By Jenna Jackson
Can you feel it? I don’t want to jinx it, but spring has definitely sprung! As the weather gets warmer, we naturally begin to crave lighter foods with a higher vibration: sprouts, salads, juices, nettle tea. All these foods have one thing in common, they are cleansing to the body. Spring is the best time to do a ‘cleanse’ or reset for the body and mind. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the time to attend to the liver. The liver’s job is to cleanse the body of toxins and spring is able to give it a little extra help. There are many cleanses on the market that can be quite intense; it is important to start slow and listen to your body throughout this process.
Here are a few tips for a smooth spring cleanse:
#1 Do your research:
A lot of cleanses include a drastic calorie count change. If you have a busy life that cannot be put on hold, calorie restriction is going to put a lot of stress on your body. A whole foods challenge or a sugar free cleanse are great places to start without having to restrict calories. You can continue to put up with the demands of a busy life and still reap the benefits of a cleaner diet.
#2 Do a pre cleanse:
It is a lot to ask of our bodies to go from eating a diet of whatever we please straight into a juice cleanse the next day. The side effects are not pretty. Start small and eliminate processed and packaged foods from you diet. Slowly increase your vegetable and fiber intake and use more whole foods. This will help stabilize blood sugar and make for an easy transition into the cleanse with less side effects like headaches, fatigue, constipation and irritability.
#3 Increase your water intake:
Without enough water, our body is unable to excrete toxins properly. If we are dehydrated, the toxins will be re-absorbed by the bloodstream. About 1 liter per every 100 lbs. of body weight is a great starting point.
#4 Daily elimination:
The whole point of a cleanse in to eliminate toxins from the body and that is a job for our channels of excretion; sweat, urine and bowels. In some cleanses, a longer juice cleanse for instance, there is no fiber to provide bulk for a daily bowel movement, leading to constipation. Juices make a great addition to a cleanse protocol to get the extra antioxidants and phytonutrients which vegetables have to offer. I recommend incorporating soluble and insoluble fiber and some gentle liver herbs to keep elimination happening during your cleanse.
#5 Down time/ sleep:
Your body will need extra rest during this time of detoxification and regeneration. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine during our nights’ rest is when our organs do the most regenerating and detoxifying. Meaning, our organs’ regenerative modes are triggered by the Para-sympathetic nervous system, also known as ‘rest and digest.’ Our rest at night is the only chance for some of us to give this time to our organs, so make sure to set aside a little extra time to sleep during a cleanse. I suggested 8 hours per night with a focus on going to bed before 11:00pm.
Sweat is another channel of excretion and it is a great way for a little extra detox during a cleanse. Sweating helps us detox our largest organ- the skin. Exercise also decreases insulin resistance, decreasing our sugar cravings! Moderate exercise during a cleanse is plenty.
#7 Foods for the liver:
Focus specifically on foods that play a role in phase 2 of the liver detoxification pathway. Our liver has 2 stages of detox, the second being the most important as it turns toxins into a water-soluble form for excretion. This pathway requires sulfur containing amino acids. Foods high in sulfur are broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and other brassica family vegetables, eggs, garlic, onions and brazil nuts.
Stress causes inflammation in the body, disrupts the delicate flow of your hormones, can cause insulin resistance, and studies have shown that it actually increases weight gain, especially around the midsection of the body. During your cleanse, implement a routine that involves some de-stressing activities. Some of my favorites are yin yoga, meditation and being in nature.
Photo by: Winona Studios