Ah, spring. It’s a season of rebirth and spring cleaning. But who says spring cleaning has to stop with your house? Many people see spring as an excellent time for a cleanse or a fast. You don’t have to be a hard-core health junkie to benefit from a little detox. It’s natural to accumulate an extra layer of fat—and possibly a few bad habits—after a long, cold winter.
Spring is a season to shake off the doldrums and start fresh. In fact, Eastern medicine views spring as the season of the liver and an opportunity to cleanse this important organ. The liver performs many functions, including: filtering the body’s blood 20 times per day; breaking down fats; converting glucose to glycogen; storing vitamins; manufacturing bile, hormones, and digestive enzymes; and more. In other words, a clean liver is critical for optimal health.
Cleansing the Liver
Just about anyone can benefit from a spring cleanse, but your liver might be sending you some signals if you experience any of the following:
- Physical signs: less than one bowel movement per day; poor digestion; excessive gas; constipation or loose stools and diarrhea; abdominal bloating; allergies; PMS; migraines or tension headaches.
- Emotional signs: frustration, resentment, irritability, excessive anger, or feeling indecisive or stuck.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, your liver may be feeling sluggish and in need of a cleanse.
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How to Cleanse
There is no one right way to cleanse. Some people benefit from drastic fasts, whereas others benefit from a three-day tune-up during which they avoid fatty foods. A cleanse doesn’t have to be dramatic to offer some benefit. If you’ve never cleansed before, don’t be intimidated—and consider consulting a doctor or nutritionist before starting.
As a general rule, a cleanse or detox is two-fold: first, you avoid certain foods that aggravate the liver and second, you add foods and activities that support the liver. A cleanse is an opportunity to hit the “reset” button on your body and offer it some TLC.
If you’re trying a liver cleanse for the first time, three days is plenty. Some experienced liver cleansers opt to cleanse for two to three weeks in the spring. First-timers should keep it simple and avoid drastic programs that call for extended fasting. A simple first-time cleanse might include the following:
- INCLUDE: Lots of organic fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit and vegetable juice. Whole grains, such as quinoa or brown rice Drink plenty of water Get extra rest Opt for gentle exercise, such as walking or yoga Make time for daily meditation Plenty of citrus—consider sipping lemon water throughout the day
- AVOID: Refined and processed foods Sugar Alcohol Caffeine Tobacco High fructose corn syrup Fatty foods Fast food and junk food Animal products
You don’t have to adopt a vegan diet or swear off caffeine and alcohol forever—but giving your body a break from these things can help it to “reboot.” If you want to dive deeper into cleansing, a health professional can help you. But a simple three-day commitment to purifying the body can make a world of difference. At the end of the three days, you’re likely to feel lighter and brighter—both physically and emotionally.