Starting over in Spring: cleansing from a Naturopath’s perspective

This is the fifth part of our post-lockdown wholistic health reset. We’re focusing on simple mindset and lifestyle shifts that have the power to create significant results.

This week we’re talking to Naturopath and Nutritionist Kate Holm from Holism Health Co. about simple Springtime rituals that can assist in cleansing.

Spring is here and it’s the perfect time to shed some habits that may have started to weigh you down over Winter and gently replace them with some nourishing foods and behaviours.

Spring is the season for new life and renewal. We shift from the dark and cold of Winter, the yearning for hibernation, the dense and heavy foods, to lightness, sunshine, movement and an invitation to move with this rhythm of nature and into a spring cleanse!

A spring cleanse doesn’t have to be drastic – in fact, some of the most powerful and lasting results can be achieved through simple changes that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine and diet. Here are a few tips to cleanse both the mind and the body with ease:

Remember to breathe

Before you step out of bed in the morning, take some intentional breaths. The breath provides us a way to shift into a parasympathetic or relaxed state and move into our day more mindfully. The diaphragm, activated with each breath, acts as a pump, helping to improve blood flow and remove waste products from the system. We have to breathe anyway, so why not make it purposeful?

A great breathing exercise that is easy to remember is the square breath.

Square Breathing

Inhale slowly through the nose counting to four.

Hold breath in counting to four.

Exhale through the mouth counting to four.

Hold breath out counting to four.

Repeat for ten cycles.

Prioritise hydration

On rising, drink a large glass of warm or room temperature water with the juice of half a lemon. You could even make a rehydrating tea by mixing 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/4 tsp salt and a small squeeze of lemon in a 250ml warm water to get your digestive juices flowing and your daily hydration kick started.

Swap your morning coffee for a herbal tea, cacao or chai. If you can’t manage this every day (I’m right there with you!), aim for even 1-2 times per week. Many herbal teas can be useful in facilitating a spring clean such as:

• Dandelion root (great for liver support)

• Dandelion leaf (a gentle diuretic)

• Nettle (lymphatic and anti-allergy support)

• Calendula (lymphatic and anti-oxidant)

Ensure you drink at least 2L of filtered water each day to help your elimination channels (liver, bowel, lymph, skin) to flush out any toxins.

Incorporate herbal medicine

Herbal medicine is a gentle and effective way of supporting the body all year round, and many of our herbal friends can particularly help us to cleanse for spring!

In herbal medicine traditions, it is believed that many of the remedies that you need surround you in your environment at the right time – so it is no surprise that come spring, the humble dandelion appears in abundance.

This mineral dense herb is the perfect cleansing companion – the root supports the liver and the gall bladder, while the leaves are great as a gentle diuretic, releasing fluid retention and nourishing the kidneys. This gentle, but powerful herb can also work as a blood cleanser and to support our digestion – the perfect remedy for moving the sluggish Winter congestion.

Nettle, the abundant weed, is a fantastic blood building tonic, helping to improve fatigue and support the repletion of many nutrients. The leaf is primarily the part of the plant that is used (careful if you’re harvesting it yourself!) and is strongly indicated to support kidney and lymphatic function. It is also a natural anti-histamine and gentle diuretic – amazing for clearing stagnation and improving vitality.

Calendula, with its bright yellow flowers, is fantastic for lifting those winter blues. Like dandelion and nettle, it’s great for moving stagnation, particularly in a sluggish lymphatic system, while also supporting both the liver and the bowel to gently detoxify.

How to incorporate herbal medicine

We can incorporate herbal medicine into our springtime regime in many ways – whether it’s with herbal tinctures, teas, essential oils, poultices, flower essences and even in our food.

 That said, it’s important not to self-prescribe herbs (or other supplements for that matter), unless in the form of teas or culinary herbs. Always seek guidance from a qualified herbal medicine practitioner.

If you are looking for some herbal teas to support you through Spring, you will often find a great selection in health food stores, some larger supermarkets, or online. Ensure you steep your tea from 10-20 minutes in order to maximise the extraction of active constituents to achieve the most therapeutic benefit.

Freshen up your diet

Avoid foods that are heavy, cold and difficult to digest such as wheat, dairy, fried or oily foods and large portions of meat. While these foods are fine in moderation and can be more grounding in winter, it is important to eat with the seasons and move toward a lighter and more vibrant way of eating in Spring. Include leafy greens and herbs in abundance, opt for a variety of colours of fruits and veggies with each meal, and began to weave in more raw foods where possible.

A sample day of eating cook look something like:

Breakfast – Spring veggie omelette with asparagus, spinach and fresh herbs, or Bircher muesli with fresh fruit

Lunch – Salmon salad with pickled veg, roast sweet potato and leafy greens or rice paper rolls with tofu and peanuts

Dinner – Chicken stir fry with a rainbow of veggies, rice noodles and basil or burrito bowls with fresh salad, Mexican beans and quinoa

You may also like to incorporate smoothies or fresh juices to increase both hydration and nutrients throughout your day.

Increase your consumption of fibre from foods like chia seeds, flaxseeds, psyllium husk and vegetables to help bind with toxins in the gut and excrete them through the bowel. These can easily be added to smoothies, or consumed through foods like chia pudding, home-made granola and veggie loaded salads!

Move your body gently and joyfully

Exercise is a very important element of any cleansing regimen – it is also the perfect way to wake your body up from the hibernation of Winter. Exercise increases the delivery of oxygen to your tissues and raises your metabolism to be more efficient at breaking down and eliminating toxins. 

Take it easy at first if you are not already exercising. It will be much more sustainable to start slowly and gradually build up intensity as your body can tolerate it, rather than trying to push yourself as hard as you can go. Listen to your body and choose exercise that is mindful and fun! Some ideas include:

• Yoga

• Dancing

• Swimming

• Walking with friends

• Hula hooping

• Anything that you enjoy and feel good doing!

Aim to increase ways to sweat where possible – the skin is the largest organ of detoxification so every time you sweat you are helping facilitate your Spring cleanse.

Go mindfully and intentionally. Allow yourself to wake from the winter hibernation gently and employ some (or all!) of the strategies above to support your body to cleanse and recharge through Spring.

You can follow Kate and Holism Health Co. on Facebook and Instagram, or book Naturopathic support at www.holismhealth.co. She also runs a postpartum meal delivery service to support women and their babies to thrive in their precious postpartum period and beyond.

Georgia is a clinically trained nutritionist, wholefoods chef, columnist and mum. She’s been featured in Body & Soul and had TV appearances on ABC Breakfast and Studio 10 for her unique approach to food and health. She’s known for reinventing traditional foods for the modern kitchen and was instrumental in a radical new approach to sports nutrition with a program for the NRL Parramatta Eels, kickstarting their ascent on the ladder in recent years. Find out more at stirringchange.com.

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