Spring has sprung and it is the perfect time for new beginnings and hitting the reset button.  It is common to do a spring clean for our home. After a long dark winter, we want to open all the windows, dust out all the cobwebs, and let the fresh air in.  Why not do the same for your body? During the winter months, it’s easy to eat heavier foods and exercise less.  The spring is a perfect time to lighten up and shed some of those toxins that have hibernated in our cells over the winter. Many patients ask me if they should do a spring cleanse.  Here are some symptoms that might indicate that your body could benefit from a detox:

1. Weight gain: Have you noticed a persistent increase in your weight, despite the fact that you’re eating consciously and exercising?  Maybe a toxic overload is to blame.  A lot of toxins are lipophilic which indicates that they are being stored in body fat.  Lipophilic toxins contain pesticides and dioxins which cause the body to produce more fat cells in order to store more toxins in it.  This makes it almost impossible to lose weight until you get rid of the toxins in the body.

2. Constant fatigue: Are you getting more than enough hours of sleep, but still feeling tired all the time?  A toxic overload may be the reason why.  When your body has an excess amount of toxins, it creates a lot of stress for your adrenal glands.  A long-term toxic load can lead to adrenal fatigue which makes you feel exhausted and sleepy.  Furthermore, some toxins such as caffeine can actually disrupt adrenal functions negatively by forcing your body to stay alert while struggling to flush out toxins.

3. Insomnia: If you feel like your body is constantly alert and stressed, maybe there is an imbalance in your cortisol levels.  Cortisol levels in healthy individuals are high in the morning and drop progressively throughout the day.  When there is an imbalance in cortisol, the cortisol levels in the evening become heightened.  This means that you feel more energetic and active in the evening than in the morning…making it hard to sleep!

4. Thinking Impairment: Toxins can affect the brain directly.  This includes monosodium glutamate (MSG) and/or aspartame.  If you constantly space out during the day for no particular reason then high toxification may be the reason.  Both aspartame and MSG have the ability to kill brain cells and prevent oxidation of the brain.  MSG is usually present in highly processed foods and meats while aspartame is found in sugar-free beverages, gum, and toothpaste.  It’s important to cut these excitotoxins out of your diet.

4. Inexplicable Headaches: If you constantly find yourself suffering from inexplicable headaches, this could be a sign that your toxicity levels are higher than normal.  Toxins such as food colouring, preservatives and heavy metals commonly cause headaches. 

5. Mood swings: If you experience mood swings throughout the day, this could be a sign that there is a hormonal imbalance in your body.  Toxins like xenoestrogens cause hormonal imbalances that can affect both genders.  Xenoestrogen is a synthetic mixture of hormones that acts like estrogen in the body.  Xenoestrogens are usually found in industrial compounds such as phthalates, BPA and PCBs.  Avoiding the use of plastic, especially in the kitchen, can reduce the xenoestrogens levels in the body.

6. Unpleasant body odour: If you are constantly experiencing bad breath, bad-smelling gas and stools, this could be a sign that the liver and colon are struggling to remove a highly toxic load.  If you feel like you are bloated for long periods of time, you don’t feel hungry and the bad body odour is persistent, then you need to help your body flush out the toxins. 

7. Constipation: It is vital to remove waste from our bodies on a daily basis.  If you find yourself not having a bowel movement every day then the toxins are absorbed into your bloodstream and they start building up.  Drinking plenty of water along with a diet rich in fiber can eliminate constipation, bloat, and prevent toxins from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

8. Muscle aches: If you are suffering from re-occurring and inexplicable muscle pain, then this could be a sign of a highly toxic load in your body.  Toxins have the ability to stimulate the pain receptors located in the muscles which then lead to muscle spasms, cramps or knots.  Toxins usually have an immediate effect on the muscles because they usually come from foods that have been eaten during the day. 

9. Skin reactions: The liver is responsible for removing most of the toxins from the body.  When the body is overloaded with toxins, the liver can’t keep up and other organs try to flush out those toxins through the skin.  When the skin tries to eliminate toxins in the body, it reacts badly to the process because it perceives them as poison.  This leads to acne, skin rashes, eczema, dermatographia and boils.

In the body, detoxification is the ongoing daily process of protecting the body from toxins. This process is mainly carried out by the liver, but there are 5 major routes of detoxification/elimination in the body.  They are the skin, digestive tract/large intestines, lungs, kidneys/urinary bladder and the liver.  These organs work together to filter toxins and then neutralize and transform them into less harmful substances that your body can deal with to then ideally eliminate them from the body. The body naturally goes through this process of detoxification on an ongoing basis but there are some things we can do to help it along. 

Here Are My 8 Tips For a Spring Detox:

1. Reduce Your Exposure: Every day we are exposed to harmful chemicals – many within the confines of our own homes.  These dangerous toxins are known as endocrine disruptors that disrupt our hormones by mimicking estrogen.  They can have alarming effects on our health such as weight gain, infertility, and cancer.  This toxic load that we come in contact with every day can add up, which is why spring is a wonderful time to reduce or eliminate as many synthetics in our homes as possible. Some products that may have harmful toxins are: lotions, cleaning products, perfumes, plastics, pesticides, air fresheners, and laundry detergent. I recommend switching out any synthetic products with ones that do not contain dyes, perfumes, BPA, and plastics.  Instead, opt for naturally derived plant products, glass or steel containers, and essential oils.  I love checking the products that I purchase on the environmental working group website…it is a fantastic resource! 

2. Drink Lots of Water: Staying hydrated is key!  The kidneys are an important organ of detoxification, but they can only do their job properly when the body receives adequate water intake.  Add lemon juice or a splash of apple cider vinegar to help stimulate digestion and the detoxification process.

3. Increase Fiber: Once toxins are released from storage, they need a way out.  Good soluble and insoluble fiber helps bind those toxins and removes them through regular bowel movements.  If you have sluggish digestion or constipation – the toxins can get reabsorbed. 

4. Dry Skin Brushing: This technique is easy and quite pleasant and will get your lymph (the sewer system of our body) moving.  Using a natural brush gently stroke your skin in long motions moving toward the heart.  I have people do this while listening to a nice meditation and deep breathing.

5. SAUNA or Hot Epsom Salt Baths: For those of you who know me well….you know how much I love my sauna!  If you do not have easy access to a sauna try a warm bath filled with epsom salt and cleansing essential oils such as juniper, peppermint, or frankincense. 

6. Herbs and Supplements: Supplements that are great to increase those Phase I and Phase II liver pathways include NAC, turmeric, DIM, molybdenum, selenium and methionine.  Combination formulas often work great to support both pathways.  Bitters such as gentian and angelica stimulate bile which is also important not only in fat digestion but in binding toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides.  This is one area in which it can be very helpful to see out individualized recommendations from a naturopathic doctor based on your current health status and your history. 

7. Exercise: Depending on your fitness level this can be your usual routine or if you’ve also been sedentary through the winter, start with light brisk walking.  Moving your body will move your lymph, get you breathing deeply, and hopefully help you break just a little bit of a sweat.

8. De-stress: Toxins come in many forms and stress is a big one.  Add daily meditation with deep breathing. Exhale carbon dioxide, toxic thoughts and stuck emotions simultaneously.  Turn off the news and limit exposure to places and people that are toxic.  Instead, turn on some nice calming music or put on a guided meditation or uplifting podcast.  Vagal reset or box breathing can help guide you into a parasympathetic (rest and digest) state.

If you are determined to make a change this spring, get help with something you are suffering with, and/or are looking to refresh your mind and body please contact the office at 613-558-2977 or email me at drrachelbellnd@gmail.com.