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Feeling winter heaviness? Five common cleansing foods and herbs to lighten up

Tuesday, March 08, 2011 by: Nancy Hearn
Tags: winter, cleansing, health news

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(NaturalNews) If the approach of spring has you eager to get up and go, but you're feeling weighed down from winter hibernation and heavier foods, it's time to lighten up.

For most of us, especially those who live in colder climates, it's somewhat natural to feel sluggish after the winter months. However, the heavier foods and inactivity can lead to imbalances in the body that often create feelings of depression or moodiness, as well as laziness and/or congestion.

Thus, early spring is the best time of year to cleanse and detoxify your body. Why detoxify? To assist the body's natural detoxification processes.

I know from personal experience that some people think body detoxification is "unnatural." In fact, I've been asked, "Why does my body need assistance if detoxification is a natural process?"

The answer is simple: We live in a highly toxic environment these days that is highly "unnatural." And our bodies need all the help we can give them.

We are exposed to literally thousands of toxins every day, just from the air we breathe and the water we drink and bathe in. In addition, most people use commercial household cleaning and personal care products and are thus exposed to hundreds more harmful chemicals from those products on a daily basis.

And then there's the food we eat. Unfortunately, not many of us are lucky enough (or rich enough) to be able to eat organic food all the time. Thus, we are ingesting chemicals from pesticides, fertilizers, food additives and preservatives, and many more substances that don't belong in the body.

The bottom line is that the cumulative effective of all these toxins is highly significant. It is unnatural for the body to have to deal with so many toxins.

Thus, in order to be even relatively healthy today, we need to be more intentional about cleansing and detoxifying, as well as educating ourselves about how to minimize our exposure to toxins.

The good news is that there is a lot we can do right now to assist our body's spring detoxification process by choosing more cleansing foods. The following are five common, inexpensive foods that are most effective for daily cleansing.

1. Water. Since our bodies are about 70 percent water, adequate hydration is foundational to anything else we do. The bottom line is that if you are not drinking enough water, your cleansing attempts will be limited. The most important time to drink water is first thing in the morning, since the body has essentially been "fasting" throughout the night and is ready to get rid of toxins. Thus, I recommend drinking 16 ounces of water upon arising, following it with another 12 to 16 ounces about 30 minutes later (preferably before breakfast). Be sure to drink water that has been filtered of contaminants. Kangen water is the best drinking water I have found for its cleansing and super hydrating properties.

2. Lemon. In addition to being high in vitamin C, lemon is an excellent liver cleanser. Drinking lemon water helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form so they can be easily flushed from the body. According to Jethro Kloss, author of Back to Eden, lemon water liquefies the bile and helps control excess bile flow. Lemon provides a strengthening agent to liver enzymes and can help fix oxygen and calcium levels in the liver, which affects blood oxygen levels. Squeeze half a lemon into your first 16 ounces of water in the morning and drink up!

3. Garlic. This versatile healing herb is a powerful antioxidant and a potent natural antibiotic. Garlic also activates liver enzymes that filter toxins and it increases circulation. The sulfur and hydrogen compounds in garlic are powerful chelators of toxic heavy metals so that they can be safely excreted from the body. Eating raw garlic by chopping it up and putting it on top of your foods or in your water is the most effective way to get the benefits. If you are worried about garlic breath, you can choose an odorless and tasteless form of aged garlic extract, which contains a lot of the antioxidant properties of garlic. However, raw garlic will have more significant cleansing effects.

4. Cayenne. Also called capsicum or red pepper, this herb aids digestion and improves circulation - both of which will significantly help the cleansing process. Cayenne also acts as a catalyst for other herbs, so it is a good complement when taking garlic. Cayenne is full of phytochemicals and nutrients which are especially good for the heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, spleen and stomach. If you need some "get up and go," put a half teaspoon of cayenne in a glass of water or add it to your lemon water.

5. Dark leafy green vegetables. All dark, leafy green vegetables are packed with chlorophyll, which helps to eliminate toxins (especially heavy metals) and supports the liver. Be sure to choose organic greens - especially spinach, kale, collards, bok choy, beet tops - and eat them raw or lightly steamed. Greens such as watercress and arugula are slightly diuretic and work with the kidneys and liver to flush out toxins. All dark leafy greens are also rich in minerals that will strengthen the internal organs and help the body cleanse more efficiently.

If you would like to further assist your body's spring cleaning process, you may want to eliminate or at least reduce your intake of animal products, eat a higher percentage of raw foods each day, and consider fasting for one or more days. Herbal colon cleansing products, colon hydrotherapy, saunas, and deep breathing practices will also aid detoxification.

Sources for this article include:

Back to Eden; Jethro Kloss; 2004.
Biological Ionization as Applied to Human Nutrition; A.F. Beddoe; 2002.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch; 2006.

About the author:
Nancy Hearn is a certified health and nutrition consultant, fitness advisor, yoga instructor, EFT practitioner and hydration specialist. Nancy specializes in cancer prevention and recovery, weight management, stress reduction and personal development. Nancy is author of Golden Keys to Slow Aging eBook and is the editor of WaterBenefitsHealth.com, 4TotalWellness.com, and AntiagingWisely.com.

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