This week I received an excellent comment:

"On a cleanse diet"? are you still breastfeeding?  do the toxins leach in to breastmilk?  I’m just curious, because I’m interested in doing a cleanse and I’m breastfeeding my baby.  Any info you have regarding that would be great.

Erin’s comment was in response to the fact that I am currently on a Candida cleanse, for yeast and parasites, which I wrote about in this earlier post.

The actual reason that I even sought help at all from my Naturopath while still breastfeeding was actually for the sake of my son, not really for myself. He has had eczema since late November, and I was very concerned about him being sensitive to things that were in my diet.

When I took him in for a food screening, it was also recommended that I have myself screened as well, since he wasn’t really eating solids at the time, but was basically 100% breastfeed. What we discovered was that I was a 9/10 on the Candida scale, and even though he isn’t eating "food" yet, he was already a 3/10 on the scale and showed possible parasites as well.

So, although the purpose of my cleanse is somewhat for me, it is actually mostly for him, as he is receiving much of the unhealthiness in my body right now, through my milk. As well, my Naturopath is a mother of young children herself, and a strong advocate of breastfeeding, and would not have put me on a diet or supplements that she did not believe were safe for my son.

When most people talk about a "cleanse" or a "detox", they are talking about a very extreme diet where they are partially or completely fasting, a mono-diet (where they eat only one type of food, such as rice or apples), a juice fast (where they consume only fresh vegetable and fruit juice), etc. Usually it involves caloric restrictions, and does not contain a full spectrum of nutrients.

The particular diet that I am on, while it may appear extreme to many, is actually much more mild than these types of cleanses. I am allowed to eat as much as I need or want to, and am supposed to continue to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, a few non-allergenic grains, good protein sources, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, etc. Many of my favorite foods (wheat, dairy, eggs, tomatoes, etc.) have been cut out, but my diet is still quite varied and is extremely healthy.

The main point of my diet is to weed out the foods that are currently causing a sensitive reaction in me (and therefore also in my son), as well as to cut out all forms of sugar (except for fruit, since I need the nutrients for nursing), yeast, mold, chemicals, caffeine, and many complex carbohydrates. By doing this, I will be effectively "starving" the yeast into extinction.

To assist my body in doing this, I am on one homeopathic anti-yeast remedy, which was tested to see if I or my son would react to it, as well as pro-biotics (healthy bacteria to help re-establish good intestinal bacteria for proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients and a healthier immune system) and lastly l-Glutamine, which is simply an amino acid that helps to heal up a "leaky" gut that develops through Candida and creates many of these food sensitivities.

I think it is important to stress that a breastfeeding mother should never, ever diet or restrict her calories while nursing! Nor should she eliminate complete food groups (all carbs, all protein, etc.), nor should she juice fast or anything of that nature. It is perfectly reasonable to reduce consumption of harmful foods, and this is actually a very healthy lifestyle choice to make permanently! We could all use to cut out our sugar, caffeine, etc.

But please, do not hear me saying that it is safe to fast, or do a heavy detoxification or cleanse while breastfeeding! This will allow toxins being released from your body to enter your breastmilk, and may be harmful to your baby, and will quite likely also affect your milk supply, as well as the nutritional content of your milk. If you desire to do a full cleanse or detox, please wait until you are ready to wean your child and are sure that you are not newly pregnant, and most importantly, do not do it by yourself! Consult a respected Naturopath or nutritionist (or doctor, if you know one who is in tune with alternative medicine) whom you trust, who knows and is fully supportive of the fact that you are breastfeeding, and receive their assistance with whatever you do.