Detox has become a buzz word. Lose weight quickly; get glowing skin; solve the world’s problems with detox! Although detox has been co-opted by the diet industry as a weight loss term, detoxing, fasting, or cleansing are ancient traditions that can improve your health. Supporting your body’s natural cleansing system through diet and lifestyle habits is absolutely necessary these days due to the pollutants to which we are constantly exposed.
What is Detoxing?
When done properly, (read: no starvation or drinking lemon water only all day) detoxing supports the liver detox and lymphatic pathways and reduces inflammation in the digestive tract and body. To elucidate why the time honored tradition of detox is necessary, let us first laud the liver.
The liver is your second largest organ (behind the skin) and acts as a filter to neutralize toxins in everything you eat, drink, breathe, and apply to your skin. When it’s functioning optimally, you’ll enjoy good energy, good hormone balance, good sleep, good moods and clear skin. If you suffer from PMS, weight gain, acne, joint pain, skin rashes, high cholesterol, depression/irritability, fatigue, or just generally feeling puffy or inflamed, a congested and overworked liver could be the culprit.
While it’s true that the liver is the body’s self cleaning device, it can become easily overwhelmed by toxins from our food supply, too much booze, over the counter and recreational drugs, birth control pills, cosmetics and body care products, and pollution. All of it must be detoxed by the liver and excreted via urine, digestive tract, or skin. So if you don’t poop regularly (at least once daily!) or sweat enough, or drink enough water, you can also add to your toxic load. And if you take in more toxins than your liver can process, it becomes congested, and symptoms result.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is the seat of emotions, which is why irritability, anxiety and depression are associated with liver stagnation. I recommend cleansing twice yearly-–ideally in the spring and fall. 14 to 21 days usually suffices. There are myriad ways to cleanse, some more effective and safer than others, but generally, removing inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, sugar, alcohol and coffee while taking a tincture or supplement with liver supportive herbs, such as milk thistle, will suffice.
To support your liver and other detox organs on a daily basis, adapt some every day cleansing practices into your life.
10 Ways to Detox Daily
1.Start your morning off with hot water and the juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon with a pinch of cayenne. Very cleansing and alkalizing. Extra credit: add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric.
3. For breakfast, have a cleansing smoothie made with chlorella or supergreens, berries, chia seeds, and a specially formulated detox support protein. Enjoy green veggie juices during the day. Or, be inventive and add cleansing beet chunks to your smoothies and juices! Click here for my article on how to juice vegetables.
4. Incorporate the cruciferous veggies into at least one meal daily. They contain phytonutrients that support liver detox pathways.
5. Eat fermented foods such as raw kraut with meals. They are a rich source of probiotics enzymes to support digestion. I highly recommend this coconut water kefir, rich in probiotics, enzymes, and nutrients from coconut water.
6. Drink herbal detox tea blends between meals.
7. Have some curry! The turmeric in curry powder is anti-inflammatory and contributes to the production of glutathione, a potent liver-protective antioxidant. Avocados are also a rich source of glutathione.
8. Get enough fiber-rich foods to bind up toxins in the gut and help promote regularity. If you’re constipated, toxins from the bowel can be reabsorbed into your system. Try legumes (especially lentils), raspberries, root vegetables, apples, pears, avocados and almonds. I also add this fiber to smoothies.
9. Get out there and sweat! Exercise or sit in a sauna. Sweating liberates toxins.
10. Take an epsom salt bath before bed. Click here for my detox bath recipe. Not only will magnesium-rich epsom salts help you sleep, they also help draw toxins out of the body. Use 2-4 cups of epsom salts and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Lavender promotes relaxation, for example.
Make sure to drink plenty of water during the day, and add detox teas to your daily hydration.
Detox isn’t a diet trend; it’s a time honored tradition to assist your body in taking out the trash. Detox or cleansing is also a spiritual tradition in many cultures. Because we live on such a polluted planet, we’re being exposed to more chemicals and pollutants than ever before. It’s easy for our body’s detox system to become overwhelmed. If you feel sluggish, puffy, irritable, and you struggle with hormone balance and digestive issues, you could greatly benefit from supporting your liver with daily detox habits.
I recommend doing a guided detox once or twice a year, then make sure to follow these daily detox habits for good health.
If you’d like a guided, 21 day holistic, whole foods-based cleanse, click here to download my ebook, 3 Weeks to Vitality. The book is a simple detox program with real food that can help you lose weight, cleanse your liver, break sugar cravings, reduce pain and inflammation, gain energy and vitality, and get clear skin. You can use these easy 14-day or 21-day liver detox support kits to provide you with all the supportive nutrients you need.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.