This time of year-as the cold winter winds subside and the days become longer-the world's vibrant colors are revealed all around us. Mother Earth transforms the frozen landscape into a lush, green environment that inspires renewal, which makes it the perfect season to cleanse, nourish, and feel radiant from the inside out.
The body does an amazing job of detoxifying itself, but the amount of toxins we're exposed to on a daily basis has dramatically increased in our ever-more-plastic world-meaning that sometimes, your body might need a little help getting rid of all the garbage. Here are a few simple ways to support your main detoxification pathways and put the spring back into your step.
Nourish Your Liver with Milk Thistle:
This well-known plant has been used for more than 2,000 years to cleanse and support the body. Its active substance is called silymarin, which is found in the seeds. Studies have shown that milk thistle not only supports the liver, but actually rejuvenates it. It's a potent antioxidant, has anti-inflammatory properties, and has been proven to repair and grow new liver cells. The liver has hundreds of jobs to perform, and one very important duty is to remove toxins and waste from the blood. Adding milk thistle to your supplement regimen will support the cleansing process while giving you the added benefit of glowing skin.
Product pick: Gaia Herbs Milk Thistle Seed
Cleanse with Chlorella:
This blue-green alga has clearly stood the test of time, with fossils indicating that it's been around at least 530 million years. Its single-celled structure and high content of chlorophyll give it unique abilities to nourish the body while also absorbing very small particles. More than just a super food, chlorella can bind heavy metals, toxins, and pesticides and carry them out of the body. It can be taken in a capsule form or mixed into a smoothie (add a hint of cilantro for an added effect).
Product pick: HealthForce Nutritionals Chlorella Manna
Get Glowing with Glutathione:
Glutathione is a molecule made of three amino acids-cysteine, glycine, and glutamine-along with a sulfur group that enables it to bind to free radicals and toxins. A potent antioxidant produced by the body to aid in the liver detoxification process, glutathione can become depleted due to an overwhelming toxic burden. A supplement called N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid precursor that can stimulate glutathione synthesis.
Product pick: Doctor's Best Best NAC Detox Regulators
Rebalance with Probiotics:
A healthy digestive system plays a vital function in eliminating waste, optimizing nutrients, balancing immune function, and improving mood. The Journal of Nature Reviews Immunology published a study in 2009 that revealed an association between disturbances in gut flora and impaired immune response. So how do we keep our bacteria balanced? Eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, miso, and other fermented foods. Take a high-quality probiotic that contains a diverse range of species to help restore gut health.
Product pick: Enzymedica Pro-Bio
Move Your Lymph:
A key component of immune health, the lymphatic system is a network of 600 nodes and glands that help remove toxins and waste. Common lymph-loving herbs include cleavers, red clover, burdock root, queen's root, and calendula. Dry skin brushing can also help stimulate the lymphatic system while also improving circulation and removing dead skin cells. Brush your skin in an upward circular motion, beginning at your feet before moving to your torso, and from your hands to your chest-the same direction that your lymph flows.
Product pick: Flora Flor•Essence
Sweat It Out:
Eliminating toxins through the skin is a gentle, yet very effective, approach to easing the burden on your kidneys and liver. In fact, a 2011 study published in Archives of Environmental and Contamination Toxicology revealed that sweating could reduce levels of heavy metals and toxins-including BPA, arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium-from the body. Increase your sweat by exercising, warming up in an infrared sauna, or taking a bath.
Listen to Your Body:
Have you noticed that certain foods make you feel tired and bloated, or make your skin break out? Now is the time to eliminate them from your diet and give your digestive system a needed break.
Have you ever tracked your sleep? Creating a sleep diary will help you hone in on what time and how much sleep helps you feel your best. Each morning, document the number of hours you slept, the quality of your sleep, and whether you woke up feeling refreshed or groggy. Optimize your sleep by going to bed at the same time each night and creating a relaxing bedtime ritual. For some people, eliminating caffeine after 10 a.m. also helps.
Get Back to Nature:
Being closer to the earth is a simple way to feel grounded and more relaxed. Think you don't have the time? A study published in the Journal of Psychological Science in 2008 showed that people who were exposed to natural environments for 50 minutes had increased focus and directed attention afterward. Perhaps taking the time to relax the mind will make you even more productive. Want to really get in touch with nature? Go barefoot!
Feast on Detoxifying Foods:
It's no secret that food is the best medicine, and the delicious combinations are endless. Artichoke is a gorgeous and tasteful veggie that contains a phytonutrient called cynarin, which stimulates the production of bile and hence, improves digestion. Often called a superfood, artichoke is loaded with antioxidants including liver-supportive silymarin, packed with vitamin C, and rich in fiber to keep the body regular. Focus on liver-loving veggies such as artichoke, broccoli, onions, beets, and cabbage. Infuse extra detox-supporting flavor to your meals with garlic, cilantro, parsley, cinnamon, basil, and turmeric. Maintain regularity by drinking water throughout the day and eating fiber-rich foods such as apples, almonds, peas, and lentils.
Take a Break from Technology:
Can you think of the last time you turned off your cell phone or put away your computer for an entire day? Set a time each day (or week) to unplug and engage in a relaxing activity to melt away the stress. Take a bath infused with lavender,
meditate, read a book, or create art to renew your mind and revive your senses.
If going cold turkey from technology isn't an option, try ending your computer time two hours before bed. Artificial computer light can reduce your body's levels of melatonin, which is an important hormone for sleep. A trial published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that individuals exposed to room light compared to dim light before bedtime shortened their melatonin duration by 90 minutes. These findings reveal that electrical lighting can have a profound effect on well-being, and that simple changes can make a huge difference.
Have you noticed that certain foods make you feel tired and bloated, or make your skin break out? Now is the time to remove them from your diet.
Better Nutrition's Spring Cleansing Giveaway!
Enter to win March 21-25
Turn Spring Break into a week of Spring Cleansing. From March 21-25, we are giving away something related to detox every day on our Facebook page. Prizes up for grabs include books, detoxifying beauty products, and natural cleansing products-including those featured in this article. Get clean, get healthy, and feel energized!
HOW TO ENTER:
Enter to win detox-focused books such as Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore, Green Smoothies by Fern Green, and The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook by Mark Hyman, MD. Simply visit our Facebook page - facebook.com/BetterNutritionMagazine - every day during the week of March 21-25 for a chance to enter our Spring Cleansing Giveaway.