When gentle spring breezes start to blow, it's time for spring cleaning — not only for your house but for your body, too!
Toxins tend to accumulate all year round, due to improper digestion and high levels of stress—not to mention the chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, toxic build-up can eventually manifest as a health disorder. And as we grow older, the body's mechanisms for eliminating impurities tend to be less efficient, making it even more important to cleanse every season.
This is especially important during spring (ideally, in March). Why? Biologically, nature supports cleansing of the body in spring. During winter, the digestive fire is high, and people eat more sweet and heavy food. Most of the time, they aren't able to assimilate these hard-to-digest foods, so ama (the sticky, toxic product of incomplete digestion) starts accumulating. When warmer spring temperatures melt the snow, impurities within your body also start to liquefy, flooding the microcirculatory channels (shrotas) that carry nutrients to the cells and waste away from the cells. When these essential channels get clogged, it can leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and toxic. A spring detox may be just what you need to feel fresh and energetic again.
Detoxifying in spring is an important part of the ayurvedic seasonal routine, called ritucharya. And the good news is — you don't have to go to a health spa to detoxify. Here's a complete plan for cleansing at home using a detoxifying diet, lifestyle habits and herbal formulas. All three aspects work together to loosen toxins and help them flow out of the body through the natural elimination systems of skin, urine and bowel.
Eat a Detoxifying Diet
During the winter months we all eat heavier foods and store more fat to fortify against the cold. Unfortunately, the heavy food also leads to a build-up of digestive impurities (ama). The first step is to loosen the toxins by eating a lighter, detoxifying diet. This will help your digestive system clear away the toxins that are weighing you down.
- Eat warm, light, cooked foods such as soup.
- Favor easy-to-digest fruits, vegetables and grains. Suggested fruits include cooked prunes, figs, apples, pears, pineapples and papayas. Detoxifying cooked vegetables include leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, and crucifers such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. For grains, eat fresh flatbreads such as chapati, quinoa, barley, amaranth, rice and kanji (rice water made by cooking eight parts water with one part rice).
- Season your food with detoxifying spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, black pepper and fresh ginger.
- Eat fresh, organic foods.
- Avoid canned, frozen, packaged or processed foods, as these are difficult to digest and contribute to toxic buildup.
- Stay away from heavy foods like red meat, leftovers, fried foods, oily foods, yeasted breads, sugary desserts, crackers and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. These are hard to digest.
- If you are hungry between meals, drink boiled milk with a pinch of cardamom. After each meal drink a digestive lassi (a yogurt drink made with 3 parts water and 1 part yogurt blended with cumin and salt) to aid digestion.
- Avoid cold foods and cold drinks, as these interfere with digestion and create more toxins.
- Drink plenty of water. Boil one quart of water with ½ teaspoon whole cumin and ½ teaspoon whole coriander. Strain and sip through the day. Cumin will help burn impurities, and coriander will cleanse deep tissues.
- If you feel less hungry at mealtimes than usual, or if you feel heavy and dull in the two hours immediately after a meal, these are indications that your digestive fire is burning low. To help enhance your agni, make a delicious Pomegranate Chutney to accompany your meal.
- Cooking your food with immune-supporting spices such as cumin, fennel, coriander, turmeric, ginger and black pepper is also an important way to enhance agni and reduce ama.
Maintain a More Restful Lifestyle
As your body is releasing toxins, it's also important to help the purification process by getting more rest. Sleep at least eight hours a day, go to bed before 10:00 p.m. and rise before 6:00 a.m. to keep your microcirculatory channels clear of toxins. But avoid sleeping during the day, as that will clog your channels and prevent toxins from flowing out.
- Avoid vigorous exertion or team sports, but keep your body moving and your digestion toned with gentle exercises such as yoga and walking for half an hour a day.
- Give yourself a daily mini-massage (abhyanga), using warm oil to loosen impurities. Take a warm bath after your massage to help the toxins flow into the digestive system, where they can be eliminated easily.
- Eat your biggest meal at noon, as this is when digestion is strongest. Make breakfast a light meal, such as a stewed apple, and eat soup or other light foods for supper.
- Schedule your meals at the same time each day, as your digestive system functions more efficiently when on a regular routine.
Start an Herbal Detox Plan
After you have followed the Detoxifying Diet and Lifestyle for two weeks, continue with that diet and lifestyle and start the following Herbal Detox Plan. You can continue with this step for two to six weeks. Be sure to continue with the Detoxifying Diet and Lifestyle throughout the cleanse to support the body as it releases toxins.
- Take 2-5 tablets of Organic Digest Tone or 2-4 capsules of Herbal Cleanse before going to bed each night to cleanse the bowel.
- Take 2 tablets of Elim-Tox morning and evening to cleanse the liver, blood, sweat glands and the elimination system. Take Elim-Tox-O instead if you have any symptoms of reactive toxins such as skin breakouts or if you have a Pitta imbalance.
- Take 2 tablets of Organic Genitrac morning and evening. This will purify the urinary tract and assist the removal of toxins.
End the Cleanse Safely
Maharishi Ayurveda recommends that you continue following the same detoxifying diet and lifestyle for one week after the herbal cleanse is completed. Take time to gently ease your body into your regular diet and lifestyle. Give your body a chance to adjust gradually. This is actually the most important part of the entire cleanse, to avoid overloading your digestion with heavy foods after the cleanse.
By the end of your spring cleanse you should be feeling lighter, healthier and more energetic. You may notice that your joints are freer and you may even have shed a few pounds.
In order to prevent toxic build-up after the cleanse is over, you'll want to make sure your digestion is running smoothly on a regular basis. Follow the ayurvedic guidelines for healthy food preparation and avoid food combinations that create toxins (see section below).
Gradually, consider adding the traditional Ayurvedic herbs that support respiratory health. Protection Plus Respiratory System contains 26 herbs that act synergistically to protect the lungs from respiratory problems. This formula separates ama from the Shleshaka Kapha, the subdosha related to joint lubrication and body fluids, making it easier to cleanse the lungs. It also cleanses the channels of ama and nurtures, lubricates, and restores balance to the lungs as the impurities are dissolved, supporting the body's natural immunity.
You can also drink a warm, immune-supporting tea such as Sniffle Free Tea twice a day, with your meal or after it. The herbs in this thermogenic tea will help balance Kapha immediately. If your head is feeling heavy or congested, you can also use Sniffle Free Aroma oil to help create balance and clear the sinuses.
Guidelines for Healthy Food Preparation
- Use fresh, organic food of the best quality available.
- Eat food that is freshly cooked and warm.
- Make your food delicious and pleasing to the eye.
- Prepare your food in a happy, settled atmosphere for the best influence on digestion.
Food Combinations that Create Toxins
Maharishi Ayurveda identifies certain food combinations, called "incompatible foods," that are known to cause toxins. Avoid combining the following foods.
Avoid combining with alcohol, fermented foods (such as apple cider, soy sauce, vinegar), citrus fruits, pickled foods, eggs, baked goods containing eggs, green leafy vegetables, meat, fish, salt, salty foods, or yogurt.
Avoid combining with milk, sour fruits, melons, fish, starches, cheese or bananas.
Avoid combining with other foods in general, and especially grains, starches, fried foods, and cheese.
Avoid combining with milk, yogurt, melon, fruit, potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant.
Avoid combining with dates, raisins and bananas.
VEGETABLES OF THE NIGHTSHADE FAMILY (POTATO, EGGPLANT, PEPPERS)
Avoid combining with yogurt, milk, melon and cucumber.
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