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Spring Clean

It's spring time, and with the fine weather in Galway, everyone is getting out there on the beach. Long may it last!

This is a good time of year to consider a 'spring cleaning'. Not just in the house, but in your body as well. If you have found this winter long and cold, and are ready to come out of hibernation and face the summer, read on…

Step 1 – Taking Stock

The first step to a spring clean is usually taking stock of what needs to be done. Have a think back over the previous months. Have you gotten every cold or cough going around? Have you had a cough for 6 weeks? Did you get the winter vomiting bug, and how often? Are you often tired and do you feel run down? These are signs that the immune system needs a boost.

Maybe you have gained some weight over the winter, being stuck inside all the time. Maybe you aren’t looking forward to the spring because it comes with its own problems – hayfever and that constant run down feeling.

Or maybe you have had a long standing health issue and have decided that 2010 is the year to deal with it. Whatever the case, this spring clean will help you on your way!

Step 2 – Sorting out Digestion

This is a critical step as the digestive system is the foundation for nutrient absorption and assimilation (use), for elimination of toxins, and for the immune system. Many find their various aches, pains, headaches, colds, coughs, allergies and fatigue resolve themselves when their digestion is in order. Here are a few simple steps to follow.

  • Identify problem foods – these are the foods that make you feel bloated, nauseas, or cause reflux, burping and indigestion. If you are unsure of what they are, but suspect a few things, you can ‘test’ it by cutting those foods out of your diet for 14 days. On day 15, try it 3 times and see if you react. Only test 1 food on any given day though.
  • Strengthen your digestive power – you need enzymes to digest food properly. I don’t necessarily recommend taking a supplement of digestive enzymes unless symptoms are quite severe. You can stimulate your own enzymes by following these few simple steps:
    • Chew – 32 times each bite. Saliva contains the enzymes that breakdown carbohydrates, so don’t skip this step, especially if you are eating pasta or potatoes. Saliva also causes the releases of digestive enzymes in the stomach, which will help breakdown everything else. If you are trying to lose weight, slowing down the eating process can allow you the time to realize that you are full, before you over eat.
    • Drink a glass with lemon 10 minutes before eating – the bitterness will help stimulate digestive enzymes as well. If you are trying to lose weight, this will also help take the edge off the feeling of hunger, making it easier to slow down while you eat.
    • Consider taking a probiotic – if you have been on any antibiotics at all, or just get bloating and other digestive discomforts, try taking a probiotic supplement (acidophilus). I recommend just taking 1 bottle to see if that resolves the issue. Get a good brand from the health food shop and take once a day, or as directed on the bottle.
    • If you know you have an ulcer, or you take a lot of NSAIDs for pain (paracetemol or Advil), or you have allergies such as asthma, eczema, hayfever, you may need to think about repairing the lining of the digestive tract. This mucus membrane protects your digestive system from the toxins it comes into contact with. It also prevents those toxins from entering the blood stream, where they potentially cause an immune system reaction. The probiotic will help, and so will chewing. But if that’s not enough, consider some other nutrients – vitamin A, vitamin C, and glutamine. For a list of foods with these nutrients in them, see below.
    • Drink Chai tea – its delicious and therapeutic. See why here.
  • Help your digestive system eliminate toxins
    • Increasing fibre and water in your diet will help your gut move toxins out of the body. Drink at least 1L water per day, ideally increase it to 1.5L. Increase fibre with whole fruit (apples are great), nuts and seeds (milled seed mix is great on porridge), oatmeal, and brown basmati rice (I know it takes longer to cook, but its worth it! – try basmati rice if you are short on time).

Step 3 - Strengthening your immune system

Your immune system depends on nutrients for it to function, and exercise to keep it moving. Let looks at the last one first.

  • Get moving – your immune system functions through the lymph channel, which runs right next to the blood vessels. However, blood has the heart to pump it around the body. The lymph has no such organ, so it relies on YOU to keep it moving. Even walking 20 minutes 3 times a week will help this vital system keep you healthy.
  • The foods you eat can really influence the function of your immune system. For nutrient lists, see below.
    • Vitamin C has so many different roles to play in good health its hard to know where to start. Skin, gums, joints, the cardio vascular system and the lungs are all dependent on optimal levels of vitamin C. It is anti inflammatory (due to its anti oxidant properties) and supports immune system response.
    • Zinc is anti inflammatory and promotes the white blood cell response of the immune system. It also helps balance blood sugar levels, see below.

Step 4 – Losing the fat

The biggest contribution to fat is actually…sugar! Eating foods that cause a sudden rise in blood sugar levels causes a ‘crash’ shortly after when insulin kicks in, and a craving for MORE sugar. Insulin lowers blood sugar levels, but it also stores the extra sugar AS FAT. Getting blood sugar levels balanced is critical for fat loss.

For serious weight loss, cut out bread, potato and pasta. These 3 foods, especially when eaten in large quantities or by themselves, contribute to blood sugar imbalance. Read more in the weight loss article.

Step 5 – Having fun

Having fun and laughing is one of the best medicines. Try to smile 50 times a day and see how much better you feel.

These foods are good sources of the nutrients I mention above. Depending on your state of health, you may need to supplement, but food is always a good place to start.

  • Vitamin A – carrots, spinach, sweet potato, kale, winter squash, swiss chard, red bell peppers, parsley
  • Vitamin C - bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons, blueberries, raspberries.
  • Zinc – sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, natural live yogurt, spinach, parsley
  • Glutamine – is in high protein foods such as chicken, fish, beans and dairy products. A great vegetables source is cabbage.


Juice carrots and ½ cabbage for a healing digestive tonic. 1 a day will help heal the protective coating of the digestive tract.

See my 3 day Detox program for a more intense cleaning process.

Good luck with the spring clean!

These recommendations are general – if you are still struggling with some health issues, consider booking a consultation. Everyone is an individual – a personalised treatment plan can often be more effective. Feel free to contact us if you have questions.