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Over the years we’ve noticed that this time of year sees a resurgence in the making – and breaking (!) – of many health related resolutions. True, it’s not as popular a time as at New Year, but the changing of the clocks to British Summertime always seems to give people a push in that direction. Perhaps it’s the prospect of warmer weather and lighter nights, waking people up from their winter hibernation. Or, maybe, the peeling off of some of the layers of winter clothing that have been hiding a multitude of sins for the last few months. And we’ll leave the rest to your imagination… 
 
Whatever the reason, this time of year always marks an upsurge in the number of people deciding to kick start their health programmes for the warmer months ahead. And 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 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 quick reminder of the hints your body gives you that a detox would be a good idea: 
 
• Feeling tired and lethargic with poor sleep 
• Irritability 
• “Hung over” or toxic headaches 
• Dry skin 
• Bad breath / furry tongue 
• Bloating and fluid retention 
• Constipation 
 
What does a detox do? 
 
Quite simply it’s like giving your body – particularly your Liver – a spring clean. It helps release toxins, allowing your body to operate more efficiently. 
 
Just as rubbish piles up in the street when the bin collectors are on strike, so toxins build up in your body when it’s not working at maximum efficiency. So, it’s hardly surprising that it leaves you feeling 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. And the last one is all too easily forgotten, with any substance that comes directly in contact with your skin, being capable of being absorbed into your body. Not only cosmetics but any other substances your skin may come in contact with, whether intentionally or not. 
 
But it doesn’t stop there. What about any medication being taken – whether regularly or occasionally – any recreational substances, cigarettes or e cigarettes? Over the years, we’ve noticed 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. All the things we talk about regularly in this blog. Not only does this act as a spring clean for your body, but also helps get you back into more healthier habits. 
 
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 fresh 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 – or, ideally, avoid – 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. Water really is the fuel our body runs on. 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. And, if you want another incentive, dehydration will make any ongoing health condition worse, particularly pain. 
 
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 process them. These are the reasons you feel 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 many people are chronically dehydrated these days… 
 
By contrast, if you drink water or herb tea, you’ll find you don’t need 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. 
 
And, here’s a really simple way to drink more water. While you’re waiting for the kettle to boil – or coffee machine to do its stuff – have a glass of water. This will help mitigate the effects of the caffeine and 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, dancing, cycling or gentle jogging. The key is to find one you enjoy, so encouraging you to do it regularly. Not only is it a great way to de stress; but helps get the Lymphatic System moving, which is one of the body’s waste transport systems. Which, in turn, helps to detox your body. 
 
A quick twenty minute walk – or trot (!) – round the block every day is all that’s needed and the fresh air will help you feel more alert too. Remember it’s 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 is the body’s waste recycling facility, storage centre for anything that can’t be broken down and deposit for many essential nutrients. It carries out a huge range of other essential functions as well as producing bile to digest fats and cleansing the blood. 
 
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 at least a month. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
 
 
Photograph by unknown author 
 
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