Health & Wellness

Its time for a spring cleaning

As I write this it’s cold but sunny outside, I’m sipping on a cup of chai tea to warm up, and am looking forward to the start of my favorite season. Spring is soon upon us. During a recent hike on one of the hilly trails at Mt. Pisgah, I was imagining the flowers blooming, the trees leafing out and the rebirth that happens each spring. And I think of some chores at home, that “spring cleaning” that we all endeavor to finish before summer. 

Just as we may have excess “stuff” that has built up around the house and garage during winter, we may have some extra baggage on our bodies – weight and toxins. Just as it feels great to clean up our surroundings, maybe a prelude to gardening, mowing and being outside more as the weather warms, many people also enjoy an internal cleansing diet as we begin spring. During this process we can support the shedding of extra weight and toxins that have built up during the winter, and get our bodies ready for summer activities … finally without our umbrellas.

We are actually “detoxing” at all times; our bodies are constantly working hard to maintain balance, or equilibrium, and part of that process is our innate ability to rid ourselves of toxins. We do so with each breath we exhale, when we perspire, and of course in the restroom as we eliminate. There is a lot of energy used by our bodies’ day-to-day detoxifying processes. When we do a cleanse such as the Master Cleanse (aka Lemonade Fast – see below), we are not using as much energy to digest this liquid diet as we do with our regular diet, so there is more energy available for a deeper cleaning and detoxification.

Let’s explore how our body’s detoxification processes free our vital cellular and organ activities to function productively and efficiently. First, we have the cardiovascular system which links all of our organs via our blood. The blood flows throughout our bodies, oxygenating and sending nutrients to each cell. Our blood also carries communication molecules and cleanses our liver, an important and major site of detoxification. 

Our lymph system flows throughout our bodies via our lymph nodes and filters out bacteria, viruses, and other organic matter. Some refer to the lymph system as a pre-filter for the liver, keeping the liver from being overloaded. Our lymph does not have a pump like our hearts, and we support this flow with movement. 

The major organs of detoxification are the kidneys, intestines, liver and gallbladder. The intestines are a physical barrier, stopping foreign molecules and other toxins from entering our bodies/bloodstream. The liver is the body’s major organ for cleansing the blood. In the liver, toxins are neutralized, and they then pass to the gallbladder to be absorbed by the bile for elimination. There are two phases of detoxification: in Phase I enzymes break down toxins to get them ready for elimination, and in Phase II some toxins need even more processing before being eliminated.

Our kidneys act as filters for the blood and work hard to remove cellular waste. The sweat glands throughout our bodies act as an important avenue of elimination. When we exercise or use a sauna, we have a great opportunity to remove toxins as we perspire. Finally, we have our lungs that eliminate a variety of wastes, mainly carbon dioxide from our bodies.

In his book The New Detox Diet, Dr. Elson Haas more thoroughly explores the reasons for and methods of cleansing and detoxifying our bodies, helping us understand when and for how long to follow a cleansing protocol. For spring, he suggests the Master Cleanse, originally developed by Dr. Stanley Burroughs, M.D. This is a simple cleanse program consisting of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, dark amber maple syrup, cayenne powder, and fresh filtered water.

The Master Cleanse recipe:

2 tablespoons organic freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice 

1 to 2 tablespoons pure (dark amber) 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 (Smooth Move) if needed, peppermint, chamomile or green tea. Keep the mixture in the fridge in a glass container or make it fresh each time. This is a great spring cleanse to do for 3 to 10 days, or even just one day a week.

The lemon juice supplies vitamins and minerals, and the dark amber maple syrup supplies energy from simple sugars and minerals. The cayenne helps with energy, and while spicy, helps to heal mucous membranes in our digestive tract. The laxative teas help avoid temporary constipation. Dr. Haas suggests that after the cleanse for a couple of days it is best to eat steamed vegetables with whole grains such as brown rice (or winter squash and sweet potatoes if you are avoiding grains) and broth to ease our systems into digesting solid foods. You should notice more energy, maybe less weight, and clearer skin. Salud!

One of my goals in past years is to use the Master Cleanse as a way to shift to healthier dietary choices. We often enjoy more treats in winter, even after the holidays. The few days or week of the cleanse can help us break a poor pattern of food choices. Let me know what you experience when you take a break from your regular diet and follow a cleanse. 

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

Contact Yaakov at [email protected].

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