It's mid-January and we are getting deep into the groove of the first big "detox season" of the year. There are a number of detoxification programs available to us, many of which include various herbs, vitamins, minerals and other natural substances to that help the lymphatic system, liver, kidneys and colon rid the body of excess toxins and impurities. But detoxification doesn't just have to be, nor should it be, a periodic, complicated, or expensive process.
Every day our bodies are assaulted by countless toxins and foreign "invaders". Fortunately, we are blessed with a built-in multi-organ detoxification system which works 24-7 to eliminate and protect us from these offenders, but the modern world in which we live puts even the most well-functioning body to the test. This is why It is important that we support our natural detoxification processes on a daily basis, as well as give it some deeper TLC at intervals throughout the year. In my opinion, the best approach to keeping all systems purring like a kitten is to implement simple daily practices to create long-lasting results.
Detox Through Diet
Alright, so you had to know that this is going to be the first item on my list of ways to naturally detox. Because, honestly, it's the most important day-to-day action we can take to cleanse and nourish our body deep down to the core.
The human body is designed to function optimally off of clean, whole foods. It expects that from us every single day. Yet the fast-paced, stress-laden lives we live have us regularly reaching for the quick and dirty foods - the stuff that we can take out of a box and throw in a microwave, or snatch from a drive-thru window and snarf down in the car while we're rushing to our next business meeting or activity with the kids. The problem with these foods is that they are full of chemicals, preservatives, colours, flow agents and all other kinds of junk that our bodies have just not evolved to process. This puts an enormous stress on our natural detoxification system. So, it goes without saying, that one of the best ways to detox with our diet is to avoid the toxins in the food supply as much as possible.
The key is to eat real foods. Foods that don't come with packaging or ingredient labels. Put the focus on fresh vegetables and fruits and, where possible, choose organic to reduce your exposure to pesticide residues and GMO "Franken-foods". My best advice in order to accomplish this is:
Make Plant Foods the Priority
Fresh fruits and vegetables contain all of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber which not only nourish and sustain us, but make every single one of our detoxification pathways work better. The easiest ways to incorporate plant-based awesomeness are:
In a perfect world, all of the fruits and veggies we eat would be organic, as they are meant to be. Free and clear of pesticides and herbicides and GMO nasties. But we know that this is not the case in our industrialized food chain. If your budget allows for all organic foods, I encourage you to source them as often as you can. If not, you can prioritize your organic spending by following the Environmental Working Group's Clean 15/Dirty Dozen guidelines.
Quality Over Quantity When it Comes to Animal Proteins
If you are a meat eater, limit your animal protein intake to no more than one serving per day (serving size = 3.5 ounces or the size of a deck of cards). Choose organic meats whenever possible in order to avoid antibiotic exposure and meats that have been raised on GMO feed (which is not natural to them). Choose wild caught fish over farmed. If you are not sure, ask the store clerk or butcher how the meat was raised. If you don't receive an answer that feels good to you, move on and find another supplier.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Our kidneys are one of our main detoxification pathways and without sufficient water intake, they cannot do their job effectively. Make 2L of fresh, filtered water a priority every single day. Add the juice of half a fresh lemon once a day for an added detoxification boost.
Swap Coffee for Herbal Teas
Okay, okay okay...before you freak out and proclaim "there is no way in *&%! that I am giving up my coffee", I promise you that I'm not asking you to completely eliminate it from your life. Believe me, I savour my one daily cup like it's a gift from the Gods every morning. But I want you to keep in mind that, unless you are drinking organic coffee every day, you are taking in a host of pesticide residue in each and every cup. Coffee bean crops are heavily sprayed. In fact, they are one of the heaviest treated crops in the world when it comes to pesticides and herbicides.
I recommend limiting your coffee intake to 1 cup of organically grown, fair-trade certified, coffee per day. For the rest of the day, make the switch to herbal teas that have natural detoxification properties to them. My recommendations:
Lifestyle Strategies for Daily Detox
In order to effectively detox on a daily basis, we also need to look beyond our food choices. Lifestyle practices play a big role in how the body's detoxification systems work and don't work. For easy to incorporate lifestyle detox habits, I recommend the following:
Dry Skin Brushing
This is a lovely, mindful practice to incorporate into your daily morning routine. Dry skin brushing helps support the immune and detoxification systems by helping move lymphatic fluid which is a critical component of our immune system. You can find natural bristle dry skin brushes at most pharmacies, health food stores or online. They are not expensive and, when you dry skin brush, not only you will enhance your natural detoxification abilities, but you will also naturally exfoliate your skin, improve circulation, and reduce the appearance of cellulite. There are so many benefits and it literally only takes two minutes! For detailed instructions on how to dry skin brush, click here.
Sweat It Out
When most people think of detoxification organs, they often neglect the biggest one we have been blessed with...our skin! When we sweat, our bodies release toxins so all the more reason to work one up. My favourite ways to induce a good sweat session:
The benefits of meditation are well known. Not only does it reduce our stress levels, create a sense of grounding, promote better sleep and better digestion, but new studies are actually suggesting that meditation can actually alter the body on a cellular level - in a good way! Our body and our mind are deeply connected and we can't fully cleanse our body if our mind is clogged with fear, anxiety, stress, hatred, resentment, bitterness and other negative emotional states. Meditation is a detox for the mind which also serves to promote detox for the body.
You don't have to sit in stillness for hours on end. Even five minutes a day will benefit you. There are many great meditation options available from guided meditation apps, meditation classes, books and instructional videos on YouTube. Meditation has made a profound difference in my life, both on a mental level, but as well as a physical healing level. I highly recommend you give it a try.
Make Room for a Digital Detox
Whether it's for work, for checking social media, watching or reading the news, streaming videos, or checking the performance of our investments, we live in a perpetually plugged-in world. One article I read said that, on average, we look at our smartphones at least 80 times per day. All of this screen time affects not only our brain (ever notice how your memory isn't what it used to be?), but also our entire body. One of the biggest areas of health affected by digital devices is our sleep. Staring at the blue light screens into the evening hours affects the production of melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland which is needed for us to slip into a restful sleep which is whenm any of our natural detoxification processes happen. The less "Z's" we get, the less we detox on our own.
How can you break the habit?
There will always be times when doing a deeper, therapeutic detoxification protocol that involves supplements is warranted. But the best thing we can work towards is creating a manageable routine which includes these simple strategies on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. Once you establish these new habits, you'll soon see and feel the benefits.
If you would like to explore how working with a holistic nutritionist can help you achieve your best and most vibrant health, please feel free contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 519.404.9919 to schedule your FREE 30 minute discovery session to discuss how I can help you reach your wellness goals
Jill Taylor is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. She is the mom of two pretty awesome teenagers, s very dramatic dog, a hedgehog and a snake (yikes!). Jill assists her clients in achieving true wellness through thoughtful and compassionate dietary and lifestyle coaching. Feel free to visit the "Contact" page to get in touch. Jill would love to hear from you!