Not only did spring start this past Sunday, prompting thoughts of spring cleaning, but it’s also National Nutrition Month. And that’s the inspiration for today’s post.
Spring brings with it a freshness, new life, and rejuvenation, which is why “spring cleaning” is so popular.
And while that phrase really started as spring cleaning your house or your closet, more often than not, now I see it used in reference to spring cleaning your body and/or your liver.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’ve long been a fan of cleanses and detoxes. Though, I will admit, over the years, my perspective on them and what constitutes a ‘cleanse’ has shifted.
I do like the idea of gentle, nourishing spring cleanse for the liver because in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) spring is the season of the liver. After the heavy food, indulgences, and perhaps alcoholic beverages of the winter and holiday season, now is the perfect time to rest, reset, and nourish the liver.
As discussed on the blog last week, the liver is such a fundamental organ to nearly every process in the body. Therefore, it makes sense we should give it a little extra TLC every now and again.
Choosing a Spring Cleanse for You
There are varying degrees of cleanses and liver reset programs out there, from the more extreme water or juice fasting to the more mild whole food-based programs such as 14-Four or Whole 30. There’s no one right solution for everyone.
If you are looking to undertake a water fast of more than 16-36 hours, I’d advise consulting a healthcare practitioner.
If you plan on going the juicing route, first consider if you have blood sugar or thyroid issues, have high protein needs, or are sensitive to oxalates. Any of those conditions can be worsened with a juice cleanse. A juice cleanse beyond 1-2 days can also start to negatively impact body composition as it’s typically pure carbohydrates going in, which isn’t optimal for building muscle or losing fat.
It is possible to get the benefits of both water fasting and juice fasting without the side effects in just 1 day. This is typically called Intermittent Fasting and would ideally be practiced multiple times per month or per week. It can be supplemented with special detoxing herbs or teas, liver-supporting drinks, and perhaps a small amount of food. We have developed a program based on a 1-day high-impact approach to intermittent fasting with teas and herbs. We call it the BeRenewed Tea Cleanse.
When you’re looking to clean up your diet, whether returning to good eating habits that slipped over the holidays or because you’re ready to make a big time change to your nutritional intake, then 14-Four and Whole 30 are both good choices. They emphasize real food, including lots of vegetables, adequate protein, healthy fats, and the lifestyle changes that also impact both liver and overall health.
For a more DIY approach to improving liver and overall health, the same recommendations from last week apply her. Opt for more:
– Leafy greens: kale, collards, cabbage, arugula, parsley, cilantro, dandelion greens; plus celery, artichoke, asparagus, and beets
– Sulfur-containing cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
– Herbs: milk thistle, burdock root, dandelion root, chicory leaves/root, aloe, licorice, ashwagandha, eleuthero, rhodiola, nettle
– Spices: ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, cinnamon, nutmeg
– Organ meats: such as liver and kidneys from the cleanest sources you can find (wild, grass-fed & grass-finished, pastured)
– Drinks: filtered water, lemon water (especially warm first thing in the morning), apple cider vinegar water, teas (rich in antioxidants)
– Exercise, sleep, and stress-reduction
You may consider subbing 1-2 green juices per day into your diet–make sure they’re all-organic. Into the green juices you can add some of the liver-boosting herbs in powder or liquid form. (If you only have capsules break them open and dump them in. If you have whole dried or raw herbs, put them through the coffee grinder or blender before adding.)
Adding green juices and liver-supporting herbs for anywhere from 3-30 days is what I’d call an intermediate approach to spring cleaning. It has neither the intensity, nor the short duration of a water or juice cleanse and is also not the on-going daily eating habits prescribed by 14-Four/Whole 30.
An alternative intermediate approach would be to get a greens+protein powder, such as Shape along with a liver+detox support powder like Clean, and have everything pre-packaged and pre-planned for you. This saves you hunting down all the herbs and strange vegetables. Taking this route is a bit more intense than the DIY approach, but not as full-on as the juice cleanse. More importantly, though, it’s the most convenient and certainly more nutrient-balanced than a juice clanse and lasts just 10 days.
Whichever approach you choose, don’t forget all the things you need to cut out: alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, genetically-modified (GMO) foods, pesticide-laden foods, toxic or chemical-laden skincare and cleaning products, sugar, transfats, and fats from industrial seed oils, all of which burden the liver.
While a spring cleanse isn’t absolutely necessary for everyone, many people do find that some bodily spring cleaning improves skin, digestion and defecation, energy, and mental clarity, while also reducing fatigue, sluggishness, and inflammation.
Whatever you choose, be smart about it. If you have questions, feel free to contact us.
Leave a comment below: do you spring clean your body and your liver?