FULL of zeal and vim, you intend to clean up your act, banish the seasonal bulges, and get started on a new and virtuous regime of vigorous health.
How? What’s the best way to achieve this laudable aim? There are so many regimes around it becomes a mite confusing. It can be fairly simple though, following the dictates of common sense.
Our bodies need rubbish removed from them just as our houses do. The key exit routes are the bowel, the urinary tract and the lungs.
If these exit routes are overloaded or under functioning your skin may break out or you may find yourself full of persistent catarrh, prone to cystitis, or lethargic with a sluggish bowel.
When extra amounts of rubbish have been put in (Christmas chocolate, anyone?), it’s even more important to get the exit routes functioning as well as possible.
So how can you improve things?
• Get out in the fresh air every day and clear your lungs. A 10-minute walk is enough, so long as you do it every day. It’s not time consuming and doesn’t require fancy gear or expensive gym membership, so it really easy to commit to.
• Drink at least 1.5 litres of still water daily to flush toxins out through your urinary tract. If you aren’t used to doing it, remember not to drink any large amount 20 minutes either side of a meal (to avoid diluting your digestive enzymes), and remember not to count fizzy water or flavoured water in your 1.5 litres.
• Make sure your bowel is working at least once daily. Without this exit route open and functioning well, you are more likely to experience bloating, abdominal discomfort, wind, skin problems and general sluggishness. If it isn’t, take a psyllium husk supplement to clear it. If this isn’t enough, try a laxative containing herbs such as Linseed and Senna to get things going.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll already be feeling a little better. The next step is to cut down your caffeine intake to two cups per day maximum, and instead increase herb teas such as Golden Grass, Fennel, and Nettle, which are all very good for the urinary tract.
Ask in your local health store for advice, as the staff will be able to tell you about the various flavours of tea available, as well as providing the supplements you may require.
Many people find that drinking more water and less caffeine helps improve bowel function, so if this is a side effect of your cleansing work, well done and keep up the good work.
Bring on a better diet
• Reduce the amount of red meat, white flour, refined sugar and fatty fried food in your daily diet
• Increase your intake of vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, wholegrains such as brown rice or wholemeal couscous, and wheat-free alternatives such as millet or red lentil pasta, rice cakes and oatcakes instead of normal bread and pasta.
• Chew your food really well – this makes a huge difference to how effectively your digestive system works. Try chewing each mouthful at least 20 times, and if this feels like immensely hard work then you probably routinely inhale your food rather than eating it, and you will benefit greatly from slowing down and actually masticating…
Just the tonic
Finally, to give your liver and kidneys a spring clean, treat them to some herbal tonics. Herbs that help support the liver include Milk Thistle, Artichoke and Dandelion. Solidago is a herb that is particularly supportive for the kidneys. Take these for 2-4 weeks to get the full benefit.
That’s it. You’ll be cleansed and refreshed, your digestive system will have had an overhaul, and you probably won’t feel like going back to bad old habits such as mainlining caffeine and sugar. You can repeat this programme whenever you feel the need, but spring and autumn are particularly good times to choose.
Cut Out: red meat, burgers, fried food, wheat, refined sugar, dairy products, alcohol, coffee, tea, biscuits, cakes, chocolate and sweets
Include: fresh fruit and vegetables, chickpeas, adzuki beans, butter beans, kidney beans, green or red lentils, tofu, wheat-free pasta, rice cakes, oatcakes, corn cakes, humus, dairy-free milk, dairy-free yoghurt and cheese, coffee substitutes such as Bambu, herb teas, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.
· Melanie Ratcliffe is owner of independent health store Bare Health, in Congleton, Cheshire. The information contained within this article is designed for information purposes only. If you are taking any prescribed medication or undergoing any form of medical treatment always seek the advice of your GP or healthcare specialist prior to making changes to your regime.