Spring Clean Your Body with Fresh, Delicious Greens!

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Spring Clean Your Body with Fresh, Delicious Greens!

Spring is an ideal season to clean up our act. A cleansing diet to eliminate toxins from our body is as much a rite of spring as sweeping debris from our home.

In my nutrition practice, I have often seen how after a sedentary winter of consuming heavier foods, our bodies may be carrying around as much as five to 10 pounds of toxic wastes. While a properly functioning human body has its own built-in detoxification system, it can be easily overwhelmed by today’s proliferation of environmental toxins.

The newest environmental assault on the body’s detox system is electro-pollution, according to research highlighted in the 2007 BioIniative Report, a metastudy of 2,000 peer-reviewed studies compiled by an international group of researchers, scientists and health policy officials.

Compounding the problem, Paula Baillie-Hamilton, a British medical doctor specializing in human metabolism, reported in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that environmental toxins also play havoc with our body’s built-in weight regulation system. In short, the more toxic our body becomes, the harder it is to lose weight.
Detox Equals Weight Loss

Clinical research from the University of Quebec as far back as 2002 suggests that toxins slow metabolism. It is widely held that because many toxins are fat-soluble and stored in body fat, as the fat melts away, the toxins are released into the bloodstream; this inhibits the production of thyroid hormone, with a resulting metabolic meltdown.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the season to support the prime organs of detoxification—the liver and gallbladder. The liver alone impacts some 400 bodily functions, so it deserves support. The following symptoms recommend giving these organs some special care:
• Chronic tension in neck and shoulders
• Sensitivity beneath the rib cage (particularly the right side)
• Feeling tired and sleepy after eating
• Nausea, especially after eating fatty foods
• Hormonal imbalances with hot flashes due to perimenopause or menopause
• Premenstrual irritability and bloating
• Light-colored stools
• Waking between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.

Detox Diet Basics
Start off each morning for two weeks (or up to a maximum of two months), with hot lemon water, perhaps spiced with cinnamon and ginger, for an added metabolic boost. The antioxidant D-limonine in lemon thins bile and is helpful in breaking down fat-trapping toxins. Use the juice of one small lemon to eight ounces of warm water.

Then, sip a total of 64 ounces of cran-water between meals throughout the day. Mix one ounce of unsweetened cranberry juice per seven ounces of pure water. Cranberry helps to balance pH, suppress hunger and combat cellulite and water retention, while drawing out fatty wastes by targeting lymph (a secondary circulatory system beneath the skin that works to rid the body of toxic wastes, bacteria, heavy metals, dead cells, trapped proteins and fat). Sipped daily, this antioxidant- and phenol-rich elixir works to help reduce bloating and melt fat from hips, waist and thighs.

Nutrient-rich spring greens like arugula, collards, lettuce, parsley, spinach, and Swiss chard are classic foods used in a spring detox. As blades of grass start to re-emerge from the wintry ground, so do an abundance of other plants and “weeds”—many of which are actually edible harbingers of spring that can add spice to your vegetable rotation (and thus, your life). Chickweed and dandelion greens are common in many a backyard and field. Water cress and pepper cress lurk in quieter, wetter spots, and seasonal delicacies like fiddlehead ferns, ramps, and morels (which aren’t green, but are delicious) are coming to a wooded area near you. All these greens—fiddleheads, ramps, cress, dandelion greens—are highly seasonal, so when you find them you know they’re fresh. There are many guides to harvesting spring greens for the intrepid spring veggie seeker, however foraging food can be dangerous to the uninformed…so a trip to the farmers market may be the best bet. Young, tender salad greens such as peppery arugula, lemony sorrel, and delicate mâche are a sure sign of spring’s arrival, and they often first show up at farmers’ markets in “baby” forms, harvested before the leaves reach full size. Once the summer heat arrives, many will become unavailable or will be less tender and sweet, so be sure to enjoy them at their freshest.

Other good choices are antioxidant foods that supply the body with glutathione, the liver’s premier antioxidant, also known as, “the toxic waste neutralizer,” which is vital to organ detoxification. Broccoli sprouts are one of the best sources of glutathione; so is asparagus. Eating lightly steamed kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage can also support the liver’s ability to detoxify the body.

Other good choices are antioxidant foods that supply the body with glutathione, the liver’s premier antioxidant, also known as, “the toxic waste neutralizer,” which is vital to organ detoxification. Broccoli sprouts are one of the best sources of glutathione; so is asparagus. Eating lightly steamed kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage can also support the liver’s ability to detoxify the body.

Finally, eating adequate protein and healthy fats essential to ensure that the liver can produce the enzymes it needs to break down toxins into water-soluble substances for excretion. Both proteins and fats play a crucial role in tissue growth and healing, strengthening the immune system and aiding in detoxification. Eat at least 4 to 6 ounces of wild salmon, free-range organic poultry,  grass-fed beef , or hemp protein each day during detox.  Such spring cleaning can help purge our body of toxins and give our whole system the cleansing boost it needs, simultaneously giving us energy and vitality for months to come.

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