When I was in my late twenties I got strep throat 3 times in a row, so I decided to try something other than conventional medicine, which wasn’t working. I began a cleanse, also called a detoxification, which was to become the first of many, and finally got rid of my infliction.

Our bodies can store toxins for many years and will continue to do so unless we encourage our cells to eliminate waste. Doing a cleanse – also called detoxification – is one way to help our bodies to eliminate toxins.

Toxins can cause health conditions such as weakened immunity, but can also exacerbate things like joint soreness and arthritis, cancer, heart disease, skin conditions, mental health disorders and obesity.

Foods such as non-organic meat and dairy, processed foods, artificial colours and flavours, non-organic produce, and trans fats can all contribute to our bodies’ toxic load. Chemicals also contribute; these include detergents, fabric softeners, household cleaners, cosmetics, hair care products, paints, adhesives, car exhaust, smog and other fumes.

If you are interested in detoxifying, there are beginner cleanse kits are available in Whitehorse at 3-Beans and Aroma Borealis. These kits contain herbs and other supplements to assist the body in the cleansing process and also include dietary suggestions.

These suggestions include eliminating processed food, dairy, store-bought meat and bread products, while focusing on fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, good quality protein, such as wild meat and fish, beans and legumes.

If this dietary plan seems a bit much, you could start out by simply increasing your intake of water. This will encourage your body to remove more stored toxins than usual. You could also selectively adopt the dietary suggestions mentioned above, without using a cleanse kit. But keep in mind the more changes you make, the more stubborn toxins you will release.

There is also a fasting cleanse, which can be done through juice fasting, or a pure water cleanse. Fasting however, aggravates some health conditions and should be done only under supervision of a health care provider. For example, I don’t do well on a fast because I have very low blood pressure and will get dizzy and light-headed.

Whatever type of cleanse you are doing, ample liquids need to be ingested in order to aid toxin removal. Fibre from fresh produce, whole grains and legumes are also very important for this reason.

Mild headaches and nausea are some common symptoms at the start of a cleanse, due to the effects of long-time stored toxins being released. If ample liquid intake and mild-to-moderate exercise happens daily, these symptoms should be alleviated in a day or two.

Try to refrain from eating after dinner until morning. In the morning, eat a piece of fresh fruit (very easily digested), followed by a cup of herbal tea, and wait an hour or two until consuming a morning snack or light meal. This will allow your body to focus energy on detoxification throughout the night and into the morning.

My family and I aim for 2 cleanses per year. We generally don’t eat a lot of processed foods or sugar but tweaking our diets for even a few weeks makes us more energetic and alert. Usually we take acidophilus, a probiotic bacteria supplement that aids in digestion, and oil of oregano 3 times-per-day to help counter Candida yeast, which sneaks up on the majority of people once in a while.

Here are some delicious meal ideas for a cleanse:

-whole grain pancakes topped with berries;

-artichoke and chick pea stew, loaded with vegetables of your choice, and topped with fresh dill, lemon and slices of avocado;

-brown rice with a boiled egg, tamari, and a sprinkle of cashews;

-fresh veggies and spicy hummus wraps with olives and avocados, and your choice of greens, onions, sprouts, etc.;

– chicken and barley soup with choice of vegetables; mix in a teaspoon of almond butter when serving;

-bean and rice salad with diced tomato, cilantro, corn, lemon and olive oil dressing with fresh pepper;

-whole grain pasta and sautéed veggies served with fresh pesto (blend 3 chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp olive oil, dash of salt, 2 large cloves garlic, tsp basil, until well blended and add ¼ cup of cashews or pine nuts).

The best times to do a cleanse are in the spring and fall. The winter because can be taxing enough and the additional detoxification process can be even more difficult.

Whatever plan you choose, do it with a friend or family member to make it easier to complete. You can shop together and plan meals together.

It’s a fun way to try new recipes and get ahead on your health!

Amoree Briggs lives in the Yukon countryside with her family and has just completed her diploma in holistic nutrition.