It’s that time of year again when people try to make up for their dietary misgivings during the holidays. More and more people are turning to detoxifying as a way to jump start their health for greater energy, weight loss, and improved health. While detoxification can spell the difference between energy and fatigue, health and illness, not all cleanses or detox diets are created equally. And,some programs are downright unhealthy. I’m not a fan of the starvation programs and water fasts, preferring actual food instead. Go figure.
Toxins disrupt the normal healthy flow within your body, leaving you feeling fatigued, sore and depressed. They can also lead to serious illnesses, such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes and allergies. There are literally thousands of toxins and harmful synthetic chemicals in your food, air, water, homes, and workplaces. In the course of a day, you are exposed to toxic pesticides, herbicides, petrochemicals, industrial chemicals, food colors and additives, stress hormones and a host of other toxins that could be compromising your health.
I’m still amazed at the number of naysayers who tell me that detox isn’t necessary or doesn’t work–I’m sure I’ll hear from some of them in the comments. I ask them why their body insists on detoxing every minute of every day. Without ongoing detoxification, our bodies would deteriorate and, ultimately, die. We need detoxification to live. By eating a healthier diet and following a better lifestyle, we are simply removing obstacles to allow our natural detoxification abilities to ramp up their ability to eliminate harmful substances and restore the body’s natural healing ability.
While your body is equipped to deal with some toxicity, it can be overburdened by the volume and type of toxins found in our modern world. A good detoxification program helps eliminate toxins from your respiratory system, liver, gall bladder, kidneys and urinary tract, skin, fatty deposits (including cellulite), lymph and other parts of your body. However, be aware that most detox plans only target the liver and colon, which is inadequate for great health.
Here are some of the essentials for a successful detox. If you’re looking for more insight into cleansing all of these organ systems, check out my book, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan. And, keep in mind, that if you have any serious health issues, you should work with a skilled natural health professional. If you are pregnant, lactating, or diabetic, or taking essential medications, you’ll want to avoid a detox program. But, most of these essentials are suitable for anyone.
1.) Drink at least 8-10 cups of pure water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Dehydration is a chronic problem for most people. Drinking plenty of pure water is especially important for anyone leading an active lifestyle, since significant amounts of fluid can be lost during exercise. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to the water.
2.) Eat moderate amounts of fruit, the best food to keep your colon and lymphatic system–the system that cleans your tissues cleansed and moving properly. When the lymphatic system is sluggish, pain or weight gain usually result. Fruit often gets a bad rap thanks to many of the high protein diets, yet it is one of Mother Nature’s most powerful cleansing foods. It’s best eaten on an empty stomach and in moderation if you’re trying to lose weight.
3.) Start lunch and dinner with a large green salad since it is full of enzymes to help your body with the digestion of your meals, instead of depleting your body’s owns supplies. Also, leafy greens are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll (the green color in plants that also helps cleanse your blood), and many phytochemicals–plant nutrients packed with a wide variety of healing abilities.
4.) Eat a small healthy snack every two to three hours to stabilize blood sugar. Wild blood sugar fluctuations can deplete your energy, cause your body to gain weight, or depress your immune system. Snacking throughout the day will help stabilize your blood sugar and your energy levels. Raw, unsalted almonds make the perfect blood-sugar-stabilizing snack since they are packed with fiber and protein. As an added bonus, their rich in minerals like calcium and magnesium.
5.) Avoid eating sweets, synthetic sweeteners or foods sweetened with them during your cleanse. Sugars depress your immune system for up to 6 hours. Artificial sweeteners need to be processed by your liver, your body’s main detoxification organ, which takes plentiful amounts of energy. Free up that energy for cleansing and healing.
6.) Be sure to fit some exercise into your day. A minimum of twenty minutes of vigorous activity will get your circulation going, improve lymph flow, and increase energy. Your lymphatic system is the equivalent of a street cleaning system within your body. It sweeps up toxins from all your tissues. If you experience swelling, cellulite, pain, or fatigue, your lymphatic system may not be keeping up the toxic load in your body. Unlike the blood which has the heart to help it pump, the lymphatic system relies on exercise and deep breathing to move.
7.) Avoid margarine and foods made with hydrogenated fats or trans fats. These toxic and unnatural foods make your body’s detox organs sluggish and require huge amounts of energy for digestion. They also lead to weight gain and many are known neurotoxins, that is, they attack the brain and nervous system, which may result in pain and inflammation, among other health issues.
8.) Avoid foods that contain synthetic colors, preservatives, and other additives. The liver expends massive energy trying to process these artificial substances. By avoiding them, you are giving your liver a break so it can free up its energy.
9.) Eat plenty of veggies, preferably raw, steamed, or lightly sauteed.
10.) Cut back on animal protein during your cleanse since these foods tax the digestive system. Lean organic meat or poultry or wild-caught fish in small amounts are fine.
Cleansing your body doesn’t have to be difficult or involve starvation. With minimal effort and some simple dietary and lifestyle changes, you can help detoxify your body and start to feel better than ever.