Detox has become somewhat of a dirty word in recent years. It tends to be associated with these “detox in a box” type programs that promise you the world but ultimately leave you starving and miserable.
So firstly lets get one thing straight. Your body detoxifies every single day. Whenever you urinate, have a bowel movement, sweat and even exhale you’re excreting toxins. You don’t need to starve yourself or take pills and potions. However we are living in an increasingly toxic world, from the air we breathe, to the food we eat and the water we drink. Detoxing helps rid the body of unhealthy toxins and substances. It gives the body the boost it needs to improve immunity, refresh skin and say bye-bye to bloat.
Symptoms that we tend to take for granted as everyday ailments can often be indicative of the fact that our bodies are holding onto toxins. Migraines, weight loss resistance, coated tongue, fatigue, acne, irritability, sluggish digestion, cravings and a hangover after only one glass of wine. Any of these symptoms sound familiar?
Hold off on the enemas and colon cleanses…there’s gentler and more natural ways to detox in the privacy of your own home. .
1. Wellness with water: Drink 2-3 litres of water depending on your activity level. Water helps to excrete toxins in the urine. If you’re urine is dark or has a strong odour you’re not drinking enough. It’s important however, to restrict fluid intake during meals. This dilutes digestive enzymes which are needed for protein digestion.
2. Liver loving lemons: Having lemon juice with hot water every morning is a simple way to kick-start detoxification. It improves digestion, removes impurities and has antiseptic properties. Fish and lemon juice are a match made in heaven – not just cause of the taste but because the citric acid helps to chelate heavy metals such as mercury.
3. Glowing greens: Eat leafy greens everyday. Green veg contains chlorophyll which helps to detoxify the body by neutralising free radicals and toxins. Kale can remove seven times its own weight in toxins! Bitter leafy greens like rocket and dandelion stimulate the flow of digestive juices and help to combat sugar cravings.
4. Full on fibre. Fibre acts as a bulking agent in the stomach which makes you feel fuller for longer. It also binds to toxins and assists digestion. At the very least you should be having a bowel movement everyday – anything less means toxins are building up in your colon. If you’re constipated try having 2 Tbs of flax seeds in a glass of water every morning.
5. Plentiful protein: Eat protein with every meal. Not only does protein help to maintain stable blood sugar (which assists weight loss) it also acts as a heavy metal chelator.
6. Dodge the dirty dozen: Switch to organic for any food on the ‘dirty dozen’ list. Produce such as leafy greens, berries, apples, celery and cucumber are sprayed heavily with pesticides. The rule of thumb generally goes that if you eat the peel or the outside of the fruit or vegetable that you should really opt for organic.
7. Veggies in volume: Eat at least 5 servings of non-starchy veggies per day. Veggies should be consumed as a package with protein as they excrete the by-product of meat (ammonia) from the body.
8. Sinful Snacking: Food in excess, whether it’s healthy or not, is toxic. Constant snacking means that your body is always at work, you’re digestive system gets little chance to rest, repair and rejuvenate.
9. Make-up free Mondays: The average woman can load up to 500 different chemicals on themselves daily – from cosmetics alone! It takes 26 secs for a substance to enter the bloodstream once applied to your skin. Know where it goes next? Straight to your poor overtaxed liver. Propylene glycol, methylparaben, and propylparaben, are known hormone disruptor’s found in nearly all conventional foundations. Try transitioning towards organic brands and if you’re brave enough go make-up free for a day. Your skin will thank you!
10. Banish bad bacteria: If you’ve got a gut bacteria imbalance or are suffering with candida you’re likely to feel pretty toxic. The bad bacteria and yeast drain your energy levels, increase sugar cravings and lower immunity. Give your good bacteria a chance to crowd out the bad guys by eating probiotic rich foods. Live yoghurt and cottage cheese will help but for the most potent source, opt for sauerkraut, keifir or a supplement that contains at least 4 billion strains.
11. Brush your body beautiful: Dry brush before your shower. This activates the lymphatic system (which fights off bacterial and viral invaders), stimulates blood circulation, and enhances toxin elimination through our body’s largest organ — the skin!
12. Tongue Treatment: Don’t neglect your tongue when brushing your teeth. Bacteria and toxic debris can build up contributing to nasty morning breath.
13. Kick the caffeine: Switch to herbal teas. A cup of coffee a day has actually been linked to numerous health benefits such as improved brain function and reduced risk of dementia. However, you don’t want to get to the stage where you’re dependent on it. Likewise you shouldn’t be drinking it if it gives you anxiety. Switch to green or white tea which still contains caffeine but also has an abundance of antioxidants and polyphenols which are capable of converting carcinogens into harmless substances.
14. Belly Breathing: Deep belly breathing will remove old, stuck or stagnant carbon dioxide and impurities from the very bottom of your lungs. A good exhale can help you relax emotionally and physically, so next time you breathe a sigh of relief – know that you’re not just letting go of tension – your releasing toxins too!
15. Sweat it out! Perspiration helps to open up skin pores and rid the body of bad and potentially harmful substances. If you’re a total coach potato then you can mimic the effect by using saunas.
16. Purge poisons with parsley: Parsley is rich in vitamins and minerals which exhibits powerful detoxifying properties. It helps eliminate salt that has built up in the kidneys, thereby purging the body of accumulated poisons like mercury, cadmium, and lead.
17. Cleanse with chlorella: Chlorella (found in seaweed) helps to cleanse the body of harmful environmental toxins from smog, heavy metals, herbicides, cleaning products and pesticides.
18. Stress less: Stress inhibits enzymes in the liver which are responsible for detoxification. It also indirectly increases toxicity by driving sugar cravings.
19. Toxic Talkers: Whether it’s the passive aggressive friend or the boyfriend that’s always putting you down – you don’t need permission to walk away from them. These people will lower your confidence and increase your stress (which slows detoxification). Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Not just because you’ll be happier, but also because toxic people can actually take years off your life.
20. Bathe in baking soda: Taking a bath with 1 cup of baking soda and 2 cups of epsom salts will help draw out toxins, alkalise the body, ease muscle tension and enhance sleep.
Author: Veronica Burke
Veronica holds a Bsc honours degree in food science. She currently works as marketing executive for Pharma Nord Ireland.
Veronica is a certified health coach and soon to be nutritional therapist, studying in the Irish Institute of Nutrition and Health.
She has written health related articles for several different publications including RSVP, Stellar, Rude Health, The Irish Mirror and Confetti bridal magazine.
Veronica specialises in one to one consultations and has a particular interest in the areas of hormonal balance and gut health.