Detox NOT As You Know It
Well, it’s spring time! A time, when many of us turn our attention to *detoxes*. Is this whole detoxing thing just another fad?
Not quite. Our bodies have perfect built-in detox mechanisms and detox happens pretty much 24/7 otherwise we will be dead. It’s crucial that our bodies process, package and get rid of the garbage.
That said, our systems can become a bit slow and overburdened hence why giving our bodies a gentle break from the everyday load and a bit more love & care a few times a year can be very beneficial. Especially, coming out of the winter period, when we tend to eat heavier and more comforting foods!
Plus, we are all exposed to a lot of toxins on a regular basis and our bodies, not quite designed to take on all modern day toxins from the food, environment & our lifestyle, can find it difficult to deal with them. Toxins can build up in our bodies and be stored in tissues and cells, and by default can and do affect all aspects of health and wellbeing. So, a little helping hand here and there can go a long way.
But before you jump into any drastic measures like fast & juice detoxes, start with the basics, some of which may surprise you! This way you’ll boost your body naturally and gradually, and you are much less likely to experience severe detox reactions. Slow and steady is always best!
1. Drink plenty of water.
Water helps to flush waste products out of our body (super important!) so it’s super important from a detox perspective. Starting the day with a glass of warm water and lemon is an easy way to help our body to detox. Sipping water through the rest of the day will support our body’s detox efforts.
Mix things up a bit with herbal teas. These also help you to stay somewhat hydrated and flush toxins. Some herbal teas are particularly good for detoxing, especially nettle and dandelion. Think of them as a good replacement for regular tea and coffee (dehydrating) vs water replacement.
One thing you definitely don’t want to be drinking a lot of? Alcohol. It’s a toxin, which makes our bodies to prioritise it, thus leaving other detox functions on the back burner, and to work hard to break it down. Plus, it is seriously dehydrating and nutrient depleting. Sorry, don’t shoot the messenger!
2. Load up on veggies (and fibre generally).
Vegetables are a great choice for detoxing, especially beets, kale, spinach and coriander (cilantro). If you struggle to get plenty in your diet, try making a veggie smoothie or juice. Adding apple, carrot and ginger helps to make it taste delicious – perfect even if you’re not a big fan of the taste of greens! NB: Avoid more fruity juices due to the sugar minus fibre concentration. Some people fine they spike their blood sugar too much. Aim for a 3 : 1 ration of veggies : fruits.
Veggies also aid digestion and support regular bowel movements to remove waste products from our bodies. This is super important as toxins can build up in our digestive tract if we’re not eliminating regularly. This can make us feel sluggish, tired and generally not our best. Getting plenty of fiber means that everything moves through our system more quickly. Veggies and fruits aside, good fiber sources include beans, legumes, nuts and some whole grains.
A word of caution here when picking veggies (and fruits!): go organic as much as you can. Sadly, unless we are eating organic, the toxins are passed onto us. You do not need to be perfect, just be aware of this and aim to include some organic varieties, especially so when it comes to leafy greens. The tender leaves make it pretty impossible to wash the toxins out (not the mention that some toxins cannot be washed full stop). Apples also tend to be sprayed on a lot.
In the US, follow the Dirty Dozen, Clean 15 Guide to know what to prioritize buying organic. In the UK this list is not applicable due to different farming practices (I am trying to collate info from other sources and hopefully will have a guide soon!).
3. Cut back on sugar.
Refined sugar is essentially a toxin and as most of us eat far too much of it, it’s having a big effect on health and wellbeing. Making the decision to detox from sugar is a definite must-do when you’re looking to detox. It’s not easy but you’ll likely feel a whole lot better!
Eating plenty of protein at breakfast is a key part of a sugar detox. Non starchy veggies are another great move, along with healthy fats.
Transitioning successfully from refined sugar is not a week long *detox*. It’s a process. Go slow and focus on adding more nutritious *sweet* veggies and fruits while gradually weaning off of it. I’ll write more in another post!
4. Reduce stress.
When we’re stressed, our bodies aren’t working as efficiently as they could do and that’s not great news for detox. Being able to manage stress more effectively & generally focus a lot on stress perception – “Life is 10% of what happens and 90% of how we respond” – helps our body to get rid of toxins way more easily.
Meditation, mindfulness and journaling, as well as moving our bodies the right way, are just a few of the activities that will help to keep emotional toxins to a minimum.
5. Exercise regularly.
Exercise helps to boost our circulation and support our lymph system. Working up a sweat helps to release toxins and is also a good move for better digestion.
Yoga can serve a dual purpose in our exercise routine as it aids meditation and relaxation, which is also important for detoxing.
Making time to stretch throughout the day is also amazingly helpful. This gets blood moving and gives a quick and easy energy boost. Try to stretch for around 5 minutes out of every hour, where possible.
6. Get plenty of sleep.
A good night’s sleep is super important for helping our body to reset itself and that extends to detoxing too. We’re also more likely to make poor food choices when we’re sleep deprived and that can mean more toxins. It’s a proper vicious cycle & sleep usually comes before food in my book! More on sleep in a separate post.
7. Try deep tissue massage.
Because toxins can build up in tissues, deep tissue massages can help to get rid of them. Swedish massage and sports massages both target pressure points, which can release toxins. Yes, massages are an essential part of self-love and care, and not at all an indulgence!
8. Skin brushing.
Gently brushing the skin helps to bring toxins out so they can be eliminated. It boosts circulation and aids detoxification. Aim to incorporate skin brushing a couple of times per week. An added bonus – baby soft skin!
Tell me, which one of these foundational aspects of detox requires more of your attention?
Pick 1 or 2 and make them your focus for a week, two or several. Then, when you feel you’ve got the hang of it and things are getting easier, pick something else. The golden rule for success? Go slow to avoid overwhelm!