Winter-induced tummy rolls may be a fashion foe, but extra weight gained over the chillier months can also be a health hazard for more reasons than you may think.
The sun’s out and winter is but a distant, chilly memory. There’s a spring in your step and a sudden desire to pass on the caramel soy latte that had become your winter buddy.
While it’s natural to gain weight during the hibernation months, how the weight is gained—and how much—can mean the difference between healthy and toxin overload. Is that extra tummy padding from double helpings of warming, homemade vegetable soup with a side of fermented sourdough—or the daily microwaved double choc chip muffins from your local café?
Besides of the food we consume, we also regularly ingest and absorb toxins from a variety of sources that need a helping hand to be removed.
Spring is the perfect time to undertake a gentle detoxification program, designed to help eliminate heavy metals and allergens, from the environment and our food, as well as internal toxins such as bacteria, fungus, and yeast, which can inhabit the blood, internal organs and excess fat.
“Detox isn’t supposed to be a violent, can’t leave the toilet, painful or depleting experience that means taking 20 different tablets a day… Some ‘detox programs’ may contain high dose tablets that may also contain synthetic binders and fillers and cause diarrhea and discomfort in some,” explains Lifestream naturopath Shelley Atkin. “Some also contain really high dose caffeine to provide the weightloss that people expect from detox. For some this can place the liver and nervous system under further stress.”
Atkin says resting the digestion, nourishing the body, and increasing wholefoods and greens is the much better way to assist the body to cleanse.
“We want to give gentle support for what our body and specifically our liver, naturally does everyday.”
Detox isn’t supposed to be a violent, can’t leave the toilet, painful or depleting experience that means taking 20 different tablets a day…
DETOX YOUR BODY NATURALLY
Shedding layers to reveal a winter body may send many scrambling to the gym to lose weight, yet there’s another good reason to get sweating: detox.
Sweat is one elimination tactic the body employs to rid itself of unwanted toxins, so regular exercise as well as far infrared sauna sessions can work wonders for helping the body to release health-inhibiting toxins.
According to Dr Brian Clement, director of Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, toxin accumulation can adversely affect many body functions and, he says, directly lower IQ. Besides exercise, Dr Clement has been a long-time advocate of far infrared sauna use to help push toxins out via the body’s largest elimination system: the skin.
While traditional steam saunas heat the body from the outside in, far infrared saunas heat from the inside out, pushing out toxins at a cellular level. Dr Clement says steam baths, with the addition of essential oils, are also ideal for cleansing organs such as lungs, kidneys or bladder.
Herbs and juicing
While pushing toxins out is highly beneficial, what we consume can also greatly assist the body to cleanse. Fresh, organic and raw cold-pressed juices are a daily must come spring, according to many health and nutrition experts, who say juices directly assist in cleansing the blood and internal organs, particularly the colon.
According to herbalist and health practitioner Dr Edward Shook, there is “no other remedial agent or herb in the whole range of therapeutic agents, that can compare with the apple tree.”
He adds: “It would be difficult to say which of its virtues is the greatest… we suggest that its abundance of nascent oxygen compound is probably the main reason why it is such a precious food, blood purifier and unfailing remedy for so many forms of diseases.”
Herbs, including herbal teas, may also assist the body to gently detox, but as with juicing, is just one tool in the arsenal of a gentle, well planned cleanse or detox.
The late Master herbalist and once director of The School of Natural Health, David Christopher, was quoted as saying herbs are the safest, most effective tool available for health care.
“Unlike drugs, which have a myriad of side effects that can and do cause harm, herbs can be used with confidence—many people are aware of the wonderful tonic effect of herbs, that when taken in small quantities over a long period of time miraculously correct old chronic conditions.”
Sharyn Johnston of the country’s leading tea training and education organisation, Australian Tea Masters, says herbals are a great way to detox, and can be blended with white or green tea for greater health benefits.
“Try a little home blending by adding some healthy additions like lemongrass, ginger, organic orange or lemon peel, dired pomegranate, dandelion, organic rose petals, nettle or licorice root and calendula,” she says.
“There are many antioxidants in tea that help the body combat free radicals and assist with ridding the body of toxins—and tea is also a great hydrator. Japanese Matcha is a great example of a health boosting tea as it is shade grown and contains up to five times more L-theanine, an amino acid, which helps with brain function so is a great boost when you a detoxing.”
Unlike drugs, which have a myriad of side effects that can and do cause harm, herbs can be used with confidence—many people are aware of the wonderful tonic effect of herbs, that when taken in small quantities over a long period of time miraculously correct old chronic conditions.
Vitamin D for Detox
While the most common cleanse targets are the organs and bloodstream, it’s also important to consider the brain in your spring cleanse.
Sunshine and its well-documented Vitamin D benefits is a must for a well-round new season detox, with regular exposure (without sunscreen, which is usually loaded with toxins) at 20 to 30 minute intervals.
“Vitamin D can inhibit the synthesis of inducible nitric oxide synthase and increase glutathione levels, suggesting a role for the hormone of brain detoxification,” says holistic health advocate Dr Joseph Mercola. “(It has been shown) that Vitamin D helps remove mercury from your body safely by radically increasing the amount of intracellular glutathione.”
Cleansing Side Effects & Benefits
Feeling better and longevity are two reasons many undertake regular, seasonal cleansing. Research has found gentle detoxing can help to lower heart rate, foster clear eyes and skin, boost memory and concentration and also improve digestion.
Atkin says side effects during a cleanse are common, particularly for those who are detoxing for the first time. Symptoms can include headaches, lethargy, nausea, irritability, skin breakouts, gas, bloating and cravings.
“These are usually attributed to the release of built up toxins however, for the most part they are the result of the change in diet during the detox,” Atkin says. “Remove coffee or sugar and after a day or two, there will be a headache and cravings. Digestive symptoms are mostly due to a sudden increase in plant fibre that goes with a good detox meal plan.”
Supplements for Support
Supporting a spring detox, Atkin says, is about nourishing the body with easy to digest nutrition, supporting the removal of toxins gently from the body whilst minimising symptoms as the body adapts to a change in diet.
Supplements that can assist detoxification include:
Aloe vera juice – supports the digestive system and alleviates any inflammation. Acts as a liver tonic.
Psyllium fibre with pre/probiotics – supports elimination through the digestive tract. The psyllium fibre ensures a comfortable transition time for elimination and minimise the digestive symptoms that may accompany the detox diet.
Chlorella – the ultimate blood cleanser. Binds heavy metals and toxins to support a detox.
Greens supplement – a well-formulated greens blend that supports body systems with liver herbs, such as burdock root and milk thistle, and high quantities of supergreens.