I can’t believe spring is here already, and it reminds me of how much I missed the sunshine. Spring is always a good time to start cleaning out clutter around the house, but also within your physical body as well. Spring is also a good time to cleanse the body, which will help increase your energy and possibly aid in weight loss. In Naturopathic medicine, supporting the liver and kidneys are important for any kind of detox. Here are some tips to help improve energy and lose weight before summer rolls around.
It is important to first and foremost, clean up anything in your diet that may be harmful. This includes any kind of fast food, fried foods, and sugar. The body does not really need simple refined carbohydrates; in fact it prefers to run off of healthy fats. Reduce simple carbohydrates like bread, rice, corn, potatoes, and especially wheat products. Definitely reduce any sugary drinks including juice and alcohol. Take out chemicals like artificial sugars and added preservatives in non-organic food. A good rule to follow is “if you can’t pronounce the name do not put it in your mouth.”
The next thing to do is support natural detoxification from all your fat storage breaking down. Fat holds toxins and so flushing them out with extra water is very important. Coffee, juice, and alcohol do not count. Your body needs plain filtered water. Aim for about 1/3 of your body weight in ounces of water daily. Fiber also binds waste products and excretes them out of the body (in your poop!). Increase fiber through lots of vegetables (minus corn and potato), aim for five servings daily. Signs that you are dehydrated include dry skin, dry hair, lack of energy, muscle cramps, joint pains and more.
Let us not forget about exercising. Exercise is the number one detoxer above everything else. If you are just starting an exercise routine, try to start with a realistic goal like 10 minutes of walking three times per week. If you have approval from your doctor to increase exercise intensity, it would be beneficial to get to a level of sweating during your workouts. Make it fun by joining a class or taking up a new hobby like kayaking. The Northwest has so many outdoor activities to enjoy!
As you finish your elimination detox (maybe after 2-4 weeks), you can start to reintroduce one food at a time. This is an important step, as the immune system will give a strong adverse reaction to a food if it does not agree with the body. Examples of strong adverse food intolerance symptoms include joint aches, fatigue, upset stomach, skin rashes, headaches, and more. Most people notice when they start feeling worse but they don’t always remember as they start to feel better. Keeping a diet diary food journal can be helpful in tracking adverse food reactions, but keep in mind that reactions can be delayed up to 24-48 hours.
For increasing energy and optimizing the long sunshine days of summer, keep the carbohydrates and sugars out of the diet long term. Too much coffee can also stimulate the adrenal hormones to overproduce adrenaline and stress hormones which can leave you feeling tired after a few hours. Instead of depending on caffeine, switch to ice water or unsweetened herbal iced tea. The other key to having more energy would be to engage in enjoyable activities. Try to do something more relaxing or whatever makes you happy at least once a week. Self-care is a very important aspect of health, and it also helps you better take care of others. Use these tips to ring in the spring with more energy and a clearer mind.
Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a primary care Naturopathic Doctor at Tree of Health Integrative Medicine in Woodinville, WA.