When in doubt, throw out!

It’s time for the honoured rituals of spring-cleaning (of home and body). Unless you’re of the “Why Clean? It Will Only Get Dirty Again” school of thought, read on.

Over time, our body has accumulated toxins, often stored in fat cells. These may have come through diet, use of prescription or other drugs, and environmental exposure. We have marvelous ways to clear or transform toxins through our kidneys, lungs, liver, digestive tract, and via perspiration. However, these functions may not be operating at top capacity, or we may have overtaxed our system. Thus our ability to detoxify depends on lifestyle choices and overall health status.

A spring cleaning includes diet and lifestyle changes that:
-reduce intake of toxins;
-improve elimination;
-shift from foods that do little good to those that provide helpful substances such as antioxidants.

During a cleanse, toxins are metabolized in a two phase process in the liver. If both phases are not functioning optimally, the liver can create toxic intermediate byproducts. This may actually increase the amount of unpleasant substances circulating through our system. Similarly, when we lose weight, we may experience detoxification symptoms because along with fat, we release toxins stored within the fat. We may experience flu-like reactions, acne, or the aches of arthritis or fibromyalgia. A thorough cleanse is best conducted under supervision by a qualified healthcare provider. This is to ensure that detoxification pathways are eliminating efficiently, and to minimize possible undesirable symptoms. A gentle and gradual cleanse can be conducted by simple remedies that you can do yourself. Here are helpful tips.

Increase Fibre Intake. Fibre, which is present only in plant foods, is the “Roto-rooter” of the gastrointestinal tract. As it passes through, it carries out toxins, including carcinogens. Increasing our intake of organic vegetables and fruits has multiple benefits in the elimination process. These foods provide excellent and varied types of fiber; a multitude of protective antioxidants; and vitamins and minerals that nourish the organs of detoxification and elimination (liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, digestive tract). Furthermore, vegetables and fruits replace less healthful items in the diet.

Avoid Food Allergens. Foods to which we are allergic or intolerant can increase symptoms of dermatitis, respiratory problems, digestive disorders, and some types of arthritis. The specific reactions and food culprits vary from one individual to another. For example, wheat, dairy products, or the nightshade family of plants (potato, tomato, eggplant, peppers and exposure to tobacco) can be triggers for arthritic aches and pains in some people. For more on food sensitivities, see “The Food Allergy Survival Guide” by Melina, Stepaniak and Aronson (Healthy Living Publications, 2004).

Drink Plenty of Water. Eliminate coffee, and while toxins are clearing your system, enjoy plenty of clean water. Aim for 2-3 litres of water every day.

Take Saunas. Dry saunas increase our elimination via the sweat glands and skin.

On Saturday May 7 (2 to 5 pm), I will be hosting a cleansing workshop, directed by Naturopathic Doctor Karen Parmar of Fort Integrated Health Clinic, Fort Langley (604-888-8325.) This class is participatory and includes fresh fruit and vegetable juicing, abundant food, and tips to support your organs of elimination on the journey to improved health. Here’s a recipe for spring cleansing.

Go-for-the-Green Salad

This colorful salad, from “The New Becoming Vegetarian” (US title), “Becoming Vegetarian” (Canadian title), by Melina and Davisis packed with health-supportive antioxidants and phytochemicals. If you like, be creative with additional vegetables such as cucumbers, snow peas, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, alfalfa sprouts, sprouted lentils, avocado, and grated radishes or daikon.

8 cups romaine or leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
4 cups kale, stem removed and thinly sliced
1 container (100 g) broccoli or sunflower sprouts
1 cup grated carrots or golden beets
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 each, sweet red and yellow pepper, sliced
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/4 cup almonds, raw or toasted (optional)
Place ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Leftover salad (without dressing) may be stored, refrigerated, in a tightly sealed container for several days.

Makes 14 cups 

Per 2 cups: calories: 48, protein: 3 g, fat: 0.6 g, carbohydrate: 10 g, dietary fiber: 3 g, calcium: 100 mg, iron: 2 mg, zinc: 0.5 mg, folate: 113 mcg, vitamin C: 100 mg, vitamin E: 1.2 mg.

Vesanto Melina is a registered dietitian and author based near Fort Langley. For personal consultations or workshops (above or June 4: Healthy, Delicious and Easy) call 604-888-8325 or 604-882-6782; web www.nutrispeak.com.

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