Health & Wellness

Spring into better health – Nutritionally Speaking

So, we have longer days now that we have turned our clocks back, and while we still have remnants of our recent snow storm, spring is around the corner.
We will soon be cleaning out our garages, putting away our winter clothes and tires, so we might as well get rid of some of that extra winter weight and toxins!
Along with tips for a cleansing diet to get ready for Spring, we’ll review this week an easy exercise routine using the PACE interval protocols.
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,” Haas said. ” 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.”
An internal cleansing program gives us the opportunity to shed that extra weight and toxins that have built up during the winter, and get our bodies ready for summer activities.
Our bodies are constantly working hard to maintain balance, and part of that process is our innate ability to rid ourselves of toxins. We do so with each breath as we exhale, when we perspire and, of course, in the restroom as we eliminate.
Let’s explore how our body’s detoxification frees our vital cellular and organ activities to function productively and efficiently.
First is the cardiovascular system, which links all of our organs via our blood. Blood flows throughout our bodies oxygenating and sending nutrients to each cell. Blood also carries communication molecules to our liver, a major site of detoxification.
Blood is sensitive to toxins and, once poisoned, can deposit toxins throughout the body.
Lymph also flows through our bodies via our lymph nodes filtering out bacteria, viruses and other organic matter. The lymph system can be considered a pre-filter for the liver, keeping the liver from being overloaded.
After the filtering process lymph is returned to the bloodstream through the thoracic duct.
Besides breaking down foods, the digestive tract eliminates undigested food, filters food and intestinal bacteria and removes toxic substances. The intestines, liver and gallbladder are the major organs of detoxification.
The intestines are a physical barrier, stopping foreign molecules and other toxins from entering our bodies.
The liver is the body’s major organ for cleansing the blood. Toxins are neutralized in the liver; they then pass to the gallbladder to be absorbed by bile for elimination through our feces.
If you are sensitive to perfumes or are intolerant of caffeine and other chemicals found in the environment, you may benefit from the support of milk thistle, a liver-protecting herb. Taken daily until your body no longer overreacts will help your body eliminate toxins.
Our kidneys act as filters for the blood, working to remove cellular waste. The sweat glands throughout our bodies act as an important avenue of elimination. Exercising or using a sauna provides an opportunity to remove toxins through sweating.
Lastly, our lungs eliminate a variety of wastes, mainly carbon dioxide.
With the toxins we all accumulate, I suggest a pre-cleanse diet:
In her book, ”The Fast Track Detox Diet,” noted author and nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman PhD, calls her preparation the ”prequel.” She suggests at least a week of preparation before any cleanse.
Foods to eliminate for the ”prequel” are coffee, dairy products and most grains. This will reduce much of the stress on our digestive systems and help your body get ready for your cleanse and eliminate empty calories.
Include in each meal a portion of liver loving steamed greens such as kale, collards, broccoli or brussels sprouts.
Gittleman also suggests diluted unsweetened cranberry juice (four ounces juice with 28 ounces of water for each quart). The cranberry juice helps flush away toxic fluids which can account for 10 to 15 pounds of extra water weight, according to Gittleman. Try picking some dandelion greens from your yard, which taste great steamed and are a great spring liver tonic.
To make sure your elimination pathways are open, mix in some ground flaxseed or psyllium powder or some chia seeds a couple of times a day in your diluted cranberry juice. For many people, just sticking to eating as this ”prequel” suggests will result in improved health and sustainable weight loss!
The PACE program (interval training), designed by Dr. Al Sears, MD is a sustainable exercise protocol that can be tailored to each individual, whatever your fitness level is in conjunction with your cleansing diet. Dr. Sears has many Youtube videos to guide you online.
For the first week, exercise at a low intensity for 20 minutes, on alternate days. Increase slightly the intensity each session. Only push yourself according to your level of conditioning.
During the second week, do intervals of exertion and recovery totaling 20 minutes. When your first eight minutes of exertion is completed, rest for two minutes, but don’t stop moving – just adjust your pace to an easy one that will let your heart rate recover.
Then do another eight minutes, but at a higher intensity, followed by a two-minute rest period.
During your third week do three intense periods of exercise, getting progressively more intense spaced between two-minute lower-intensity rest periods.
With a cleansing diet, supporting our organs of detoxification, and added exercise, let’s all look forward to more time outside after our long winter.
For more information on this and other health-related topics, come in to see me at the Eugene Natural Grocers store. We offer free classes and free one-on-one health coaching sessions, so call 541-345-3300. Find our store’s schedule of free classes at



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