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:
Simply eliminate the BIG FIVE for 21 days:
Refined sugar in any form, including all sodas, diet and energy drinks
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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!