Coming Clean

Many of you are still looking to follow through on your New Year's resolutions, to start out with a clean slate and a clean belly. But how? Detoxification is a natural part of our body’s daily functions. As living organisms, we are constantly taking in fresh forms of nourishment and eliminating the components that have been used up, as well as those that were not beneficial to begin with. But does this process always work efficiently?

The liver and the kidneys are our main detox organs, literally crafted over millions of years to be stalwart expungers of harmful metabolic byproducts and exogenous toxins. The liver prevents pathogens from passing into the bloodstream, detoxifies environmental toxins, and processes excess nitrogen left over from the breakdown of protein. The kidneys sift through blood and filter out extra water, urea (a toxic metabolic byproduct of protein catabolism), and other wastes, which exit the body in the urine. The problem is though, now more than ever, we are bombarded with toxins from the lotions we put on our skin, the toothpaste we brush our teeth with, the air that we breathe, pesticides, additives and preservatives in our food supply, plastics, negative thoughts, and ubiquitous stress that promotes a toxic and acidic body.

It has been estimated that in the last 75 years alone, over 100,000 chemicals have been developed, thanks (well, not really) to the big contributors – large corporations. In fact, new chemicals are being developed every single day. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), by the time the average woman is ready to leave the house in the morning, she has exposed herself to 126 chemical toxins from shampoo, body wash, lotion, cosmetics and the worst offender of all, fragrance.

Then what happens? She goes to Starbucks for her liver congesting toxic soup, coffee, then slathers on some antibacterial wash on her hands when she sits down at her desk, breathing in the fumes from the carpet and paint, only to stare at her computer, stressed out all day. Yikes! I feel stressed just writing that! Do you see my point? Even in a perfect world, you would still need to detox periodically because you simply cannot avoid all toxins.

I know the word detox conjures up images of sweat drenched torture as you go hungry, surviving on juices and tasteless chalky shakes, while giving up all your favorite foods. You've likely heard of the popular Master Cleanse, where one only subsists on lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper, but beware of these fad detox protocols. According to Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine, "One of the worst things that you can do for your body in terms of detoxification is doing a fast," she says. "That was the idea about 20 or 30 years ago, but we know now that your body actually needs specific nutrients to be able to perform its job of detoxification."

So, the good news is that you can detox without going to a detox center, starving yourself, sweating naked on a rock in New Mexico, or spending thousands of dollars on a fancy detox protocol full of supplements, pills and shakes. Detoxifying can be super easy, and affordable. Below are my top five diet and lifestyle detox tips:

Diet Detox

Simply eliminate the BIG FIVE for 21 days:

  1. Refined sugar in any form, including all sodas, diet and energy drinks

  2. Caffeine

  3. Alcohol

  4. Gluten-containing grains/products

  5. Pasteurized dairy

Lifestyle Detox

  1. Skin brushing. Dry body brushing with a natural bristle brush is also very effective for eliminating toxins through the skin and stimulating the lymphatic system. Simply start with your soles and brush towards the heart in circular motions to help slough off dead skin.

  2. Drinking lemon and water every morning on an empty stomach. Warm lemon water is an ancient elixir for supporting liver detoxification, boosting digestion and reducing bloating.

  3. Spend more time outdoors in nature. This just makes sense. Nature is good for your soul and what is good for your soul is amazing for your body. Breathe deeply and take time out to enjoy life. Even just 15 minutes every day.

  4. Do a friend-detox. Remove yourself from negative, toxic people/situations that no longer serve you. Relinquish hostility and irritability and instead make space in your consciousness for peace

  5. Forgive yourself. Things will never be perfect and stable. Chaos and change are the currency of our lives. So tell yourself, "I am doing the best I can and I am perfect in my imperfection."

What type of benefits can you expect from detoxing?

  • Increased energy

  • Weight loss

  • Faster metabolism

  • Better digestion

  • Decreased allergies

  • Fewer colds

  • Clearer skin

Detoxing is a wonderful way to affirm a new way of being, a fresh start to a new you. You are not committing to never drinking red wine again; you are simply taking a break to evaluate how you feel.

You can't go back and re-write your health "story" for 2012, but you can start now and make a brand new ending for 2013. A clean slate is only a decision away...happy detoxing!

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tinksweeney, posted on May 31, 2016

Thank you for your article . I appreciated the point of forgiving ourselves and to tune into how we feel. I am going to check out your 21 day self guided program.

journey_2, posted on April 9, 2016

Thank you for the information. I've lost enough weight recently to impress my doctor at my visit this week, but am stalling a bit. I've been cutting out Gluten as I'm gluten intolerant. In the past I've succeeded a couple of years eating all natural foods and my body was thankful and my energy level was the best it has been in many years. Once I started eating things I should not here and there, I spiraled back to my old way of eating. This time I've been allowing myself some processed gluten free snacks. My body is not responding as well. I've been concerned about cutting it all out again, but know that is what my mind and body respond well to. It's time to make that next move. I know I will not have a problem with a 5 day detox, and will review the resources you provided for additional information.

jclisham, posted on April 6, 2016

Pasteurized dairy should be in a total class of all animal products for a perfect detox (see urea reference). For an enlightening book on nutrition read The China Study.

rupinameer, posted on May 3, 2013

@Katalinga Glad you found the article helpful. As with any dietary advice, my philosophy for a cleanse regime is that it needs to be tailored to your cleansing goals/types of toxins you're trying to eliminate etc. So, if you're eating a fair amount of commercial meat, then yes, I would absolutely eliminate that for a cleanse, but conversely if you're eating high quality animal protein that's free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics then you may not need to cleanse as frequently. Hope that makes sense.

Katalinga, posted on May 3, 2013

I liked the article, it is very consice. I read a lot about cleansing this spring and have 2 questions:
1. "Simply eliminate the BIG FIVE for 21 days" means meat is OK??
2. You would not advise to do a fast once a week? Many say it is beneficial.

rupinameer, posted on May 2, 2013

@JoannaVRR Glad you found the article helpful! It's okay to make bite-sized changes during detoxing. Please try and replace the feelings of shame or being "bad" with self-love and compassion and the detox journey will be be a lot easier. Don't hesitate to reach out for additional support if you need some. Happy detoxing!

crystalwings, posted on May 2, 2013

Lovely article! I just began the detox practice guide (I know, I'm a bit late) today and getting rid of gluten-containing grains is going to be the toughest one for me (in fact, I had whole wheat toast this morning! Shame.).

I'm vegan so I already avoid dairy. The only caffeine I consume is from the occasional green tea and I do not drink alcohol. Let's see how this goes!

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