What is detox? Many of you have heard the term, and seen countless diets celebrating the benefits of detoxing. But what exactly does it mean?
Detoxing is exactly what it sounds like. De-tox. Removing toxins out of your body. The body has its own capacities for naturally detoxing, of which the liver, kidneys and skin mainly take care of. Some people think that the body has full capability of detoxing on its own, and that we don’t need any fancy diets, herbs or protocols to help it along. I tend to disagree. In today’s world, we are exposed to so many chemicals in our environment, from the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the daily cleaning products we use. One hundred years ago, the world looked much different then it does now, and the levels of daily exposure to foreign substances was much lower. These days, our bodies are dealing with daily assault from chemicals, so our organs and tissues can reach a point where it cannot keep up with the cleansing necessary to keep us in good health. Diseases of excess are increasing, such as heart disease, obesity, liver disease and many allergy conditions. So what are we to do?
We can help the body along in many ways. I always like to start with food, as this is an area we are most in control of , and can base our choices on what is best for our bodies to function. Choosing high quality food, that is nourishing to our body, such as whole, organic food, will help to give us the nutrients needed to support the detoxification process. Avoiding foods that stress our organs of elimination, such as processed, denatured junk foods and fried or sugary foods, can do a great service to our bodies. Drinking lots of good quality water is imperative, as our organs and tissues need water to help flush out toxins, in our bowels, and through our skin.
Daily exercise, in which we break a sweat is another way we can incorporate daily detoxing. One of our bodies greatest ways of detoxing is through our skin and glands, namely, the Lymphatic System. The Lymphatic System is one system that needs muscle movement to be stimulated; in other words, we need to move. Someone who has bad skin, or experiences rashes, or inflammatory symptoms such as water retention and bags under their eyes can be experiencing a good example of the Lymphatic System trying to manage or eliminate a substance. Going to a sauna often is also one of the best ways we can stimulate this system; just remember to re-hydrate sufficiently afterwards! Skin brushing, dry, or in the shower,can also be helpful, and can help keep our skin looking and feeling its best.
Herbs and foods that can be helpful for the organs of elimination are Dandelion, Burdock, Cleavers, Yellow Dock, Nettles, and any bitter vegetables such as arugula, and those of the Brassica family: broccoli, cauliflower,cabbage,kale, as well as my favorites, onions and garlic. Bringing some, or all of these into your daily diet, can be wonderful healing foods for you, and provide an abundance of nutrients that our bodies need for good health.
Aside from the daily assistance you can give your body in detoxing, you can also choose to do a yearly or bi-yearly cleanse. There are many kits you can now buy at your health food store that usually includes a diet, and supplements, and can last from one week to one month. This may be a good choice for you if you are needing a kick-start and don’t have the knowledge to do this on your own. Of course, please consult with your doctor or health provider before beginning any cleanse, if you are dealing with any health issues or taking medications.
Last but not least, one of my favorite ways to detox lately has been fasting. Fasting has been done since time immemorial, from our hunting and gathering days, where not eating for several days at a time was less a choice then a necessity, as food was scarce at times. Our bodies have adapted to fasting. They know how to do it, and have evolved to rely on alternate fuel when they are not receiving food daily. Giving your body a rest from daily food intake is one of the best ways we can make space for our organs to get rid of substances it does not need, and also can give our minds a rest from the daily preoccupation with food. There are many ways to fast , but my personal preference is a water fast, as this can re-teach the body to rely on fat for fuel, and most of us have plenty of stores to draw from! It can also help us to re-balance our blood sugar levels, and make us more conscious of our eating habits. One caution: If you have diabetes, kidney or liver disease, or severely underweight, please consult with your doctor before attempting any fast.
I will be writing more in detail about fasting in a later post, so stay tuned. But for now, I hope these suggestions have been helpful for you to consider, and give you some food for thought, and inspire you to take a larger role in your own health. We have more control then we think over our choices. Let’s make the ones that most benefit and heal us, not harm us.
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