Is it time for a winter cleanse? Get rid of those holiday toxins!

Is it time for a winter cleanse? Get rid of those holiday toxins!

We live in a world that is filled with toxins. From our air, to our water, to our food: pesticides, hormone blocking chemicals, fertilizers, heavy metals, cleaning products, cosmetics, petroleum, plastics and certain foods contain substances that can have significant impacts on our health. Problems such as brain fog, low energy, digestive disturbances, pain and recurrent infections can be triggered by the accumulation of toxins in our body.

Our bodies primarily rid toxins through our livers, kidneys, intestines, skin and lungs. Unfortunately, this is not always easy. Some of them are reabsorbed and recirculated through our intestinal tracts or bind to a hormone receptor site on a cell. Some mimic other substances in our body. Some of it is stored in our fat cells and other tissues in our bodies. Ridding our bodies of toxins requires adequate water, nutrition, movement and regular bowel movements. This can be enhanced by exercise, sweating, increased fiber, clean water and eating organic foods.

In many cultures, detoxification/purification is a part of their routine practices.

In my family, we have a tradition of doing a cleanse following the gluttony of holiday eating and drinking. It is a nice way to start the New Year and shed some of the extra weight and toxic habits that begins with Halloween and seems to continue through New Year’s Day. In the last couple of years, even my teenage son has joined us in this tradition.

There are many types of cleanses.

The internet and health food sections of our local grocery stores are filled with them. They vary in their intensity and length and the types of products that may accompany them. But really, a cleanse can be very simple. In our house, it comprises of clean simple foods, extra fiber and a good quality probiotic.

Certain foods contain higher levels of pesticides or are inflammatory in general, so these should be avoided: dairy (cow’s milk products) except butter, which should be organic; wheat: for an extra step include all gluten grains; corn; sugar (maple syrup and raw honey are ok); eggs; coffee; nightshades (potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes- sweet potatoes are ok) and soy, peanuts, alcohol and anything else you suspect maybe an issue for you.

Eat whole foods, cooked from scratch.

Protein, vegetables, beans, whole fruits. Include at least one large colorful salad or stir fry daily. Drink at least 8 cups of clean water. If you don’t have a water filter, go to the local health food store and fill your own jugs rather than buy water in plastic bottles. Get plenty of sleep. Gentle exercise for 15 -30 minutes daily. Foods that help cleanse your body include fresh parsley, wheat grass juice, cilantro, raw seeds, leafy greens, beets and fresh apples. It is best to eat organic wherever possible.

I recommend 30 days or more to do a cleanse.

This will help break the cycle of sugar addiction and get you through the first two weeks which can be the most challenging as you withdraw from certain foods allowing your body to flush out toxins.

A good fiber supplement such as psyllium or ground flax seeds can help bind up those toxins so that you can poop them out. If you are having trouble moving your bowels, add in some magnesium powder or triphala.

When you are done, reintroduce foods slowly, one at a time, every couple of days. That way you might notice if you react to something that you are adding back in so don’t just go out and eat a combo pizza!

Good luck and Happy New Year!!

Dr. Jennifer Means welcomes you for Primary Care for the whole family: Nutrition, IV Therapy, Naturopathy, and Acupuncture. Contact us at 503-641-6400.