THE days are getting longer. The temperature is rising. Birds are even starting to make themselves known on still-bare branches. This can only mean one thing: Spring is just around the corner.

The long, hard winter can leave us cooped up indoors, feeling sluggish and turning to comfort foods that don’t do your health any favours.

It’s time to throw open the windows, let that fresh spring air clear out winter dust, glove up and dig into some spring cleaning. And this season, do the same with your health! Plan to extend that “fresh-start” attitude to your body, inside and out.

Get ready to shine with these simple steps and reset to a healthier you this spring.

Feel fine with fibre

What system is more ready for a spring clean than the digestive tract? After months of questionable food choices, this part of the body is due for a tune-up and fibre is just the ticket.

Fibre is this year’s super supplement, with benefits including weight maintenance and a healthy gut. Surprisingly, most people don’t even get half of the daily recommended amount: 25 grams per day for adult women and 38 grams per day for adult men.

If you’re starting to work toward your summer beach body, fibre may be your new best friend. It plays a crucial role in regulating appetite, making you feel fuller for longer and preventing overeating. Specifically, it is the soluble fibres found largely in beans and seeds that are most effective at reducing appetite, as opposed to their insoluble counterparts found in the skins of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. When paired with an active lifestyle, meeting dietary fibre needs can be a crucial ally in achieving weight goals.

Get your gut in shape

Beyond helping you hit weight goals, fibre is great for the gut.

One of its special tricks is that it cannot be broken down by the body—it passes through the intestinal tract without being digested. The gel-forming soluble fibre found in beans, lentils, chia seeds and many natural health supplements feeds the good gut bugs living in the large intestine. It’s literally their food. Feeding these good gut bugs can increase the diversity of bacteria—a good thing—while reducing intestinal inflammation. Remember, you’re not just eating for one—you’re eating for yourself and the 40 trillion bacterial cells in your body!

It’s easy to get more fibre by choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds, which are all rich in soluble and insoluble fibre. If you’re finding it difficult to get enough in your diet, there is a wide range of fibre supplements at your local health food store to choose from or find some online.

Hydrate and protect with tea

The coming of spring is often announced by plants exploding in glorious shades of green. Embrace this green renewal by adding teas to your spring clean, specifically green tea.

Green tea is arguably the healthiest drink in the world. It is richly hydrating, with powerfully protective natural polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-cancer qualities. The benefits of tea and green tea polyphenols range from increasing fat oxidation and burning fat to improving blood flow and insulin sensitivity. If you’re getting ready for the great outdoors this summer, green tea has also been shown to provide extra UV protection for your skin and improve overall skin quality.

Tea can be consumed in a number of ways. The most common is obviously as a drink. Steeping the leaves or teabag in hot water for a few minutes releases the green pigments and antioxidants.

If you’re craving a cool, refreshing drink, try a “cold-brew” method by immersing tea leaves in cold water and refrigerating it overnight. For an extra-pure dose of beneficial polyphenols, you can find a green tea supplement, often called “green tea extracts,” at your local health food store. These supplements have been shown to help with weight loss when paired with a healthy diet and exercise.

Green tea is one of nature’s most cleansing products, so go green when it comes to cleaning this spring.

Question the conventional: Is it time to re-visit your multivitamin? Spring is also a great chance to take a step back and look at overall health. What has piled up over the winter in life and the cupboards? What do we really need, and where are the gaps?

Research shows that Canadians consistently fall short on meeting nutritional requirements through diet alone. Crucial vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, calcium and magnesium, are too often lacking. A high-quality multivitamin can be a safe and effective way of bridging these nutritional gaps.

It is incredibly important to be smart about these changes. Take the time to read the labels on any natural health products (NHP) you are taking. Make sure you’re not “double-dipping” on any nutrients. For example, multivitamins will probably contain some vitamin D. This might mean you need to change the frequency of your vitamin

D-specific supplement intake. Speak with your healthcare practitioner before making any changes to your health regimen.

Here in Canada, we have one of the most advanced regulatory frameworks that governs the safety and claims of NHPs, including multivitamin and multimineral supplements. The first thing to look for is an eight-digit Natural Product Number (NPN). This number assures you that the product has been assessed and approved by Health Canada for sale.

As we battle through the winter cold and into the crispness of spring, take some time to spring clean the system. Adding more fibre can help to get the gut in ship shape, while green tea can help hydrate, nourish and protect both body and skin. Top it all off a multivitamin that can help you safely and effectively fill any nutritional gaps.

Roll up those sleeves and get to work on a refreshed, new you this spring! 

More Inspiration: Check out Michelle’s article on the natural way to revitalize your skin.

Author: Michelle W. Book is a Holistic Nutritionist and CHFA Director of Communications. The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) is Canada’s largest trade association dedicated to natural health and organic products. She is a regular contributor to Optimyz Magazine.

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