Recently I spent a week at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI) in Lemon Grove, California. I went with my friend Claudia to break some bad habits, learn new ways of living healthfully and see what I’d heard about from body wrap clients over the past 2+ years.
It was one of the most challenging weeks of my life primarily because of the things I had to do without that I’d grown accustomed to. They also had to do with the many changes you make in your diet (100% raw, vegan and organic) and the mostly structured schedule while staying there. All for the good I might add!
Optimum Health Institute offers a three week program designed to cleanse the body, quiet the mind and renew the spirit. You can do 1, 2 or all 3 weeks at once. Some guests had been there for many weeks for various reasons. About 20% of the guests at OHI are dealing with a serious “health opportunity” such as cancer, diabetes, etc. There are no medical staff on site but the facilitators and other staff are happy to answer questions if they know the answer.
There were people there from all over the world including Africa, Germany and Alaska. It is world famous in the world of detoxification and holistic health institutes. I will be going back from week 2 before the end of the year. In spite of the challenges I encountered, it was the best gift I’ve ever given to my body. For me, that’s why I did it and while I will return. I want to live with vitality as I grow older and I want to do as much in my power as possible to thwart chronic illness and disease. Growing older brings with it challenges of its own and I want to be in good health to deal with whatever comes my way.
Here are some quick tips that I learned at OHI to help cleanse your body and perhaps restore your health. Pick one tip to follow each week for the next three weeks and make a commitment to stick with that one change. After a month’s time see if you have not lost weight, increased your energy, cleared skin conditions, brightened your eyes, added shine to your hair or just feel better!
Drink half your body weight in water DAILY. A 150 pound person should drink 75 ounces of water a day. Try to drink half the amount you need by noon. Set a timer on your phone or download an app to ring once an hour to drink an 8 or 10 ounce glass of water.
Take a probiotic but avoid carbonated beverages like kombucha. Probiotics help to keep the healthy bacteria in your gut, which keeps your digestion in shape. Carbonated beverages of all kinds leach calcium from bones, so for this reason, they should be avoided.
Learn and allow for transit times of different food groups. Some foods are digested by and leave the stomach more quickly than others. Combining foods that are digested and leave the stomach quickly with foods that take HOURS for the stomach to digest creates fermentation in the stomach and putrefies food. And that is one toxic soup! Here are transit times for common foods and liquids:
Do not drink ANY liquid with meals and wait until the stomach is emptied after eating before drinking anything, including water. The stomach uses hydrochloric acid (HCl) to break down foods before it passes to the small intestine. Liquids of any kind while the stomach is working dilutes the HCl, making food breakdown incomplete. It will still leave the stomach on time, it just won’t be fully digested. And partially digested food is no bueno in the gut.
Do not eat past 8:00 PM. The body has a 24-hour circadian rhythm or body clock. This body clock tells us when to sleep and it regulates other important functions. The cycle from 8 PM to 4 AM tells the body it’s time to unwind, rest and sleep. It takes a lot of energy to digest food relative to other bodily functions. It’s best not to tax the body with digestion when it’s natural inclination and cycles are telling it to kick back, relax and sleep.
Do not eat fruit with any other type of food (or drink). Fruit should be eaten by itself. Combining different fruits is OK, such as berries, apples and bananas. However, never combine melon with any other fruit. Melon should always be eaten by itself because it leaves the body most quickly of all fruit. Combining melons is OK as well. Try to eat all of your fruit before noon – and with nothing else.
Drink the juice of ½ a lemon is a large glass of warm or tepid water upon rising. While you are sleeping, the body’s organs and systems of detoxification are hard at work. Upon rising, this diluted lemon juice helps to flush the liver, which has been processing toxins all night.
Get 8 hours of sleep each night. The best conditions for sleep are cool, dark and quiet. Even if you are not sleepy, if you have to be up at a certain time the next day, get in bed and turn the lights out and lay in the dark with your eyes closed. If you tend to regurgitate ideas and events of the day, try focusing on your breath and count along with it. You may also wish to memorize a short poem or prayer and use this as your mantra to help quiet your mind. Sleep is the time when the body’s cells are rejuvenated and revitalized. Don’t cheat yourself.
Eat organic whenever possible. If you’re not eating organic, you’re eating pesticides. It’s that simple. Fortunately, organic food is more abundant now and the prices are coming down and even rival those of non-organic produce. Costco now carries organic romaine hearts and they’re just $.89 more than the sprayed romaine hearts. By eating food grown locally, you’ll be eating what’s in season and you will have a greater likelihood of eating fresher food. Eat non-GMO foods for the same reasons as eating organic foods. There is mounting evidence that pesticide-laden and genetically modified foods can cause serious health problems in humans. Pay more now or pay later in terms of ill health and disease.
Juice one day per week. Intermittent fasting is proving to be good for the body. It gives the digestive system a break from constant food processing and allows super nutrients from juice to be absorbed more easily by the gut. The primary ingredients in juices used for a 24-hour fast are vegetables, not fruit. While it’s OK to include some frozen berries or grapes or an apple, for example, in your juice, fasting on fruit juice is too much sugar for the body to process. Substitute Natalia Rose’s Green Lemonade recipe here for dinner one night and breakfast and lunch the next day. Add back solid food for dinner on Day Two.
1 head of Romaine lettuce or celery
5 – 6 ribs kale
1 – 2 apples
1 whole lemon
Small (1” – 2 “) piece whole ginger root
Process everything in a juicer. Pour into a glass and enjoy. Juice always tastes better cold, so be sure to refrigerate the produce in advance. The lemon cuts out the green taste that many people object to.
OK, so what’s it going to be? Pick one new habit to follow EVERY SINGLE DAY for a solid week. Then pick a second habit to follow EVERY SINGLE DAY for week 2, while also still following the first habit. Keep up this pattern for a third week. At the end of week 3, do a self-assessment. How do you feel? How do you look? What was challenging? What did you enjoy about the process? Give yourself the gift of health with these easy, one-at-a-time tips. You got this!
Optimum Health Institute, 6970 Central Avenue, Lemon Grove, California 91945
The Raw Food Detox Diet, Natalia Rose, 2005, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, New York