The intention behind a detox or cleanse is a worthy one:
~~ I'll do this 5-day cleanse to re-set my system so that I can start eating healthier and drinking less alcohol. And, hey, maybe I'll lose a couple of pounds in the process super quickly. Win-win! ~~
There’s one HUGE and overarching flaw with the current detox craze – it sparks a cycle of detox-retox. We have a weekend where we binge on terrible food and lots of drinking, then we think that a 3-day bottled juice cleanse will take care of it.
And then we do it again the following weekend.
Or, even worse, we do the cleanse for 3 days, then splurge on Day 4 because we feel like we “earned it.”
This is not a health-promoting cycle! It’s essentially like a short-term yo-yo dieting pattern which can really mess with your metabolism, your energy levels, your weight, and your digestive system. It can also cause a great deal of stress on the body, which creates an even more toxic internal environment. And isn't that what a detox is supposed to help clear out?
This is not to say that detoxing is bad. When done properly and incorporated into a diet that is consistently healthy, detoxing can really help optimize your digestive system. The reason that it can be beneficial is because humans were not structured to eat as often as we do, or even to eat the foods that we do. That’s part of the reason that some people really benefit from intermittent fasting (but that’s beyond the scope of today’s installment). The healthiest detoxes happen about twice a year, are usually about 5 days, and include fresh (not bottled) vegetable-based juices, and are a part of a continuously plant-based way of eating so as not to spark the detox-retox pattern.
Detoxification is crucial to health and energy. If we’re not doing a detox, then how can we boost our body’s natural cellular turnover and cleansing mechanisms? With daily habits to support these functions! In fact, daily detox support is the optimal way to keep everything functioning like a well-oiled machine.
Look over the tips below, and make a promise to yourself to incorporate at least 3 of these into your daily routine as soon as possible. I know you’ll feel a difference after only a couple of days, but a substantial difference after about a week!
- First thing in the morning, before you brush your teeth or consume anything else, have a large glass of water (at least 10 oz) with a bit of fresh lemon squeezed in it. Ideally, the water would be room temperature. This habit has been shown to flush out toxins and boost the production of bile for digestion (this is a good thing). It also strengthens the liver and promotes hydration; both are crucial for helping your blood carry out unnecessary junk from your system.
- This is more nuanced and based on energy channels, but many professionals I know who work with energy (acupuncturists, reiki practitioners) have recommended foot soaks in the evening with epsom salt to help clear toxins from the day through the feet. I noticed a huge difference when I implemented this advice at least 3 times per week.
- The kidneys are essential in your body’s cleansing functions; I suggest finding a nourishing kidney tea (organic, ideally) that you enjoy and drinking 2 glasses a day. This can be hot, warm, or iced.
- Sour foods stimulate peristalsis, the contractions within the digestive tract that moves waste through the colon for removal. Make sure to pair ingestion of these foods with a good amount of fiber and water to promote optimal waste elimination. Foods can be citrus (like the lemon mentioned above), green apples, and apple cider vinegar (consider drinking a large glass of warm water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in about 15 minutes prior to meals).
- Bitter foods can help boost the liver’s ability to cleanse – it has over 500 functions as a detoxifying organ! Try dandelion greens/root (dandelion tea is a great replacement for coffee), radishes, mustard, and artichokes.
- Add ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, or chilies to your diet 60-90 minutes prior to exercise to promote detoxifying sweat – just shower immediately after so that your skin doesn’t re-absorb!
- Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is invaluable to optimal health and proper digestion. It is also believed to be the single nutrient that the most people in affluent regions are deficient in! Along with fresh produce, consider adding figs, legumes, and chia into your daily diet.
- Blend chlorohyll with iron-rich plant foods to support red blood cell formation. Aim for three servings daily of green foods, raw and cooked. Some of the top iron-rich foods are legumes, seeds, dark leafy greens, and blackstrap molasses. Top chlorophyll-rich foods include: microalgaes (chlorella), seaweeds such as kelp, nori, and armae, wheat- and barley grass, and herbs/seasonings such as oregano, basil, parsley, and cilantro.
Happy eating, happy cleansing!!