Spring Clean Your Health
Spring is the perfect time to clean up your health. As a UK women’s holistic health coach with an interest in gut health and hormone balance, I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact that taking care of your bodily systems can have on your overall health and wellbeing.
In this article, I’ll share some tips on how to clean up your brain, liver, gut, lymphatic system, skin, and lungs helping you feel your best.
I always encourage my clients to take a holistic approach to their health, and that includes brain health. The brain is the control center of not only your body, but your hormones and taking small steps to care for it can reap big returns.
One of the best things you can do for your brain health is to hydrate properly. Dehydration can lead to brain fog, energy dips and headaches, so make sure to drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day. Everybody has different needs but the general rule is to aim for at least 1.5L of water per day, and more if you're exercising or spending time outdoors. If you aren't peeing every 2 hours, you are dehydrated.
I recommend my clients to drink a big glass 30 mins before each meal. This not only allows your gut to digest food optimally, as drinking liquid with your food can dilute your digestive enzymes but it will also give your brain a minute to catch up on hunger cues v's thirst cues. These cues often feel similar leading to overconsumption and weight gain.
Add in more Omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are essential for brain function, and they're found in foods like salmon, nuts, and seeds. Omega-3s can help improve memory and cognitive function, and they can also reduce inflammation in the brain.
Social connection is vital for brain health and brain chemistry. When we engage in social interactions, our brains release a hormone called oxytocin, which is known to reduce stress and promote positive emotions. Oxytocin is also responsible for strengthening social bonds and increasing trust and empathy, which can lead to more fulfilling relationships. Make time for friends and family. Even small interactions, such as a friendly conversation with a stranger, can help boost mood and overall wellbeing. Making social connection a priority can have a profound impact on brain health and improve our quality of life.
Movement in Nature
Physical activity has been shown to increase cerebral blood flow, which enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Exercise has also been found to promote the production of neurotrophins, which are proteins that help to support the survival and growth of neurons. These benefits of exercise can contribute to improved cognitive function, as well as a decreased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia.
Engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day supports brain health. Examples of moderate-intensity exercise include brisk walking, cycling, or swimming. Other physical activities, such as yoga or Pilates, can also be beneficial for brain health. These activities can help to reduce stress and improve flexibility, both of which can contribute to improved cognitive function.
Movement in nature has been found to provide additional benefits for brain health. One study conducted in Japan found that participants who walked in a forest had lower levels of cortisol compared to those who walked in an urban environment. Outdoor exercise can also provide an opportunity to engage in activities that challenge balance and coordination, which can help to maintain and improve brain function. Incorporating nature-based exercise into your routine, may offer unique benefits for brain health, support healthy brain aging and enhance overall cognitive performance.
The liver is responsible for filtering thousands of toxins from our body, and a healthy liver is essential for not only overall wellbeing but happy hormones. Spring is the perfect time to reset and focus on our health, and there are several simple steps we can take to support our liver.
One easy way to kickstart your day and support your liver is by drinking lemon water on waking. Lemon is known to stimulate the liver's natural cleansing process and promote digestion. Simply squeeze half a lemon into a glass of warm water with a pinch of good quality salt and drink it first thing in the morning. This will not only hydrate your body but also help flush out toxins and boost your metabolism.
Another way to support liver health is by incorporating bitter foods into our diet. Bitter foods can help to stimulate the production of digestive enzymes that are essential for good digestion. Foods like rocket (or arugula for my American friends), dandelion greens, chicory, apple cider vinegar and radicchio contain compounds that stimulate bile production in the liver. Bile is essential for digestion and helps break down fats. By eating bitter foods 15 minutes prior to our meals, we can promote healthy bile flow and support our liver's detoxification process.
The presence of plastics in our environment has become a growing concern in recent years, and for good reason. Many plastics contain harmful chemicals, such as bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, which have been linked to liver damage and hormone related issues(1). These chemicals can leach out of plastics and enter the food chain, contaminating our water and food. These toxins, when consumed, can accumulate in the liver, potentially leading to an overwhelming burden that impairs its ability to function properly. By reducing our use of plastics, we can help to decrease our exposure to these harmful chemicals and support liver health and detoxification.
Simple steps, such as using reusable bottles, food storage containers and coffee cups made from stainless steel or glass not only avoid single-use plastics, it can make a huge difference in reducing toxic exposure.
Cut The Junk
Reducing processed foods is pretty transformative for liver health. Processed foods often contain high levels of sugar, salt, emulsifiers and unhealthy fats, which can put a strain on our liver.
UK ultra-processed food consumption is the highest in Europe, with a national survey revealing these foods to contribute 53% of energy to the UK diet(2). By focusing on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, our bodies are nourished with the vitamins and minerals our liver needs to function optimally.
And if I was to make one more suggestion, it would be movement. Exercise not only helps boost circulation, which can improve liver function and promote detoxification, but it also offers an additional benefit of sweating to help eliminate toxins from the body. Sweating during exercise can help to reduce the burden on the liver by providing another route for the elimination of toxins. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, whether it's a brisk walk, yoga, or strength training, to support healthy liver function and overall wellness.
Women who do a liver detox within their health coaching program with me report experiencing the following benefits:
Relief from symptoms of Estrogen Dominance such as endometriosis and fibroids
Better quality sleep
Less body odour
Improved digestion, metabolism and regularity
Less brain fog
If this sounds like something you could benefit from, I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Book in a free 15min clarity call with me here.
I often work with clients to improve their gut health through nutrition, stress management, and lifestyle changes. Gut health is key to long term health!
Your gut health is incredibly influential on your overall health, as it is responsible for digesting food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste. The gut is often referred to as the "second brain" because of its connection to not only our physical health but also our mental and emotional wellbeing. Let's break down a few ways to optimize your gut health.
Eat More Plants
To support your gut health, start by eating seasonally. This means choosing foods that are in season, local and organically grown where possible. These foods tend to be fresher and more nutrient-dense. In the UK, box schemes like Abel & Cole and Riverford are a good place to start or your local farmers market. Both links are hooked up with discount codes (every little bit helps!) These veggies have a much higher nutrient content compared to the produce from a supermarket, you'll be lowering your toxic load by going organic AND you get to support local growers who use less miles and less plastic. Win, win, win, win.
Diversity is key when it comes to a healthy microbiome. Aim for 30 plants a week. This sounds like a lot but when you include nuts, seeds, grains, fruit and veg it adds up quickly. It's important that these are wholefoods and as unprocessed as possible.
Eating a diverse range of plants provides a variety of nutrients and fiber that feed our gut bacteria. Different types of fiber serve different functions in the gut. For example, soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic, feeding beneficial bacteria, while insoluble fiber helps move waste through the digestive system.
Additionally, plant-based foods contain phytonutrients, which have anti-inflammatory properties and can support overall health. By eating a variety of plants, you're providing your body with a range of these beneficial compounds.
Sugar can cause inflammation in the gut and disrupt the balance of bacteria(3). When we consume too much sugar, it can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a decrease in beneficial bacteria. This imbalance can lead to digestive issues like bloating, gas, and constipation, as well as more serious conditions like leaky gut syndrome.
Focus on eating fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and high-quality protein. If you have a sweet tooth or chocolate pulls at your heart strings, I hear you!
You can whip up these chocolate protein balls in 5 minutes and as they contain fibre, good fat and protein, they will keep your sugar cravings at bay whilst keeping your blood sugars in-check. You won't be crashing down a few hours later after eating these yummy bites of goodness either.
Managing Stress with Breathwork
Stress can have a significant impact on gut health by altering the composition of gut bacteria and increasing inflammation. One effective way to manage stress is through breathwork. Deep breathing exercises can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the "rest and digest" response.
To practice deep breathing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and inhale deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air. Hold for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat for several minutes, focusing on the sensation of the breath. It's a simple but very powerful tool to incorporate into your day.
Getting Quality Sleep
Sleep is essential for overall health and plays a crucial role in gut health. When you get good quality sleep, your body has time to repair and regenerate, including the cells in your gut lining. It's recommended to aim for between 7-9 hours of sleep a night, not easy with small children or a hectic schedule. That's why I created an ebook with my top tips on how to increase the quality of your sleep.
Download my free ebook
Gut-Friendly Recipes for Spring Cleaning Your Body
Spring is the perfect time to focus on improving gut health by incorporating fresh, seasonal foods into your diet. Here are a few gut-friendly recipes to try:
Gut-Healing Smoothie Bowl
1 cup frozen mixed berries (I used blueberries, strawberries, unsweetened cranberries and red currants)
1 cup spinach
1 cup unsweetened plant based milk (I like Rude Health's range).
1 tbsp chia seeds
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top with your favourite toppings; cinnamon, sliced fruit, nuts, and seeds.
Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowl
Vegetarian / Vegan
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sweet potato, cut into 3cm cubes
1 colourful bell pepper (red, yellow or orange), cut in to bite sized chunks
1 handful of broccoli, cut into bitesized pieces
1 handful of cauliflower, cut into bitesized pieces
1/2 cup of quinoa with 250ml of bone broth or filtered water
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
100g of feta cheese
Fresh herbs (I used parsley)
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice
1 teaspoon raw honey, local where possible or maple syurp
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Chop veg and toss in avocado oil. Spread on a glass baking dish and roast for 20-30 minutes until the veg is tender and lightly browned.
While the veg is cooking, rinse the quinoa in filtered water, bring to the boil and cook for 10-12 mins or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn the heat off and pop the lid on to let the quinoa steam until the veg is ready.
Layer the roasted veg in with the cooked quinoa.
In a small jar or bowl add the ingredients for the dressing. Shake/stir well and pour over the salad.
Serve with feta, herbs and sesame seeds sprinkled on top.
Gut-Healing Bone Broth
Simmer chicken or beef bones in water for 12-24 hours to create a nutrient-rich bone broth. Add veggies like carrots, celery, and onions for added flavour.
For more bone broth inspiration, head over to last week's article
Your lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste and toxins from your body, making it an important player in your overall health. A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, can make the lymphatic system become sluggish, leading to a buildup of toxins and inflammation in the body. As the lymphatic system doesn't have it's own pump, it can benefit from additional supportive practices like the ones outlined below. Spring is the perfect time to give your lymphatic system a boost.
One of the most effective ways to support the lymphatic system is by incorporating dry brushing into your daily routine. Dry brushing involves using a natural-bristle brush to gently massage and stimulate the skin, which helps to improve circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system. This simple practice can help to reduce inflammation, promote healthy skin, and support overall detoxification.
Another powerful tool for supporting the lymphatic system is a face roller. These small, handheld devices are designed to gently massage the skin and stimulate the lymphatic system, helping to reduce puffiness and promote healthy circulation. Whether you use it in the morning or before bed, a face roller can be a great addition to your self-care routine.
A rebounder is an excellent tool for supporting the lymphatic system. Rebounding involves jumping on a small trampoline, which can help to stimulate the lymphatic system and promote detoxification. In addition to supporting the lymphatic system, rebounding can also help to improve cardiovascular health, boost energy levels, and reduce stress.
Taking a cold shower or wild swimming are both beautiful ways to support your lymphatic system. Cold water stimulates the lymphatic system and promotes healthy circulation, which can help to reduce inflammation and support overall detoxification. While it may be uncomfortable at first, the added benefit of your body releasing endorphins, your feel good hormones might just tip the balance for you. Our bodies can benefit from doing hard things! From personal experience, I would suggest starting cold water showers or wild swimming in the warmer months and continuing the practice into the colder parts of the year once it's already a part of your daily rhythm.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body and plays a crucial role in our overall health. It acts as a barrier, protecting our internal organs and tissues from harmful environmental factors such as UV radiation, pollution, and toxins. Our skin is also permeable, which means that it can absorb substances we apply to it, including harmful chemicals found in conventional skincare products. It's so valuable to arm ourselves with knowledge here, pay attention to the products we use and opt for more natural and non-toxic options.
Use a Natural Deodorant
One way to reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals is by using a natural deodorant. Conventional antiperspirant deodorants contain aluminium, parabens, and other harmful ingredients that can be absorbed into our skin and potentially harm our health. Natural deodorants allow the body to perspire, a natural part of our detoxification process. They are made with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils, which are safer for our bodies.
Another way to protect our skin and overall health is by using non-toxic makeup. Conventional makeup products often contain synthetic fragrances, preservatives, and other toxins that can irritate the skin and are yet to be proven to be safe. More research is needed into the potenitial harm caused by these chemicals including concerns around hormone disruption, increased inflammation and an increased cancer(4). Here are some the worst ones to look out for and avoid:
BHA and BHT
Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number
Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)
Sodium laureth sulfate
Non-toxic makeup products are made with natural ingredients and are free from harmful chemicals, making them safer for our skin and overall health. Customer awareness and demand has exposed in recent years and I'm happy to say that you can now go clean without having to sacrifice on quality. Your future self will thank you.
This is one of my favourites. Epsom salts are a natural source of magnesium and can help soothe sore muscles - think big here - this includes your heart, your brain & your gut, not just your sore back. It helps to eliminate toxins through the skin and eases constipation, stress and inflammation. They can also be used as a natural exfoliant, helping to remove dead skin cells and revealing smoother, brighter skin.
For a bath, take 1-2 cups of Epsom Salts dissolved in warm water and soak for 20-40 mins. Don't forget to hydrate throughout as the salts pull out water from the body very efficiently.
Up Your Antioxidants
Antioxidants protect our bodies from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells, including those in the skin. Free radicals are often generated by external factors like pollution, smoking, and UV radiation, and can cause our skin to age more quickly. This is because they can break down collagen and elastin, two proteins that keep our skin firm and elastic, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. By increasing your intake of antioxidant-rich foods like colourful organic fruits and vegetables, you can help neutralise free radicals and protect your skin from damage.
Did you know that the air quality in your home or office can have a significant impact on your wellbeing, including the health of your lungs? Indoor air pollutants can lead to a range of health issues, from minor irritation to severe diseases. Shockingly, the toxic level of indoor air is two to five times higher than outdoor air, and research suggests that UK citizens spend an average of 90% of their lives indoors. Thankfully, there are some natural ways we can improve the air quality in our homes. Breathing better air is key to supporting our overall respiratory system, so it's worth questioning how we can improve the air we breathe indoors.
Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
Synthetic candles and air fresheners can be harmful to our health due to the toxic ingredients they often contain. Many of these products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which can irritate the lungs and trigger respiratory problems, particularly for those with asthma or allergies. Some of the harmful chemicals found in these products include benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, and phthalates, which have been linked to migraine headaches, infant diarrhoea and earache and neurological problems(5). There are many companies that now offer non-toxic alternatives to these products thankfully. Natural alternatives, such as beeswax candles and essential oil diffusers, can still provide a beautifully scented home atmosphere without the harmful chemicals.
Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
Switching to non-toxic cleaning products with natural ingredients not only benefits our health, but it can also be cost-effective and efficient. Many commercial cleaning products contain harmful ingredients like phthalates, ammonia, and chlorine bleach, which can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation and hormone imbalances.
You can check how 'clean' your cleaning products are on the EWG website.
Natural cleaning products are often made with ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils, which are not only safer for our health but also cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
One simple recipe for a green multi-purpose spray is to mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, along with a few drops of essential oil for a pleasant scent. This simple and effective spray can be used to clean kitchens (excluding marble or granite), bathrooms, floors, and other surfaces throughout the home. Vinegar is tough on mould and many essential oils are antimicrobial without the side effects of using stronger chemicals.
Vinegar Surface Cleaner
1 cup filtered water
1 cup white distilled vinegar
1/2 lemon juiced (optional)
15 drops lavender essential oil or peppermint, orange, or lemon
Pour all the ingredients into an old cleaner spray bottle (use a funnel, if needed). Gently shake the cleaner.
Gently shake the spray bottle before spraying the cleaner on the desired surface.
Do NOT use the vinegar cleaner on marble or granite.
Open the Windows
Keeping the air in your home circulating is key to keeping indoor air polution at bay. If you're able to, investing in an air purifier can help and also opening windows regularly can help remove pollutants from the air, ensuring that you're breathing cleaner air.
So open your windows day and night, even if it's just a little. It will do you and your home the world of good.
Take Mould Seriously
Mould can affect us in numerous ways including our respiratory symptoms, joints by causing inflammatory response and more. They give off chemical substances that are just as toxic as synthetic ones. Shocking right?!
Mould loves the combination of double glazing and condensation from the moisture we produce in our breath, cooking and showering. Proper ventilation is crucial, especially in areas that produce moisture, like the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. It's possible to measure how much moisture your ventilation fans can extract. Investing in a good quality extraction fan can keep your home's moisture levels in check so that mould doesn't have the opportunity to grow. A dehumidifier is another option to keep moister at bay in areas with less ventilation like a basement or if you're drying clothes inside.
What do you think?
I hope this have given you some ideas of how to spring clean your health. If you've read this and it just feels a bit overwhelming, I get it. This is where working with a holistic health practitioner can really move the dial for you and your health journey. Having someone in your corner, holding you accountable and taking small sustainable steps, it's a powerful process.
If you're curious about how a health coach can help you feel and be your best self, I'd love to chat with you! I'm offering a free 15-minute call where we can talk about what you're looking for and how I might be able to support your journey.
Let's take care of you.