By Bonnie Jenkins, Advanced Natural Wellness
For me, spring is the perfect time for renewal. After a long, dreary winter, I feel sluggish and toxic. According to many naturopaths and nutritionists, that feeling isn’t far off the mark.
All of us are constantly bombarded by harmful chemicals and environmental pollutants. The food and water we consume can contain traces of flame retardants, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides and plasticizers. The products we use day in and day out also expose us to an alphabet-soup of toxins.
Even if you eat only healthy, organic food, abstain from alcohol and drugs, exercise regularly, and avoid obvious contaminants, it’s likely that your body harbors a cumulative body burden of over 100 different pollutants. My friend Jane, who also happens to be the vice president for research at the Environmental Working Group, notes that we get a fresh flush of these chemicals every day. It’s simply overwhelming.
Over time, these toxins can acumulate in your body and eventually lead to diseases like cancer, heart disease and reproductive disorders. But that’s not all. One British doctor, Paula Baillie-Hamilton, MD, has linked this toxic buildup to weight gain. In a nutshell, the more body fat you have, the more toxins you retain. The more toxins you retain, the harder it is to lose weight. It’s a viscious cycle. The solution? Minimize your exposure to environmental pollutants and periodically remove toxins with careful detoxification. And spring is the perfect time to come clean.
Giving your body a break with a seasoal detox has been practiced since antiquity. The most extreme detox involves fasting. You eat nothing and take in only water for several days. This can be hard to do for many people and, if you suffer from certain health problems like diabetes, it can be downright dangerous. But you can accomplish much the same thing with a modified one to two day fast that consists of only fresh organic fruits and vegetables. It’s also important to add plenty of fiber to bind toxins so they can easily be removed from the body. Without fiber, the toxins that are released are simply reabsorbed by your body’s fatty tissues. And don’t forget to drink lots of purified water to flush out your system.
After the initial fast, you can more completely cleanse your body with a three-week detox designed to continue removing toxins and replace bad dietary habits with healthy ones. Here are the six simple steps you need to adhere to each day for 21 days:
- Consume nine servings of organically-grown fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
- Reduce meat consumption and make sure the meat you eat is certified organic.
- Eat wild-caught fish with the least amount of toxic metals.
- Reduce unhealthy fats and increase essential fatty acids.
- Include plenty of dietary fiber—40 grams total per day.
- Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
It’s also wise to support your detox with a few key supplements:
Probiotics: Take a probiotic each day before bedtime. Make sure it has a minimum of two species of bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum.
Multivitamin-Mineral Complex: A good multivitamin-mineral complex is something everyone should take daily. For the best absorption, look for a liquid supplement that contains antioxidants, digestive enzymes and herbs like milk thistle and wolf berry that support the detoxification process.
Omega-3 Fish Oils: Fish oil that supplies about a gram of fish oil per capsule supports brain health, heart health and healthy joints. Most naturopaths recommend taking 3 to 4 grams daily.
Do this 24-day detox once and I’ll bet it will become a part of your springtime routine. If you’re like me, you will be amazed at how light and fit you feel. You’ll have more energy, your skin will glow and you will feel a wonderful clarity. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to welcome spring!
Baillie-Hamilton PF. Chemical toxins: a hypothesis to explain the global obesity epidemic. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2002;8:185-192.
Morello G. Whole Body Cleansing: Transform Your Health Through Gentle Purification and Effective Detoxification. El Segundo, CA: Active Interest Media, 2009.