The very first signs of spring are upon us here in Colorado. The crocuses are coming up in my front yard, the green shoots are just appearing on my bushes and trees, and Daylight Savings Time is only twelve days away—hello seven o’clock sunsets! Oh, and I am eye-balling the closets in my house, getting ready for the total spring cleaning.
With my mind already on cleaning, I read a statistic in an article by Mark Haymand M.D. that really hit home for me. He writes, “A recent study of umbilical cord blood found 287 toxic chemicals, 217 of which are toxic to the brain and nervous system. And that is what infants are exposed to even before they take their first breath. These toxins include mercury, lead, PCBs, BPA, phthalates, plasticizers, flame retardants, and more.” This reminded me that spring is a great time to clean, not only our houses, but the homes that are our bodies, allowing us to lead healthier and lengthier lives and pass on that purity to our children.
Some great ways of cleansing your body of toxins this year:
It might be a bit more expensive, but committing to eating only foods that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides is an immediate way to cut your exposure to toxins. On average those of us who eat conventional fruits and vegetables consume over a gallon of neurotoxins per year due to pesticide use. Some fruits and veggies are worse than others; one conventionally grown strawberry exceeds the FDA limit of pesticides for an adult person for the whole year while cantalope and watermelon are less toxic. Another great benefit of organic produce (especially if locally grown)—its packed full of more nutrients than its chemically showered alternative.
Know Your Fish
Mercury poisoning is a serious issue. Almost fifteen percent of adult American women have toxic levels of mercury in their bodies. We all know that fish is a healthy alternative to red meat, but staying away from highly toxic big fish such as swordfish and albacore tuna and sticking with wild caught salmon or sardines can really make a difference. A good rule of thumb—the bigger the fish, the more mercury—as mercury accumulates in fatty tissue and all those big fish have eaten littler fish that have eaten little fish, etc.
Good Liver Herbs
The liver is the organ that processes the toxins in your body. Because of the billions of chemicals, additives, and pollutants it deals with every single day, our livers are chronically overworked. The problem with this is that it can let these toxic chemicals, along with excess sugars and hormones, out into the bloodstream and body causing and/or contributing to PMS, skin rashes, fatigue, obesity, and cancer. Treating your liver well lets it do its job. Some great herbs to help detoxify the liver are: milk thistle, burdock, nettle, and dandelion. Try them as tinctures, teas, or capsules. Nettles are also great for your skin and hair and contain a ton of iron, while roasted dandelion root makes a wonderful coffee substitute.
Add Cilantro to Your Diet
I know, I know, cilantro is one of those love it/hate it herbs but for those of you who love it, cilantro is one of the only food sources that effectively remove heavy metals from the body in a short amount of time. Added to salsa, soup, or made into a great pesto, it can bind with the heavy metals, such as mercury, aluminum, and lead, in our body and allow them to be excreted in as little as two weeks.
You Are What You Eat
One of the best ways of detoxing your body is to eat well. Good detoxing foods include lemons, green tea, watercress, dandelion greens, cilantro, artichokes, garlic, citrus peels, pomegranate, and even cocoa; and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Chinese broccoli) and to avoid toxic foods such as high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, tobacco, and alcohol. Cutting back even a little bit can make a huge difference in your body’s ability to handle toxins. Sticking to whole foods and cutting out processed foods can also really help; most processed foods are full of additives and the plastic and tin cans that most food comes in can leach dioxin and aluminum into your body as well as creating psuedoestrogens in women which mimic the hormone estrogen, creating hormonal imbalances that can possibly lead to cancer.
Detoxifying your body is a wonderful gift to give yourself this spring. Just remember that detoxing can be an intense experience or an uplifting one depending on your sensitivity and the amount of toxins in your body. Side effects can include muscle aches and pains, sadness, anger, depression, flu-like symptoms such as upset stomach, headache or nausea, and dizziness. Remember that these symptoms will pass and leave you feeling stronger, energized, and healthier. Take your time, ease into detoxing—taking away and adding foods and herbs slowly (one big change a week is a good start) and treat yourself extra special while you are doing such a wonderful service. Get a massage, take an extra-long warm bath, get extra sleep if you can and look forward to a healthier and happier you!
By Jennifer Howard