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Time for a spring clean
10:39am Friday 7th March 2008 in Health
The evenings are getting lighter and spring is almost upon us. In nature, this is the time of year for growth, regeneration and renewal - everything begins to wake up and burst into life. We also start to think about spring-cleaning the house and clearing out the clutter accumulated over the winter.
So why not follow nature's lead by supporting your body's own processes of renewal and regeneration, helping to recharge your batteries after your winter hibernation'. Maybe even consider giving yourself a spring-clean, in the form of a gentle detox, perhaps?
Here are some tips to help boost your energy levels and increase your feelings of vitality: Start exercising - this increases fitness and stamina, improves the immune system, circulates nutrients and oxygen around the body, and strengthens the heart muscles. If you were one of those lucky people who received a bicycle for Christmas, then now is a good time to start using it. Alternatively, you could always go for a brisk walk in the fresh air - those bracing March winds are great for blowing away the cobwebs and bringing a healthy glow to the cheeks - or make the effort to join your local gym.
Drink more water - on average we need about 1.5 litres of fresh water daily (more if we are exercising). Water is required for every process in the body. When we are dehydrated, we lose energy, we feel hungry, our powers of concentration decline, our metabolism and digestive system slow down, and our skin becomes drier.
Cut out the junk and stimulants - give your body a break from caffeine, foods that are high in fat and sugar, processed foods, takeaways, cigarettes and alcohol. These all contribute to ageing, degenerative diseases, blood sugar fluctuations, increase the burden on the immune system, and deplete vital nutrients.
Eat more fresh fruit and veg - fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and energy-boosting enzymes. Making your own fruit and vegetable juices is a quick and convenient way of getting your five-a-day. In spring, we should also be focussing on green leafy vegetables and herbs that represent the season's fresh new growth, such as Swiss chard, spinach, Romaine lettuce, spring greens, broccoli, spring onions, fresh parsley and basil.
Destress - we all need a certain amount of stress in our lives, but excessive, long-term stress can lead to fatigue, low mood, increased susceptibility to colds and infections, and an increased reliance on junk food, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes. Try to manage your stress levels, and take time out for yourself if you can - for example, have a relaxing soak in a warm bath, listen to music, read a book, take up a hobby, or even just remove yourself for five minutes from a stressful situation.
Sleep well - ensure that you have seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night. Too little sleep can be as detrimental as too much sleep. During sleep, the body has a chance to recuperate, regenerate, fight infections, and process' the day's events. Sleep deprivation and disturbed sleep can lead to tiredness, irritability, reduced immunity, decreased productivity, and can even have adverse effects on the metabolism.
Consider a detox - symptoms of toxicity can include sluggishness, headaches, fatigue, nausea, aching muscles and joints, dark circles under the eyes, poor complexion and allergies. Undergoing a detox at least once a year can help maintain optimum health and support the body's own natural detoxification processes. Seek advice from your GP or a nutritional therapist on the best method that suits you. It is not advisable to undergo a detox if you are pregnant, diabetic, undergoing chemotherapy, taking medication, suffering from a cold/infection, have an eating disorder, or are required to limit your fluid intake for any reason.
You can contact Simon Lewis at the Bell Trees Clinic, call 01865 200365.
HEALTHY SEASONAL MEAL OPTIONS Pre-breakfast: The juice of a Freshly-squeezed lemon in a glass of hot water (great for giving your body a cleansing kick-start to the day.) Add some fresh grated ginger for an extra zing.
Breakfast options: A home-made smoothie, or fruit/veg juice Natural live yoghurt, with fresh fruit, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds Porridge oats or a good quality muesli Scrambled eggs with turmeric and mixed fresh herbs Lunch options: Spinach and potato frittata, with spring onion and garlic Asparagus soup with poached egg and croutons/toast Spring vegetable Minestrone Wholegrain tagliatelle with purple sprouting broccoli, parmesan shavings, and fresh herbs Evening meal options: Grilled chicken kebabs with mixed green salad (watercress, lettuce, spinach, basil, parsley) Grilled or poached lemon sole with steamed seasonal vegetables Vegetable stir-fry with feta cheese, tomatoes and mixed beans or chickpeas Dessert options: Rhubarb Fool with yoghurt and manuka honey Poached pears with cinnamon and fromage frais Lemon soufflé with caramel sauce Healthy snacks: Hummus, pesto or salsa dip with crudités and/or oatcakes Cottage cheese with rice cakes or rye crispbread topped with herbs or spices of your choice Miso soup, with spring onions and asparagus