It’s Cleanse Time

What is a cleanse and why should I do one?nutrient-dense-foods-nutritarian

October is a great time to start a cleanse.  Summer barbecue season is over and the holiday eating season hasn’t started yet.  But why would you want to do this?

Cleanses are not about losing weight – although most people do lose weight, they are about giving your body a break so it can heal and rejuvenate.  They’re about gaining a new understanding of what actually feels good and tastes good.

The exact benefits of a cleanse will vary with each person, but here are some general considerations.

  • Feel better.
  • Give the liver a break and a chance to repair.
  • Gain conscious awareness of allergies.
  • Change your relationship with food to ultimately make better choices.
  • Improve digestion.
  • Decrease free radical production.
  • Improve ability to deal with harmful substances that are naturally produced.
  • Clear up sinus congestion.
  • Balance blood sugar.
  • Decrease blood pressure.
  • Normalize endocrine function such as thyroid hormones and adrenal response.

 

Cleanses are not fasts.  Personally I don’t believe in fasting although I know that many people do and find benefits from them.  Our bodies are over taxed by lifestyle, environmental toxins, stress, etc.  We are constantly making substances to deal with this.  If you take away food, you take away the body’s fuel source.  While fasting might be taking away some of the problem, it is also limiting some of the solution.

A cleanse is a more practical approach.  Get rid of some of the stress on the body, eat better foods and take additional nutrients to facilitate detox and healing.

There are lots of different cleanses and supportive supplements.  Many cleanses are 21 days and I have found that most people don’t feel all that well the first week.  There’s getting used to not eating certain foods, often some emotional volatility and the body is detoxing.  By the 2nd week most people start to feel better.  There’s more energy.  By the third week they’re not only feeling better other people are often commenting on how good they’re looking.

Cleanses involve eliminating pro-inflammatory and common allergenic foods like wheat and gluten products, dairy, corn, and soy.  Some eliminate meat for a certain amount of time.  Elimination of caffeine, alcohol and processed sugars is also part of the cleanse.  The emphasis is on eating good food, as organic as possible with specific recommendations about what to eat and what not to eat.  It’s a good time to experiment and get creative with different recipes.

A cleanse is a great way to get a better grip on your health.  It’s a good idea to do this with support from a knowledgeable practitioner so that you’re making the right choices, taking the best supportive nutrients and herbs and can get your questions answered.  Getting information about how to do a good cleanse as well as what to do once the cleanse is over can maximize your success.

 

It’s Just Stress

It is getting to be that time of year when our bodies can get really taxed. It’s usually a combination of having lots to do, people to see, places to go and things to buy, coupled with all the less than healthy food and drink. So how do you do things differently? How can you help your body cope through the rigors of the season?

One of the time-honored remedies for dealing with stress is to exercise and eat well. This is not a new idea. It is a very well known fact. What might not be as well known is how stress takes its toll on the body.

Our bodies have well honed and integrated mechanisms for coping with stress. Since the stress response is a very basic and primitive response, the body will sacrifice a great deal to cope. In days of yore, stress was easily displaced by running away from that chasing predator. The excitation, the physical exertion, and the later recovery were necessary to survive, regroup, and continue until the next challenge occurred.

The body’s response to stress has not changed: elevated heart rate, shallow breathing, flooding the body with compounds like glucose, cortisol, and adrenaline. What we don’t get is the physical exertion to respond and let the body burn off these chemicals. Our stressors today aren’t being chased by wild animals. There’s nothing to run from and the body often doesn’t get to reset. This cycle will eventually take its toll. There will not only be the tendency to feel physically fatigued. After a while, various glands and organs will also get exhausted.

The adrenals are the main glands that deal with stress. If they get exhausted, that exhaustion can set off a chain reaction that makes the body less and less able to deal with stress. Metabolism will slow down, digestion and the ability to get nutrients to the body will be compromised, blood sugar imbalances can occur, and the list goes on. It’s not just stress. It’s a cascade of events that can lead to a significant downward health spiral if left unchecked.

So if your stress is short-term, say Thanksgiving to New Year’s, then do your best to eat well when away from the parties. Get lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and eat whole grains. These will help supply the body with the tools it needs to rebalance. Drinking alcohol uses up certain B vitamins which are very important in helping the body to deal with stress. Whole grains are particularly high in B vitamins. Taking additional B vitamins can be helpful but make sure that you are taking a good one, preferably a food based vitamin.

Long-term stress will also be helped by diet and exercise, but the body may need some additional support to help shift it away from its ingrained stress response. Because digestion gets impaired, there could be nutritional deficiencies that need addressing. Since adrenal fatigue or exhaustion can occur, some additional support may be needed.

Healthy Aging

Aging is inevitable. How we age is open to lots of options. The other day I saw a friend’s family picture taken over the holidays. It showed twp generations, the older group being in their 50s and 60s, and the younger generation in their 30’s. My friend was part of the older group, but looking at the picture you would have put her in with her younger relatives. It was quite the pictorial testimonial for what a healthy lifestyle can look like from the outside.

One of the underlying causes of many of the so-called chronic diseases of aging–like arthritis, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, and plaque in the arteries–is inflammation. While inflammation is the body’s natural defense mechanism to protect against threats and help with repair, internal chronic low-level inflammation can wreck havoc with the body.

So how do you tell if this is happening to you? Are you highly stressed, have joint and muscle stiffness, fatigue easily? Do you have adult onset diabetes or high blood pressure? Of course other things could be behind these symptoms and conditions but inflammation is a definite possibility. A definitive way to determine if you have inflammation would be to have a blood test that measures C-Reactive Protein (CRP).

The best way to avoid or eliminate chronic low level inflammation is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stay physically active, eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep, and make time to have fun.

Common causes of inflammation

  • Stress
  • Allergies
  • Sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Wheat
  • Trans fats
  • Excessive weight
  • Insulin resistance

Ways to eliminate inappropriate inflammation include:

  • Manage stress. Exercise, go for a walk, stop and take deep breaths.
  • Eliminate allergens. If you are reacting to certain foods, either eliminate them from your diet or try an allergy elimination technique like NeuroModulation Technique (nmt.md).
  • Avoid sugar. Decrease (or ideally) eliminate sugar from your diet.
  • Avoid processed foods. These foods usually contain high amounts of trans fats that wreak havoc with the body, even to the point of changing the very nature of your cells.
  • Get more omega-3 fatty acids. Increase the amount of wild caught fish that you eat. Nuts are also a good source of omega-3s. Or take a good quality fish oil.
  • Increase anti-inflammatory foods. Eat more of these foods that have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Fruits especially berries
  • Vegetables
  • Basil
  • Garlic
  • Tumeric
  • Onions
  • Fish (wild caught) For a more complete list, check out Dr. Weil’s food pyramid, http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02995/Dr-Weil-Anti-Inflammatory-Food-Pyramid.html
  • Move more. Exercise is a very important component to decrease inflammation. It can lower the excess stress that actually will cause inflammation. It can help reduce weight, and excess fat actually has chemicals that promote inflammation. It helps decrease insulin resistance. It will increase circulation and better enable the body to eliminate the accumulation of inflammatory chemicals.

So while aging is inevitable, we have some choices about how that will occur. Eating in a way that nurtures the body, decreasing stress, exercise, eliminating allergies will go a long way towards ensuring that we not only get to those golden years, but we enjoy them.