Detox is my business. My business partner and I run regular detox workshops where people kick their food addictions, lose weight, gain better energy, and uncover hidden food allergies. One of the biggest assets of our classes is learning how to maintain the benefits of a cleanse rather than falling back into your old habits. And even if you do, it’s easy to start over and get back on the horse! Once you’ve done a cleanse and you see firsthand how great you feel, you want to include some healthful detox habits into your daily routine. I’ll share my faves here–perfect timing since the holidays are coming up, and this time of year is often not very liver-friendly. Take good care of liver and feel good over the holidays!
First, let us 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, good skin, and good cholesterol levels. If you are suffering in any one of these, your liver could be the culprit.
One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing conventional medical doctors pan liver cleanses and detoxes because they say “the liver is already a self-cleaning organ, so it doesn’t need to be ‘cleansed.'” While this is true, the liver can become easily overwhelmed and congested–especially by virtue of living in urban areas and breathing in pollution–and symptoms like PMS, weight gain, acne, and high cholesterol can result. Also, exposure to cosmetics, household chemicals, additives and herbicides/pesticides in the food supply, over the counter drugs, birth control pills, alcohol: All of it must be detoxed by the liver and excreted via urine, digestive tract, or skin. So if you don’t poop regularly or sweat enough, or drink enough water, you can also add to your toxic load. Add to that poor diet, processed food, booze, pharmaceutical or recreational drugs, makeup, lotion, household chemicals, even cookware coated in toxins like teflon, and you have excess toxicity.
I think everyone should do a cleanse twice yearly–ideally one in the spring and one in the fall. 14 to 21 days usually suffices. There are a million ways to cleanse, but generally removing junk and taking a liver cleansing tincture or supplement will suffice. Also, adapt some every day cleansing practices into your life. As promised, I’ll share the easiest:
1. every morning, begin the day with hot water and the juice of a lemon + a pinch of cayenne pepper. This is cleansing and alkalinizing, and the cayenne boosts metabolism/burns fat. Bonus: gets digestion going!
2. Add extra fiber to your morning smoothie or breakfast (ground flax, psyllium, fig fiber, use a supplement, etc). Fiber binds to toxins and assists in helping them to be whisked from the body.
3. Make sure you are getting liver friendly foods: whole eggs, leafy greens (kale, chard, collards, beet greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens), artichoke, beets, carrots, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, legumes.
4. Dry skin brushing: before a bath at night or shower in the AM, brush your skin (not face) in a circular motion up towards your heart. It stimulates the lymphatic system to remove toxins.
5. Epsom salt baths! Remove toxins & the magnesium will help you sleep. 2-4 cups epsom salts in a hot bath before bed.
6. Tea: look for detox tea blends (I like the Traditional medicinals or Yogi blends), and drink dandelion root, burdock root, and nettles.
7. Do you have access to a sauna? Get in there and sweat!
8. Plenty of WATER! Filtered, of course, due to chemicals and chlorine in the water supply that can affect the bacteria balance in your gut. If your bad bacteria takes over your good bacteria, your gut can produce toxins that congest the liver.
9. Regularity: are you pooping once daily? If not, try 500 mg of magnesium at night and add extra fiber. Get enough water. Constipation can lead to reabsorption of toxins in the bowel.
10. Get to bed by 11pm. The liver is most active from 11pm to 1am, so if you’re awake or out partying during that time, you are robbing your body of vital detox time.
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.