Detox. A word that comes up more at certain times of the year especially Spring (time for a spring clean!) or after the festive season when we usually have a little too much 'fun' and want a bit more energy and spark back in our eyes.
Detox information tends to be everywhere at these times as it’s often a good way to start off a new health or weight loss regime. Due to having so many different detox programs and information available on this topic, I thought I would give a quick break down of doing a detox safely and sensibly.
Firstly, I'm not a huge fan of detox programs.
I believe that we should always be doing healthy things on a daily basis for our bodies to keep toxins at a lower level in our cells so that when we do have a bit of indulgence, the body will cope and repair itself faster. I believe we should live by the 80/20 rule. Make healthy choices 80% of the time so when the holiday/treat/weekend/dinner party rolls around we have a bit of room to be less strict. Its is all about BALANCE and anything done in too strict a format or extreme measures often leads to stress, failure, and abandoning the whole idea.
Detoxification is simply the removal of toxins that accumulate and can store in our body. The longer you ‘detoxify’, the more toxins you can remove. We become ‘toxic’ from our lifestyle choices. Major toxin contributors are:
- Stress (this is the biggest one I reckon!)
- drinking alcohol and/or caffeine drinks
- consuming foods that are heavily processed, high in sugar, salt and bad fats
- consuming too much food for the body’s energy needs and therefore carrying extra body fat
- working around or being in an environment of pollution and chemicals
- smoking and other recreational drug use
- prescription and over the counter medications
So, just with that information, you could detox by just removing those elements! A detox can simply be a period of time (the longer, the better) where you don’t smoke, drink alcohol or caffeine and don’t consume foods that high in bad fats, sugar or salt (any processed food basically). Getting stress under control is also a major help so more relaxing activities and exercise, mediation, yoga, getting more sleep and lifestyle choices that keep you in the green zone instead of the red zone!
Of course it may be hard for some to cut out all that at the same time so a good way to get started is to stop one thing at a time at weekly intervals so eventually you give your body a break from them all at once.
Our body detoxes via quite a few channels. The main detoxification organ is our liver which is constantly regenerating itself anyway (a healthy liver can replace 100% of its cells in 6 weeks!) so foods, herbs and juices that aid the health of the liver are very important.
We also expel toxins via our breath (lungs), sweat (skin), bowel motions (stomach, small and large intestine, gall bladder) and urine (kidneys) so keeping these channels healthy and open is also of paramount importance.
So in the Do's and Dont's section, I will mention ideas to help with all these areas.
A good amount of time to ‘detox’ your body is around 6 weeks but any time shorter than that will still be an improvement and of course longer is even better – it will all depend on your level of toxicity which is of course dependant on your previous lifestyle choices.
Now there may be a few symptoms on a detox that aren’t very fun but they are usually quite mild and some people don’t suffer from them at all! Because you are cleaning your body up by giving your liver a break so it can cleanse your blood unencumbered, you may feel or see the toxins leaving your body. This could range from a foggy head to a slight headache, some pimples or skin rashes but eventually your skin will be glowing, your eyes and hair will be shining and your energy levels will increase so much, not to mention feeling lighter and less cranky! In Chinese medicine, there are emotions associated with all our organs. Liver is anger. That is why we can feel quite put out, narky, cranky etc. when we are cleaning up our bodies. But the pay off is - the 'anger' (short fuse, temper, snapping at kids/partner) you carry around on a daily basis will be lessened by aiding your liver repair.
This is when taking some flower essences can help, as we are also detoxing and clearing stored emotions along with these stored toxins.
I have a special detox blend that I have put together that can support the feelings that arise as we start to let go of unwanted baggage. They address anger, fear, resentment, safe release, hormone balance, and emotions aligned with our eliminative organs, the liver, kidneys, lungs and skin. It is called Cleanse Blend which addresses all these emotions and helps support the body while it is detoxing. You can read about that HERE
Do drink 2 litres of filtered water daily, plenty of water is required on a detox, at least 2 litres a day to keep the kidneys flushed and ridding toxins via the urine (kidney health)
Do start the day with a tall glass of room temp or slightly warm water with a squeeze of lemon or apple cider vinegar (or both!) for gall bladder and lymphatic health.
Do eat foods in their most natural (and unprocessed) form
Do eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit
Do eat protein in the form of organic meat, eggs, chicken and wild caught seafood
Do eat lots of healthy fats such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil (unheated only), coconut oil, and raw nuts
Do eat plenty of fibre in the form of fruit and veg, chia seeds, linseeds, slippery elm, psyllium husks etc. Increasing fibre keep your bowels moving which help keep clearing toxins (bowel health)
Do add sprouted foods to your meals for live enzymes - alfalfa, sprouted mung beans, lentils, you can sprout a lot of things so get creative and add to salads etc.
Do eat fermented foods for gut health, coconut yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut are a few examples
Do get fresh air daily by walking for 30-40 mins or some outside activity, yoga poses and stretches are particularly good for breathing out toxins as is deep breathing while meditating (lung and lymphatic health)
Do reward yourself by getting a massage, having an infrared sauna, a reflexology session, acupuncture or having an epsom salt bath and pampering yourself with daily rituals like dry skin brushing (lymphatic and skin health). It is always very important when dry skin brushing to stroke the brush in the direction of blood and lymph flow, do this before a shower or bath all over your body for increasing waste removal via the lymphatic system and getting your skin exfoliated and doing it's job optimally!
Do take any natural supplement that may aid your detox journey. Herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion root, globe artichoke, chlorophyll, and amino acids such as taurine and glutathione which aid liver clearance are all good choices.
Do drink herbal teas (roasted dandelion is great for the liver and a good coffee substitute), freshly made vegetable/fruit juices (beetroot, celery, carrot, ginger, cucumber, apple, leafy greens like spinach are all great cleansers) and lots of water with fresh lemon, cucumber slices, mint leaves or anything else that will cleanse the palate and keep water interesting!
Finally....Do realise that you will sleep better, have more energy, lose weight and feel fantastic!
Don’t drink alcohol, caffeine drinks or sugary drinks especially energy drinks (AGGGHH, I would have them abolished if it was within my power)
Don’t smoke or take recreational drugs
Don't eat sugar, dairy, gluten or vegetable oils in any form
Don’t eat processed foods (anything packaged) or ‘white’ foods such as sugar, white flour, white rice and pasta etc.
Don’t eat more than your body needs
Don’t starve yourself or ‘fast’ as your body needs fuel to do its detox properly
Don’t put yourself in social situations during your detox that will make it hard for you to stick to it (pubs, clubs, any people or environment that would compromise your good work)
Don’t stay up late at night, the body heals itself while we sleep so get plenty of it! Ideally asleep by 10pm every night.
Don’t worry! Relax whenever you can and remember how good you are going to feel.
So there you have it, some things you might already be doing, some things you might not have considered and above all, if you take anything away from this blog, remember that quick and fast never helps nor does radical starve yourself and just drink lemon with cayenne pepper for 10 days nonsense get you anywhere. If totally new to any of the points above, just slowly incorporate a few things or even one thing at a time because any 'healthy' change done over time will improve your long term health which is really the most important thing!
Yours in health,