detoxing

Spring Cleaning

Dear Leah Renee,

I did a detox after the holidays come the New Year, but I’m feeling ready again to prepare for summer and would like to do a little “spring cleaning” for my body now that it’s that time!  Do you have any suggestions that are not too drastic?  Thanks!

Ahhhh…springtime!  Warmer weather, flowers in bloom, and longer days inspires us to renew and regenerate.  A little spring cleaning is just the way to go.  Where to begin?!

The Liver!  Drugs, medications, environmental pollutants, food additives, unfiltered water, and ALL the food and beverages we consume—the liver gets to process all of it.  Our liver is an amazing organ, one that performs over 500 functions such as regulating our metabolism, detoxification, burning or storing fat, cholesterol, processing our hormones, and bile production.  The liver is an efficient fat burning organ, but when it is overloaded with toxins and cannot neutralize or eliminate them, it results in weight gain.

We tend to forget it’s not just foods and beverages we need to focus on, but a variety of factors that are toxic and taxing on our body.  As mentioned above, environmental pollutants, unfiltered water, stress, and lack of sleep all contribute to a sluggish system.

There are a few ways of effectively cleansing the liver and our body as a whole—and none of them have to involve feelings of nausea, feeling sick, or suffering from headaches.  Cleanses are meant to give you that fresh, rejuvenating start your looking for.  Here are some ways to get that going:

  • Drink!  OK, not everything.  Drink water.  A lot of it.  It’s suggested we drink half our body’s weight in ounces in water every day.  For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume 75 ounces of water in a day.
  • Drink some more.  A specific drink that is.  Each morning, start your day with a cup of warm water and freshly squeezed lemon.  This is a natural liver detoxifier.  It helps keeps a healthy pH level (that’s right!  It may seem acidic but once it enters our body it is a wonderful alkalizer!), it’s a natural diuretic, helps with digestion, and increases fat metabolism.
  • Move it!  Whatever makes you happy; Walk. Bike. Hop. Hula hoop. Hike. Run. Skip. Swim. Dance.  The list goes on but do it and enjoy it.  Take 30 minutes.  You deserve it.

Milk thistle

  • Herbs:  Dandelion, milk thistle (aka silymarin), artichoke (leaves), astralagus, and red clover are a few helpful herbs for cleansing the liver.  You can take them in the form of a supplement, extract (tincture), or be like me and drink some tea!  Yogi makes a good detox tea.
  • Eat: Fermented foods, vegetables like beets, peppers, carrots, and lots of greens.  Have many of them raw and minus a gallon of sauce on top.  Sorry, fried potatoes (aka french fries) dipped in mashed tomatoes (aka ketchup) don’t count 😉  Have lots of garlic and onions—both good for breaking down fatty deposits in the body.  Consume fresh fruits like grapefruit, apples, pineapple, cranberry, berries, and watermelon.
  • Incorporate healthy fats from legumes, avocados, raw nuts, flax and hemp seeds, evening primrose oil, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, pumpkin seed oil, coconut oil, sea vegetables and fish.

healthy fats

  • Go the extra mile and include some spirulina, fresh raw vegetable juices, and wheat grass into your diet.  This will give your liver a boost of chlorophyll—the same thing that gives plants their color and enables them to convert solar energy to food energy.  It acts as a liver cleanser.
  • Sleep.  Sleep is too under-rated.  Not only do we need it for a healthy mind and make us feel alert in general, but that is the time our body does its major repairs.  Get enough of it!  Strive for 8 hours as often as possible.
  • Laugh.  Watch your favorite comedy even if it’s the 50th time.  Get together with a friend.  Laugh with your husband or wife or children.  Remember to do what makes you happy.   It’s good for you.

All of these things will help to rejuvenate and stimulate the liver, aid in flushing out toxins and create a healthier you.  You do not need to starve yourself or live only on liquids.  Quick fixes too often result in quick relapses.  Slow and steady wins the race–and finding what’s attainable achievable will help you naturally detoxify your body and put a spring back into your step, just in time for summer.

 

Juicing vs. Blending

Dear Leah Renee, 

Could you please explain the difference between a juicer and a blender?  Thanks for all the great information you provide! –Lee E., Sun City, CA 

Funny enough, just yesterday I was at Trader Joe’s where cashier excitedly informed me he will be going on a juice fast for 10 days. Matching his excitement levels I asked him what kind of juicer he owned to make all his juices.  He told me he had a great high speed blender that “really mashes everything well and makes it really smooth”.  I didn’t want to burst his bubble, but I informed him that was not in fact a juice fast… that he’d actually be eating all the vegetables.  Another employee overhearing this conversation came over, with a smirk on his face and shaking his head said, “Yeah man, that’s not juicing.”

Here’s the difference in a nutshell: A juicer extracts the juice from the items you put in it, rejecting the rind, or pulp (basically the fibrous part of the fruit or vegetable) making the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants readily available to the body.  A blender (Vitamix, Magic Bullet…) blends and emulsifies all the ingredients you put in there, rejecting nothing and simply creating a thick, voluminous beverage.  Both are largely beneficial and equally good to have for different reasons.

Juicing and blending are not interchangeable and shouldn’t be chosen one over the other;  they are simply two completely different means of acquiring beneficial nutrients from your fruits and vegetables.  It’s like comparing cycling to yoga; they are both amazing workouts, nothing alike, but equally effective in their own way.  Cycling, yoga, juicing, blending…you could do them all in the same day if you wanna get crazy! 😉

green juice on green grass

Here are all the great reasons you should juice, and blend, and what you’ll get from both:

Juicing

  • Immediate nutrient absorption
  • Minimal digestion needed (no fiber to break down)
  • A fast, healthy way to get your daily vitamins
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Can reduce acidity (candida/yeast)*
  • Detoxifying and can aid in weight loss*
  • The ability to consume the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in as many as 5 carrots, an entire stalk of kale, a whole apple, 5 stalks of celery, half a bunch of parsley, and an entire cucumber–all at once.  To eat all that would take awhile!
  • Click here for some of my juicing recipes!

Please note!  

  • Unless you have a super juicer (aka a cold pressed machine), juices need to be consumed right away for the maximum benefit.  If you have some leftover or simply want to make a larger batch, store your juice immediately in a dark, air tight container and refrigerate immediately.  Light and air destroys too many of the beneficial antioxidants and enzymes!
  • Certain combinations of fruits and vegetables do not go well together for digestion purposes.  The easiest to remember is the one fruit that combines the best with any vegetable is an apple.  Other fruit/vegetable combinations can be disruptive.  The sweetest veggies to juice are carrots, beets, red bell pepper, and lemon or lime.  Add one or two to all the green goodness if you like some extra sweetness.  Make sure to peel the beets and lemon or lime first!
  • Juices are not to be mistaken for a meal.  Fresh juice are not meal replacements, so unless you are going on a supervised/approved juice fast, it’s a healthy way to have an extra nutritional boost during the day.
  • If you are doing a straight carrot, apple, or juicing any other item that is higher in sugar, keep in mind this will elevate blood sugar levels and can be high in calories.

Blending

  • Blending can help with digestion since it’s liquefied.  Most of us don’t chew or food enough in regular meals.
  • Blending can be used for smoothies and soups.  Unlike juicing, blending can be a healthy meal replacement for any breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Blending is an easy way to increase the amount of vegetables, especially greens, into your diet.  When combined with a little more fruit it’s great for the kiddies, too.
  • Many options are available and combinations are endless.  The chart below is one I put together for the post Scrumptious Smoothies–Every Time.
  • Combine one, none, or more than one from each category for a great tasting, nutritious drinkable meal!

Here’s a handy ingredient guide for putting together your own delicious smoothie: 

Smoothie Guide

It’s good to know the difference between the two, because both have their unique advantages everyone can benefit from.  It’s not a matter of choosing one over the other, but incorporating them both into your life as often as you choose!

What are your favorite juice or smoothie ingredients or recipes? 🙂

 

* = Depending on the ingredients you use & combined with eating right and exercising