It’s Detox Time: The Two Main Steps to a Spring Cleanse

We have found through the years that the idea of detoxification and cleansing is one that people are inherently attracted to.

After a winter full of being cooped up in the house, breathing stale air, not exercising enough, holiday drinking, and eating “comfort foods” there is just something compelling about the idea of cleaning out your body.

It is true that your body has a beautiful ability to get rid of toxins you are exposed to, but the system is only finite in nature and it can get bogged down. Symptoms like fatigue, aches, and congestion can be good signs that you should clean house.

First, give your body a break.

The first step in detoxification, or cleansing, is to decrease your exposure to chemicals that your body needs to detoxify. The lower the toxic burden your body has to process, the better.

  • For at least 10 days (but ideally up to 30) take a break from caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods.
  • Eat as much organic food as possible to avoid pesticide residues.
  • Use all natural cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products to further decrease your exposure.
  • Rest. Burning the candle at both ends is very hard on your body’s ability to detox. Get lots of sleep and allow it to recharge.

Then, actively support your body’s ability to detoxify.

Once you’ve reduced the toxic burden on your body, you can help it do the work its naturally good at with the following:

  • Move your blood around. Winter is often a very inactive season, as people stay inside to avoid the cold. Get outside and move your body, preferably everyday and preferably in a way that works up a sweat.
  • Eat LOTS of veggies from the entire colour spectrum. Colourful veggies are full of bioflavonoids and other phytochemicals, all of which support the liver and its ability to detox.
  • Drink lots of water. Our kidneys are responsible for removing all the toxins that the liver prepares to leave the body. How much is enough? A good rule of thumb is half your body weight in pounds, in ounces. So if you are 160lbs, you’d be aiming for 80 ounces per day (or 10 cups)–more in hot weather, or with exercise.

There are also many products on the market that support detoxification–colon cleanses, liver cleanses, kidney flushes and the like. Many of these are safe to use, but if you are taking any medications, have any issues with your liver or kidney function, it is best to talk to a qualified health care provider before you start using them.

We’ve written about detoxing several times over the years, including many newspaper articles, which you can find archived here, as well as these blog posts:

– The StoneTree Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Day of Happiness

The first day of spring always makes me very happy, so I was thrilled to discover that March 20th is also the official “International Day of Happiness”. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 to recognize that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.

I love the idea. But how do you create more happiness in your life? And not just tomorrow, March 20th, but on an ongoing basis?

Once our basic needs are met, there seems to be little correlation between your bank account and how happy you are. We’ve seen this over and over again in our travels around the world–people with very little often seem to be much happier then their North American counterparts who have so much more.

Why? To be honest, I’m not sure. But I think there are a few lessons we can steal from the happy people here and around the word.

  • Connections. The happiest people in the world feel well connected to other people. They have strong families and strong community networks, whether it’s through their work, church or neighborhood. Want to be happier? Choose to engage in a group activity. Call up a friend. Organize dinner. Want more ideas? Check out the “International Day of Happiness” website.
  • Purpose. Humans are goal driven organisms. You need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We need to feel like we are contributing to the greater good. In his book, Healthy at 100, John Robbins discusses how people in cultures who live long, healthy and happy lives, have a function in their communities. They had purpose – things like child care, carrying water, and mentoring the young. There was a reason for them to get out of bed in the am.
  • Gratitude. There is no better balm to the soul then being grateful for all that is going right in your life. In fact, daily gratitude is one of the things that happened in my year of choosing to be happier.

So this Friday, on the first day of spring, during this sunny and warm March break, grab a buddy, give them a hug, and have a good chat about what you are grateful for.

Preventing Allergies Before They Happen

Three cheers for saying good-bye to dark days and cold temperatures! The sweetest days of winter are upon us and spring is just around the corner.

Naturopathic doctors are big on prevention–in fact, it’s one of our core values. Preventing a problem or symptom is always so much easier that treating it. So, as we enjoy these few weeks of great spring skiing, we’d like to turn your attention to the upcoming allergy season…before it happens!

Why You’re Allergic…And Others Aren’t

Seasonal allergies give our patients a lot of grief. Sneezing, itchy/watery eyes and runny noses are no fun, and some folks will have reactive lungs and skin irriation as well during this time of year.

The conventional way of dealing is to use daily antihistamines to stop the immune reactions, but naturopathic doctors look at allergies a little differently. For us, an allergic response is a sign that your immune system is intolerant of, or reactive to, a harmless protein (or antigen).

A properly functioning immune system sees pollen as harmless and ignores it. In a person with an allergic response, that protein is seen as an intruder that will do harm, and the immune system shows up in force–with things like mucus and sneezing–to try to get rid of it.

The reason you’re suffering and your neighbour isn’t, then, may be that something is out of balance, and causing your immune system to not work quite right.

What’s Out of Balance?

The real question now becomes: Why is your immune system over-reacting to something it shouldn’t? Here are three reasons:

1. Your gut is a mess.

One of the biggest parts of your immune system is in your gut. It’s here that your immune system learns what it should and shouldn’t be tolerant to. All the little critters that live and work there everyday are responsible for this job. When they’re disrupted by medications like antibiotics and steroids, or by toxic chemicals in our environment, they don’t do their job properly and you become more reactive.

2. You have a food sensitivity.

Sensitivities to gluten, dairy, eggs and many other foods make your immune system react each time you eat them. Every time you eat a food you are sensitive to, it creates a little bit more inflammation, revving up your immune system even more. That reactivity makes it even easier for spring pollens to set things off.

3. You are nutrient deficient.

Many vitamins and minerals are critical for keeping the immune system working properly. Vitamin C, magnesium, essential fatty acids–they are all used up in our high stress, poor nutrition, toxic lifestyles, making our immune system less able to balance itself.

What can you do now?

Figure out what the root cause of your immune system imbalance and rebalance it. If you do it now, before the pollens show up, you can make this spring the sweetest ever. To learn how we can help assess what’s making you sensitive to pollens and other allergens, contact the clinic at 705-444-5331, or feebetter@stonetreeclinic.com.

Be Tortoise Healthy

We all know Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. The turtle, tired of the rabbit’s boasting, challenges him to a race. The rabbit is so confident in his ability to win that he stops halfway through and naps. The turtle plods along slowly and consistently, passes the sleeping rabbit, and wins the race.

This fable can be seen as a cautionary tale to the rabbit—don’t be so over-confident and lazy—but the message from the tortoise’s perspective has a lot to offer us when it comes to health.

Health is About Consistent Efforts, Multiplied

I recently read the book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, and I loved the message that it is the sum of our daily decisions mutliplied over time that shape our destiny. It’s not about the epic push or the monumental project, but the small, everyday choices that either take you towards your goal or away from it. Like the tortoise, the small, consistent decisions and actions are what win the race.

I say to my patients all the time, “The tortoise is going to win this race, not the hare.” It’s not just a nod to the fact that tortoises are some of the longest-living creatures on the planet. In our “microwave culture” of wanting things instantly, we are often looking for that magic pill, or the easy way out. Regaining health just doesn’t work that way. Chronic health problems are frequently the result of an accumulation of small actions over time, and good health is no different.

Hare vs Tortoise Health

If you want lasting health, you need to focus on being the tortoise, not the hare.

  • The hare diets. The turtle slowly shifts to eating habits that can last a lifetime.
  • The hare is a weekend warrior. The turtle is active every day in some way.
  • The hare binge sleeps on the weekend. The turtle builds good sleep habits.
  • The hare makes time for others on rare holidays. The turtle tries to connect every day.

The end result? A happier, healthier tortoise who wins the race.