diet
The cusp between winter and spring is the ideal time to do an at-home internal cleansing program, to allow your body to release the toxins that may have built up over the long cold winter.
A complete ayurvedic cleansing program includes 15 days of preparation and 45 days of actual cleansing. Ayurvedic healers recommend paying special attention to your diet during these two phases to avoid overtaxing your digestion and to enable purification to occur easily and completely. Maharishi Ayurveda does not recommend fasting or entirely liquid diets such as juices, because that may cause your agni (digestive fire) to become imbalanced.
Here are some suggestions from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians for diet management during detox:
Avoid Ama-producing foods
Ama is the product of incomplete digestion — it represents sticky toxic matter that can clog the channels of your body that carry nutrients to the cells and waste out of the body. Since cleansing is done to clear ama out of the body, you'll want to stay away from foods that build more ama in the body. From the ayurvedic perspective, leftovers, and "dead" foods such as processed, packaged, canned and frozen foods all create ama because they are very hard for your body to digest.
Non-organic foods; genetically modified foods; foods grown with chemicals, pesticides and chemical fertilizers; and foods with chemical additives also introduce toxins into your body and are confusing for the natural "intelligence" of your digestive system, and should therefore be avoided.
Avoid heavy dairy products such as aged hard cheese or yogurt, foods that are deep-fried or oily, raw foods of any kind, heavy desserts, and foods that contain refined sugar and honey, as these are harder to digest and create ama. Avoid yeasted breads, dry breads such as crackers, and fermented foods.
Eat Ama-reducing foods
Favor vegetarian foods that are light, warm, cooked and easily digestible. Freshly-made flatbreads, freshly-made light soups and dhals, organic vegetables cooked with spices, and freshly-made grains such as quinoa are ideal. Mung Dhal pacifies all three doshas and is nutritious, yet easy to digest.
Certain fruits, vegetables and spices are especially helpful during cleansing, so you'll want to eat a serving or two every day during the preparation and cleansing phases:
- Fruits: Eat cooked prunes and figs at breakfast along with a stewed apple or pear. In general, most sweet juicy fruits are excellent cleansers.
- Vegetables: Eat lots of cooked leafy greens. Chop the greens and cook them with Detox Spice Mix for best results. Brussels sprouts and cabbage are also helpful.
- Grains: Light yet nutritious whole grains such as quinoa, barley, amaranth and small helpings of rice are recommended. Kanji, made by boiling rice with lots of water, is an excellent hot beverage and helpful for flushing toxins out of the body through the urine.
- Spices: Ginger, turmeric, coriander, fennel and fenugreek help open up the channels of the body and support the flushing of toxins via the skin, urinary tract, colon and liver. Add spices to soups and dhals as they cook, or sauté the spices in a little ghee and add to dishes when the cooking process is completed.
Lassi, made by combining fresh yogurt with water and digestion-boosting spices, is an excellent lunchtime beverage.
Choose foods according to your body type or imbalances
Ayurvedic healers recommend tailoring your diet year-round to your constitution and your imbalances. This is particularly true during cleansing to help regulate your digestive fire (agni). For detailed information on diets and foods for pacifying each of the three doshas, visit Vata, Pitta, or Kapha.
Drink plenty of hot water through the day
Warm water helps flush toxins out of the body through the urine. To derive healing benefits from the water you drink, add detoxifying spices to the water. Here is a recipe for Detoxifying Tea from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians:
After the 45 days of cleansing are over, take a few days to gradually introduce heavier foods and ease back into your regular diet. This is also the perfect time to start taking Rasayanas (ayurvedic formulations for overall health and vitality) like Amrit, Organic Digest Tone, or Vital Man or Vital Lady. Now that the channels of your body are clear, your body will make maximum use of the overall healing benefits of these tonics.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.