The Post-Holiday Detox: Easier Than You Think
Ahhhh! I have to do a detox! Does that sound like you? If so, relax and fear not. Detoxifying your body doesn't have to be a scary thing; in fact, it's quite simple and can even be a pleasant experience.
The key word to remember is support. We must support our liver during this process, as it is our main detoxification organ. There are several ways we can do this, and no matter which cleansing kit you buy or which way you choose to go about it, the tips below are applicable for all.
Now that all the holiday eating is over, it is the perfect time to think about doing a detox. Toxicity is of much greater concern in the twentieth century than ever before. There are many new and stronger chemicals, air and water pollution, radiation and nuclear power. We ingest new chemicals, use more drugs of all kinds, eat more sugar and refined foods, and daily abuse ourselves with various stimulants and sedatives. The incidence of many toxicity diseases has increased as well. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are two of the main ones. Arthritis, allergies, obesity, and many skin problems are others. In addition, a wide range of symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, pains, coughs, gastrointestinal problems, and problems from immune weakness, can all be related to toxicity.
These toxins and 'dead' foods lead to poor digestion, constipation, toxic colon build-up, weight gain and low energy. These common symptoms are more than just an inconvenience-they can lead to long-term health problems and serious disease. Of all the polite topics of conversation, the state of one's intestines is probably at the bottom of most people's lists. Let's face it: Irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, gas, diverticulitis and colon cancer are simply not things we like to discuss. And yet, as the old expression goes, death begins in the colon. Don't believe it? Ask any coroner. Autopsies often reveal colons that are plugged up to 80 percent with waste material. Almost everyone needs to detox, cleanse themselves, and rest their body functions at times. Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body or neutralizing or transforming them, and clearing excess mucus and congestion. Many of these toxins come from our diet, drug use, and environmental exposure, both acute and chronic. Internally, fats, especially oxidized fats and cholesterol, free radicals, and other irritating molecules act as toxins. Functionally, poor digestion, colon sluggishness and dysfunction, reduced liver function, and poor elimination through the kidneys, respiratory tract, and skin all add to increased toxicity.
Detoxification involves dietary and lifestyle changes that reduce intake of toxins and improve elimination. Avoidance of chemicals, from food or other sources, refined food, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and many drugs helps minimize the toxin load. In addition, try incorporating the below tips and tools into your lifestyle either now or in the new year. After all the rich foods and indulgence of the holiday season, your body will thank you!
- Drink lots of water (aim for 8 cups daily, and herbal tea counts)
- Exercise gently (a 30 minute walk is excellent), to allow toxins to exit our bodies through our lungs and skin
- Increase your fibre intake... all plant foods contain it. Also, supplement with extra fibre to enhance detoxification. An example is psyllium (1-3 tbsp in 2 cups water daily... stir in and drink quickly. Follow with another cup of water.). Or use any fibre blend.
- Eat lots of greens (some example are spinach, kale, chard, dandelion greens, and rapini) as well as colourful fruits and veggies.
- Avoid dairy, wheat, and sugar, as they can be difficult to digest and can increase our toxic load.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they interfere with detoxification and add unnecessary chemicals.
- Sleep! Aim for 7-8 hours every night.
- Consider supplementing with artichoke juice, as it is extremely beneficial to the liver not only with detoxification, but also with digestion and overall liver health.
- Use a castor oil pack every night during the detox period to increase the cleansing effects.
- Dry brush your skin every morning. If you don't have one on hand, you can use a loofah. This improves lymphatic and blood flow and sloughs off dead skin cells and toxins.
Below is a simple recipe for a greens smoothie that you can enjoy daily during a detoxification (and ideally, on an ongoing basis):
1 cup water
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 leaves kale, stems removed
1 carrot, chopped
1 small beet, chopped (or substitute with 1/2 cup Biotta Beetroot Juice, and only do 1/2 cup water)
1 apple, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup frozen berries
Mix in a blender and enjoy! - By Laura Stokoe, CNP, RNCP (Goodness Me! Upper Gage)