How to Get Rid of the Winter Sluggishness and Feel Great This Spring

woman in sunflowers

By Dr. Valerie Penton-Power, MSc, ND

Spring is the season of new growth and new birth! Once the spring comes, it is time to rid the body of the accumulation of a sedentary winter. You may have arrived to Spring feeling you had a winter of overeating and poor lifestyle habits with the urge to open the windows to air out your home and your body.

After being cooped up this winter, if you are feeling less than “fresh” it may be that you are having trouble eliminating toxins that have built up. Perhaps you feel sluggish or weak, or are experiencing headaches, constipation, muscle aches, etc. These symptoms can indicate that the body’s innate healing force is not working optimally and some help is needed.

Nature is a regenerating force and a shining sun and warmer weather can be incredible motivators for taking steps to improve our health. One step in this direction includes supporting your body’s natural elimination processes. This is not just about shedding any extra weight gained, but also about regaining energy.

How to Support your Body’s Natural Elimination Processes

Dietetics

In the winter, our bodies crave warming, often heavier foods (e.g. stews and casseroles) for nourishment. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view, when spring arrives, it’s time to start introducing more fresh foods and vegetables (greens and baby beets etc). One of the main ways the body eliminates toxins is through bowel movements. Vegetables stimulate the activity of the bowels by adding fibre and water.

Avoid switching fully to a raw or uncooked diet but think of more lightly cooking your food or combining warm things with fresh foods to ease your digestion into the new season. Including pungent and sweet foods such as yams, leeks, mushrooms, cilantro, onion, mustard greens, turnips, carrots, bok choy, cinnamon, chicken and beef will help. Think of making stir-fry meals with hearty greens/veggies and your choice of protein.

Water

Water is the universal cleanser and there is never a better time of the year than spring to increase our water consumption.

Additionally, hydrotherapy or “water cure” refers to applications of warm but primarily cold water in the case of contrast applications (cold/warm). Hydrotherapy helps strengthens immune defenses, stimulates the circulatory and nervous system as well as metabolism and invigorates the body.

Fasting

Fasting can take several forms. It could be a short fast (1-2 days), fasting on alternate days or daily intermittent fasting with distinct periods of time eating and distinct periods of time not eating.

There is ample research that demonstrates the positive effect of intermittent fasting, including giving your digestive organs a rest. Intermittent fasting has been shown to have profound beneficial health effects and can counteract disease processes and improve outcomes for disorders including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease Parkinson’s disease and stroke.[1]

Cleanses

In comparison to a fast, a cleanse is more specific. It may involve cutting out refined and processed foods (white flours, sugars), dairy products, excessive salt, alcohol and coffee and then adding in whole organic fruits and vegetables, legumes (beans) and proteins.

A cleanse may be beneficial if you are noticing things like skin problems, headaches, bloating or sluggish bowels, poor sleep or just a general feeling of fatigue or mental dullness.

“Stronger” cleanses really should be done with the help of a professional so it can be customized to you specifically. You should always check with a health professional if you have any health problems before doing any cleanse.

[1] Mattson MP, Longo VD, Harvie M. Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. Ageing Research Reviews. 2017;39:46-58. doi:10.1016/j.arr.2016.10.005.

Dr. Valerie Penton-Power, MSc, ND

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