This article comes to us compliments of Belle Instructor and Naturopathic Doctor, Julia Segal!
Should you cleanse in the winter time?
As the cold weather outside encourages us to get cozy and stay in, winter is the time of year to work on the most internal aspects of our health (and recover from the holiday indulgences!) This is a time to nourish the deepest parts: our bones, kidneys & bladder and adrenal glands. It is as good a time as any for a cleanse. However, cleansing in the winter must look very different than it would in spring, summer or fall.
What is cleansing?
The body is constantly cleansing itself in order to stay alive and function optimally. Metabolic and environmental toxins are constantly being processed by the liver and released through our skin, our lungs, our bowels and our urine. Doing a cleanse supports this process by removing the foods that keep cells and organs under heavy burden, such as sugary and sweetened foods, refined carbohydrates, fried foods and modified fats from packaged food. Some may have additional food sensitivities which may change throughout our lives. It is important to be aware of any foods that challenge your health, and a cleanse can bring these to light. Removing such food burdens allows your body to “catch up” with its work-load and regain balance.
How can this process be supported in the winter?
A cleansing diet in the winter includes high water content foods such as soup broths and cooked vegetables of all colours especially dark green. Bean and vegetable soups, chicken broths and warming herbal teas like ginger, nettle, fennel seeds, licorice and cinnamon are helpful. On the other hand, raw fruits and vegetables and other cold foods should be eaten only in small amounts during this season. Salty foods are important at this time because the minerals provided by salt benefit the kidneys and adrenal glands. Miso, umesu, sea salt and seaweeds, as well as whole grains such as millet and barley are beneficial for their mineral content. If you have high blood pressure, use salt moderately. Consuming enough protein, through lean meats, fish, eggs and legumes is essential. Warming foods like ginger, pepper, cayenne and cloves are helpful for moving circulation. Naturopathic treatment will address individual health and in winter it may include adaptogenic herbs which tonify the adrenal glands and immune system.
Mapping your cleanse
Consult your Naturopathic Doctor to learn what the best cleanse plan and supplemental supports for your body might be this season. Make it simple and remember to focus on breath and sweat, two often neglected cleansing mechanisms. Just 5 minutes of deep belly breathing each day flushes toxins from the system, rejuvenates organs and tissues, and decreases stress and anxiety.
A sweaty workout three times per week releases a surprising amount of toxins. Dry sauna, especially infrared, also helps with detoxification and fat breakdown. A cleanse done right should have you feeling clear and energetic after a few days, while also teaching you much about your body. That awareness buys you years of better health!
By: Julia Segal, Naturopathic Doctor and Belle Method Pilates Instructor