There is no shortage of “spring cleanse” health information available on the internet, in the media and from well-meaning family and friends. Everyone has a different opinion of what you should do, based on what has worked for them.
Here are the facts.
- We are all different. What works for one person, may not work for you.
- There is no such thing as a “quick fix.” A juice cleanse, oil or shake is not going to get to the root of a health issue. You may feel better for a time – and then you won’t.
- A safe and comprehensive cleanse program includes a combination of mindfulness, exercise and smart nutrition. This combination will take you further than you could have ever imagined.
Here are some tried and true tips I provide clients when they embark on dietary change. These are all sustainable, realistic strategies you can employ no matter your stage of health or goals.
- On rising, start each day with a cup of warm water and the juice of half a lemon. This is a natural liver cleanser that puts digestive enzymes into your stomach, alkalizes you blood and kick starts your morning constitution.
- Are you getting enough water in your diet? Water is involved in almost every metabolic reaction in your body and is essential in cleansing toxins. When you are dehydrated, the body will pull water from your organs to get what it needs (usually the stomach and intestines). The result? Heartburn or constipation.
To determine how much water you need, take your weight in pounds and divide by two. That’s the minimum amount of water in ounces you require daily for maintenance. To put this into perspective, someone who weighs 150lbs requires approximately 75 ounces or 9 ½ cups or 2.25L of water daily.
- Any successful cleanse or dietary plan is full of whole foods and includes minimal processed foods. An easy rule of thumb is to not purchase products with more than five ingredients. If there are more than five, make sure you know what each and every ingredient means. Anything that ends in “ose” is sugar.
- Increase your fibre. Fibre is critical to cleansing the bowel, removing toxins and balancing blood sugar. It keeps your mood stable and aids in weight loss. The easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough fibre? Make sure half of your plate includes a colourful array of fruit and vegetables at your meals. And if constipation is an issue, try adding 1 to 2 Tbsp of ground flax or chia to your daily diet. Just make sure you drink an extra glass of water with each dose.
- Healthy fats are building blocks for your hormones and brain, nourish your nervous system, and help you absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads. Nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, greens, organic egg yolk, FISH and even grass-fed meats are all great sources. Consume a couple servings daily and avoid hydrogenated fats. Hydrogenated fats are inflammatory and found in deep fried foods, crackers, breads and margarine.
- Lean protein like chicken, fish, eggs and grassfed beef help ramp up your metabolism and help your body repair at the cellular level. Ensure you get at least 1 serving a day, plus a serving of fibre-rich legumes and beans like lentils, chickpeas, mung beans and blackbeans.
Studies show HOW you eat can impact your health more than previously thought. Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food – lots of soups or smoothies? SLOW DOWN AND CHEW.
- Mindful eating means taking smaller bites, eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, and savouring every bite. Take time to notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture of your food. Breathe. This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes for absorption. This can also help with weight loss because eating more slowly often means eating less. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register your stomach is full.
- We also know that when we CHEW our food, it is easier to digest. I tell clients to chew their food to the consitency of peanut butter – it increases the surface area so our enzymes can get to work and absorb all those essential nutrients.
- And don’t forget about drinking your food. You also need to chew soups and smoothies to release digestive enzymes. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Approximately 70% of our amylase is produced in our mouth. Amylase is the enzyme responsible for carbohydrate digestion. If we swallow without chewing, it can lead to gas, bloating and indigestion. CHEW. CHEW. CHEW!
Consider not only how much you eat, but also what and how you eat:
- Start each day with a cup of warm water and lemon to naturally cleanse the liver
- Drink your weight in water
- Buy processed foods that contain less than 5 ingredients (or you know what the ingredients are)
- Fill half your plate with produce – it’s loaded in vitamins, minerals and fibre
- Add a small dose of healthy fats like avocado, olive, coconut, seeds or nuts to every meal
- Ensure you are getting enough protein
- Be mindful of your eating – slow down, chew and enjoy
- If you drink your food, chew that also
Vanessa Bond is a certified nutritional practitioner interested in women’s health: hormones, weight loss, digestion. You can read more articles of this nature on her website www.practicalnaturalnutrition.com