Spring is the season to open up the house, empty out the closets, and clear out the clutter and cobwebs. It’s also the time when those in northern climes might wince as they uncover their bodies (winter is such a great time to cover-up, burrow in and just forget about it, right?). I wish you just a momentary wince or none at all.

As a dietitian and yoga teacher, the idea of nutritional cleansing fascinates me. Each time I cleanse (I don’t fast and I only do very gentle cleanses, by the way. I think fasting and harsher cleansing can do more harm than good – more on this later) I reaffirm my everyday cleansing diet – that is, cleaning up my diet as a way of life. My spring cleanse this year was more about being strong in my own wellness than about nutritional goals per se. I have a tendency to allow stress from others’ poor lifestyle habits influence how I take care of myself. Since my fruit & vegetable cleanse with herbal support (I used Yerba Prima support products this time), I’ve worked harder to resist being swayed by well-meaning loved ones gifting me treats.

For the next couple months, I’ll tease this topic of nutritional cleansing and detox, let you what I’m thinking about it, and the resources that I have found helpful.

So first, why even do it?

Our environment has changed for the worse in the past 100 years. The EPA estimates a grand total of 4.3 billion pounds of the 650 toxic chemicals they follow were released into the environment in 2005. Other groups estimate that 1,000 newly synthesized compounds are introduced each year.

Toxic chemicals enter into our bodies through the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. While our bodies have an elegant system of removing toxic chemicals from the body (via the work of the liver, kidneys, lungs, skin and digestive system), there has been an increase of toxins in the environment, and at the same time a decrease in the nutritional quality of the average American’s diet. The deterioration of our diet (through eating large amounts of processed foods, chemicals and hormones, and not enough healthy fruits, vegetables and unadulterated whole grains and clean proteins) impairs the ability of our body to effectively detox. That’s the basic rationale for learning a little about detoxing and occasionally focusing on it as a means of maintaining overall health.

Here is the EPA’s brochure from their Toxic Release Inventory (TCI), and a more detailed report. You can find loads more information at www.epa.gov.

EPA 2005 Toxic Chemical Inventory (TCI) – overview brochure

You can find the full eReport on the EPA website.

In future postings, we’ll review the basics of nutritional cleansing, the mental aspects of cleansing, safe vs. not-so-safe cleansing, resources available to you, products I know of, and some non-nutritional cleansings.

May you be happy

May you be healthy

And may you stand in the light of your own truest self