7 Steps for a Healthy Spring Cleanse

Spring is when nature renews herself, and as we watch the days brighten and the flowers bloom, we all want to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. You may be spring cleaning your house, refreshing your closet, or getting a new haircut in anticipation of the warmer months ahead. But when was the last time you spring-cleaned your insides?

It’s normal to feel a little sluggish and heavy after a long winter. Many of us get less exercise when we’re stuck indoors, and we tend to rely more on comfort foods when the weather is bleak. As a result, metabolism and circulation slows down, digestion and elimination may be sluggish, and you may feel low energy and congested. If you’re ready to shake off that winter stagnation and feel lighter for spring, a gentle spring cleanse is a great way to start. 

When we say “cleanse,” we aren’t recommending a Hollywood-style crash diet where you only drink juices for a week. These can be shocking for your body, trigger uncomfortable side effects, and don’t have the best long-term results. Instead, we’re talking about simple, healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle that can help your body release stored toxins, clear out waste, and allow your detox organs and digestive system to rest and recover so that they can work more efficiently for you. 

The goal of a cleanse isn’t to instantly lose weight, although it can certainly help you jumpstart weight loss, especially if you continue these habits long-term. But detoxing your body and resetting your digestion can certainly help you feel lighter and support your metabolism, energy, skin health, immune health, and more. Try these simple detox steps to help clear the inner cobwebs and put a spring back in your step:

1. Eliminate Your Vices

Give your liver a break by cutting out alcohol, caffeine, sugar, processed foods, and artificial additives. You may want to ease off some of these gradually ahead of time to avoid any withdrawal symptoms. It’s also a good idea to avoid red meat, dairy, and refined carbohydrates during your cleanse, as these can be harder to digest and are considered inflammatory foods.

2. Increase Your Hydration

Water helps your body detox, supports your kidneys and liver, and helps cleanse the bowels. Start your day with 1-2 glasses of water (preferably warm). Some people like to add a splash of lemon, berries, or mint leaves to their water for a refreshing flavor. Try to drink a cup of water every 30 minutes throughout the day, except during meals.

3. Choose Organic Whole Foods 

Spring is a great time for a cleanse because there are so many fresh fruits and vegetables in season. These are full of fiber that helps cleanse the digestive system, as well as nutrients and antioxidants that support the liver’s detox processes and help replenish your body and protect it from free radical damage. Opt for organic produce to eliminate chemical pesticides and try to choose a variety of colorful fruits and veggies for a broader variety of nutrients. If you are used to getting most of your protein from animal products, this is your chance to try out some plant-based alternatives, like legumes (beans), nuts and seeds. Try a daily smoothie with fresh fruit and greens, soy or nutmilk, and chia seeds or ground flaxseeds. Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day, when your metabolism is highest, and have a lighter dinner, so that your body has less digestive work to do in the evening as it is winding down for rest.

4. Dry Brush Your Skin

Use a natural bristle body brush to dry brush your skin, starting with the feet and moving toward the heart. This is good for your circulation, helps stimulate your lymphatic system to flush out toxins, and also helps the skin detox by removing dead skin cells. Refresh that dry winter skin! You can do this daily before your morning shower or evening bath.

5. Get Moving

Get outside for a brisk walk each day. Breathing in the fresh air, moving and sweating will increase circulation, lymph drainage, and skin detoxing. Exposure to natural light will help you get your vitamin D and help regulate your circadian rhythms for better energy and sleep. Exercise also helps relieve stress, and the sights and sounds of nature can provide a natural mood boost, especially with spring in bloom. 

6. Take a Detox Bath

A hot bath with mineral salts is very relaxing and helps draw out toxins through the skin. Try adding half a cup of Epsom salts and half a cup of baking soda to your bath. Epsom salt is a source of magnesium, which helps muscles and nerves relax and supports circulation and sleep. Baking soda helps neutralize the chlorine in your tap water and helps balance pH levels. You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil for some calming aromatherapy. Remember to drink water before and after your bath, since the heat will make you sweat. An evening bath a few times a week makes a great bedtime ritual to help you sleep.

7. Support Your Liver

Your liver is your body’s primary detox organ, responsible for clearing out all the toxins that come from your diet or your environment, including air and water pollution, preservatives and pesticides in our food, recreational habits like alcohol or smoking, and the chemical products we use every day. It’s a tall order, and though the liver is amazing at its job, it’s only fair to take some of the stress off now and then. While the steps above will help give your liver a breather, you can also give it some extra support with an herb such as milk thistle or turmeric, which has liver-protecting benefits.1 (It’s best to run any new supplements past your health professional if you have any health conditions or are taking any medications.)

When the body first begins to detox, you may experience mild side effects, such as gasiness, headaches, skin breakouts, or tiredness. These should clear up within a few days. Just treat yourself gently, drink lots of water, and be sure to get enough rest. You should start feeling better and better. Try your spring detox for 5-10 days. If you feel good, you may decide to incorporate some of these habits into your ongoing routine. Happy spring!

References:

1. Farzaei, Mohammad Hosein et al. “Curcumin in Liver Diseases: A Systematic Review of the Cellular Mechanisms of Oxidative Stress and Clinical Perspective.” Nutrients vol. 10,7 855. 1 Jul. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10070855

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