#3) Spring Cleansing for Digestive Health

by: Yaakov Levine, NTP

The information provided in this article is intended to give a general overview of the topic and is not intended as medical advice. For information specific to your situation, or health concerns, please consult with your medical doctor.  

Nutritionally Speaking: Article #3, Spring Cleansing for Digestive Health

As I write this it is snowing and I am longing for Spring.  The flowers will be emerging from their winter hibernation and the days will be sunnier and longer. With the warmer and dryer weather, we will (hopefully) get outside more for exercise…it is the time to shed the extra winter pounds we have accumulated. During winter most of us naturally eat a bit more, with holiday desserts and hearty casseroles, foods that warm and nourish us, during the cold rainy months.

Many holistic health care practitioners suggest a spring cleansing process intended to eliminate accumulated toxins and purge the body of some of the added winter weight.

Spring is not the only time our body cleanses and purifies. Every day, every moment, our bodies complete millions of detoxification processes to maintain our health. The justification for a spring cleanse is that our bodies need a little extra help to cleanse after winter. As we age and often become more sedentary, cleansing may even be more important.

Before we explore a spring cleansing option, let’s look at what our bodies do to get rid of unwanted toxins. First, it is important to make sure all of your elimination pathways are working. It is normal to use the restroom as many times as the meals you eat. If you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, that means three productive toilet visits.

Eating a nutrient dense diet including high fiber vegetables and fruits will help with regularity. Another key to improving regularity is to visit the restroom when your body signals that it’s time. Each time we ignore this signal, the signal gets weaker, until we no longer perceive it, resulting in constipation and a “back-up” of waste.

Your liver is responsible for transforming and eliminating harmful chemicals that we ingest in food and beverages. Part of the liver’s transformation/detoxification process creates harmful chemicals and free radicals that cause oxidative damage to our cells.

Our livers use free radical scavenging antioxidants derived from turmeric and foods in the Brassica family such as cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts to neutralize those harmful substances.

If you are sensitive to perfumes or are intolerant of caffeine and other chemicals found in the environment, you may need the support of milk thistle, a liver-protecting herb. Taken daily until your body no longer overreacts will help your body eliminate toxins and prepare you for  seasonal cleanse and support your regular cleansing cycles.

Physician and author Elson Haas, MD, gives several reasons for cleansing:

“We cleanse/detoxify to rest or heal our overloaded digestive organs and allow them to catch up on past work and get current. At the same time, we are inspired to cleanse our external life as well, cleaning our rooms, sorting through the piles on our desks and clarifying our personal priorities.”

In his popular book The New Detox Diet, Dr. Haas explores the reasons for and methods of cleansing and detoxifying our bodies, helping us understand when to do what type of cleanse. For spring, he suggests the Master Cleanse, originally developed by Dr. Stanley Burroughs, MD. This is a simple cleanse program consisting of fresh squeezed lemon juice, grade B maple syrup, cayenne powder, and fresh filtered water.

The Master Cleanse recipe is as follows:

. 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (organic if available)

. 1 to 2 tablespoons pure (grade B) maple syrup

. 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper

. 8 ounces spring or filtered water.

. Mix and drink eight to 12 glasses throughout the day.

Eat nothing else with this but include water, a laxative herb tea if needed, peppermint, chamomile or green tea. Keep the mixture in the fridge in a glass container or make it fresh each time. This a great spring cleanse to do for 3 to 10 days or longer, or even just one day a week.

The lemon juice supplies vitamins and minerals, and the grade B maple syrup supplies energy from simple sugars and many minerals. The cayenne helps with energy, and while spicy, helps to heal mucous membranes in our digestive tract. The laxative teas (such as Smooth Move from Traditional Medicinals) help avoid temporary constipation. Dr. Haas suggests that, after the cleanse, it is best to eat steamed vegetables, whole grains such as brown rice and broth to ease our systems into digesting solid foods.

Important Note: If you are under a physician’s treatment, always check with them before starting any cleansing programs or diets.

As you enjoy the gradual shift into spring weather, give your health a boost, support your daily detoxification and elimination of toxins. Get plenty of rest, moderate exercise, drink plenty of pure water and eat a nutrient dense diet. If you would like additional information about our bodies’ detoxification processes and cleansing, please contact me at nutritionallyspeaking@gmail.com or 541 895-2427.

Yaakov Levine, NTP