A cleanse is a wonderful opportunity to practice supporting yourself.
Instead of seeing it simply as maintenance—or worse yet, as a kind of penalty for having enjoyed life—doing a cleanse, especially during winter months, should be a form of self-care.
Warming meals and practices
In winter, choose pungent herbs and spices (cumin, cayenne, black pepper) to overcome hibernation mode and stoke the metabolic fire. Warming ginger, cinnamon, fennel, and angelica soothe and reduce phlegm. They promote digestion, dilation, and circulation.
Inducing higher body temperature can support healthy immune function, plus it feels nice. Using a sauna improves hormone levels, increasing the body’s production of growth hormone and other helpful compounds. Putting warm socks on at night can ensure a deeper, more restful and rejuvenating sleep.
Hot showers are an exception. We want to warm the body up, not dry it out. Do your skin a favor and keep your shower warm rather than hot.
Nurture your gut
A healthy microbiome will keep you regular, which aids in the timely removal of solid wastes and might have additional benefits. In one study, Lactobacillus rhamnosus reduced absorption of some toxins, including BPA. This could help ensure toxins don’t build up in the body and negatively affect your health.
Some strains can bind to and facilitate excretion of heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium from the body, while a probiotic in kimchi was found to break down common herbicides and pesticides.
We can feed our microbiomes foods like jicama, leek, green bananas, and cooked and cooled starches like potato salad, rice balls, and bean salad. Getting most of our carbs from colorful vegetables is the most nutritious option anyhow.
Speaking of nutrition…
Not only should we stop blocking our body’s attempts to get out the junk by suppressing coughs and fevers, we should encourage the body’s natural attempts to detoxify itself.
Although fasting can have its own benefits, detoxification requires nutrients, so make yourself some delicious healthy food. Eating avocado, pumpkin seeds, asparagus, eggs, green tea, salmon, and lentils provides the nutrients to support phase 1 liver detoxification. Garlic, onions, liver, cauliflower, turmeric, beets, tuna, and brazil nuts support phase 2 liver detoxification.
Adding exercise, moving lymph, and sweating
Getting toxins out of cells requires movement.
For those who can’t sweat or prefer not to, that’s okay. Using sweating to detox is controversial. Although sweat contains BPA, phthalates, and heavy metal toxins, gentle movement works, too, for what we are aiming to do
The clear lymph fluid and interstitial spaces of our bodies are made largely of water. Here our cells bathe in nutrients and release cellular waste, which go to the bloodstream for eventual removal by the kidneys, colon, and lungs.
The lymphatic system doesn’t have muscle to move things. Exercise and rocking and rolling movements unblock lymph flow.
To benefit the brain’s glymphatic system, try doing yoga inversions. They promote healthy lymph drainage, moving fluid between the body and brain.
Jumping on a trampoline is my favorite. It helps nutrients and waste move in and out of cells, as do foam rolling and massage.
Whether you love to cook, get active, or get cozy, there is a way for you to embrace the warm and nurturing energy of a new year’s cleanse.