First posted: 09/16/2015
Throughout history, people have greeted the appearance of spring greens with wild exuberance after the heaviness of winter food and the scarcity of fresh vegetables. This provided a natural liver cleanse in tune with the season. Thankfully, today we have access to vegetables all year round, but we have more reason than ever to plan a regular, focused cleanse and healing period. Spring and fall are the best times to give this good care to yourself.
Why do we need to detox? The body burden of toxins we accumulate from our many and varied exposures (plastics, chemicals, heavy metals, air and water pollution, oh my!), the consequences of less-than-optimal eating patterns, and the increased demands of living in modern society all point to the need for extra attention to maintain and rebuild health. By releasing this body burden safely through a guided detox process, “mysterious” symptoms may disappear, thinking clears, mood lifts, energy typically rebounds, and healing can occur on many levels. Giving your body a periodic rest along with super-clean eating and supportive nutrients can really help “re-set” health.
Detoxification should be done in a manner that is consistent with your individual situation. People who are underweight, depleted, pregnant or in fragile health should avoid creating any extra work for the body through detox. For most people a food and nutrient based detox is safe and beneficial (always avoid the extreme “fast and purge” approach). When embarking on detox, there are different levels that can be used. Simply choosing a 3-week period focused on drinking broths, herbal teas, vegetables and their juices, clean and lean meats and fish, lots of clean water and simple vegetable soups, while setting aside caffeine, sugar, and inflammatory foods is an excellent “first” level of detox for most people. Spring foods such as berries, arugula, dandelion greens, artichokes, kale and collards, spinach, beets, asparagus and garlic all support your busy liver in “cleaning house.” Add in some acupuncture, extra walks, time for relaxation/meditation, extra sleep, and sauna or baths and your body will automatically rebound and begin healing with this simple support.
If you are ready for a deeper level of detox, you may benefit from adding specific nutrients and herbs designed to help you free up and eliminate stored toxins. A carefully guided group QuickCleanse (starting May 27th) is available from Pacific Integrative and Functional Medicine (PIFM) nutritionist Dawn Preisendorf (more info: http://www.newdawnwellness.com/quickcleanse.html) or a program specific for your health needs can be designed in individual consultation with either Dawn or Susan Blanc, certified nutritionists working with Dr. Bera-Miller at the PIFM medical offices.
After your detox do your best to avoid “re-toxing” your body. Learn how to reduce your everyday exposures from drinking water, body care products, food, household cleaning products and garden chemicals. Outstanding resources are available from the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) to help you identify and eliminate these controllable exposures.
The best outcome for any detox process is a renewed attention to listening to your body, taking time to buy and eat healing whole foods and renewing your commitment to your own health. Those benefits stay with you throughout the whole year!