Recovery Week - by Jeremy Hill

Don't lose heart as you survey those extra kilos after the festive fun has finished for another year! Doing it right for just one week can be all the cleansing you need, says naturopath Jeremy Hill.

Nowthat the plethora of obligatory Christmas parties, NewYear parties and the 'Let's Soak up the Good Weather'parties have wound down, we all have a chance to restand take stock. You along with so many others, may findyourself feeling a little frayed at the edges, not tomention a bit bloated in the middle and a tad foggyin the head. The combination of too much rich food andtoo many drinks, along with a swathe of late nights,may have left you feeling in need of a good clean outand desperate for a battery recharge.

By this time of the season many people are starting tolook despairingly at their expanding waistlines and partied-outfeatures, all the while resolutely declaring to themselvesthat they know what to do and are committed to doing it- in time for next summer.

Well, the good news is that summer has really only juststarted and with just a little effort you can significantlyimprove both your health and fitness, give your body agood clean out and recharge, all within a week if youreally try. All this, without having to follow one ofmy usual full-on detox approaches! So here are some prettygood and easy basic rules that will have you feeling awhole lot better in no time at all.

The first thing you need to do to give your energy a seriousboost is an obvious, but often overlooked, factor in mostgood cleanses. To get a great start to each day startby going to bed early the night before. The simple actof getting to bed early for a whole week, plays a hugerole in allowing your body to rest and recover effectively.Make sure that your bedroom has as little noise and lightto disturb you as possible. Even the numbered LED glowingfrom your digital clock in the corner of your room canbe enough to disturb your slumber. The subtle glow canpenetrate the thin layers of your eyelids and reduce theproduction of one of your major sleep-inducing hormones,melatonin.

Deep sleep is when the body does a lot of its "patchingup" work. Just as poor quality food can insidiouslyaffect your health, so can poor quality sleep. In fact,without sleep, we can die more quickly than we would withoutfood.

Exercise is a terrific way to help improve your clearanceof toxins and metabolic waste from the body, mobilisingyour congested lymphatic system that may have resultedfrom overworked excretory systems. Exercise is also greatfor improving all aspects of cognitive functioning includingboth short and long-term memory, as well as honing yourproblem solving ability and reducing stress levels.

For the whole week, do a whole hour of exercise each day.If walking is all you can manage, that's fine. The simpleact of walking for an hour a day can have a huge impactupon your overall wellbeing

Next, make a reality of that old chestnut by startingyour cooking from scratch. Spend the whole week eatingthree lovingly prepared home cooked meals a day, all madefrom wholesome ingredients. The over-processing of manyof our foods has been done to make eating easier and tastier,but a side effect appears to be widespread deficienciesin vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, fibre andantioxidants.

Some particularly health-giving vegetables to eat whilecleansing include beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sproutsand globe artichoke, as these all enhance liver functionwhile adding valuable fibre.

The reality, though, is that all vegetables have somethingdifferent to offer, each with a unique mix of phytochemicalsand, as such, variety is the key to getting the most benefitout of your veg. Aim to eat a minimum of four cups offresh vegetables and salad plus two to four serves offresh fruit each day for the whole week. Try having abig salad with lunch each day, plus snacking on veggiepieces and hummus dip through the day as a terrific wayto improve your vegetable consumption.

Simple common culinary herbs such as garlic, turmericand ginger make tasty additions to a stir fry. They alsooffer numerous benefits to those who are wishing to spruikup their body's ability to flush out some toxins, boostimmunity and ameliorate some aches and pains. And so,the humble stir fry becomes a powerful medicinal tool.Cook up a fresh stir fry each day throughout your cleansingweek, with loads of fresh and colourful veggies, a littlelamb, beef, chicken or tofu and a little rice on the sidefor a simple to prepare, easy to digest and highly nutritiousdinner.

Hari Hachi Bu is a Japanese expression which essentiallymeans to eat only until you are 80 percent full. Whileapplying this eating approach over the long term has beencredited, at least in part, with extending the lifespansof the very long lived Okinawan Japanese, even short termdietary restrictions help by reducing the stress uponan overburdened digestive system.

You can help move toxins from your body by giving yourdigestive system a bit of a fibrous nudge. Once the liverdoes its thing to make toxins less toxic, it passes themon to the gallbladder, where the bile assists them intothe bowels. Without a good rate of bowel transit and plentyof fibre to bind to the toxins, there remains a real potentialrisk of re-absorbing them back into your body.

The bowels for most people are often a pretty toxic place,compromised by the fermentation and putrefaction of foods,along with various yeast, bacterial and parasitic infections.Encouraging the movement of that sort of stuff out ofthe body has to make you feel better, right?

For a high fibre start to the day, try mixing a bowl ofrolled oats with some natural yoghurt, a handful of almonds,sunflower and pumpkin seeds, a big spoonful of psylliumand a scoop of blueberries.

Proper hydration is absolutely necessary to help flushout toxins and to plump up your cells, and drinking twolitres of water a day is considered the best way to attainthis.

But, green tea also can be a great asset to achievingyour cleansing and revitalising goals for the week. InJapan and China, green tea has been used in ceremony andas a medicinal tonic for over a thousand years. Sciencehas borne out the empirical view of green tea's health-givingattributes, proving that it is indeed a drink with preventativeand treatment properties for many illnesses. As well asimproving circulatory health by lowering blood pressure,blood sugar and cholesterol levels and strengthening bloodvessel walls, green tea also boosts immunity and killsbacteria and viruses, while enhancing beneficial bowelflora populations. It has been shown to reduce the incidenceof tumours and suppress the growth of existing tumours,as well as assisting the liver's ability to clear toxinssuch as heavy metals from the body. Add to this the powerfulrejuvenating antioxidant capabilities of green tea andthis wonderful beverage becomes not just an essentialpart of your recovery week, but a part of your ongoingdaily health management routine.

While you are in the process of getting a healthier body,it is worth realising the role that a positive and relaxedmindset plays in achieving optimal health.

Most health problems that people suffer these days appearto have a cause rooted in, or a strong link to, unhelpfulthought patterns and mental stress. Daily meditation isone of the most profound ways in which you can improveyour health. But if you can't see yourself becoming aregular meditator, simply set the goal of doing it for10 minutes a day throughout your cleansing week. Purchasea meditation, hypnosis or relaxation CD if you need alittle extra help. You'll be glad you made the effort.

You can't bring yourself to good health purely throughmeditation and relaxation, but the act of putting yourthoughts on hold for a while each day can actually haveprofound effects upon both mental and physical wellbeing.

Treat yourself to the most delightful part of the weekby having an appointment with a massage therapist. Massagehelps improve the cleansing ability of your skin, circulationand lymphatics and definitely helps you relax. Just makesure that you drink plenty of water and green tea throughthe day to flush out all of the rubbish that gets mobilisedfrom your tissues.

It might seem like a strange link to make initially, butpoor dental hygiene can seriously affect your health.Allowing the development of infections between your teethand gums can cause a wide array of health problems andthe simple act of flossing daily can reduce your riskof cardiovascular disease, poor blood sugar control, lowimmunity and inflammatory joint disorders, not to mentionthe halitosis!

Once you have had this regenerating week of clean living,lowering your load of chemicals and diminishing your sparetyre, have a look at the new cleaner, leaner and morevital you - and commit to continuing to optimise yourhealth with some of the easy new habits you've just completed.Set your health goals for next summer. Write them down,plan how you intend to achieve them and good luck.

Good Health, Jeremy Hill