There is no better time than the present to detox from stress and renew your soul. Especially if the present happens to be spring.
By Dr. Katherine Birchenough
Many patients come to me with symptoms related to exhaustion and burnout from chronic stress and lack of self-care. Here’s your chance to opt for that ounce of prevention: out with old bad habits, in with newfound respect for yourself. It’s time to raise your standards!
As you contemplate what changes you plan to make, let me put a few ideas in your head about what I think is important…
Body & Brain
Sleep is the ultimate overnight detox! Overnight is when your body carries out all of the repair work it can’t do when dealing with the work of digestion during the day. It requires many nutritional co-factors to do it efficiently, and magnesium is key. In addition to the body’s reparative functions, the brain also undergoes a nightly cleanse. Nighttime is when by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness are cleared, preventing degenerative brain diseases like dementia.
One of my favorite ways to get ready for a good night’s sleep and help detox is an Epsom salts bath at least twice a week. This is essentially a magnesium bath. If you have a big soaking tub, mix four cups Epsom salts, two cups baking soda, two tablespoons 20 Mule Team Borax and your favorite essential oil. Use half for a smaller tub. Soak for at least 20 minutes, put on those PJs, get some shut-eye and allow the healing to begin!
Food as Fuel
Eating is meant to energize—not deplete—your reserves. Do you find yourself craving the foods that you know will ultimately drain your energy, like sugar and refined carbohydrates? Usually, this is because there is an imbalance in the body, we are struggling from chronic sleep deprivation or we are feeling unsatisfied in our lives. Over time, minerals become depleted and blood sugar becomes unstable, leading to more cravings.
To get this in check, take a temporary break from sugar and refined grains as well as foods that may cause immune system reactivity, such as dairy, gluten, eggs, soy and corn. Avoid artificial sweeteners and foods containing preservatives, dyes and food additives. Ask yourself at each meal what your body needs at that time. The growing season is upon us, and soon we’ll have lots of fresh produce to eat! Listen to your body, and resolve to feed yourself well every day.
Winter is a time of rest and reflection, leading up to spring renewal. Think about what situations may be sapping your emotional and adrenal reserves. Many of us feel we need to “do it all” or risk losing control and thus, expend far more energy than we get in return for our efforts. This results in a loss of healthy boundaries, lack of self-care and burnout. We end up focusing more on the goal rather than on the journey, falling into the trap of workaholism or perfectionism. In the end, our health suffers.
Can’t seem to pull together a nutritionally dense meal? Try a delivery service that sources organic ingredients and comes with everything you need to cook like a gourmet chef. Have a family to cook for? Treat yourself with meal-prepping lessons from a local nutritionist, and everyone in the house will benefit.
ABOUT DR. BIRCHENOUGH
Katherine Birchenough was the fourth MD in the state of South Carolina to be certified through the Institute for Functional Medicine. A South Carolina native, Dr. Birchenough is a University of South Carolina School of Medicine graduate, board-certified in pediatrics and emergency medicine and has recently devoted herself full-time to her wellness practice. Dr. Birchenough practiced traditional medicine for more than 12 years, diagnosing and treating diseases but not really getting to the root cause. Over the years, she watched as unhealthy environments and poor lifestyle choices affected the health of her peers and her patients, at one point even herself, and knew that something had to give. She realized the pursuit of health, beyond just the absence of disease, is a specialty in and of itself but wasn’t available to traditional medical students. This realization brought her to a new career path in functional medicine and has fueled her passion to treat the patient, not just the symptoms.