The Spring Cleanse
I adore this time of year for the longer hours of sunlight, the hopeful colour of the daffodils and seasonal yield of nourishing greens. Today marks the Spring Equinox and the start of renewed life energy. The equinox, the moment at which the sun moves directly above the equator, begins a natural energy shift that brings with it new life, new birth and the opportunity to rejuvenate our own biorhythms.
Shedding off the darker and colder days of winter can make you feel physically and emotionally lighter, this is partly to do with the greater hours of daylight but also to do with our natural synergy with the seasons.
A spring cleanse can optimise this time, and is in my view a better time than the new year detox’s that have become so popular. Far from being a starvation diet, a spring cleanse is simply a way of lightening the load on the body and although gentle, it can be deeply nourishing and, believe it or not, enjoyable. These are my foundation tips for a spring cleanse, 28 days is the optimum length of time but anything over a week is better than nothing if this is not practical for you:
- Avoid non-nourishing foods such as sugar, alcohol and white flour products. Replace with organic whole grains (wholegrain rice, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa) and natural sugars (local or manuka honey).
- Drink more filtered water, at least 8 glasses although not with meals (this dilutes the digestive juices). If you can, drink this water warm by using part boiled water and part cold water. This encourages the movement of the lymphatic system as well as avoiding toxic build up in the skin, kidneys and gut.
- Start the day with a mug of hot water and the juice of half a lemon or a capful of apple cider vinegar. This alkalizes the body (therefore supporting the breakdown of toxic residue and ensuing inflammation) and motivates the metabolism at the start of the day.
- Use a body brush before you step into the shower each morning. Use upward strokes until you get the level of your heart and downward strokes from the head down to your heart. Don’t scrub, just gently brush. This also gets the lymphatic system moving. If you like baths, you could even run a bath with some Magnesium flakes or Epsom bath salts, be warned this will really relax you!
- Tap into the spring energy by cutting down on the heaviness of rich root vegetables and move towards summer with the lighter, high water content of spring produce. Choose seasonal veggies and ideally make simple vegetable soups, salads or stir fries.
- Breakfast can be warm unsweetened stewed seasonal fruit with added spices such as ginger or cinnamon. Add some crushed linseeds and a drizzle of organic pouring yoghurt. Or, if the day is warm and sunny, a green smoothie of mixed berries, handful of spring greens, half an avocado, a dollop of raw honey and some almond or coconut milk.
- Simple juices can support healthy cell rejuvenation. There is no need to buy an expensive juicer, you can simply add a gadget to your magi-mix if you have one or borrow one from a friend for a week. Alternatively there is now much better access to Juice Bars in shops such as Whole Foods or Planet Organic. Buy a book or use the internet for some recipes but beetroot, cabbage, celery, apple, pear, greens such as broccoli, spinach and chard have fabulous cleansing properties and are prolific at this time of year. As a general rule, adding lemons, apple or pears will make even the most interesting vegetable medley taste palatable. Aim to have a juice at least once a day if the weather is warm, or vegetable soups if it is cold and damp.
- Enjoy the outdoors and make sure you take long walks taking in fresh spring air and soak up the greater access to vitamin D rich sunshine.