April 7, 2017

Spring Cleaning for Your Diet

Life brings us the message that we need to detoxify in many ways. Physically our body gives us wake up calls with low energy, achiness, bad skin and hair, and digestive upsets. Mentally we know we need to detox when our memory fails us on important details of our lives, even though we may be able to recall a commercial jingle with perfect clarity. Emotionally we could certainly use a detox when a cloud of negative emotion overcomes us, making us feel disempowered and as if we are victims of circumstance in our lives.

Our spiritual lives seem to suffer most from neglect as any spiritual practice is easily crowded out by small concerns that often seem to have a sense of urgency in the moment. Starting the new day off right each morning with a moment of spiritual reflection or inspirational reading helps us regain a proper focus.

Intellectually we can choose to clean up our lives by getting rid of the intellectual equivalent of fast food. If there’s nothing of quality on the television, simply turn it off. Read books (actual books), something many adults stop doing after high school. Stop multi-tasking and give undivided attention to what is right in front of you. Go on a fast from texting and social media. Get to bed early so your mind can be fresh in the morning. Eat good quality foods that nourish the brain like wild salmon, avocado, organic blueberries and leafy greens like kale, swiss chard and arugula.

Emotionally it is important to let go of what drags us down. Sometimes it’s obvious that we need to cut ties with a blatantly exploitive relationship. But observing our own patterns can shed light on more subtle patterns. Do we spend the better part of our days annoyed? Sometimes adjusting our expectations is the best we can do. Yes, I will spend my lunch break on hold with customer service. Yes, I will spend 3 hours waiting at the department of motor vehicles, and I can still have a good day. Sometimes all we can do is choose the least toxic response to the circumstances of life.

Detoxing Our Physical Surroundings

Unless we make a concerted effort to par down our belongings, most of us accumulate stuff. Most of us have plenty of reasons of why we can’t part with our stuff. But being around clutter inevitably causes us to waste time looking for items we’ve misplaced, and it’s emotionally draining. When you walk into a room that’s clean, bright and full of open space, it feels good. That’s how we should feel every day.

One of the most important areas of the home to detox is the kitchen. Everything processed, everything with artificial colors, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup belongs in the garbage. Sure, you spent money stocking your refrigerator and pantry with these items, but they will either end up in your body or in the garbage and the garbage is clearly the better option.

Detoxing the body of course has a myriad of health benefits. Mainstream medicine may contend that there is no need for any particular concerted effort, and that our innate detox mechanisms already do everything that’s necessary. But common sense dictates that we cannot live in a polluted world and remain unaffected. This includes pharmaceutical chemicals, plastics, pesticides, industrial solvents, aluminum and heavy metals. We’re exposed to toxic chemicals on a scale unknown to previous generations. And these pollutants contribute to neurological issues, increased allergies, inflammation, fatigue and make it harder to lose weight.

Guided Detox Program

Maybe you can’t seem to lose weight. Maybe you have chronic congestion and allergic responses that seem to grow worse every year. Maybe there’s an achiness in your joints and muscles that you’ve simply accepted as part of aging. Maybe your skin is itchy or breaks out well into your adult life. The first place to start is by cleaning.

A guided detox program can help set your parameters and goals. Simple fasting can backfire, as the metabolism slows down, rather than speeds up. Often this involves working through more than one stage to achieve particular goals. The initial phase is the purge, involving cutting out the offending toxins and assisting elimination. The second phase involves more protein which normalizes the blood sugar and helps push the pathways of detox in the body that are protein dependent.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) identifies 5 channels of elimination in the human body. These include the colon, the liver, the kidneys, the skin and the lungs. All of these are important but the liver and colon are ones that often need special attention. Working with a knowledgeable holistic healthcare practitioner can help us work effectively and target the areas that are most problematic for individual health concerns.

A clean colon is essential for good health and everyone should move their bowels at least once a day. There is no exception. Some people are under the impression that once every two to three days is “normal for me”. If you grew up in a dysfunctional household certain behaviors may feel normal to you, but the objective reality is that this is not normal. The same is true with standards of health. If chronic constipation is an issue, a good naturopathic doctor or other healthcare practitioner can examine underlying conditions such as low thyroid or a lack of magnesium. A detox program will include plenty of healthy fibers and probiotics to help keep the colon clean. It may include mild laxative herbs such as senna or cascara sagrada. These are best used short term only to avoid dependency.

To support the liver, fresh squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is a good way to start. Herbs like milk thistle, dandelion, turmeric and schizandra target the liver, as do amino acids like glycine and methionine. We should also eat plenty of leafy greens like kale, arugula, swiss chard and mustard greens.

The kidneys are usually quite capable of cleaning the body if given an adequate water supply. Diuretic herbs often sold as kidney cleanses temporarily boost water output. Our skin can benefit from ditching the toxic chemicals in our personal care products. We can also use Epsom salt baths and infrared sauna to help purge the body of waste. We can benefit our lungs by getting rid of household items with fragrances and adding some indoor plants. Small changes can make a big difference.

Taking 3 weeks to clean up our lives on all levels is a good journey to take for our personal development. Paying attention to our needs spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically and giving yourself a clean fresh start is important to renew your energy and vitality. A detox is a great way to start.

Submitted by Jenna Henderson, ND. The Life Center is a holistic, alternative care center that offers a medically supervised weight loss program that is covered by most insurances and has been voted #1 in the area 3 years in a row. Their purification program is a phase 1 and 2 detox which provides amazing results. Both their Naturopathic doctors and their Health coaches will guide you along the way. They are dedicated to finding integrative health solutions that will help you heal and detox your body, mind, and spirit. Contact The Life Center, 2 Broadway, North Haven and 1007 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, 203-239-3400