As knowledge of our increasingly toxic world is growing, so too are the number of detoxifying programs being marketed to consumers. The fact is, though, that the amazing human body you are walking around in is completely capable of naturally detoxing itself. We have the skin, liver, kidneys, colon and lungs working in some capacity in this endeavor. The best way to create a toxin-free inner environment is to limit toxic exposure in the first place. Eating organic whenever possible, drinking filtered water, using home-made cleaners (or safe store-bought ones), getting at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and staying away from processed grains, sugar and artificials will go a long way in keeping your internal detox system in tip-top shape.
However, there are some benefits to giving our detox organs a helping hand that can yield some great results in mood, mental clarity and physical well-being.
Water is part of every function of the body including the removal of toxins. Even being mildly dehydrated puts stress on the kidneys and can cause constipation. If you wait until you feel thirsty to drink you are already dehydrated so make sure to bring water with you and drink it throughout the day. The type of water you are drinking will also determine if you are helping your body remove toxins or are actually adding more to the load. In our part of the world, we are lucky in that we don't have to worry about bacterial contamination. However, the chemicals that are being dumped into our water supply to combat potential contamination is causing a whole host of other health issues, in addition to all the industrial and agricultural waste as well. Bottom line: invest in a water filter. Check here to find your local water contaminants and the best water filter for your area.
Through sweat the body eliminates salt, drugs and various other toxins. By utilizing the largest organ- the skin- it takes the pressure off of the liver and kidneys to do all the dirty work. As most of us don't have access to a sauna or steam room and we are supposed to be getting 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day, getting sweaty to your favorite work-out is the perfect alternative. Make sure to be well hydrated before and after your sweat session otherwise it will not be as effective.
Dry brushing is a European practice of brushing the body with a natural bristled, long handled brush. This simple yet effective exfoliation technique stimulates the lymphatic system that is the body's pathway for removing toxins. It also stimulates the sebaceous glands (oil glands) that will help naturally moisturize the skin in addition to improving blood flow and circulation to the area. Super bonus on this one: it helps to diminish cellulite, ladies! I can actually attest to this- dry brushing is amazing. Take a few minutes before a bath or shower and starting with the bottom of your feet, brush towards your heart with gentle pressure. Brush the abdomen in a circular, clock-wise direction and don't forget in between your fingers and underarms. Skip the genitals, breasts (for women), neck and face. It's also a good idea to wash the body brush in mild soap once a week to keep it clean of dead skin debris.
No, really, it's not as disgusting as it seems. Just throw some dried powder in your smoothie and call it a day. There are tens of thousands of different kinds of algae but spirulina and chlorella are the best known. Their chlorophyll content beats the pants off of other leafy greens which means they are potent detoxifiers. Chlorophyll is able to remove heavy metals from pesticides, environmental toxins or radiation from the body. It also is very alkalizing by balancing the internal pH. It is believed that disease cannot develop in an alkaline inner environment. Spirulina is so ancient that it actually doesn't have a hard cellular wall so the body can easily assimilate it unlike chlorella that needs to have the cell walls cracked or it will pass right through your system without being utilized. Look for broken cell wall on the packaging before you buy chlorella.
Our digestive organs require huge amounts of energy in order to break down food. By refraining from eating solid food for a certain period of time, that energy can be directed towards repairing and healing the body instead. Rats and humans have been shown to have longer life expectancies when their calories are restricted. Fasting has also been reported to make the senses sharper, the head clearer and feeling more energetic. There are many different ways to fast. For my own every day purpose I do not eat anything after dinner but continue to drink water or herbal tea until bedtime. Upon waking in the morning I will drink 12 oz of fresh juice. My current juice recipe is 1 cucumber, 2 large carrots, 1 - 2 inches of ginger and 1 apple. Juicing is great due to all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes being absorbed by the digestive system right away without having to exert a lot of energy to breaking down solid food. A smoothie for breakfast is also easy on the digestive system. Drink plenty of water or herbal tea until lunch when a normal solid meal can be eaten.
Basically, how I incorporate all this into my day looks something like this:
- Wake-up and make my juice.
- Do thirty minutes of exercise, making sure to drink water throughout.
- Before showering, dry brush (make sure your skin is dry before doing this).
- Make a breakfast smoothie including chlorella powder.
- Drink tea and water until lunch.
- Lunch as usual.
This is what I have found to work with my schedule and that is how I am able to stick with it. Waking up a good ninety minutes before my kids helps too (like immensely). Go with what works for you, although, everyone should be drinking plenty of filtered water! Remember to not purposely fill your body with toxins and not freak out over the ones that do get in... your body's got it covered.
Weil, Andrew, Natural Health, Natural Medicine: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Print.
Tourles, Stephanie, Organic Body Care Recipes: Storey, 2007. Print.
Morris, Julie, Superfood Kitchen: Sterling Epicure, 2012. Print.