This article was originally published as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record.
Feeling kind of blah and sluggish? Still dragging around those winter blues and an extra five pounds? Clothes feel too tight?
You may need some spring cleaning — not the external kind, but internally. Spring is a natural time to cleanse and rejuvenate.
Are you on toxin overload?
If you eat, drink, breathe, clean, travel, or use prescription or over-the-counter medicines, you are exposed to toxins. We are exposed in the food that we eat; in household products from laundry detergent to cosmetics, to paints and carpeting, to mercury in our fillings; from fish and high-fructose corn syrup; and from plastics that hold our foods and beverages.
Not only that, but also there are toxic metabolic wastes from the body’s own natural processes, and our ability to detox those can become impaired as well.
Frankly, there’s no way to avoid being toxic.
One difference between people who are healthy and people who aren’t is the ability to get rid of toxins. Did you know that toxins actually compete with nutrients for absorption in our system? That’s why I always tell my clients it’s not what you take in that counts, it’s what you can utilize.
Factors that affect our detox ability include age, genetics, past and present environment, nutrition and lifestyle, and intestinal health. Some of those we can’t change, but some we can. That’s where spring cleaning comes in.
What are the benefits? More energy, better focus, better sleep, reduced food cravings, better digestion, improved libido and more. A detox is especially important before a weight-loss program, because many toxins are stored in our body fat, and as you lose fat, you can release large quantities of toxins into your system. In fact, we often put on fat because we are toxic. So lowering your toxic load can help you lose weight.
Detoxification can be effective without being drastic. Always take a gentle, gradual approach. Although it’s best to customize a detox for your individual circumstances, there are some safe, simple procedures you can use on your own at home.
1. Soak it out. A hot bath can be a pleasant and effective detox. Alternate one night of Epsom salts and one of baking soda, adding plain white vinegar to each. Use two cups of each ingredient. Soak for 20 minutes before bedtime, and make sure to rehydrate during or after your bath.
2. Irrigate your sinuses. More and more people are discovering the benefits of a neti pot for any kind of congestion, including seasonal allergies. Plain saltwater works fine, but you can also use a pinch of baking soda and/or xylitol for additional cleansing and healing action.
3. Go green. As we move into spring, delicious nutrient-dense fresh veggies become available that nourish the GI tract, liver and kidneys, all organs that support detoxification. Experiment with dandelion, fiddlehead and nettle, all packed with nutritious and detoxifying benefits. You can eat them in salads, steam, stir-fry or make infusions. Juicing is another way to access the potent nutrients in these and other veggies.
4. Add and subtract: For just a week, try eliminating sugar, artificial sweeteners (use xylitol or stevia), coffee (substitute green tea), alcohol and grains. Load up on fresh veggies and fruits, and make sure you have 8-10 glasses of water or herbal tea daily. Too extreme? Pick one or two things to eliminate this time, then do it again next month and add one more. Reclaiming your health is an ongoing process. Slow and steady wins the race.
For help and support with a Spring Cleaning that I customize just for you, that is safe, simple and gets great results, please see my program here.