Now that the holidays are over and we’re starting the New Year, many of us with resolutions to lose weight and/or get healthier. What better way to start your goals out right than with a good detox program? If you’re like most, the Christmas holidays are a time where we are bombarded with temptation…. from chocolates, Christmas cookies, sweet treats, and multiple Christmas parties filled with unhealthy food options. No matter how strong the resolve, we still find ourselves indulging.
The good news is that there are options to help your body recover, and that includes starting the year with a detox. Much like rebooting your computer is necessary from time to time so everything functions properly, detoxing can “reset” important body functions and give yourself a fresh start. Before starting a detox program, consider what area you want or need to “reset” or detox. Typical detox may include the liver, kidneys (urine), bowels (feces), skin (sweat), lungs (breathing), and blood/heart. Factors that will influence your detox include nutrition, water, exercise, sunshine, rest, and fresh air.
Choosing the right detox program for you is a personal preference, and there are many commercial options out there…some even using “natural ingredients.” Here are a few simple and easy ideas for an effective detox:
Start your day with Lemon
A very easy way to boost the detox of the junk in your body is to start your day with an 8 oz glass of warm water with the juice from one lemon squeezed in. Add to this lemon water a pinch of cayenne pepper and you’ve got an amazing wake-up tonic! While you are sleeping, your body is busy working on resetting and clearing out the toxins, so everyone is a bit acidic when they first awake. Lemon does a couple important things when you drink it first thing in the morning. First, it is alkalizing and will help balance your body. Second, it stimulates the liver which is your body’s biggest “filter.” The cayenne pepper added will also help wake up your liver and also warms the body while increasing blood circulation. It’s a powerful combination. Make sure you drink it first…especially before your morning cup of coffee.
Exercise is important in detoxing, especially since movement helps your body function better. For the best exercise specifically for detox, try rebounding. Bouncing stimulates your lymphatic system which acts as the primary flushing system to clean out toxins in your body. Alternate with bouts of vigorous exercise to get the heart rate up, which in turn will increase blood circulation and heart rate. Finding the time to fit an exercise routine into your schedule is a common challenge I hear from my readers, and hey, I get it. Consider multitasking while you exercise and keep it to 20-30 minutes. You don’t have to exercise for hours to see benefits.
I’m a big fan of herbs. Herbs are a powerful addition to any healthy lifestyle and especially during a detox. Herbs can safely help the body clear out the junk in a natural form while adding valuable nutrients, minerals, and enzymes into the equation. If you are taking medications, however, be sure to double check that the herbs you are considering won’t have any reactions with your commercial meds. Herbs are considered safe (a resent study done on herb related deaths came to only 3 in the last 10 years….compared to over 10,000 per year from pharma) however it is always best to consult and herbal specialist when in doubt on possible complications with your medication. Here are a few suggestions on beneficial herbs for detox:
- Liver: Dandelion Root, Beets, Parsley, Horsetail, Birch Leaves, Chamomile, Blessed Thistle, Goldenrod, Calamus, & Bedstraw
- Kidneys: Dandelion, Parsley, Uva Ursi, Juniper Berries, Marshmallow, Ginger, Goldenrod, Horsetail, Calamus, Bedstraw, Yellow Dead Nettle
- Lungs: Comfry, Marshmallow, Mullein, Slippery Elm, Elderberry
- Blood Cleansing: Dandelion stems and flowers, Stinging Nettle, Alfalfa, Cilantro, Yarrow, Calendula
- Bowels/GI Tract: Dandelion, Beet, Parsley, Horsetail, Milk Thistle, Corn Silk
Your skin is the largest detox organ in your body. Toxins are eliminated through the sweat glands. During a detox regimen, try replacing any chemical skincare products with natural soaps, lotions, and shampoos. Detox baths are soothing and effective. Soak in a bath of either 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cups Epsom salts, or 1/2 cup sea salt for 20-30 minutes. Essential oils or herbal infusions may also be added such as lavender or yarrow.
Encouraging your body to sweat out the toxins through sitting in a sauna is also recommended. We prefer infrared saunas but a steam sauna is ok too if you don’t have access to infrared. Sweating in a sauna opens the pores, pulls toxins from your system, relaxes the muscles, and helps de-stress. We have a personal infrared sauna in our home and highly recommend investing in one if you can swing it. I’ve seen them on craigslist if you’re on a budget and are ok with a used one. They work wonders on speeding up any detox program.
It goes without saying that an effective detox will include careful attention to what you are putting into your body. During a detox cleanse, we recommend considering a short fasting. Fasting doesn’t mean starving…rather it means eliminating certain foods from your diet for a period of time. For the best detox, we recommend a short juice fast or for a more intensive reset detox, we love the Daniel Fast. Regardless of the diet avenue you choose, here are a few guidelines to consider:
- Cut all processed foods from your diet. Processed foods contain little nutritional value and are often loaded with chemicals. preservatives, sugar, and salt. Your body needs a break from processed to recover.
- Cut all refined white sugar and refined white table salt. Replace with natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup or natural salt like sea salt or Himalayan pink salt.
- Cut any processed white flour products. Refined white flour is very difficult to digest, creating more and more problems with gluten in our culture. Give your system a break by cutting out anything that contains refined white flour.
- Cut caffeine, processed drinks, commercial fruit juices, and milk.
- At least for a short-term, eliminate meat. Meat takes more effort and enzymes to digest so giving your system a break during detox is beneficial.
So by now you’re probably looking at your current palate and thinking you have nothing left to eat. Not true! Here are a few things to be sure to include in your detox diet:
- Eat lots of fresh, in-season, local fruits and vegetables either raw or lightly steamed.
- Drink lots of water!!!!
- Add cultured foods and beverages daily, preferably with every meal. Kombucha, kefir, cultured veggies like sauerkraut, kimchi, & lacto-fermented pickles, and cultured fruits will help with digestion, supply beneficial probiotics, and aide in the detox process.
- Add Bitters. Our culture doesn’t incorporate enough bitters into our diets which is crucial in the stimulation of bile in the liver and the stimulation of digestive enzymes. Take a bitters supplement at least 10 minutes before or after each meal to support your digestion. Click here for more information on the Bitters product we recommend (and get a discount on your first order).
- Eat whole grains like wild rice, millet, quinoa, and sprouted whole wheat (in moderation)
- Eat soaked and sprouted legumes like beans, lentils, and peas
- Enjoy soaked nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, flax, sesame, sunflower, and cashews
- Indulge in plenty of greens like spinach, kale, microgreens, and sprouts
Occasionally, when you begin a detox program, your body will be so excited to finally get rid of all that junk that it will start dumping very quickly. As a result, you may experience some side-effects sometimes referred to as the Herxheimer Reaction. Side-effects may include things like flu-like symptoms, headaches, muscle pain, acne or skin irritations, fever, and body odor. Don’t panic, don’t worry, and please don’t give up. Hang in there but ease back on your detox program just a bit and take a good detox bath to help your body adjust. Soon things will balance out and you’ll feel better than you have in a long time.
These are just basic outlined guidelines, so you can get a basic idea. Take a few tips here and implement what you can. Join us for a FREE LIVE webinar on January 19 where we will discuss detox in greater detail. Click here to register. For more information about how to prepare the recommended herbs and foods or for more information about living a healthier lifestyle, check out our online tutorials and eCourses at the Living Foods Academy. Use coupon code “RESOLUTION” for a $20 discount on the program of your choice. Enjoy and happy detoxing. Your body will thank you!