6 days of suja juice equals 1 happy camper.

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Good gut health is essential to the optimal functioning of the entire system. 1-3% of our body mass is actually trillions of bacteria - somewhere between 3-5lbs of it! - that facilitate processes in our bodies ranging from digestion, nutrient absorption, mood and hormone regulation. Keeping these little guys happy is key to feeling great, but they're quite susceptible to their environment being interrupted. 

Processed food, going to bed on a full stomach, drinking alcohol, dehydration, sugar, caffeine and not getting enough rest can all create chaos in the gut; in particular, several weeks in a row of a few of these things can take a toll. Luckily, there are all kinds of clues the body will provide when things are out of whack; namely, when the system is overloaded and in need of a break, or undernourished and in need of some concentrated goodness. 

While I'm a big fan of eating real food - whole, solid, real food - and avoiding fad diets to get-skinny-quick-or-whatever-they're-promising, I am a fan of giving the body what it's asking for, particularly if what it's asking for is a break. 

Everyone's body registers this feeling of overload a little differently, including breakouts or dry skin, rashes, erratic digestion (bloating, constipation, nausea, and the like), low energy, unpredictable or low mood, or intense cravings. All of these are great indicators that something is imbalanced, and a little respite for your body might be in order! 

I've done a number of liquid cleanses in the last couple of years, ranging from juice only for a day at a time to liquids of all varieties (soups, smoothies, baby-food-esque purees, juice, whatever else blends in the Vitamix) for several days. Usually these are inspired by a feeling of being a little toxic (i.e. after a week of too much wine and going out) or an irregularly scheduled week where meals have been unusual in their content or timing.

[Eeek! Did you just jump to the assumption I'm suggesting you do something drastic like consume only oxygen for eight days (don't do that)?! That's not it - I promise!]

Skip the extremes and instead give your system a break by providing it things that nourish and calm it, and that are also easy to digest. Liquids are great for this reason, as the stomach prefers to break down liquids (hence why we're advised to chew every mouthful 50+ times until it's liquid). The stomach and intestinal tract don't have teeth, so... ;) Even a single day of easy-to-digest, hydrating foods can be beneficial (not so bad, right?)

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Recently, in a week of feeling remarkably toxic (I think it was all the celebratory wine-drinking and dining out with Michael's return from the road), I was contacted - through the grace of the Universe - by Suja Juice, an organic, non-GMO juice company based out of San Diego. I'd sampled a number of their awesomely inventive cold-pressed juices while we were living in NYC, and it was like a glorious gift from above to be asked to take on a little juice detox challenge. Good timing, Universe. 

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Not two days later, a beautiful {ENORMOUS, 35LB} box of juice arrived at our apartment and I was floored by the awesome low-sugar options that rolled out across the floor: I had mentioned to the team that tropical fruits aren't really my thing, and that very rarely do I eat anything with more sugar than a green apple. They were so thoughtful and sent over three days worth of the Core Fresh Start program, which features 6 nutrient-dense, green-centric juices: Glow, Reef, 2x Twelve Essentials, Purify and Spark. Truly, it's a rainbow of juicy yumminess, and I was excited to jump into a full-on juice reset. 

And then I realized: I'm training for a half marathon. I'm teaching trampoline several times this week. It's a crazy work week. 

This isn't going to be a good time to do a full, liquid-only reset, because despite being reenergizing and detoxifying, there is a certain energy deficit that the brain (my brain?) seems to perceive in the absence of solid food.

So instead of committing to 3 straights days of 6 juices/ day, I decided to break up my juice consumption over 6 days (3 juices/ day, in addition to one liquid meal (like soup) and one high-fiber solid meal (like a lentil salad with spinach, chickpeas and sauerkraut). While this isn't an option with many juice companies, thanks to their drink-it-now-or-it-will-go-bad 20-minute expiration date, Suja's method of cold-pressing their juices keeps them better, longer. Without the worry of spoiling the mountain of liquid nourishment in the fridge, I set out my meal plan for the week - coupled with a workout plan - and set to work resetting my sad, overloaded system. 

I started each of the six days with a Glow (apple, kale, cucumber, kale, collards, celery, spinach, mint) or a Reef (apple, celery, cucumber, kale, collards, lemon, ginger, spinach), as their super potent - but not too intense on just awoken tastebuds - flavor felt like a great way to clean out Mr Liver after a night of detoxification. The citrus helps cut through the sludge that carries the toxins out, and the heavy green content made for an energizing, system awakening start to the day. 

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I'd then toss a Twelve Essentials (collards, cucumber, celery, lemon, kale, chard, parsley, ginger, romaine, green lettuce, mint tea, spinach) in mid to late morning, in the time I'd usually be feeling a little low energy -- not hungry enough for lunch, but in need of a motivator to not grab coffee (something I've been resisting by drinking 64oz of water between the hours of 10:00am and noon). I replaced one of these huge jars with a Twelve Essentials and was happy to discover that the nutrient boost of these alkalizing greens was a perfect pick me up. The Twelve Essentials might be a little, erm, green-tasting if you're new to juicing or used to super sweet blends. This was all earthy, all delicious, kind of like drinking a salad. 

Mid afternoon, especially before a workout, I'd have a Spark (strawberry, raspberry, lemon, honey, tart cherry, stevia, cayenne - surprisingly tart and not as sweet as I'd expected; in fact, 5g less sugar than the green juices with apple!) or a Purity (carrot, apple, cucumber, celery, beet, lemon -- which was nice and earthily sweet, more like a cleansing soup, I thought, and so refreshing! Just the perfect amount of carbs and zingy flavor -- I think these two were my favorites, although green juice occupies a special and permanent place in my heart. 

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All things said, six days of supporting great digestion, ample hydration and concentrated nutrient consumption was super easy: without even trying, I was taking in bushels of veggies without overtaxing my digestive tract, and I felt the (positive) effects in my energy, mood and level of satiety all day: liquid is filling!
 
I love that these juices are organic and free of additives, colors or sugar, and also that their line includes (delicious) low sugar options: these five juices, in particular, run just 4g-14g of sugar per serving. 

Check out the Suja website for info on how to go about a juice cleanse safely and effectively, whether you're looking to easily up your nutrient intake or give your digestive system a break. Your brain, your mood, your energy, your blood and all of your organs will benefit! 
 
Happy sipping,
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