Easy Spring Detox

The image shows the word "detox' written with vegetables

Spring will soon be upon us and if you are like me, you have spent this winter hibernating. Perhaps eating and drinking a little too much. It is common to spring clean our homes, so why not our bodies? There are hundreds of detox plans floating around these days, but if you have not tried a detox before, this is one which can ease you gently into detoxing.

This detox should take 14 days. It is a good idea to choose a two week period in which you don’t have any food or drink related events planned. I like starting it when I have a day or two off just in case I experience headaches. (Do not be deterred by this side effect. Headaches usually go away after a day or two. It your body’s natural reaction to not having stimulates like caffeine or Yerba Mate, as well as, a side effect of toxins being released).

Days 1 to 14: You’ll eat only vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. You will drink only spring water and non-caffeinated herbal teas. Try to eat mostly, if not all, organic foods.

You will be eating every 3 hours (five times per day), so that you blood sugar levels remain constant. While each meal should be relatively small, you can eat until you feel satisfied. You should not feel terribly hungry during the cleanse.

You can eat almost any fruit or vegetables during the detox. To maximize detoxification, consume plenty of brightly coloured vegetables and dark, leafy greens. For lunch and dinner, at least half of your plate should contain vegetables.

It is important to avoid eating the foods that most commonly cause sensitivity reactions in people. These are…

  • wheat
  • cow’s dairy
  • nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers)
  • eggs
  • soy
  • peanuts and pistachios
  • citrus (except lemons and limes)
  • sugar

When cooking, it is best to steam, water stir-fry, poach or broil foods. Do not eat any fried foods.  Be mindful when eating. Try to eat without distractions, such as television or reading. Chew all food well. Aim for 20 times per mouthful. Avoid drinking during meals. Drink liquids half an hour before and 1 hour after a meal.

Drink 3-4 liters of fluids, preferably spring water, each day. Drink lemon water, especially in the mornings, to help alkalize your body.

It is also important to focus on your mind, as well as, your body during this period. Take time to mediate, relax and or write in a journal. Spend time getting exercise and vitamin D from the sun. Spend time near beaches, or in parks. Getting gentle exercise will help you body with the detoxification process. You can also try dry brushing. (http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/beauty-style/dirt-dry-brushing). Also, considering treating yourself to a massage or reflexology.

Detoxing is an important process for your health and a great way to invigorate yourself and mark the emergence of spring.

Five Ways to Boost Your Immune System

A circle with immune system written inside. There are six other circles with arrows pointing to immune system. Inside these circle are the words, bacteria, Parasites, pollution, toxins, fungi and viruses.

Winter is coming. Well, actually it’s here. And with winter comes winter colds. It’s is impossible to avoid people who insist on sharing their germs. Transit, school, work, the grocery store, they are everywhere. If you can’t avoid them, you can at least boost your immune system and use some natural remedies to keep the winter cold at bay.

  1. Wash your hands. Sounds easy. I know, I know you are all saying that you already do this. But do you really? When you get home, before you eat, before you pick up your laptop? Washing your hands before you eat might make you feel like you are five again, but it is one of the most effective ways of keeping colds at bay. If you don’t always have access to soap and water you can use hand sanitizers. I don’t like to use those chemical laden ones so I make my own. All you need is coconut oil, it’s full of natural anti-bacterial properties, tea tree oil and whatever essential oil you like. (Rosemary is really nice)
  2. Cut down on the alcohol and increase the greens. Alcohol acidifies the body. Alcohol also increases the amount of sugar in your system and that reduces the ability of the white blood cells in your body to fight off infections. Not to mention how poorly you sleep after a night of drinking. Increasing the amount of greens you consume will help to counteract the acidification from the alcohol. Greens are also chock full of vitamin C.
  3. Shake it up. Movement and exercise reduces stress and boosts your immune system. It also leads to a better night sleep. Try rebounding. Rebounding is jumping on a mini trampoline, not only is it super fun, but it also helps to shake up and detoxify your lymphatic system.
  4. Make love more often. Believe it or not, there are several studies showing that having healthy sexual relationships also boost the immune system. A study in 2004 showed that the close contact of sexual encounters reduces the risk of colds. Having sex 1-2 times a week increases anti-bodies which help to combat the common cold. One more reason to make love not war.
  5. Get your vitamin D. It’s up to you how you decide to do this. Go out for walks or get a suppliment either way it’s important to make sure you are getting enough. Our bodies fight off infections using T-Cells. Vitamin D has been found to activate T-Cells. So it is vital to make sure you are getting enough. It’s generally recommended to take suppliments during the winter months. If you are unsure what your Vitamin D levels are, ask your doctor for a blood test.

Food Restrictions and How to Incorporate Alternatives

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I have been seeing a Naturopath for over two years now. She has helped me avoid foods that do not benefit my body, and to incorporate foods that will assist my mood, my body and my mind. She is able to pin point how many servings of each category of food I should eat on a daily basis. With my food intake slowly becoming under control, we noticed irregular pain patterns in my body that were triggered by food. It was then that I decided to take a food restriction test. This test is administered by naturopaths and sent to a lab where your blood is tested in accordance to over 95 different foods. The results are displayed on a graph to see how much each food item has a negative impact on your body ranked from “very low” to “extremely high”. Luckily I didn’t reach “extremely high” on any of the food items.

The results were shocking. It seemed almost all of the foods I ate ranged from low to high on the food restriction scale. The main foods I was expected to avoid included whey, crab, tuna, cranberries, egg whites and egg yokes, coffee, honey, bakers yeast, almonds, spinach and whole wheat. I ate eggs on the regular for either breakfast or dinner (not to mention many baked goods such as cupcakes or muffins are made with eggs). Almonds were my go to nut and I drank almond milk regularly. I ate spinach every day either in a shake, salad or omelette. And don’t even get me started on coffee. I drink coffee at least twice a day. And no baker’s yeast? That means no bread or pita, no treats like danishes or cakes. This was going to be difficult.

I then had to try and find substitutes for these foods. This is what I came up with:

1. Eggs – As a morning meal I had two options: a protein shake or greek yogurt.

*Protein shake:

1 scoop protein powder

½ scoop chia seeds

½ avocado

1 cup kale

½ cup greek yogurt

1 cup frozen fruit (berry mix)

1 tbl agave nectar

Ice

Water

*Greek Yogurt:

1 cup greek yogurt

½ scoop chia seeds

1 tsp agave nectar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup frozen or fresh berries

Sprinkle cinnamon

2. Almonds – My naturopath suggested organic soy milk (organic soy milk does not have the same hormone content as regular soy milk)

3. Spinach – This was hard because I LOVE spinach salad and I am not a big fan of iceberg or romaine lettuce. So instead, I would eat mixed greens, which has a similar texture to spinach without the crunch of iceberg and romaine.

4. Coffee – This was a hard one. I have now gone a whole week without coffee and I have switched to tea. To make tea more enjoyable, I picked up some loose-leaf tea from David’s Tea. Try Red Velvet Cake or Chocolate Chai tea. Those are my favourites!

5. Baker’s yeast – For baking ingredients you can try barley, buckwheat, corn or rice flour. Basically any flour that is not white flour. A lot of products found in the gluten free isle would contain these alternative ingredients.

It’s going to be hard to make these adjustments, but at the end of the day it is for the betterment of my body. Eating properly will reduce pain and increase proper digestion, which will lead to optimal health and energy. Like the old saying, “my body is a temple”, let’s treat ours like one.

Image from http://healthandcare.in/healthy-food_importance/