A spring clean for your body - or detox, if you prefer
Posted on 13th April 2016 at 07:45
Over the years we’ve noticed that New Year isn’t the only time of the year when all sorts of health related resolutions are made. Here in the UK the spring is just as popular. Perhaps it’s to do with the warmer weather and lighter nights, waking people up from their winter hibernation. Or, maybe, the prospect of the annual fortnight in the sun.
Whatever the reason, this time of year is always busy as people decide to kick start their health programme for the warmer months ahead. An easy way to get things moving – literally (!) is the traditional spring clean. Or detox, if you prefer.
While we may no longer have the restricted diets our ancestors had during the winter – dried and salted meats, starchy vegetables and the like – who can honestly say they keep up all their good habits over the colder months? A gentle detox not only helps to put the winter behind you, but prepares your body for warmer months ahead.
If you’re not sure whether you need to do a detox, here’s a reminder of the hints your body gives you that a detox would be a good idea:
• Feeling tired and lethargic
• Poor sleep
• “Hung over” headaches
• Dry skin
• Bad breath / furry tongue
• Bloating and fluid retention
What does a detox do?
Quite simply it’s like giving your body – particularly your liver – a holiday. Toxins are released allowing your body to operate more efficiently. Just as rubbish piles up in the street when the rubbish collectors are on strike, so rubbish builds up in your body when it’s not working efficiently. It’s not surprising that becoming clogged up with toxins makes you feel sluggish and below par, hence the symptoms mentioned above.
Where do those toxins come from?
Not only are they the waste products the body naturally produces each day, but also from the world we live in and lifestyle choices we make. The food we eat, air we breathe and toiletries we use. But it doesn’t stop there. Any medications taken, cosmetics used or cigarettes smoked. It’s interesting that when we mention toxins to clients, they usually focus on smoking and alcohol (!) without realising that toxins can come from many different sources as well.
What does detoxing involve?
Contrary to popular opinion, a detox doesn’t need to involve a harsh system of fasting, exercise and general misery (!). There’s a much gentler – and simpler – approach. Cleaning up your diet. Drinking more water. Taking regular gentle exercise. Not only does this act as a spring clean for your body, but also helps to put you back on to a healthier track.
Cleaning up your diet
By now, you probably know what this means (!) but let’s just do a quick reminder. Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat. Cut down on wheat, dairy and animal fats. There are so many lovely vegetables in season now – kale, broccoli and other spring greens, asparagus – all of which are brilliant for a detox. And if you fancy spicing up your salads watercress, nettle shoots and dandelion leaves will get your taste buds going too!
Watching what you drink
Drink plenty of water and herb teas; cut down on caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks. While most people know they should be drinking more water, few ever stop to consider why. If you stop and think about it, our bodies are more than 70% water. Many body functions require water. A lack of water has serious effects on the body in both the short and long term. These range from feeling “clogged up” and irritable to high blood pressure, kidney problems and arthritis.
Caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks all act as stimulants, increasing the body’s metabolic rate and so increasing the amount of water needed for normal body functions. They also require water to be able to process them. These are the reasons that you’re thirsty again very quickly after having one of these drinks. So you have another one. And, before you know it, you’re in a vicious circle of dehydration. It’s little surprise that so many people are chronically dehydrated these days.
By contrast if you drink water or herb tea, you don’t find yourself quickly needing another. And you don’t have the well know withdrawal effects of not having one. The headache and lethargy from the missed “caffeine fix”.
Making the change doesn’t need to be difficult. Simply start by cutting down one mug of tea or coffee a day – replacing it with water or herb tea – and then build it up from there. This avoids the “cold turkey” associated with suddenly stopping caffeine and makes the change more manageable. While you’re waiting for the kettle to boil – or coffee machine to do its bit – have a glass of water. This will help mitigate the effects of the caffeine and so stop you wanting the next one so quickly. Get into the habit of carrying a bottle of water with you. Or having a glass on your desk or somewhere you pass by regularly, to remind you to have a drink.
Finally, a little gentle exercise
Making gentle exercise a regular part of your life is equally important. Things like walking, swimming, cycling or gentle jogging. Not only is it a great way to de stress; but helps to get the lymphatic system moving, which is one of the body’s waste transport systems. And so helps to detox your body.
A quick twenty minute walk – or trot (!) – round the block is all that’s needed and the fresh air will help you feel more alert too. Remember it better to take a little exercise each day than to heroically spend an hour in a stuffy gym once a week!
And if you need a little extra help
Don’t forget Milk Thistle, which is a great way to boost your detox. Milk Thistle is a well known and gentle, tincture – plant extract – which strengthens, cleanses and protects the liver.
The liver carries out a huge range of essential functions including breaking down and removing toxins and storage of substances the body can’t break down and excrete. It produces bile to digest fats, cleans the blood and stores a range of vitamins and minerals.
Given all of this it’s not surprising that you feel below par when the liver is under strain. For best results, Milk Thistle should be taken twice a day for a month.
As always, the choice is yours.
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