It’s that time of the year when we shed our dark drabs for colorful accents. As our body recovers from a long hibernation, there are a few things we can do to make the transition a lot smoother. Instead of doing anything extreme, like juicing, cleansing, fasting, dieting etc. what our body really needs is support while it detoxes. I am all about trusting our body and letting it heal itself.
Why detox in spring?
Several studies have shown seasonal variation in our metabolism. For instance, during winter we have higher amount of brown fat which burns calories and increases our body temperature. Whereas in summer, we have more white fat which stores energy and leads to obesity and diabetes.
Our body’s internal clock, the supra chiasmatic nucleus in our brain, takes cues from our environment to tell our body that the season is changing. Slightest alteration in ambient temperature shifts the ratio of brown fat and white fat. Besides temperature, these cues can be type of seasonal foods we eat, amount of sunlight we are exposed to and our sleep patterns. But in this day and age, when we can eat a watermelon in December, are exposed to artificial light 24 hours a day and are sleep deprived, how is our body supposed to know?
Here are some simple tips to reset your internal clock and detox from the influences of our urban environment.
1.) Rise and Shine: Sleep is often the answer to everything that ails us. Adjusting the bedtime to synchronize ourselves with the environment is step one. One of the biggest barriers in getting to bed on time is exposure to artificial light. It prevents our brain from secreting melatonin. So power down, and hit the sack at a reasonable time every night.
2.) Garbage in garbage out: As the metabolic activity of our body is changing, one way to support this change is by getting rid of crap that we don’t need. Literally!! No matter how well you eat, if you cannot get rid of the garbage, food’s nutritional value is limited. Before making drastic changes to your diet, I recommend spending 1 week to slowly cleanse your colon.
Step 1: Warm water all day long. Start with warm water and lemon early in the morning on empty stomach. This will jump start your bowel motility. Do not sip on lemon water all day, I know it tastes good but it will damage your tooth enamel.
Step 2: Increase fiber intake. Fresh berries that are in season are a fiber powerhouse. Include more fresh greens like dandelions, watercress, spinach, kale etc. Dried fruits like prunes, apricots, raisins are ideal spring time snacks.
Step 3: Aloe juice is great for anyone with heartburn and helps with constipation. If you are bold, try a teaspoon of organic Castor oil 2 hours after dinner with a warm glass of water. (Do not use Castor oil if you are pregnant or nursing). Try it for a week.
3.) Restore your gut: After your gentle colon cleanse, time to add some good bacteria. Instead of taking a supplement, consider foods rich in natural probiotics: yogurt with live cultures, pickled foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir. Also include foods rich in prebiotics which is basically food for the bacteria. If you don’t feed the bacteria they don’t survive. Prebiotic rich foods include chicory root, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, bananas, beans.
4.) Spring into motion: As I mentioned earlier, the scale has tipped to making more white fat in spring and summer. That extra piece of cake will not be as forgiving. Great time to start working out, get in shape for the summer. Go outdoors, get some sunlight and vitamin D.
5.) Anti-inflammatory diet: Lot of people suffer from allergies during this time of the year. As our bodies are overcome with inflammation, it makes sense to reduce intake of common food allergens. During the week of detox you might consider eliminating gluten, soy and dairy. You do not have to eliminate all of them, just start with the one that doesn’t agree with you. Whole foods, unprocessed, plant based diet that includes fruits and vegetables of different colors, constitute an anti-inflammatory diet.
Food: eat light, small frequent meals. More berries and greens that are in season. Probiotic rich, anti-inflammatory diet
Beverage: Water warm, with lemon in the morning. Try kombucha, kefir, aloe juice.
Lifestyle: cleanse your colon, get some sunlight, exercise, sleep.