Detox: Spring Cleaning for the Body

By Crystal Mortley

With the arrival of spring, it is time again to get rid of all your clutter, fix that peeling paint on the outside of your house and do a little bit of cleaning. In addition to fixing up things around your home, this is also a perfect time to do a little cleaning on the inside. Here you will discover the basics of how to cleanse, boost metabolism, optimize digestion and eat to lose weight and boost energy.

Why cleanse you ask? In essence, digestion is one of the major keys to health and wellness. By following a cleanse filled with high fibre and nutrient-dense foods, you give your body the opportunity to “clean out the pipes.” When thinking of doing a cleanse or a detox, I recommend a five-day period from Monday to Friday. Weekends are often a more difficult time to make nutritional changes. If following the recommendations properly, you should not feel hungry or deprived while cleansing. There will be enough selection of low glycemic index, and high-fibre foods to fill you up and keep you going.

The key steps for the five-day cleanse include:

1. Eliminate coffee. Coffee is acidic, a diuretic and can often make you feel shaky when cleansing. Instead of coffee, drink herbal tea, green tea or white tea for the antioxidant effect and to help you get rid of any coffee withdrawal headaches. In addition, if there is something in your diet you are so addicted to that you can’t give it up for five days — that is a clear sign to give it up!

2. Eat an abundant amount of colourful foods. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre, and filled with minerals, vitamins and plant chemicals called phytonutrients that prevent and even help treat disease. My motto has always been “Eat live to feel live!” From tomatoes to broccoli and blueberries — fruits and vegetables are low glycemic index and will help to sustain energy while flushing the system.

3. Eat lean protein options such as egg whites, chicken, turkey, fish and soy at every meal or snack. Proteins secrete the hormone glucagon which helps in fat loss. Avoid red meat and dairy for five days.

4. Supplement your diet with a high-quality multivitamin, fish oils supplement and probiotic(acidophilus). Acidophilus is a “friendly” bacteria that helps to maintain a healthy digestive microflora. Healthy digestion and absorption are one of the main keys to looking and feeling your best.

5. Add essential fats and oils — such as flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds — to your diet for their anti-inflammatory effect.

6. Drink eight glasses of water per day. Fresh clean water aids with elimination, helps to boost metabolism, gives you a “full” feeling longer and helps to keep energy up.

It is best to give your body a mini five-day cleanse at the beginning of each season. Although not a drastic change in diet, the five days will take some planning and focus to eat right. By doing so, you will be paving the path for a spring full of health and vitality!

The key is to select the right kind of macronutrients from each category:

1. Low glycemic index carbohydrates

These include most fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grain breads, or pastas (kamut, spelt). Eliminate all white sugar, refined flour, white potatoes, white bread and white pasta. Try to have a minimum of one dark green food per day (broccoli, spinach) and one orange food (carrots, squash, sweet potato).

2. Lean proteins

Low-fat dairy products, chicken, fish, soy, protein powder, eggs, turkey and lean beef are included here. Minimize full-fat red meat and cheese in the diet. Proteins are a critical factor in muscle repair, blood sugar control and weight loss.

3. The “good” fats

These include monounsaturated fats such as extra-virgin olive oil and avocados. Essential fats called omega-3 fats should be consumed because the body can’t make them. This includes options such as flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, almonds, walnuts, cold-water fish (salmon and tuna) and fish oil. Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory and help to improve the look of skin, hair and nails.

Eliminate trans fatty acids (partially hydrogenated fats) from the diet completely.

When it comes to fat, there are good fats and bad fats. The bad fats that should be eliminated from the diet are chemically created fats called trans fatty acids (also known as partially hydrogenated fats). While food manufacturers tend to like these fats because they extend product shelf life and are very stable, our bodies do not like them at all. These fats can raise cholesterol, create havoc on arteries and may even be linked to certain cancers. In other words — keep them out of your diet completely.

Other types of fats to minimize due to their pro-inflammatory reaction in the body are saturated fats such as those found in full-fat cheeses, ice cream and red meat. Eat these foods on occasion, not as staples of the diet.

The fats that are a must in the diet are the essential fatty acids. These are the good fats. These fats cannot be made by the body and must be consumed through diet. Specifically, the essential fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid or omega-3 essential fat has been shown to have numerous health benefits including:

. reducing inflammation

. reducing the risk of heart disease

. lowering cholesterol

. improving mood and attention

. improving skin

You need to eat live to feel live!

As an adult, you need a minimum of five to nine servings of colourful fruits and vegetables daily for optimal health and wellness. Not only do fruits and vegetables contain an abundant amount of minerals and vitamins, they also provide a rich blend of phytonutrients — plant chemicals that can prevent and even reverse disease. Examples of phytonutrients are lycopene in tomatoes, sulfurophane in broccoli and flavonoids in dark chocolate, berries and grapes.

Water yourself down!

The body relies on water for proper elimination, optimal digestion and basic cellular function. Without it, a myriad of symptoms can arise such as constipation, lack of energy, poor skin, and weight gain. Nutritional changes often take time and focus. That said, by simply increasing your consumption of water per day in the form of distilled water, herbal teas or watered-down juice, you will jumpstart your internal spring cleaning process!

We have all heard the adage, “you are what you eat.” With that in mind, I would like to expand on that adage to include, “You also look how you eat!” I have been lucky enough to witness the “before” and “after” changes that take place when people take charge and clean up their diet. When this happens, there is a certain “sparkle” and radiance that only comes from health and wellness.

Wishing you a healthy and happy road filled with delicious and healthy food options. Bon appetite!

Crystal Mortley, R.N.C.P, is a registered nutritionist. Her goal is to cut through the myths and confusion surrounding nutrition by providing people with the proper tools to make healthier choices.

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