Jump start your health with spring detox program
By Dr. Martin Gleixner, MSc, ND
A commonly asked question at this time of year is, "should I do a spring detox?"
After all, spring is an opportune time as it comes with increased warmth from the sun and with it, a renewal of nature as well as a lift in our motivation and our mood. While doing a 'spring cleaning' of our bodies has its appeal, there's a way to do it safely. Knowing whether it's even appropriate for you is equally important.
A spring detox should be enjoyable, worth your while, and aim to avoid any unpleasant side-effects.
To help my patients achieve these goals, I've developed the Spring Detox Program. This common sense program is customized to each individual based on his or her goals and unique medical needs.
Step 1: Should you even do a detox?
Consult your naturopathic doctor or medical doctor before starting any detox program. A medical history, physical exam, as well as a review of your diagnostic laboratories and imaging studies should be conducted on all patients with underlying health conditions. For example, patients who are diabetic, hypoglycemic and nutritionally deficient are at greater risk of blood sugar imbalances and fainting. For others, mineral status should be taken into consideration for those with kidney disease or for those taking certain drugs prescriptions (some high blood pressure medications can deplete potassium from the body, for example).
Step 2: Conceptualize how a detox can help your health
In other articles, I used my 'bucket' analogy to provide an elegant explanation of how detoxification occurs in the body.
The overall goal is to optimize the function of the lungs, kidneys, digestive tract and liver as these organs offer the most efficient way to remove any metabolites or toxins from our bodies. Through improved breathing, urination and bowel movements, these organ systems can repair and renovate our bodies more efficiently.
Step 3: Define your goals
Defining your goals for the detox often provides the motivation needed to follow through. These can include: losing weight, alleviating symptoms of a chronic disease, improving your bowel function, determining your food allergies, or simply doing a yearly general tune up.
Step 4: Make it count
As part of ongoing detective work to determine the underlying cause(s) of a patient's chronic disease, I often recommend to include an elimination-challenge cleanse as part of the spring detox program.
Because we eat three or more times per day every day of our lives, the foods we eat may be one of the most important lifestyle considerations for our health. Knowing which foods may interfere with our physiological function is paramount.
Food intolerances or allergies as well as negative biochemical reactions to certain foods may be an underlying cause of your chronic disease or of common symptoms such as runny nose, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, mood changes, digestive complaints, skin reactions, etc.
The elimination-challenge cleanse consist of avoiding suspect foods for a given period of time. For some, a complete hypoallergenic diet may be recommended. For others, a detailed medical history and physical exam may have narrowed down the elimination to a particular type of food.
Avoiding foods that may not work well for you allows time for your body to recuperate. We then 'challenge' our bodies by slowly re-introducing the avoided foods one at a time while making note of the appearance of new symptoms or the return of old symptoms.
Step 5: Incorporate smoothies
Avoiding certain foods during the cleanse provides a unique opportunity to try new foods. Have you ever tried quinoa (a gluten-free grain cooked like rice), leafy greens (such as chard), brown rice pasta, and pumpkin seeds? If not, try recipes that include such healing foods during your cleanse.
A fun way to promote detoxification and meet your optimal daily nutrient requirements is to also incorporate smoothies that include medicinal powders (also known as medical foods).
I recommend a medicinal powder that includes a unique formulation containing rice protein, pea protein, vitamins, minerals, and specialized nutrients and botanicals. These blends are designed to improve liver function, and provide essential nutrient such as cofactors/co-enzymes that are necessary for biochemical reactions in the body. By supplying low-allergenicity protein, it becomes much easier to eliminate other potential allergenic proteins (such as casein or gluten) from the diet, yet maintain adequate high-quality protein intake.
Step 6: When the body needs a little extra help
For many with chronic disease, additional individualized naturopathic medicines may be needed to address your unique health predispositions. For example, for someone with a tendency towards constipation, moving your bowels may be the primary treatment strategy during the detox. It should be emphasized that certain herbs can cause side-effects and can interact with your medications and therefore should be prescribed correctly. For example, irritating laxative herbs such as senna, rhubarb and cascara are often found in generic detox kits, but should be used only if indicated.
These six steps offer an effective way to improve our health. Remember, that life shouldn't be a cleanse. Rather strive to develop new healthy habits that are feasible for the long-term and choose specific times during the year for detox programs. Emptying our 'bucket' can renew energy levels, reduce unpleasant symptoms by addressing the cause and can actually be fun.
Published by Dr. Gleixner on Wednesday March 30th, 2011 in Times & Transcript.
See Part 2 of this article entitled "‘Clinical Detox’ provides better health outcomes".
Back to Dr. Gleixner’s full list of articles.
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