To Spring Clean or not to Spring Clean (our bodies, that is)

So you’ve probably heard it asked, “We spring clean our homes, why don’t we spring clean our bodies?” Indeed, why don’t we? Do they need it? If we’ve gotten past the Thinner Thighs For Summer crap that is all over the supermarket tabloids—to say nothing of our lovely social media, if we’ve learned to say No to fad diets promising the loss of 10 pounds in 10 days, then why would we fall for the hype of spring cleaning our bodies?

I’ll tell you why: it’s dirty in there. I promise you that no matter how clean your diet, no matter how clean your home, how clean your life—it’s dirty in there. Dirty as in, polluted. I mean most of us take showers or baths on a regular basis, but did you know those showers or baths are actually filling us with toxins even as they are washing away the residue from the lawn mower we were just using?

See what I did there? Reminded you of the toxins coming from your mower, your trimmer, your blower or, if you use an actual thwack, thwack reel mower, then from your neighbor’s lawn care devices. That’ll be no extra charge for the thallium, thank you, dear neighbor, and insert other chems (1) being emitted into the air you are casually breathing.

But back to our washing up ritual. Ah, good, clean, clear water. What a gift. But. Do you have a filter? On the house? On the shower? The bath? Do you realise that by standing in that hot, steamy, shower delicious water pouring over you, relaxing you, opening your pores, ah, so relaxing—stay just a little longer—that by standing in that flow for even a brief time you are taking in more chlorine, chloramines, trihalomethanes (quantity and variety featured will depend upon your water supply), than if you were to drink a full glass of unfiltered water from your tap? I wouldn’t lie to you. I know it sucks.

And you know what else sucks? Much of the produce from the store. I know you buy some of it organic. I know you know the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) list of the conventionally-grown fruits and veggies to avoid, their Dirty Dozen (plus 2, as of this writing). And you know their list of the ones which are okay to buy conventionally-grown, their Clean Fifteen. But do you realise just how complicated it is?

I encourage folks to grow where they are planted (so to speak), to use what they have to the best of their abilities, to buy the best they can afford. I have been known to talk about Blessing It and Moving On when we haven’t got the highest quality options in front of us. But I believe we must have information before we can Bless and Move On. I believe in empowering each of us to take ownership of our situation and make the best possible decisions at each juncture. So here we go.

When we buy non-organic, thin-skinned fruits and veggies they are bursting not only with the phytonutrients our bodies want (although less than we might need given the changes wrought by methods of modern agriculture), but also with organophosphates, permethrin, traces of old DDT, mold and mildew killers, nervous system disrupting chemicals and insecticides which crowd out what our bodies need. How, then, can we possibly be healthy even if we manage to eat our requisite five to eight servings of fruit and veggies per day? The body was not designed for this. The liver which is charged with clearing the toxins, is not built for the multitude of modern chemicals with which we present it.

The liver we have today is the same liver, genetically speaking, we had millenia ago, but the environment we make it deal with is clearly not. That list of chemicals in our foods is the tip of the iceberg. Remember the water? Add those chemicals into the mix. What about the air? Think of all the smells we encounter every day. Imagine all the trace chemicals we can’t smell. What about the radiation from the multiple electronic devices powering our lives? More and more research is showing us the dangers of that to our bodies. All of these are seen as toxins by the body and must be cleared out for us to maintain optimal health.

We have three main detox organs: the skin, the kidneys, and the liver. I’m focusing on the liver here. The liver is miraculous. It works hard all day helping us digest food and create hormones to make our bodies function. Then, at night, when we are not busy digesting, that same liver keeps on keeping on because it’s detox time and it shifts its focus to clearing all the toxins which have developed during the day--either from external sources, or internally from natural reactions in the body. If we want to be the best we can possibly be each day, then we must give our livers the support they need to detox every night.

So, long answer to a very short question: Do we need to spring clean our bodies? Yes, in a word, Yes. So get out your brooms and your mops, your dusters and your squeegees, grab the Lemon Pledge, the Bon Ami, the scrubbing bubbles, Mr. Clean, Windex, Drano and let’s get busy.

Yikes. I did it again. I snuck something new into the lineup here. Are we going to be using toxic cleaners to clean our houses? Of course not. We’ve all switched over to white vinegar and baking soda, borax or just plain water, right? I’ll write another blog another time, because the whole topic of cleaners is a fun and creative one (please note, I didn't say the cleaning was fun, although it can certainly be creative). So are we going to be using chemicals to clean up our bodies? No way. What I’ve got in mind today is much simpler, cleaner, and greener. For today we are going to focus on empowering moves that are relatively easy to make and simply rewarding. I hope.

The first is to install a shower filter. Heck, a whole house system is ideal, but that’s a whole house line item in most of our budgets, so to begin: a filter for your drinking water (called Point Of Use, if you want to sound in the know) and a filter for your shower head(s). Before my family made the leap to a whole house system we installed this type of shower filter. And I love my POU unit for drinking water. Its big plus is the option to add special filters which get fluoride out along with the usual culprits. There are a host of other options, of course, but in this overwhelming world of water filters I wanted to give you a tried and tested path through. The EWG has a super resource if you want to do more digging on your own. At the very least get a filtering pitcher. Every little bit helps, y'all. Every little bit. That’s a nod to “grow where you are planted” in case you missed it.

So, water. Check. Next up, food. Follow the guidelines from the EWG--and hey, let’s support their invaluable work by donating moola if we have it. They put it to good use. Now beyond produce, we can help reduce the toxic burden our bodies must deal with by cutting out the processed, packaged food. We can eat as close to the earth as possible. And when we choose to eat meat or eggs or dairy, we can choose organic and local to the best of our abilities. I have a whole lot to say on this topic, of course--who hasn’t?!--but suffice it to say that I am a firm believer in a more traditional Native American approach to eating an animal. I am grateful for its life and I honor it by not scarfing it down, but by eating small portions mindfully. And I do what I can to seek and eat only animals who are raised in animal-friendly circumstances. I know, I don’t believe, I know that how the animal is raised affects the quality of its meat, just as the quality of our childhood affects how we are as adults (not that I’m suggesting we eat humans who had happy childhoods, of course). I have a couple of resources on my website for local peeps and you can find more by searching here.

Whew. Spring cleaning does take commitment. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, so I promise this will be the first in a series. There is a lot more information to share to empower us in taking care of these bodies we rely on to take care of us. Be assured that a bit of spring cleaning goes a long way. Mary Poppins famously tells us, “Well begun is half done” and I feel excited to think of these cleaning up steps as putting us well on the way to optimal health. If you would like more, please get in touch with me about my group “sugar detox”, a powerful and fun way to boost that spring cleaning. So, until next time--eat your clean veggies, drink your clean water, and enjoy that clean shower!

(1) Such as ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, particulate matter. Can I say, Yum?

(2) e.g. mandipropam, fluopicolide and ametoctradin

(3) e.g. carbendazim, bifenthrin, malathion

(4) e.g. acephate, chlorpyrifos and oxamyl

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