How to Detox
Do you need a spring cleaning?
Spring is the best time to do a detox. We not only need to clean out the cupboards and the cobwebs in our homes, but our bodies and minds could use a similar sprucing up as well. Think of a detox as the “Spring Break” your body needs to get you back on track with your diet and lifestyle goals. Winter often leaves us feeling foggy, sluggish, bloated and phlegmy from lingering colds, inactivity, gluttonous holiday overeating, and lack of sunshine. Muddled thinking, low energy, and memory problems should improve with this light diet.
A spring detox is also great for those suffering from seasonal allergies as it aids the liver’s ability to breakdown and metabolize histamine, that nasty molecule that leaves us with itchy runny noses and watery eyes. The following eating plan can be followed for as little as three days or as long as three weeks. Be sure to check with your doctor before attempting any form of detoxification as pregnancy, history of eating disorder and other chronic conditions are contraindications for a restrictive diet.
Putting your body on a “Spring Break” is really quite simple:
• Drink eight eight ounce glasses of filtered or bottled water daily. Green tea, herbal tea and fresh vegetable juice are also healthy choices. Start each day with a warm glass of water (about 100F) to give the inside of your body a “bath” you can add a squeeze of lemon if you like.
• Eat fresh fruits and fresh or steamed vegetables liberally. Foods that specifically detoxify our bodies are artichokes, beets, pears, carrots lemons, cilantro, and liberal quantities of green leafy vegetables. I make a “Sunshine Beet Salad” that consists of equal parts of grated organic beets and carrots tossed with equal parts of lemon juice and flaxseed oil. I eat a cup or so of this a day, and make up a few days worth ahead of time when on a detox.
• Consume only brown rice or quinoa as your only grain choices. You can find brown rice and quinoa pastas and breads at your local health food store.
• Protein sources should include fish, turkey, chicken, beans, and raw nuts, nut butters, and seeds. Roasting destroys the integrity of the oil in nuts and seeds so be sure to find raw alternatives.
• Flax seed oil can be drizzled over steamed vegetables or rice, but is too delicate of an oil for cooking, be sure to store it in the refrigerator. Always use olive oil for cooking, or canola oil if over 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Have a blueberry smoothie everyday for breakfast or as another main meal: Simply blend 1-2 cups of rice milk, soy milk, almond milk or water with a cup of frozen berries (blueberries are great), 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flax seeds, and a scoop of your favorite protein powder.
You can also experiment with various supplements to help the liver remove toxins. N-acetyl-cysteine is great for those trying to remove residual phlegm from a lingering upper respiratory infection. The typical recommendation is a 500mg capsule taken once or twice daily. A few of my favorite detoxifying herbs are dandelion root, milk thistle, turmeric, green vegetable juices and green leafy vegetables are always great, and of course my favorite herb Schisandra chinensis also known as “Chinese Prozac” is a great adrenal adaptogen, anxiolytic, and detoxifying agent. Be sure to find your supplements at a reputable health food store.
If your body is going to be on “Spring Break” that means we need to reduce or eliminate the liver’s role of detoxifying poisonous substances in your system.
Things to avoid on a detox:
Alcohol, caffeine (except what is found in green tea), fried foods, red meat, sweets and other white refined foods such as breads, cookies, cakes and pastries.
The first day of the detox you may feel a bit sluggish so I would recommend starting it on a day that you can stay home and rest. Honor any emotions that come up, Chinese Medicine associates the liver with anger, if you are feeling angry try some journaling to help remove any “stuck energy”. Now is the time to let it all go. Saunas are also a great way to help eliminate toxins, be sure to stay hydrated while sweating and always end with a 60 second cold shower to stimulate the system.
Remember to simply do the best that you can with this Spring Cleaning. If this type of eating plan is totally new to you it may take several opportunities before you are successful with it. Any attempt to be healthier always counts as a success. Remember that learning to enjoy eating new healthy foods will serve you well in the long run. Please be gentle with yourself. Personally as a physician I do not recommend fasting for women because our biochemistry is just not designed to function well without a nice steady stream of nutrients. A simple “spring break” is usually enough to get you geared up for outdoor activities and swimsuit season.
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions in the comments. Everyone is always invited to share their favorite whole foods recipes that pertain to the discussion. You can post them in entirety or simply add a link to your website.
Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table!
~Dr. Nicole Sundene
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