Originally posted on The Well Blog
We’ve heard about detoxing, but what exactly is it?
The true definition of a detox is simply our body’s natural way of cleaning out the chemicals and pollutants that it comes into contact with daily. That means everything we eat, breath, and absorb through the skin needs to go through this ‘detox’ filter system. The main organs that are responsible for detoxification are: the skin (our largest organ), liver, kidneys, and the digestive tract.
In short, we could all use a detox. Giving your body a bit of extra help moving out the old and making room for the new. The good news is it doesn’t have to be a painful process—you can gradually, slowly detoxify the system with these habits (so gentle you could do them daily!)
I recommend a detox at least twice a year (fall and spring) as well as after any period of unhealthy eating/drinking (Christmas season, perhaps?). If you start out following just a few of these tips, make them a habit for a full month. Determined enough to tackle them all? Commit to 14 days, though 21 are ideal for maximum impact.
Start with lemon water
First thing in the morning, before anything else, fill half a glass with room temperature water and the juice of half a lemon. Drink. This is a fantastic booster for your liver and gallbladder after a night’s rest to get the toxins out and prep your digestive tract for the day ahead.
Caffeine isn’t a bad thing for everyone, however, it does give the liver a lot of work to do when it comes to clearing it from our system. Therefore, no coffee or black tea is best (swap with green tea if you need a bit of caffeine boost for a few days). Want to avoid the caffeine-withdrawal headaches? Give yourself one week to wean off of your coffee addiction before starting your detox. Trust me on this one.
Drink one of your meals
In order to give your digestive tract a bit of a breather, liquid meals are the way to go. This is because they require minimal breakdown, and generally move through your gut easily. Again, this allows your body to break down and get rid of the toxins and buildup within the body. Try blending a scoop of a clean vegan protein powder, non-dairy milk and a handful of frozen berries for breakfast. Doesn’t get much easier than that.
Eat whole foods only- cut out dairy and red meat
Foods to eat and foods not to eat on a detox: an important question. In order to keep this detox simple, remove the most inflammatory, hormone-containing foods that can wreck havoc on your skin, gut health, mood and weight (to name just a few). These foods are dairy products, red meat and pork. You may be shocked how good you feel with these gone, even for a short while.
Not your first detox? Here’s how to take it up a notch.
We’ve made it pretty simple so far. To safely incrase the effectiveness of your detox try these two tips:
Swap exercise for yoga or stretching
The more intense your detox, the less intense physical activity you should do. Don’t get me wrong, you can workout daily, but as a general rule, reduce your exercise intensity by at least 50% while on a detox. Try exchanging intervals for a walk in nature, or your regular cardio class for yoga instead. This can help lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone), necessary for a better detox–and weight loss!
Go gluten free
Just because you don’t have celiac disease, doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a few weeks of gluten-free living. The reality is, many of us are sensitive to gluten but don’t get a strong enough reaction to notice the problem. On the inside, however, our body is inflamed and trying to ‘put out the fire’. When we stop this cycle our bodies can recover, repair and rebuild to strengthen itself. Try a gluten-free pasta or cereal to keep you satisfied.
Please Note: I always recommend working with a healthcare practitioner when doing a detox (especially your first one). This is because every person’s goals and needs are unique. What works for one person, may not work as well for you. Also, if you’re taking medications, improving your liver function with a detox (though a good thing) may require some adjustments to your prescriptions or time of dosing. Again, a healthcare practitioner who is qualified can make sense of any confusion.