Spring is a time of renewal and we seem to have extra energy to sort and clean our homes and the motivation to focus on our health and in general, to create positive change. Spring is a good time to consider a gentle cleanse internally as well to help rid the body of the toxic burden, which can lead to various health problems.
The past 150 years has seen incredible progress in the technology and application of medicine, and science. However, the negative side effects of this chemical dependent technology can contribute to further contamination of our atmosphere, water, soil, foods, and our bodies. Although the human body has an incredible ability to adapt, these contaminants are accumulating faster than our bodies can handle them.
Our primary organs responsible for cleansing and detoxification are the gut, liver, kidneys, skin, blood and lymph systems.
The Role of the Gut
Even though it is not considered an organ of elimination, the gut is the second major site in the body for detoxification filled with trillions of microorganisms that contribute to approximately 25% of detoxification that occurs within the cells lining the intestines (the remaining 75% occurs in the liver). It is important to note that the gut needs regular support, not only during a detoxification cleanse, with both prebiotics and probiotics.
Prebiotics are fermentable dietary fibres that feed the friendly bacteria that allow specific changes in the composition of and/or activity in the large intestine gut microflora.
Probiotics provide a source of “good” bacteria and are naturally found in fermented foods such as miso, some yogurts, kefir, and sauerkraut. The general population does not consume enough fermented foods to benefit the gut microflora and will benefit from a probiotic supplement.
The Role of the Liver – The Great Detoxifier
The liver is involved in many bodily functions, including the most-important metabolic function of the detoxification, inactivation, and excretion of toxic chemicals, drugs, and hormones, as well as eliminating waste products resulting from intestinal fermentation. Here are a variety of ways to support your liver:
- Lemons: Start your morning with fresh lemon juice in water; this helps flush and decongest the liver.
- Beets: Eat beets or drink beet and vegetable juice regularly. Beets are an excellent liver cleanser.
- High Quality Protein Foods: Restore and sustain the liver with free-range eggs, fish, raw nuts, and seeds.
- Fresh Air/ Exercise: Get lots of fresh air, exercise, and adequate rest; eat natural foods; and drink good water.
Herbal Supplement: Take a liver-support herb or formula containing herbs such as dandelion and milk thistle 2–3 days a week or one week a month to support the liver’s job of detoxification.
The Role of the Kidneys
The kidneys are essential for the detoxification of toxic metabolites acting as a natural filter of the blood and remover of wastes. Primary support of the kidneys is to drink at least 1.5 L of clean filtered water throughout the day to help flush out the toxins that filter through the kidneys.
The skin provides both a mechanical and a chemical barrier between the body and surrounding environment, responsible for maintaining 10–20% of the detoxification capability compared to the liver, and an important organ for excreting toxic chemicals.
An individual can perspire as much as several liters per hour and approximately 10 L per day and toxic elements are excreted through sweat.
The Role of the Blood and Lymph System
The lymph system is often mistakenly disregarded when it comes to detoxification of harmful substances from the body. As blood circulates throughout the body, the lymph system picks up bacteria, waste products, and toxins, and transports cellular debris back to the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes then break down this waste material and dispose of it. If the lymph system is not draining properly, toxins and waste products build up in the body. Exercise is good to get the lymph flowing, as well as bouncing on a rebounder and having lymph massage.
The Importance of Water
Every organ in the body needs water to function. When there is a lack of water, the body becomes dehydrated and organ function can become compromised. It is very important to drink adequate amounts of water, 1.5-2L daily (preferably filtered water).
Seven-Day Detoxification and Cleansing Program
Traditionally, fasting has been used to rid the body of toxins. However, with the level of toxicity that most people have today, I consider this method too harsh as many people would experience many side effects. The program outlined here is less severe, involving a food cleansing program for the first seven days followed by a three-day juice cleanse for those who wish to continue.
Restrict your diet during the first seven days to whole grains and vegetables, along with small amounts of fruit, condiments, and oil.
• Choose two to three grains for the week from the following list: brown rice, brown basmati rice, quinoa, millet, hulled barley, and buckwheat. You may have two to three moderate servings daily.
• Eat as much as you like of the following: steamed vegetables, raw vegetables, and vegetable juices. Have a minimum of three servings of vegetables and two 250 mL glasses of fresh vegetable juice daily.
• Drink 50–75 mL of red potato juice daily: mix the juice of red potatoes with the juice of 2–3 stalks of celery per serving.
• Eat fruit sparingly, no more than three pieces daily, and eat any fruit at least half an hour before or two hours after your other meals.
Consider a detoxification kit that provides herbal supplement support for the body during a cleanse.
~The staff at The Vitamin Shop can help you pick the right kit to support your cleanse~
Foods and Substances to Avoid Completely During a Cleanse
Based on years of clinical experience, I recommend avoiding the following during a cleanse:
• Coffee and caffeinated tea
• Sugar of any kind, including honey, molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, barley or rice malt, and table syrup
• Table salt
• Dairy products
• Eggs, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, and any other sources of animal protein
• Butter and margarine
• Heated oils
Remember when it comes to spring cleaning, your body also needs cleansing.
Karen Jensen was in clinical practice for 25 years and although she is retired, she continues to write books and educate on the naturopathic approach to wellness. She is author or co-author of seven books, her most recent is Women’s Health Matters: The Influence of Gender on Disease.