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Springtime Detox

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— February 15, 2017

Springtime Detox

  • Cleansing yourself of unhealthy foods as well as extracting yourself from electronic devices helps balance your body from the inside out.
  • By: Linda Melone
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A lot of people (maybe you?) plan a detoxification protocol this time of year to help their bodies feel lighter and cleaner as we move into spring. These three general approaches are recommended by Kirkland Shave, program director for Mountain Trek, which features fitness retreats in British Columbia, Canada (mountaintrek.com, @MountainTrek): moving more, eating more vegetables and shutting down electronic devices.

After battling sinus trouble her doctors could not completely relieve, Amelia Roberts, 33, of Washington, DC, did a vegetarian cleanse. “I had two shakes a day using a vegan protein powder (low-glycemic, pea protein-based, gluten-free) and sometimes added spinach or frozen blueberries.” In addition, Roberts included a vegan meal with fresh, non-nightshade vegetables. After 10 days her cough and sinus issues resolved. “It could be unrelated,” she adds, “but I also no longer needed my inhaler.”

Amelia Roberts BSN RN, social media coach

Detoxifying is the process of supporting a flow state in our whole being, notes Shave, who says, “When we take a break from ongoing patterns and habits, we recalibrate and become lighter of being.” Eating more veggies adds fiber and more antioxidants to support a lean, clean, body, Shave adds. “Moving more through dancing, walking and swimming reduces inflammation and increases blood flow. And shutting off all electronic devices an hour before bed allows the stress hormone cortisol to drop.” Use that hour for an Epsom salt bath, giving or receiving a massage or doing some restorative yoga.

Just changing the way you eat can create major body benefits. Fasting, juice cleanses and other ways of detoxing the body can even add years to your life, according to a study published in Cell Metabolism. Research shows prolonged fasting combined with a low-calorie, high-nutrient diet improves metabolism, brain functioning and life span in animal subjects and also decreases cancer occurrences while reducing body fat. Simple approaches to spring cleaning your body make it easy to feel better.

“I live with rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions, and so every now and then I like to detox and cleanse my body from the pharmaceutical medications and all of the bad toxins,” says Ashley Boynes-Shuck, 33, a Pittsburgh author and health coach. “I love my juice cleanse and do one a few times per year.” Boynes-Shuck says juice cleanses leave her feeling lighter and more energized. “The cleansing and fasting process not only detoxed me, but also stimulated me creatively and helped me to focus on my writing in addition to my health and well-being.”

Ashley Boynes-Shuck, author and health coach

Forgo Fast Food

A fast and fun way to detox and begin your road to optimum health: cut out fast food, says Susie Dittmer, ND, a Fullerton, California, naturopathic doctor. “I like to keep it simple and call ‘fast food’ any restaurant with a drive-through window. Take for instance a typical hamburger; most of the real ingredients are gone.” Shortening or oil replaces butter, powdered egg substitutes are often used in place of real eggs, and processed sweeteners and preservatives are typical. “It becomes an unhealthy meal of sugar, fat, and salt,” says Dittmer.

Martin Hernandez, 29, of Evans, Georgia, tried a detox method known as cupping, in which small bulbs or pumps are placed on your back, legs and arms with the idea of “releasing stagnant blood.” (You saw Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and other swimmers with the markings of cupping during the last Olympics.) “I tried a very simple dry cup therapy that lasted for about ten minutes,” Hernandez says. “It was a very painful ten minutes that seemed to last a lifetime.” The bruises lasted for a few days but Hernandez reports he didn’t feel different, although he was feeling fine beforehand. “The next time around I hope to try it while I am sick or extremely sore so that I can have a better baseline to judge my results,” he adds.

Martin Hernandez, junior executive consultant

In place of these meals, cook at home using real food. This includes fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and lentils. As a bonus, you won’t have any reason to cut calories or go on a diet because your body will naturally become full with these highly nutritious foods, says Dittmer, who suggests making a challenge with your other health-minded friends. “Get a group of friends together, create teams and a little wager. For example, every week each person pitches in a dollar or two; whoever lapses by eating fast food chips in $5. Set a goal of one-year without eating fast food.”

Ease Off Electronics

“Many of my patients have a hard time unplugging from the world around them, especially with their phones, Instagram and Facebook,” says Elizabeth Trattner, AP Ac, a Nationally Board Certified Acupuncturist in Florida. Overuse of electronics can disrupt sleep and even cause issues such as finger joint and tendon pain. “The easiest way to begin an electronic detox is to plan a trip outdoors with bad cell phone reception. Or take off all apps off your phone and restore them after your trip.” (For more on digitally detoxing, see the box, right.)

In an effort to lose weight and “reset” her body, Morgan Berrington, 30, of Chicago, tried a three-day juice cleanse to jump-start her weight loss. She lost almost five pounds but found the cleanse wasn’t for her. “I was completely miserable the whole time,” Berrington says. “The only juice I looked forward to having was the almond milk at the end of the day. Needless to say, I gained most of the weight back in the following weeks.” On the upside, she says doing the cleanse helped her improve her overall diet.

Morgan Berrington, social media manager at J&L Catering and Events and founder at Fork My Life food blog (forkmylifechicago.com)

Second, reduce TV viewing time, Trattner suggests. “I only have one in my home and only watch it for movies for the most part. It is rarely on and never in any of the bedrooms of my home. Unfortunately, almost everything is toxic on television, especially the news and reality television.”

In addition to cutting back on watching negative TV shows, weaning yourself off the screen can help improve sleep. Research shows the blue light emitting from devices affects melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone. According to 2014 research from the National Academy of Sciences, people reading or viewing a screen immediately before bedtime took longer to fall asleep, experienced less REM sleep (dreaming, restorative sleep) and took longer to wake up when compared to people reading a printed book.

Spa Treatment Tackles Digital Overload
As many see it, the new century marked the Starbucks era by attracting millions to set up shop in coffee houses, remaining digitally tethered to their laptops and other mobile devices for hours on end. Jennifer Lynn, spa director at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas, sees that trend reversing itself a bit as more people recognize the downsides of such constant connections and seek ways to unplug—at least for a little while.
In evidence, Lynn says, is the response the hotel chain has received for its digital wellness retreats and treatments, offered for the first time last fall. The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas was the first in the hotel chain to offer a two-day retreat and has since seen up to 10 guests a week seeking its “Journey Into Stillness” digital disconnect treatment modeled on the weekend.
Clients have been motivated to pull back on their digital connections to establish boundaries within their families, set a better example for their kids, distance themselves from electro-magnetic frequencies (EMF) emitted by mobile devices, and improve their sleep.
The “Journey Into Stillness” treatment has as many dynamics for the senses as reasons for seeking it: a foot exfoliation and massage, face and scalp massage with acupressure, a rhythmic full-body massage, and sound therapy using tuning forks and placements of tourmailine crystals on the body.
After participating in the wellness weekend, Elizabeth Lesser, a Las Vegas business consultant, said she removed most social media from her cellphone and checks in with them only on her desktop computer. And rather than checking messages constantly, she waits until she finishes a project. “I’m more focused,” Lesser says. “It’s given me a clearer perspective.”
The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas retreats have been scaled down to single days. The next one is scheduled for March 20 to coincide with the spring equinox, Lynn says. Separating from phones for two days, she adds, “was too much for some.” —Allan Richter

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