The Power of a Snarky Comment

salad mouth

Several days ago I posted a snarky comment on Facebook about cleansing in response to a cynical article posted by Cosmopolitan. Since then, I have gone about my way, like others, to renew my commitment to clean eating and general “healthiness,” it being a new year and all. As if the Gods had read that post, they have conspired to prove to me that cleansing and detoxing are very real occurrences in the human body! I have not engaged in any one prescribed program. No lemon/maple syrup/cayenne concoction for me. I am simply eating a whole, clean diet composed primarily of fruits, vegetables, and small amounts of lean protein. I am guzzling water and have declared the month “Juice Free January” in reference to my abstinence from alcohol. It’s been seven days. To date, I have experienced headaches, bloating, gas, runny noses, bloody noses, seemingly never-ending trips to the bathroom and incredibly itchy skin. Relenting to the concept, a quick Google search revealed that these are all symptoms of detoxifying your body. Apparently my return to a normal diet has thrown me into a full blown cleanse!

So how did that happen? Turns out that our bodies are built to cleanse all by themselves. Aided or burdened by the foods we put in, our major organs execute an intricate process to clean our blood, absorb nutrients, and purge toxins…every second of every single day.

Among a host of other internal organs, the single biggest “cleanser” in our bodies is our liver. The liver cleans our blood, detoxifies toxins, produces internal chemicals necessary for human life, creates cholesterol and bile, and stockpiles vitamins and minerals for future use. Keeping our livers happy is vital to our good health.

Also of note are our kidneys. Our kidneys further remove toxic waste from the blood and work to expel them in our urine. Kidneys also perform the vital task of maintaining blood concentrations and volume by dumping excessive water and other solutes. As if that weren’t enough, the kidneys further work to regulate the body’s acid/base balance. This is why doctors look to our urine for clues when searching for the cause of a physical problem. They want to know what concentration levels are present, what the pH is, and what toxins the kidney’s have discarded.

To me, the most surprising component of detoxification in our bodies is our single largest organ, the skin. The skin maintains our body’s “clean” state by acting as a barrier to environmental toxins such as free radicals, viruses and diseases. If you don’t keep this physical barrier in shape, you can expose your body to a world of pathogens that will work their way from the outside in.

Bottom line: you don’t need an $11 bottle of juice to initiate a cleanse of your system. Your body is keenly aware of your cleansing needs and constantly working to perform them! The best things you can do to support your body are to feed it unprocessed, nutritious foods and to not overburden it with junk food, alcohol, and unnecessary medications.

The question for me now becomes “what the hell am I purging?” What’s making my head ache every day and my skin itch so badly? How long is this going to last? What, if anything, can I do to speed it up? Who can fill me in on the process of detoxing? What on earth is going to happen when I down a glass of wine on February first?

I’ll share my findings as I progress.

Stay tuned!

A Simple and Nourishing Guide to Your New Year

Eat a rainbow of colors.

By Pam Salvadore

Around this time every year we all make resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, and take control of errant behaviors. This year, take advantage of that January mindset to do just one thing: get healthy. Commit to a fresh start by getting back to basics and all of those other goals will fall in line.

As you may expect, an essential first step is to look at what you’re eating. Make the decision to eat clean by eliminating all of the processed food in your life. Eat whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Choose lean, clean protein like free-range chicken and grass-fed beef. Opt for minimally processed whole grains. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. This is how we ate before food was made “convenient” and all but stripped of nutritious content. By eating clean, you are giving your body the fuel it needs to function at the top of its game. Your body will begin to purge unhealthy fats and additives, attack free radicals, drop unnecessary pounds, and restore balance to your system.

Now that you know what to eat, figure out how you’re going to eat it by adopting a reasonable eating plan. No weights and measures, just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. This basic approach usually translates to three meals and one or two snacks a day. Eat slowly and without distraction so you can feel when your body is full. After a week or two of eating this way you’ll notice that your body is satiated on a lot less food than what you’re used to, leading to natural weight loss.

Once your diet is clean and portions are appropriate, try adding in a few more healthy items to your plate. Consider your dinner. Can you scale back on protein a little? Perhaps make that piece of meat equivalent to the size of your palm? Can you increase your vegetables? Maybe add a fresh salad to your meal? By upping your vegetable content you are increasing your fiber, which works to eliminate toxins from your system and helps you feel full longer. Salad is also a way to increase your vegetable diversity and help you eat a rainbow at every meal. Not only is it tasty, but it’s a guaranteed way to be sure you get a broad spectrum of nutrients. Aim for one quarter of your plate filled with protein, one quarter with grain, and the other half full of vegetables. Add fruit for dessert, and you’ve just satisfied most of the nutrient needs in your body.

Get out and walk.

Now that you know what you’re putting into your body, focus on what you’re putting out. The word “exercise” can be intimidating, but it need not be. We’re not talking about challenging Rocky to a race up the stairs. We’re simply talking about moving your body more. This can mean going for a walk in the morning, playing with your kids in the park, or keeping your cart on the path during golf. Most of the things you do on a daily basis can be converted into exercise. At the market, grab a basket and carry it around instead of pushing a cart. The weight of your basket and lack of support provided by the cart will engage your muscles and challenge your balance. At the mall, park your car once and walk to all the stores you need to visit. Stop moving your car and move your feet instead. This all counts as exercise. Do more of it and your body will respond with healthy rewards.

Now indulge your lazy side. Sleep as much as you can. Let those droopy eyelids call the shots and go to bed when you’re tired. Aim for 7-9 hours a night. REM sleep is how your body restores and resets itself. It’s also how your memories are processed and retained in your brain. Turn in earlier than usual for one week. By the end of that week, if you don’t need your alarm clock to wake up on time, you’re getting the right amount of sleep for you.

Focus on your whole being - mind, body, spirit and soul.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, laugh! Pay attention when the littlest one at the table has a silly joke to tell. Really hear your spouse when he/she describes their daily giggle. Laugh with others and enjoy the happy things that surround you. There will always be a list of the negatives in our lives. By taking the time to laugh, you prioritize happiness. Being happy is one of the most rewarding health benefits of all!

Hopefully these ideas provide some basis for a calm, rational, and healthy approach to your New Year. Whatever you do, don’t use the concept of resolutions to beat yourself up over your shortcomings. Use your resolutions to be kind to yourself, and the benefits you reap will become not only part of who you are but also who you want to be.

 

Click here to read this post in Desert Health News.