It’s spring! You may, or may not, already be in the throes of a radical KonMari style cleanse of your physical life and belongings because spring makes many of us want to GET RID OF ALL THE THINGS.
After you’re done purging, dusting, and wiping down walls, you might turn your attention to your body and think it could use a good cleaning out too.
It’s true, the body is designed to detoxify and eliminate on a daily basis without much extra help from us, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t use a little extra support sometimes.
There are many ways to cleanse your body, and while almost anyone can do a detox, not every detox is right for every person.
Your liver and digestive system are two of the hardest working parts of your body.
While your liver processes and filters toxins, packaging them up for safe elimination, your digestive system does the hard work of physically removing waste from the body.
You can imagine that if something is off in either of these two areas, it would be difficult for your body to function at its best.
In my opinion, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to make sure that your digestive system is functioning optimally.
If you start working to detoxify your liver, mobilizing toxins and heavy metals or trying to eliminate excess hormones like estrogens, the last thing that you want is to have a sluggish digestive system that keeps things in your body instead of eliminating them. Everyone, without exception, should be having a minimum of one easy bowel movement daily.
Detox Diet 101
Seasonal transitions are a great time to do a detox diet, especially in the spring when were are feeling sluggish after a winter of being cooped up indoors, eating heavier foods.
The trouble is, most people are put off by the idea of detoxing because they think it involves a miserable starvation style diet that will leave them feeling rotten.
There are lots of different ways to detox, including:
- Juice fast – consuming only fresh-pressed, raw vegetable/fruit juices for a short period of time, usually 3-5 days.
- Raw food diet – often used in conjunction with a juice fast
- Heavy metal detox – following a special liver supporting diet and including addition nutrients, like chlorella, that bind to heavy metals and help remove them from the body
- Boxed teas and supplements designed to support the liver, digestive system, etc.
There are also various other styles of cleanses and detoxes out there, some of which are completely useless, or even harmful.
Before starting any detox program it’s worth consulting with a practitioner to figure out what would be the best fit for you based on the health concerns and goals.
The thing is you don’t have to be hungry or completely miserable in order to reap the benefits of detoxing your body.
In fact, aside from a few days at the beginning where the symptoms of withdrawing from things like sugar and caffeine can leave you feeling tired or with a headache, overall, a good detox will leave you with increased energy, a clear mind, and better sleep.
Of course, the severity of your symptoms can often coincide with the amount of detoxifying that your system needs and some people experience what is called a “healing crisis” that feels a bit like having the flu. This is not the case for everyone, but it’s important to understand that not feeling good for the first few days of a detox diet is completely normal.
A Gentle DIY Detox
I encourage all of my clients to start off with a gentle, food-based detox that eliminates certain things and then adds in nutrients like probiotics, extra fibre, extra greens, and extra Omega-3 fatty acids to give the liver and digestive system some support.
It requires some planning and food preparation, which can be challenging if you’re not used to prepping foods from scratch. But overall, it’s relatively easy to do, with lots of foods to eat and no reason why anyone should be hungry.
You can safely do your own food-based detox by spending a minimum of 10-14 days following these food rules:
- No sugar, alcohol, or caffeine (coffee or tea)
- No “white stuff”, refined, or processed foods
- Avoid all oils except coconut, olive, or ghee
- No dairy
- Stick with only gluten-free grains
- Reduce portions of whole grains and starchy vegetables
- Increase intake of vegetables, especially leafy greens
- Reduce portions of sweeter fruits, putting more emphasis on berries and apples
- Start the day with warm water and fresh lemon juice
- Drink 8 glasses of water or herbal tea a day
- Increase fibre intake by adding ground flax seeds, or chia seeds to shakes, salads, and snacks
You can actually start “cleansing” your body on a daily basis with the addition of some basic foods.
It doesn’t involve any fancy teas or powders, and while you might not have a “healing crisis”, or feel any super powerful detoxifying effects, I can guarantee that you are doing your body a LOT of good.
Lemons – despite their acid taste, lemons are actually alkalinizing inside the body. What does this mean? Well, an acidic body is one left vulnerable to illness and disease. Warm water with lemon in the morning, and drinking lemon water throughout the day all help maintain an alkaline terrain.
Kale – one of the most highly nutritious vegetables, kale is rich in carotenes and vitamin C. Kale is also very high in chlorophyll, which studies have shown have a beneficial effect on neutralizing toxins, specifically cancer-causing toxins.
Beets – related to spinach and chard, beets differ in that both the leaves and the root can be eaten. Beets have a long history of being used medicinally as they stimulate the detoxification processes of the liver.
Garlic & Onions – members of the allium family are healthy for many, many reasons, but it’s their sulfur compounds that make them important to detoxification as they facilitate the liver and aid in the cleansing process.
Parsley – its high chlorophyll content, along with a few other compounds, contain anti-cancer properties that neutralize toxins. As an aside, it’s also a nerve stimulant that could be considered energizing, especially when used in fresh juice.
Apples – very high in insoluble fibre and pectin (a gel-forming fiber that can also bind to toxins), apples can improve the intestinal muscle’s ability to move waste through the digestive tract promoting bowel regularity.
Beans/Legumes – although most beans are high in antioxidants, and other beneficial nutrients, it’s their high fibre content that makes them such an important player in cleansing and detoxifying as the fibre keeps things moving through the digestive tract.
Brown rice – a gentle, hypoallergenic grain, brown rice contains a compound called gamma-oryzanol which has been used to treat digestive problems. It is one of the safest grains to eat, rarely provoking any inflammatory reactions.
If you’re considering an elimination cleanse, you may want to consult with a practitioner that can guide your through one safely.
It’s important to understand that underlying health issues may not be solved with just the cleanse alone, so having a plan in place for after your cleanse is over will help keep you feeling great!
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