WARNING: The content of this blog is intended for information purposes only and should not be used in any way to diagnose, prevent or treat any illness; or used as a substitute for personalized medical advice. The author shall not be held responsible for the information or any inadvertent errors or omissions of the information or if the information presented herein fails to deliver results expected by the reader. Before you embark on a cleanse or a detox, consult with a qualified health practitioner – especially if you are on any medication or have severe health problems. Do not undertake a cleanse or detox if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, summer is finally here and we all know what that means: spring-cleaning season! In addition to throwing open your windows, swapping out your winter wardrobe, and de-cluttering and organizing your home, there’s something else to consider: you. We think of spring as the season of new beginnings, of fresh starts—so why not give yourself a fresh start as well? I’ve written previously about cleansing your mind, and most recently about clearing the clutter from your home so today let’s talk about cleansing your body. After all, you only have one!
Cleansing is an important topic and in fact I have an entire chapter devoted to this in my book Change4Good: The Ten Essentials to Food, Fitness and the Good Life. The problem is that when most people hear the word “cleanse” they imagine strict fasting guidelines, various exercise regimens fueled by barely palatable juice and uncomfortable colon cleansing. But fear not, in this post, I’ll show you how you can reap all the benefits of spring-cleansing—including healthy skin, increased mental clarity, improved digestion, greater energy, clearer sinuses and fewer allergy symptoms, healthy weight, and more—without following an extreme or unhealthy regime. Cleansing is essentially about allowing your body to “catch” its breath and to set in motion some hopefully long-term healthy lifestyle practices.
Here are my top 7 suggestions. Now I know you may have heard much of this before but hearing it and DOING it are two very different things. My intention here is to make this comprehensive and simple so that you can finally implement these practices into your life. So which of the following are you consistently doing and which will you commit to start doing today?
1. EAT MORE VEGETABLES AND WHOLE FOODS
Vegetables are full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water to keep you feeling full and are your body’s best friend. Look for those that are particularly rich in nutrients, like kale and spinach; high in antioxidants, like Brussels sprouts and broccoli; and hydrating and good for digestion, like cucumbers and cabbage. Still hesitant? Consider this fact – a recent study from University College London found that eating seven servings of vegetables and fruits a day can reduce your chance of death from ANY cause by up to 40%. That is a big number so get slicing and dicing.
2. ELIMINATE OR CUT BACK ON… MEAT AND DAIRY PRODUCTS
Meat can be difficult to digest, putting undue strain on your kidneys and intestines. And even if you try to buy only organic animal products, FDA labels can be deceptive making it difficult to avoid toxic additives in animal feed, hormones, etc.
Many people have difficulty digesting lactose, so taking a break from dairy can result in increased energy and digestive health. If you don’t seem to be adversely affected by dairy, though, try to focus your consumption on probiotics such as plain Greek yogurt, kefir, etc.
3. SUPPORT YOUR CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Another way to assist the cleansing process is to stimulate the circulatory and lymphatic systems of the body. A few reliable methods include: hot/cold showers, massage, mini-rebounders which can not only increase lymph flow by up to 15% but also strengthens your heart, Epsom salt baths which help by eliminating toxins by increasing blood supply to the skin and drawing toxins from the body. (Add 1-4 cups to tub. Soak no longer than 30 minutes), dry skin brushing – use a long handled natural bristle skin brush. Do this before you shower or bath for about 5 minutes starting at your feet and working upwards with small circular movements. Finish with your stomach and brush in a clockwise direction to stimulate the digestive tract. Do not brush too hard.
4. SUPPLEMENT WHERE NECESSARY
Some basic supplements to consider include:
Blue green algae which is high in antioxidants and helps remove free radicals and prevent damage to the liver.
Dandelion root (Dandy Blend) which acts as a mild liver cleanser and can be taken daily.
Probiotics to reinstate the good bacteria/flora in the intestinal tract.
Chia seeds which work wonders on your digestive tract. These little seeds are super foods, packed with tons of vital nutrients. When they become moist, they gel up and make an excellent fibre for your intestines, allowing everything to slide out easily.
5. MOVE WHENEVER POSSIBLE
Not only does exercise increase energy, decrease stress, and regulate metabolism but sweating is a natural means of eliminating any toxins that have accumulated in your body. So besides your dedicated daily exercise sessions of at least 30 minutes also move throughout your day – ideally taking a stretch break at least every hour.
Dehydration can take a toll on your digestive system—as well as decreasing energy; drying out skin, hair, and nails; and increasing appetite/weight gain. Add water into your daily routine— for example a glass upon waking, a glass with breakfast, and a glass before bed—and also carry water around with you everywhere until constant hydration becomes habit!
To further increase water’s detoxifying benefits, add the juice of half a lemon to a glass of water (or to a mug of warm water first thing in the morning). Lemon has been shown to boost the immune system, improve digestion, decrease inflammation, and more!
Remember that water helps flush toxins from your system so don’t let this habit slide!
7. MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY
Though it’s not a typical detox diet component, a regular sleep schedule can do wonders to improve your overall health. Getting enough sleep can decrease your appetite, increase energy and mental acuity, reduce pain, and boost immunity…. Adding enough hours of sleep to your daily schedule is one of the most powerful things you can do to cleanse your body and recharge for spring.
It is beneficial to relax, de-stress, and get lots of rest while cleansing. The body has a lot of work to do during this time so be kind to it and avoid heavy exercise and stressful situations whenever possible. Visualize peace and serenity.
Even though the tips listed above are helpful for most people, the truth is that everyone is different. The way your body reacts to external factors and cleansing— for example diet, exercise, and sleep patterns—is in part determined by our unique genetic profile.