Detoxify for Spring

I've written about the dangers of certain "cleanses" which include drinking only green juice for days. If you are interested in detoxifying your diet, I don't recommend this route. However, there are steps you can take to remove "toxic" or unhealthy foods from your diet, while adding in optimal choices for liver and kidney support.

Basically, your liver and kidneys do the grunt work when it comes to detoxifying your body. When you drink too much alcohol, your liver goes into overdrive to remove the toxins before they kill you. (This sounds overly dramatic, but we all know alcohol is capable of killing.) But did you know that sugar creates the exact same changes in your liver, causing a fatty liver over time, as alcohol does? Scary, right?

Now, I am not suggesting that you never allow a single gram of sugar to pass your lips. And a glass of wine on occasion makes for a lovely, relaxing evening. But spring is an excellent time to take a break from habitual drinking and wild sugar binges. Instead, consider taking some (or all!) of these steps to detoxify your body:

1) Take notice of the various ways sugar is entering your body. Sugar can be sneaky! It is added to almost everything that has been processed. Read the labels on your cereal boxes, yogurt containers, sauces, condiments, sausages, bacon, etc. I'm guessing you will discover you are consuming more sugar than you thought.

2) Try substituting unsweetened and whole foods for some of your processed products. For example, you might choose unsweetened iced tea as a beverage instead of soda or juice. (I know juice contains "natural" sugars, not added sugar, but your body reacts the same way to either one.) Instead of flavored yogurt, try plain with whole fresh fruit. Instead of boxed cereals, try whole rolled oats with toasted nuts or seeds. Whole foods contain more fiber, and are digested more slowly, than processed foods. This helps you feel fuller, more satisfied with fewer calories, and helps to move everything through your colon more efficiently. Win, win, win!

3) Drink more water! This is a no-brainer when cleansing the body. Every organ, muscle, and bodily system will work better when well hydrated! Even your heart can pump more easily when you drink enough water. You will feel more energetic, less sluggish, and notice clearer skin. What more could you want from a beverage which is essentially free?

4) Support your liver. Dandelion root is a well-known liver tonic, and you can find it in most detox teas. While this may not sound delicious, there are many varieties of detox tea that are very yummy! Check out the tea aisle of your local supermarket or health food store. Detox teas contain a variety of herbs and spices, like cinnamon, ginger, clove, and licorice root, all of which add great flavor in addition to their other benefits. These teas are naturally sweet and need no added sugar!

5) Eat more veggies! Try some different kinds of fresh vegetables that are available in the spring. Asparagus, rhubarb, early spring greens, radishes, spinach, watercress, and wild greens are all great choices for detoxing. Visit your local farmers market as soon as they open. Buying locally grown produce means the vitamins and minerals are at their peak. Or grow your own!

Detoxing is easy! Cut back on the processed and refined foods, add in more fresh, whole foods, up your water intake, and enjoy a steaming cup of herbal tea in the evening instead of the usual alcoholic beverage. Your liver will thank you and you might even drop a few pounds in the process.