Spring is the season of awakening, time to crawl out from under the weight of winter and transition into summer. It’s a perfect time to move away from heavy foods to lighter fare and commit to a mild cleanse to refresh, renew and revitalize. My form of detoxifying is simple and easy (except for that no wine, no coffee thing). Nothing extreme, nothing weird, nothing expensive – just a chance to focus on nourishing foods and get rid of the bad habits that periodically creep back in.
My dictionary describes detoxification as, the metabolic process of removing toxic substances or neutralizing toxic properties from the body (normally a function of the liver); an application that is intended to relieve illness or injury.
Detoxifying cleanses are normally safe and very beneficial, but check with your health care professional first, especially if you’re pregnant, nursing or have a chronic disease.
Melissa’s spring cleanse/detox guidelines
Organic food is free of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics and is generally easier for the body to break down, absorb and assimilate. Some studies show organic foods to be higher in nutritional value, but what they lack is almost more important, especially while cleansing. The point of detoxifying is to get rid of the nasty stuff from your system, not add to it. We’re living in a different world than our ancestors did and are exposed to 40,000 – 50,000 chemicals that didn’t exist decades ago. The average American (eating the Standard American Diet, also known as the SAD diet) ingests around 120 pounds of additives per year. Choose organic, whole foods whenever possible.
Eliminate all gluten-containing grains (whether you need to in normal life or not), dairy (with a few exceptions); most soy foods; sugar; caffeine; soda; alcohol; meat; all processed, packaged, and fast food. Cut back on starches (potatoes, yams, peas and beans) and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant).
3. The base
Eat a combination of fresh organic vegetables, a good portion of them raw. Eat more vegetables than fruit and choose fresh fruit over dried (although unsulphered, unsweetened dried fruit is fine in moderation). Use olive oil for salad dressings, coconut oil for cooking and ghee for other uses (if you like ghee, which is clarified butter). Unfiltered raw honey or stevia can be used for occasional sweetening. Pastured organic eggs, naturally sweetened goat yogurt or kefir, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa and teff are fine in moderation. So are raw cheese, nuts and seeds (again, in moderation).
4. Rough it up
Eat lots of whole, high-fiber foods. Fiber in the form of raw veggies and fruit is instrumental in helping to move toxins out of the body. Fiber is high on my list of important substances, but add it slowly or you’ll explode (and it won’t be pretty). At the least, you’ll be feeling icky until you get used to the sweeping effects on your digestive system.
5. Flush it out
Drink lots of water while cleansing, especially since you’ll be increasing your fiber intake. Water, water, water! Divide your weight in half — that’s the amount of water in ounces you should drink daily. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water per day, which is about nine or ten 8-ounce glasses.
6. Turn up the heat
Not in your house, but in your body. Exercise daily and sweat it out. I love yoga for detoxifying as it’s bendy and twisty and stimulates fluid movement in the body. It helps wring things out. Sweating and deep breathing helps eliminate toxins via the breath and skin. This is one of the most important components of detoxifying, healthy living and thriving – movement and developing a conscious mind/body connection. Skip the high-powered pounding on the stairmaster or the 80s-style aerobics classes and opt for yoga, walking, hiking, dancing or tai chi (choose less intense and more calming exercise). Most importantly, have fun and choose activities you enjoy and will do daily.
7. Eat less
According to my Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition book, if you live for 65 years or longer, you will have consumed more than 70,000 meals and disposed of 50 tons of food. FIFTY TONS OF FOOD?! Wow, that’s almost creepy. Actually, it is creepy. Okay, I will admit to eating more calories than I need a good part of the time, but spending a little less time at the trough makes us realize that we’ll not only survive, but we’ll be much healthier if we don’t super-size everything.
8. Just say no to stress
Stress can sabotage your good intentions, so emphasize rest, relaxation and positive emotions. Yoga, meditation and deep breathing help eliminate stress.
9. Sleep 7 to 9 hours per night
Uninterrupted, rejuvenating, high-quality sleep is essential for good health. Naps are also good, but try to get consistent and sound sleep at night. This is important on so many levels – from slowing the aging process to losing weight. For a detailed post on sleep, please check here. (This is a tough one for me as I don’t want to miss anything!)
Go forth and nourish your own personal garden (that would be your body, mind and spirit)!