Two simple steps to detoxify your body
As winter turns to spring, it’s traditional to clean house to clear out all the dust and debris that accumulates over the cold months. As you get your house in order, why not do a spring cleansing for your body?
Our bodies have an amazing ability to process and eliminate wastes and toxins. However, sometimes these systems can get overwhelmed, especially in a time when there are so many chemicals in our food, air and water.
“Cosmetics and personal care products can be another culprit of toxic stressors on the body.”
I’m not an advocate of extreme cleanses or fasts, because they can put unnecessary stress on the body. Detoxification can be done slowly and gently if you follow two simple guidelines: reduce the harmful substances you are taking into your body and; support the systems of your body that remove toxins.
Step 1: Reduce the harmful substances you are taking into your body.
A good place to start is by looking at your diet. Artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, trans fatty acids, and refined sugar can all put stress on the liver and slow down detoxification. Cleaning up your diet can make it easier for your liver to get to work on removing stored toxins.
If you despair at the idea of giving up your junk food fix permanently, try simplifying your diet for a short period of time, such as six weeks. It can be easier to take a break from favourite foods if you know it’s on a temporary basis. You can then re-evaluate your diet at the end of the temporary period based on how you feel.
Emphasize whole foods in your diet such as fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, lean meats and fish. Choose organic produce and free-range, organic, antibiotic-free meats wherever possible. You can search online for the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and the ‘Clean Fifteen’ to see which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticide spraying, and therefore, most important to buy organic or from small local farmers.
“Be sure to eat plenty of fibre through a good intake of fruits and vegetables.”
When you do your spring housecleaning, take a close look at the ingredients in your cleaning products. Many well-known household products contain hazardous ingredients that can linger in your home and end up accumulating in your body. Cosmetics and personal care products can be another culprit of toxic stressors on the body, especially if they contain petroleum or unspecified fragrances. The book Toxin Toxout has some good advice about what products to avoid.
Mercury fillings can also be a persistent source of long-term toxicity. Have your mercury fillings removed by an experienced dentist, and consider getting a urine test to assess the heavy metal levels in your body.
Step 2: Support the systems of your body that remove toxins.
Many systems of the body do a great job of cleansing and purification, so let’s acknowledge them for their hard work! The liver helps break down chemicals, the bowels and urinary tract excrete wastes, and the skin can get rid of wastes through sweat.
Supporting your liver is an essential part of successful detoxification. Relieve stress on your liver by drinking less alcohol (or cutting out alcohol altogether). Eating bitter greens like dandelion, kale, mustard greens, and arugula can stimulate the liver to produce bile, which helps to break down hormones. Squeezing the juice of half an organic lemon in warm water every morning is another gentle way to stimulate the liver, as is eating a raw carrot in the mornings before breakfast.
Regular bowel movements are extremely important to detoxification – if you’re regularly constipated, take that as a warning sign. Drink the recommended eight or more glasses of water per day, and be sure to eat plenty of fibre through a good intake of fruits and vegetables. Another option to increase your fibre intake is to include psyllium husks, ground flax or chia seeds in your porridge or smoothies. Traditionally fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir help populate your gut with friendly microorganisms that boost digestion and detoxification.
Baths are not only relaxing and soothing, but great for gently detoxifying through your skin. Epsom salts or baking soda in your bath water help draw the toxins out, and the magnesium in Epsom salts is a natural muscle relaxant. Saunas also stimulate your skin to sweat out toxins. Indulge often if you’re lucky enough to have one in your home, or see if your gym has one you can relax in after a workout. After your bath or sauna, gentle exfoliation with a washcloth or salt scrub helps remove dead skin cells and lets your skin breathe better.
Exercise and movement also play an important role in detoxification. Regular, enjoyable exercise can get your heart rate up, improve circulation, and help you sweat out the bad stuff. So get moving!
Finally, a cautionary note: introduce detoxifying practices very gradually, as the body can easily be overwhelmed by a sudden release of toxins. If you notice flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, or muscle aches, ease off for a few days. Be gentle with yourself, drink plenty of water, and wait until the healing crisis passes.
- Cilantro helps remove mercury from the body. Add it to your cooking or take cilantro drops up to four times per day.
- Garlic is a great digestive healing agent and antimicrobial. Cook with it to your heart’s content or try garlic capsules.
- Probiotics help your gut function more effectively, digesting food more thoroughly and making for better elimination of wastes.
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps break down and remove toxins. A good dose for detoxifying is 500-3000 mg/day.
- Turmeric is very effective for supporting liver function and limiting inflammation. Use it as a spice in your cooking or try capsules.
- Milk Thistle helps regenerate liver cells and protects the liver from damage.
- Dandelion root and leaves provide a gentle herbal tonic for the liver.
- Diindolylmethane (DIM) and Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) are supplements derived from plants in the cabbage family that help the body break down estrogen-mimicking chemicals.
- A good multivitamin and multimineral supplement will help cover all the bases needed for optimal detoxification.