Hopefully by the time you're reading this, the rains have indeed started to fall, helping to put out the many fires burning in our province and clear the smoke from the air. And then we can breathe. It certainly has been a smoggy summer. I'm sure many of you have heard the term “Smokanagan” more than a few times lately. Smoke hovering about isn't just annoying and smelly, it's actually toxic and dangerous to our health. And this doesn't just apply to the elderly, infirm and young children, it affects everyone.
Even before the smoke begins to clear and horizons are visible once again, it's a good idea to think about detoxing and cleansing our lungs and our bodies. After weeks of living in what felt to me like a very large freshly-extinguished campfire, it's important to do a few things to encourage the body to purge the toxins. Particles in the air, as well as those carcinogens that you can't see, all make their way into our bodies affecting us in many different ways.
Coughing, sore throats, lack of energy, poor sleep, headaches, and general malaise are just some of the complaints I've heard from clients and people out in the community. Toxins, regardless whether we breathe them in, consume the in food, or absorb them through our skin, all create inflammation. And with inflammation being the root cause of all disease, being proactive and eliminating as much of it as possible is a must. It's also important to note that just because you may not be experiencing any symptoms, does not mean your body is not being affected on the inside.
Imagine inside your body you have this bucket. And everything we do to or for our bodies, and conversely, even what we don't or won't do, either creates health or moves us towards disease. The negative things that we do, along with the things we choose not to do that we know we should, create inflammation. Picture that internal bucket with bits of stuff filling it up until one day, there's so many inflammatory bits inside it's like that recycling bucket under the sink in your kitchen. Eventually you can't put even one more little bit in because it starts overflowing all over the place. Same inside our bodies. People who have not made the bucket overflow likely are not feeling so bad in this smog because there's still room in the bucket. Others who continually live with their bucket hovering at the top, constantly threatening to spill out all over the place are feeling it the most. It is important for everyone to “empty that bucket” regularly rather than just keep trying to shove one more item in and hope it doesn't make a mess everywhere. Sound familiar?
So, what can we do to detox? In general and for our everyday lives drinking lots water, eliminating stress, getting enough sleep, eating whole, organic foods, eliminating anything packaged or processed and getting up and moving your body for at least 30 mins everyday. Doing these things alone is something anyone can do to immediately reduce internal inflammation. As an added bonus, you'll probably lose a few pounds in the process. Losing just 18 pounds can reduce your internal inflammation by as much as 18 percent.
To detox the smoke and other nasties that we've been breathing in over the summer, there are a number of easy things you can do. First of all, when you are inside, practice deep breathing. Exercising our lungs with deep breathing helps to bring more oxygen into the blood stream and up to the brain. This is especially important for people who sit long periods of time. As the hours go by, we tend to slouch, collapsing our bodies forward, bringing the ribs in close around the lungs, causing shallow breathing and restricting oxygen. Sit tall or stand up and breath deeply, in for four counts, hold slightly at the top, out for four counts, hold slightly at the bottom and repeat. Diffusing or spraying some good quality essential oils around the house will also help to clear the lungs. Oils like peppermint or eucalyptus are great for this.
Incorporating more cleansing type and high antioxidant foods helps the body to flush out and detoxify as well. Chewing on peppermint leaves is easy and very beneficial. Spices like ginger, turmeric and cinnamon are rich in antioxidants and therefore work to reduce inflammation. I brew up a pot of hot water with a half fresh lemon, squeezed, chunk of fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, 1/3 tsp turmeric and let it steep. Add a tablespoon of honey for the pot if you need it a little sweeter as honey is antibacterial. Stay away from sugar, you're creating inflammation every time you eat it.
It's true we can never live two timelines and experience the difference in what it feels like or what happens doing good things or not. But what we do know is that when we remove toxins, put good stuff into our bodies and lower the inflammation, people live longer, stronger, better lives. Who doesn't want that?
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