Spring Detoxing - Part 1: Why "Detox" and the Basics of Cleansing with Foods
By Dr. Bronwyn Hill, ND
Over the next few months, Bronwyn will be contributing a series of interest pieces, sharing insights on the treatment of common health concerns via the use of food, lifestyle and other natural treatments.
If you have any ideas for topics or questions for Bronwyn, forward them our way and she will address them in her column.
Feeling sluggish? Brain fog? Aches and pains? Skin lacking some luster?
It’s time for some Spring Cleaning – from the Inside….OUT!
As the temperatures increase and signs of spring pop up, detox (aka "cleansing") is a hot topic! For those of you who do not know, detoxification is the removal of toxins in order to alleviate the burden on organs and improve overall body function. The body is constantly faced with an onslaught of "toxins" - via the foods we eat, the environment around us, even day-to-day stress can be considered a toxin. We naturally use our skin, liver, kidneys, lungs and digestive tract to eliminate toxins from the body, but it is not uncommon that these organs become overburdened and need some extra support! Detoxification is an important part of general health promotion and maintenance, but can also help to treat many common health concerns both acute and chronic. In my practice I have seen significant improvements in skin health, digestive health, hormonally related concerns, weight management, chronic headaches and pain with detoxification as a central part of treatment/support.
The most important detox organ is your digestive system, including your liver. You literally "are what you eat" since the raw material that builds every structure in your body comes from the food you eat. It is important to minimize/eliminate gluten, dairy, meat products, sugar (particularly refined sugars), caffeine, and alcohol for two-three weeks in order to give your body and digestive tract, a break. The latter foods are also quite acidic in nature, and a big goal when detoxing is to encourage a more alkaline body-state; thus decreasing inflammation, fatigue, and encouraging tissue repair and recovery. The alkalinizing foods, as you might guess, are namely all of our green, chlorophyll rich vegetables and leafy plants. Beans & legumes, nuts & seeds should become the focal protein sources during a detox as well – instead of animal based products which are generally harder to digest and more acidic in nature.
Some of the best ways to get spring cleansing – try warm lemon water in the morning and throughout the day, and a green smoothie for your breakfast or lunch. Smoothies allow you to pack a bunch of nutrition into one vehicle that is easier to digest, which gives your digestive tract and liver a break! Try my fave green smoothie recipe below:
- 1 granny smith apple or pear – skin on & chopped
- 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and chopped
- 1-2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1-2 cups spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/4-1/2 avocado or banana
- about 1 inch of freshly grated & peeled ginger-root (optional)
- small bunch of mint leaves or parsley if desired
- about 1 cup of water OR almond or coconut milk – more to reach desired consistency
- honey and vanilla extract to taste
- Put all ingredients in a blender, and add your fluid in small amounts until desired consistency is reached. Enjoy!
- For more protein – add a handful of soaked nuts (almonds or walnuts), or a scoop of vegan protein powder. For added fibre – add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds.
- You can get creative with smoothies – try a different leafy green, different fruits – fresh or frozen, or a new dairy alternative as a liquid.