by Melissa Menard
Windsor-Essex county’s ever popular annual The Cleanse event is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The Cleanse event offers guests an evening of learning with exciting guests speakers and an opportunity to become acquainted with local vendors that offer services and products to match. The Cleanse is organized by Dr. Natasha Zajmalowski ND of Proactive Healthcare, as an opportunity for the community to learn new information on food and nutrition. If you’ve ever attended or have been curious about The Cleanse, Dr. Natasha shares some of her insights with us in the interview below.
What Exactly is a Cleanse:
The Cleanse name is actually an acronym: The Clean Living & Eating All Natural Seasonal Event. A cleanse is about eating as much natural food as possible, being aware of environmental toxins, and what you put on your body. Cleanses tend to conjure thoughts of not eating, laxatives, smoothie only diets, water with turmeric and lemon, and fad diets. The Cleanse is more about nutrition for proper elimination of toxins. It’s about taking out elements that slow down your system and the detoxification process, such as refined sugar and pre-packaged foods. I’m always fascinated by trendy diets and spend a lot of time researching what is new and being recommended, and what will and will not work. The only constant factor is veggies; they are the most important and the one thing that all cleanses share. In the end the take away is: eat as many veggies as you can and remove as much toxin exposure as possible.
The Inspiration Behind The Cleanse:
I was doing some very specific research into breast cancer and came across two local researchers, Jim Brophy and Margaret Keith, who were looking at the connection between occupational and environmental exposure and breast cancer. Their work ended up showing that those, for example, working on farms, factory workers, and hair stylists have higher ratios of breast cancer. With farm workers its pesticides, canning workers are exposed to BPA, and hairstylists to hair dyes and other toxic chemicals. It was through Jim and Margaret’s studies that I became more aware of toxins.
It can be depressing and overwhelming when learning about all of the toxins we are exposed to, but there is so much good news and hope with all the little changes we can make to reduce our overall toxic load. I’m fascinated that it’s the day-to-day stuff that makes the biggest impact on our health. A one week cleanse is good, but it’s the day-to-day changes that help with the cumulative exposure and we can reduce our cumulative load. For example, the Toxin Toxout guys talk about sweating to remove toxins. Saunas, exercise, epsom salt baths all help your body sweat out toxins, proving that it can be managed on a day-to-day basis. It is doable.
On the Evolution of The Cleanse:
It’s something that I’ve always found easier to do along with others. I started The Cleanse alongside Renee Trepanier (Yoga Instructor & blogger), by doing cooking classes in the community together. We ended up doing a workshop at the Downtown Yoga Studio and the original ShopEco in the town of Tecumseh (owners Graham and Eleni Hughes) – ShopEco has been a part of The Cleanse since day one. From there, The Cleanse was born.
It blows my mind! I never imagined it to be what it is today. It just keeps growing. It started out as a group of about 20 people the first year and grew to about 50 the following year. Then 100 to a couple hundred, and now over 550 attendees. It makes me hopeful and I’ve come to realize how much people want this information and how important it is that they get it. I try to instill how people get the information. The Cleanse helps to dig through the knowledge overwhelm and ensure that it’s valid; there is so much information to sift through and discern what is true or false.
I love the exhibitors and the information they have to share. It’s great to be able to connect people to these services within our community. The Cleanse started with 2-3 exhibitors and now hosts about 40 exhibitors.
A Decade of The Cleanse – One of Dr. Natasha’s Favourites:
They’ve all been so good, but one of my favourites was the Toxin Toxout talk. Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith are legitimate, qualified health researchers in Canada. They started with their book Slow Death by Rubber Duck, which looked at what we are exposed to and how harmful these chemicals are, and then followed up with Toxin Toxout, which looked at how to eliminate toxins. They actually tested the many detox theories that are out there and shared what does and doesn’t work. Their research was able to show the importance of eating organic produce, or how even just washing produce, makes a big difference to our health.
Dr. Natasha’s Top Tip for Easy Everyday Detoxification:
If you made me nail down just one tip to reduce toxins, my number one tip would be to eat as many veggies as you can each day. They are full of phytonutrients, they help the body detox, are anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory. The specific veggies to target are the cruciferous vegetables (ex. broccoli, cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts). Eat them at least once a day. Next, incorporate ground flax seed every day – a couple of tablespoons. It’s a good fibre that binds toxins for elimination. Rosemary is great for breaking down pesticides and is especially useful for those that don’t do organic produce or cannot afford to purchase all organic produce. Use rosemary in tea, cook with it in stir-fries or soups, add it to salads. Tomatoes and onions are also particularly helpful. Tomatoes breakdown pesticides in our system and the sulphur compounds in onions are good for the liver, one of our filters. Easy to make a great pasta sauce out of the two and put it on top of pasta or even vegetables. Finally, drink plenty of water. It may seem too easy and simple but the payoff is huge. Water is the key to excretion, whether you enjoy it plain or with lemon.
Attending The Cleanse:
I’m super excited for this year’s speakers, Dr. Jessie Chappus and Marnie Wasserman of The Ultimate Health Podcast. The Ultimate Health Podcast has been around for about 2 years now. Jessie and Marnie have interviewed some the best health experts from around the world and share what they’ve learned and what they’ve tried that actually works. They really help wade through the contradictory information that is currently being circulated, information that seems to be at polar opposites in instruction.
When you come, you get a print out of recipes that can be used during the cleanse week and a guideline for the cleanse. It’s part of the entry fee. The proceeds from the event go to charity. Our charity of choice for the past 5 years is the Pajama Angels. It’s a great local charity that helps those who live with a chronic disease be proactive with their health and access many of the products and services we talk about. For individuals who cannot afford, for example, organic produce, clean personal care items, or supplements, Pajama Angels provides the financial support they need.
As for the future of the Cleanse – we’ll see. It will develop as it comes.
Tickets & Information
Our gratitude to Dr. Natasha for sharing her time and thoughts with us – a true honour. The Cleanse event is being held on Thursday, May 4, from 5pm-8pm at the WFCU Centre. In addition to attendance at the event, your ticket price includes a Cleanse package with instructions and recipes for your Cleanse Week, as well as some free gifts, including a $10 ShopEco gift certificate! For ticket and event information, click here.
Melissa Menard is a certified aesthetician and published writer. She views the greening of cosmetics and skincare products as part of the ongoing evolution of the beauty industry. Melissa also believes that safe and sustainable health and beauty products should be accessible to all consumers. Melissa resides in Windsor, Ontario with her husband, daughter, and 2 fur babies.