Crisp mornings, earlier nights, the autumn equinox is here. For many, it is a bittersweet time. Here at Nature’s Path, we love fall particularly for the movement inward, for reflection, grounding and because it's the perfect time for a cleanse.
Cleansing is a great way to clear out any stored toxins, recommit to self-care and overall improve health. Cleansing has been a practice among numerous cultures over hundreds of years and largely because - it works.
We have compiled our top 3 favorite cleansing tips to share on our blog. Also, know that we LOVE guiding people on personal, individualized cleanses and have over a decade of experience offering target nutritional advice for your personal health goals. This post doesn’t include all the goodness you get with one-on-one cleanse, but are great tips that we love to start with during patient’s cleanses!
1. Remove refined sugar, alcohol & the top 5 food allergens
This can be hard, which is why we put it out there first and foremost. It is temporary, a great temporary shift for your body. Sugar creates a host of challenges for the body, including decreased immune function. The immune system is our primary way of removing circulating toxins in the body. Sugar is added to so many things, often without us even realizing. For example, jarred marinara sauce most often contains added sugar. Nut butters, rice cakes, canned soups, marinades, deli lunchmeat - very often contain added sugars. For many patients during a cleanse, being mindful of avoiding added sugars is so enlightening; realizing the prominence in our common foods.
Alcohol is processed in the body as sugar and commonly referred to as “empty calories”. During a cleanse we want to give the body, good, useful nourishment that allows the body systems to heal and function in a more optimal way.
Lastly, the top 5 food allergens -- wheat/gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs. By avoiding these foods for a small time (in the scheme of things!), the immune system gets a big rest. For many of us, there is some kind of immune response to at least 1 of these foods. The mechanism for this is often that we eat a lot of these food ingredients. At certain times in our lives we undergo stress or sometimes have to take antibiotics or other changes to our gut’s function. This can cause some permeability in the lining of the small intestine and lead to leaky gut. When the permeability of the small intestine is compromised, some food molecules from say, wheat, get into the bloodstream and it’s more likely the body will respond to it as a foreign cell, create an immune response and over time, possibly a hypersensitivity or allergy.
2. Add lots of whole, organic foods to your meals
While there is a component of detoxification that involves removing certain foods, we love spending more time focusing on what you can eat and thinking of food in a way of nourishment. To many, taking the time to cleanse is correlated with deprivation and “starving”, which we absolutely want to avoid. The whole purpose of a cleanse or supported detox is to feel like you are supporting and enhancing the function of your body.
So, thinking of food in terms of “what I get to nourish my body with” is key. To us, this means choosing foods that are free of extra toxins like pesticides; buying organic. Pesticides and GMO foods contribute more toxins to our body. During the time of a cleanse we really encourage decreasing or eliminating known exposures to toxins. This helps lower the daily exposures and gives the body the time and energy to remove extra, stored toxins.
3. Move your body
Movement and exercise are fantastic ways to mobilize and eliminated toxins. As we increase our heart rate, more blood flows through our body and through our routes of elimination or, our emunctories (liver, kidney, skin). This helps the body process and eliminate chemicals or toxins that may be circulating or may be stored in the body.
Movement also helps clear toxic thoughts, improve mood, sleep and immune function - all things that will help your body processes work more efficiently on their own. Some or our favorite ways to move are: yoga, brisk walking, barre, biking and stretching.
One great tip we often suggest to patients that adds physical activity into your day, is to bike to work or park your car 10 blocks from your work place to get that little extra movement in.
BONUS - Sweat!
We couldn't forget our favorite detox activity -- sweating. Take time to sit in a sauna, steam room, epsom salt bath (2 cups salt/bath) or other activity that pushes your body to break a sweat. This is a fantastic, natural way for your body to remove excess toxins and cleanse! It is the most effective way to remove heavy metals and helps support the circulatory system. Be sure to end your sweat activity with a cold shower or cold spray to help further stimulate immune and circulatory function.
Happy fall, all!
Enjoy this time of grounding and rest,
Dr. Curtiss & Dr. Stang