We hear a lot about detoxing these days: detox diets, detox regimens, and more, but the first question is: what exactly is a toxin?
A toxin is a poisonous or harmful substance found in the environment.
Toxins can enter the body in a number of ways: through the skin, the air we breathe, and the foods we eat. In our ever-developing world, we are surrounded by more and more chemicals and toxins from pesticides, air pollution, petroleum products, plastics, and other nasty sources. It’s critical to detoxify, to release these harmful substances and cleanse our systems.
Many toxins are eliminated through the body’s normal filtering and flushing processes: liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, and the skin. When these systems are compromised, impurities aren’t properly filtered out and the body is adversely affected.
You’re especially in need of detoxification if you have any of these symptoms:
- unexplained fatigue
- mental fog
- sluggish elimination
- irritated skin
- low-grade infection
- puffy eyes or bags under your eyes
- menstrual problems
Stress is also toxic and a big hindrance to good health. Cortisol, the stress hormone, slows down detox enzymes in the liver and negatively impacts other physical systems as well. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness are great ways to relieve stress and change your reactions to the inevitable stress life will bring.
The best way to begin to detox is to lighten the load of toxins in your body. Start by reducing, and ultimately eliminating, alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugars, and saturated fats. All of these are obstacles to the healing process.
Also, minimize your use of chemical-based household cleaners and personal health care products like shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and moisturizer. Replace them with natural alternatives.
Many professionals recommend a seven-day intensified detox schedule, followed by a change in daily practices to support detox systems in the body.
You could do a fresh-squeeze fruit and vegetable juice fast for anywhere from three to seven days. The living enzymes in the raw juiced fruits and vegetables support detoxification, and drinking only juices and water gives digestion a break for a week, thereby emptying out the whole digestive tract.
If that seems like too much, you might try a juice fast for just two days, and then follow with one of several detox diets for the remaining five days:
- no refined or processed foods, including no sugar or flour
- all plant-based, no animal products
- a grain-free, vegan, anti-inflammatory diet
- smoothie cleanse (balancing fruits and veggies, and optionally adding powdered greens)
- alkaline diet, to rebalance the body’s pH levels (over-acidity contributes to disease and ill-health)
After you have completed your seven-day detox, you can incorporate some of the following daily lifestyle practices to continue to cleanse the body:
- Drink at least two quarts of water a day (64 oz). This translates to 8 cups or 4 sixteen-ounce bottles. Get a filter for your water at home, like Aquasana for your sink faucet, or a larger Berkey countertop system. Use stainless steel or glass refillable water bottles to minimize exposure to the toxins in plastic bottles. To improve the quality of water in all sinks and showers, get a whole house filtration system at the point of entry into the house, to remove toxins absorbed through the skin.
- Get a good sweat from a visit to the sauna, taking a hot yoga class, or soaking in a hot bath. To the bath, you can add sea salt or Epsom salts to increase the mineral content, which you will absorb through the skin.
- Exercise daily, anywhere from 20-60 minutes. It doesn’t have to be a super-intense workout; taking a walk, or gently rocking up and down on a mini-trampoline are good options, too.
- Breathe more deeply on a regular basis, bringing more oxygen into the body and blood.
- Eat more fiber, including brown rice, leafy greens, and raw vegetables and fruits.
- Use a greens powder in your smoothies, like spirulina or chlorella, for additional detoxifying power and antioxidant content.
- Dry brush your skin. With a dry body brush, use circular or sweeping motions from points furthest from the heart (hands and feet) and work your way toward the heart. Make sure to brush palms and soles of the feet as well. This helps to move lymph through your body. You can do this right before taking a shower.
- Take liver-supporting herbs like milk thistle, burdock root, and dandelion root. Dandelion is good support for the kidneys, as well. You can find these herbs in supplement form, or drink them as a tea.
- Transform stress by emphasizing positive thinking. Remember that the stress hormone cortisol negatively impacts the liver, restricting your ability to detoxify.
- Reduce or eliminate processed foods, eating only foods made from fresh ingredients, or that are as close as possible to how they originally came out of the ground.
- Reduce oils; bake foods in the oven instead of sauteeing, or use broth for pan cooking.
- Reduce salt; use more seasonings, herbs, and spices for flavor.
- Reduce sugar; eat fresh fruit with fiber and antioxidants instead of sugary processed foods
We are under an onslaught of toxins every day. You have the power to use these tips to improve your everyday health and increase your longevity and wellbeing.
We only get one body, so take care of it as best you can!