The annual ritual has begun: the contents of closets and drawers are evaluated and discarded or reassigned; garages and basements are tidied; windows are polished and cobwebs are swept from neglected corners of ceilings and door-frames. Yes, our homes sparkle. But what about the bodies who inhabit them?
Every breath you take
Each time we inhale, eat or step outside, we are exposed to toxins. In fact, your body also create toxins – garbage, if you will – as a side effect of keeping you alive. While your body has mechanisms in place to deal with the garbage, your organs of detoxification (including your liver, kidneys, skin and lungs) get bogged down by our modern world. Toxins include the thousands of new synthetic chemicals being introduced annually to foods, body care and home supplies; exposure to dirty electronic frequencies through our cell phones and WiFi equipment, and stress levels going through the roof, the burden has become unmanageable without a little help.
Clean up in aisle…you
Your cleanse will involve two steps: step one involves minimizes your exposure to toxins, and step two promotes elimination of the ones that have accumulated. If you’re like me, cleaning under the appliances in your kitchen only happens when you aren’t kept too busy with the daily maintenance chores like preparing meals and washing dishes. The same thing happens in your body: when there’s time in the schedule, the real cleaning can happen. To create time in the schedule, reduce your body’s daily maintenance chores.
- constipation or diarrhea
- bad breath
- frequent headaches
- low energy
- skin conditions
- mood swings
Step one: Reduce ‘garbage in’
Chemicals used on conventional produce, including herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, linger on produce when it arrives in your kitchen and these chemicals have the potential to pose serious health risks. (In fact, Health Canada has established limits for how much of an individual chemical is allowed to remain on the produce after harvest.) As often as possible, opt for organic produce to limit your exposure to chemicals.
When organic isn’t an option, choose local produce in season to reduce your exposure to waxes and fungicides used to keep well-traveled foods preserved for a long distance journey. Foods with a peel that you remove before eating (pineapple, avocado, citrus fruit) are not as high risk as other conventionally farmed produce.
Lunch meats contain chemical flavouring agents, colours and preservatives that add to your toxic load and can be a factor in food sensitivities. Cold meats, hot dogs and bacon contain chemical flavouring agents, colours and preservatives as well as nitrates to prevent spoilage. In your stomach, nitrates combine with amines (formed by the breakdown of protein) to create carcinogenic nitrosamines. Choose chemical-free natural meats instead.
Many products you use on your body and in your home contain toxins in the form of hormone-disrupting chemicals like parabens, phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). Educate yourself on their dangers and learn to read labels. Remember that some toxins (pollution, fragrances) are inhaled. Likewise, bleached paper products including toilet tissue, dinner napkins, diapers and feminine products may contain hormone disrupting and carcinogenic chlorinated dioxins. Choose organic and non-bleached products.
Boost ‘garbage out’
With less to metabolize on a daily basis, your liver has the time and energy to get into the corners and get at the gunk (yes, that’s the medical term) that’s been trapped for who-knows-how-long. Give your liver some love by supplying it with plenty of water to flush out toxins. Add a squeeze of lemon to water to boost detoxification. (If you are concerned about tooth enamel, use a straw.)
Start your cleanse at the beginning of a weekend (or your days off work) so you can rest. Spring cleaning is hard work, even for your body. Don’t be surprised if you feel tired, sluggish and even a little discomfort as your body transports toxins to your digestive tract and then…down the drain. Gentle exercise followed by regular warm showers will also help remove toxins through your skin.
Spring cleaning is a great way to get your body ready for summer – and you’ll feel so good afterward, you’ll likely want undertake a cleanse with every season change: seasonal cleansing helps to provide excellent care and maintenance of your health.
First published in Niagara Life magazine.