Spring is upon us, and along with it an upswing of energy, allergies, sensitivities, and sniffles.
As last year’s gunk blows away and makes room for the blooming newness this year, consider taking nature’s lead and using this time to give your body a little spring cleanse, from the inside out.
In Ayurvedic philosophy (the vast Hindu science of health and living, which encompasses yoga and also covers nutritional and herbal healing), spring is the perfect time to give your personal space a purifying reset, and in fact, many of its practitioners claim that those who do will fend off colds and other illnesses through the rest of the allergen-ridden season.
While there are lots of guided, packaged, and other detailed and specific routes for taking on a cleanse, you don’t need any special regimen or product to rid yourself of residue and get any old stagnation moving through the body. Just commit to a time period that works for you (anywhere from a few days to two weeks) and choose some basic cleansing measures.
Here are five easy ways to cleanse your system and nourish your liver, the body’s natural housekeeper:
- Drink more pure water. We’re not talking juices, nor herbal teas. While these liquids contain a high water content and are often mistaken for suitable replacements, nothing takes the place of pure, clean water. Start your day by drinking at least eight ounces before anything else, and continue hydrating heavily all day long. Drink way more water than you think you need—it’s the best and simplest cleanser we have, and vital for flushing out any toxins or other buildup you may release during a cleanse. Limit or eliminate the intake of coffee, soda, sugary drinks, and dairy.
- Spend at least five minutes a day taking slow, even, relaxed breaths. As if we didn’t take water for granted enough, breathing falls even farther by the wayside. Shallow, uneven, automatic breathing can be correlated to high-stress and anxiety, and that frantic fight-or-flight mode responsible for many of our bodies’ ailments. Take just a few moments to flood your bloodstream with oxygen and flush out your lungs. Breathe from the belly first, then into your chest and lungs. Hold your breath for a few moments between each inhale and exhale. Smile. This practice alone will zap a ton of toxins from your system.
- Take a break from animal products. I’m not trying to convert you to veganism, I promise. But while you’re giving your body an internal bath, it helps to nix the meats, eggs and dairy. These proteins require more energy and different enzymes to digest, so it’s best to limit or cut them out while you’re going through a cleanse.
- Overdose on greens. High in antioxidants and fiber, our liver loves greens, especially the bitter ones. Make a pot of collard greens, mustard greens, beet greens, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, or any other kind you please. This recipe has the added, cleansing benefits of garlic and lemon juice. If you’re not a big fan of them, try chopping them up real fine and mixing them into a juice or smoothie.
- Eat whole foods. And by that, I mean actual, unprocessed, whole grains and produce. Go for (not-instant) oatmeal instead of boxed cereal, with a drizzle of honey and dash of cinnamon instead of flavor packets. Choose starches like barley, lentils, quinoa, or brown rice instead over pasta or bread. Get your fruits and veggies fresh and whole rather than in cans or cartons.
Here’s a quick list of foods that have generally been thought to be good for cleansing:
- Blueberries, ginger, seaweed, kale, beets, avocados, carrots, cucumbers, celery, flax seed, chia seed, cranberries, lemons and limes. The liver is a big fan of garlic, grapefruit, milk thistle, dandelion, licorice, fennel, artichoke, green tea, walnuts, olive oil, apples, garlic, cabbage, cruciferous veggies and, as mentioned earlier, leafy greens.
Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Do some research and find out which cleansing foods are best for your regimen.
And, before you get cleansing, a word of caution: Often times when expelling old toxins, you might have what seems to be a negative response. Headache, congestion, breakouts, crankiness and irritability are all often experienced throughout the course of a cleanse. While it’s natural to assume this is a bad thing, it’s actually a sure-fire sign that the cleanse is working and that your body is pushing out old, unwanted gunk. The more severe your symptoms, the harder the cleanse is working.
And, of course, always consult your doctor or health care professional before you get started on your journey. Especially if you start to feel ill, experience any severe health effects, or do not feel comfortable continuing your cleanse, reach out and talk to the pros. It’s very unlikely that you should become very sick from these simple health measures, but listen to your body and don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you need to.
Otherwise, take out a little time to put these simple methods to the test and enjoy a rejuvenated, healthy spring!