Spring. Just hearing that word makes me smile. Not only is it the season of my birthday, but it’s a time when we throw open our windows and let the sunshine and fresh air into our homes.
During this time of year, it’s natural to want to do a bit of a cleanse to shake off those winter blues and clean out our bodies the way we do our closets.
Actually, spring cleanses and spring tonics are age old. Even in Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the time of the liver, and classic Western herbal spring cleanses included "liver tonic" herbs. Dandelion is a common example of this.
So you want to do a spring cleanse, too?
A spring cleanse can be a wonderful way to clean up our diets and feel as good on the inside as Spring feels outside.
There are many benefits to a spring cleanse: increased energy, better digestion, fewer allergy symptoms, improved immune system function, better sleep, better concentration, healthier skin, healthy weight and many, many more.
Spring cleansing doesn’t have to be hard and is far from being a starvation diet. A spring cleanse is simply a way of lightening the load on the body and although gentle, it can be deeply nourishing and, believe it or not, enjoyable.
These are my foundation tips for a spring cleanse, 28 days is the optimum length of time but anything over a week is better than nothing if this is not practical for you:
1. Drink water
Our bodies need at least 8 to 10 glasses of water (or more!) daily to help flush out toxins. Adding the juice of one organic lemon to a glass of water can add flavour, antioxidants, anti-cancer compounds and support the detoxifying actions of our kidneys, liver, and colon. Starting every day with an 8-ounce glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is a great way to alkalizes the body (therefore supporting the breakdown of toxic residue and ensuing inflammation), motivates the metabolism at the start of the day and stimulates the digestive juices. Adding a dash of cayenne will definitely get your blood moving also!!
If possible, try to drink up to three litres per day to help flush out the toxins your liver is processing. It may sound a lot if you’re not a water drinker already, however your body will love you for it and repay you with glowing skin and bright eyes. Just remember to slowly up your intake over the course of the day to avoid you running to the bathroom every 10 minutes.
Another great way to stay hydrated is to drink tea (instead of coffee) - decaffeinated that is!!! As part of my cleanse I am drinking a cup of my liver detox tea daily. Loaded full of liver protecting and detoxifying herbs such as dandelion, gentian, burdock root, milk thistle and ginger (just to name a few), it is loaded full of antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds. You could also drink regular green tea or a botanical tea such as dandelion root tea which supports the liver in it’s important detoxifying role.
2. Eat clean (AKA eat a rainbow)
This health tip is a long one, so brace yourself!! Haha
Eating clean is a simple strategy for a healthy diet. Avoid those non-nourishing foods such as sugar, alcohol and white flour products and replace them with organic whole grains (wholegrain rice, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa) and natural sugars (local or manuka honey). Thus, discover whole grains!!! Whole grains is NOT the same as ‘whole grain bread’. Whole grains are foods like brown rice, quinoa, millet, kamut and amaranth. If you haven’t tried these foods – you should! They are simple to prepare and delicious. Whole grains are high in fiber (great source of prebiotic, needed to feed the good bacteria), B vitamins and when combined with beans provide a complete meat-free protein.
A good rule of thumb is to eat as many different colours of fruits and vegetables as possible each day. This will make sure your body is getting a diverse selection of vitamins and minerals. Aim to make three-quarters of each meal vegetables. Tap into the spring energy by cutting down on the heaviness of rich root vegetables and move towards summer with the lighter, high water content of spring produce. Choose seasonal veggies and ideally make simple vegetable soups, salads or stir fries. You could have fruit or veg in the afternoon with a handful of nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds and almonds. Dinner could be some delicious roast vegetables, fish of your choice or organic poultry. Breakfast can be warm unsweetened stewed seasonal fruit with added spices such as ginger or cinnamon and some crushed seeds. Or, if the day is warm and sunny, a green smoothie of mixed berries, handful of spring greens, half an avocado, a dollop of raw honey and some almond or coconut milk. This may sound like no fun, but I promise you’ll be thankful for the break in the long run.
Another rule of thumb is, “If you can’t read it, you shouldn’t eat it!” Read the labels – even on the so-called ‘healthy’ foods. If the ingredient list is long, or contains words that you can’t pronounce, then you probably shouldn’t eat it. Chemicals and food preservatives often have long, complicated names and should be avoided to lower our body’s burden of toxic chemicals.
Furthermore, eliminate or cut back on meat and dairy products. Meat and dairy over-consumption are responsible for a number of health conditions affecting North Americans (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity). Meat puts a strain on your kidneys and intestines and requires a lot of energy to digest. Dairy promotes mucus formation and is a common food allergy. Give your body a break and eliminate or cut back on these foods.
Lastly, choose healthy snacks and enjoy them frequently. Eating frequently throughout the day helps to stabilize your blood sugar and maintain your energy throughout the day. Healthy snacks include: raw nuts (like almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts), almond butter on celery sticks, carrot sticks and hummus, berry smoothies with almond milk, frozen or fresh grapes, and dates with pecans.
3. Do alternating showers every morning.
Most people choose to shower in water that is much too hot. Choose a temperature that is warm rather than hot to decrease dehydration. At the end of the shower alternate between hot water (hot enough to turn your skin pink – but not so hot that it burns) for one minute and cold water (cold but bearable) for 20 seconds. Repeat this sequence three to five times to encourage healthy blood and lymph circulation and promote detoxification.
4. Take deep, cleansing breaths three times per day.
The lungs are an important organ of elimination that are often overlooked during cleanses. Spend one minute three times per day taking in five deep, cleansing, slow breaths.
5. Go outside and exercise.
Sweat it out!!! Try and get your heart rate up with exercise at least three to four days a week, if not every day. Regular exercise improves circulation, energy levels, sleep quality, encourages detoxification through the skin and lungs, improves your immune system and raises your metabolism.
If the weather is with you, try and get outside to do it too – being outside can help lower and alleviate stress and exercising in the fresh air brings clean fresh oxygen to your blood and revitalizes your body, mind, and spirit. So enjoy the outdoors and make sure you take long walks to soak up that Vitamin D rich sunshine.
6. Make sure your bowels are moving every day — at least once!
Take between 300mg and 600mg of magnesium citrate every night, and 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flax seed in your food to get things going. But remember, whenever we’re increasing our fiber intake, we need to equally increase our water intake for ease of stool passage.
7. Let's get your lymphatic system moving!!
Use a body brush before you step into the shower each morning. Use upward strokes until you get the level of your heart and downward strokes from the head down to your heart. Don’t scrub, just gently brush.
If you have time, and a bath, then hop in the tub at least once a week with some Epsom salts, which is great for detoxing and relaxing at the same time.
8. Get enough sleep.
Your body uses your time asleep to repair and regenerate so make sure you’re getting as much sleep as possible. The general rule of thumb is eight hours, but if you need longer, then try and get into bed a bit earlier.
9. Swap out your usual beauty products for more natural ones.
Particularly ones you use every day, so think deodorant, body lotion, skin cleansers/cream and makeup. Your skin is your largest organ and it absorbs everything that we put on it. If you’re worried about smelling then try a mineral stick with a scent on top. As most of you already know, one of my clinical focuses is skin health, thus, if you are interested in learning more about what skincare products are best for you and your skin, book an appointment today to find out more.
10. Switch off from phones, computers and tablets at least an hour before bed.
The blue light can affect sleep quality and hormone signals, which can alter appetite and sleep patterns. Maybe even challenge yourself to one day a week with out digital devices, spend some time solo, call your mom or hang out with friends. Time spent with others or in a nourishing environment alone (by choice) can elevate moods and release the love hormone Oxytocin. Feel good vibes all round.
That’s it, that’s all…if you have any questions please feel free to comment below or direct message me!! I hope you found this helpful.
Happy spring cleansing everyone!!!
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem. This cleanse is not for pregnant women or folks with known liver disease. This cleanse is what I have created based on what I have found to work for me, my body and my energy. Do NOT do anything that isn’t healthy for you and if you have any medical conditions at all, please do not enter a cleanse or a detox without the care or guidance of a physician. I am simply sharing my plan and experiences for anyone that is interested in what I am personally following.
Dr. Sylvia Santos is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. She is a passionate about health promotion and encourages her patients and readers to embrace their full health potential. You can follow Dr. Santos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.