Have you been thinking about trying to detox? One of the biggest reasons that people look to detox involves our ongoing exposure to toxins. We’re exposed on a regular basis and our bodies find it difficult to deal with many of these chemical additives for a variety of reasons. This can further affect various aspects of our health and wellbeing.
Toxins can also build up in the body and be stored in tissues and cells. Scary stuff, right? Many ‘experts’ offer detox type products or cleanses, but ultimately we want to make sure that our bodies are naturally detoxifying all the time. This happens through various biochemical pathways in the body, with most of the action happening in the liver and digestive system, but we also detox in other ways too. Having all of these detoxification pathways functioning optimally reduces our toxic burden, allowing our bodies to function at their best.
So here are my top 8 tips to get your detox pathways in tip-top shape:
#1 - Drink Plenty of Water
Water helps to flush waste products out of the body, which is important from a detox perspective. Starting the day with a glass of slightly warm water with lemon juice is an easy way to kick-start your detox processes. Additionally, drinking sufficient water throughout the rest of the day will support detox efforts.
Apple cider vinegar is another option if you want to mix things up or don’t enjoy the taste of lemon. It also has antiseptic properties and can help to fight germs along with stimulating digestion and liver processes.
Drinking herbal teas can also help you to stay hydrated and flush toxins. Herbal teas that are particularly good for detoxing include nettle and dandelion.
One thing we definitely don’t want to be drinking a lot of is alcohol. Our bodies have to work hard to process it, which takes up important resources we could be using to detoxify.
#2 - Load up on Veggies (and fibre generally)
Vegetables are a great choice for detoxing, especially beetroot, kale, spinach and cilantro. If you struggle to get enough in your diet, try making a veggie smoothie. Adding apple, carrot or ginger helps to make it taste delicious – perfect even if you’re not a big fan of greens!
Green smoothies also aid digestion and support regular bowel movements, which helps to remove waste products from the body. This is important as toxins can build up in the digestive tract if we aren’t eliminating regularly. This can make people feel sluggish and tired.
Getting plenty of fibre means that everything moves through the digestive system smoothly and in a timely fashion. Veggies and fruits aside, good fibre sources include beans, legumes, nuts and whole grains.
A word of caution here when picking veggies (and fruits): some are more heavily sprayed with pesticides than others. Eating organically grown produce is ideal, but sourcing it can be tricky, and expensive. Some products are more problematic than other too. As a guide I look to the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen”, which is a list of fruits and veggies that are more likely to have pesticides residues on them and even in them. This list is based primarily on US produce and our list here in Australia would likely be a little different as we have different growing conditions and potentially different pests, however, I find it helpful to use the EWG’s list as a guide. They also offer a ‘Clean Fifteen’ list, which are the 15 fruits and vegetables which likely have fewer pesticides on average. Just keep in mind that it for the USA, and may be potentially different here in Australia.
#3 - Cut Back on Sugar
Most of us eat far too much sugar, and it’s having a big effect on our health and wellbeing. Making the decision to detox from sugar is a definite must-do when you’re looking to detoxify. It’s not easy but you’ll likely feel a whole lot better!
Did you know that in the early 1700’s the average person in the developed world ate only 2kg of sugar in an entire year? By the early 1800’s it was 7-8kg. In the early 1900’s it was around 30kg, and now, the average person eats around 80kg of sugar a year. That is around 1.5 kg per week. No wonder we are experiencing so many health challenges.
Eating plenty of protein at breakfast can help with sugar cravings. It seems to reset the blood sugar balance in the body. You will also want to include plenty of non-starchy veggies and healthy fats in your diet, including at breakfast. Eating veggies at breakfast isn’t such a common thing here, but I find that hiding them in a smoothie can help.
#4 - Reduce Stress
When we’re stressed, our bodies aren’t working as efficiently as they could, and that’s not great news for detoxing. Being able to manage stress more effectively improves our ability to get rid of toxins. Breathing practices, having ‘me’ time, exercising, and finding reasons to laugh can all help reduce stress, which in turn improves our health and wellbeing.
#5 - Exercise Regularly
Exercise helps to boost circulation of blood and supports the movement of lymph around our bodies. Furthermore, working up a sweat helps to release toxins and also improves digestion. Yoga can serve a dual purpose as both a form of exercise, and for meditation and relaxation. Making time to stretch throughout the day is also a great move. We sit for so much of the day now, and our bodies really weren’t designed to do that.
#6 - Get Plenty of Sleep
A good night’s sleep is important for helping the body to reset itself and for autophagy to occur. Autophagy is the cellular clean-up and detoxing process that occurs when we are in a fasting state, and when asleep. Much of the healing and repair work for our bodies occurs when we are in a state of deep sleep. This level of sleep is more abundant between 10pm and 2am, so aim to turn in early(ish) and get more restorative sleep.
Another reason for getting good sleep is that we are more likely to make poor food choices when we’re sleep deprived and that can mean more toxins.
#7 - Deep Tissue Massage and Dry Skin Brushing
Toxins can build up in tissues, so deep tissue massage can help to move thee toxins out of the cells, and ultimately out of the body. Swedish massage and sports massages both target pressure points, which can also help, by stimulating the release of toxins.
Also, gently brushing the skin with a dry body brush helps to bring toxins out so they can be eliminated. It boosts circulation and aids detoxification. Brushing your skin a couple of times a week can be really helpful. You will need a special brush (like this one), and a bit of know-how such as brushing towards the heart, rather than away from it. There are some good video’s on YouTube to show you how it is done.
#8 - Make Sure You Have the Right Nutrients on Board
Lastly it is imperative that you get the right vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients into your diet to provide the raw ingredients the body needs to carry out its own detoxification processes. Eating a well-balanced, wholefood diet can make all the difference. Enhance digestion with adequate hydration and some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in water to help get the nutrients you need out of your food. Additionally, remember to eat plenty of leafy greens for B vitamins, and quality, clean sources of protein for their amino acid content.
So there you have it, 8 ways you can improve your detoxification pathways. If you want to learn more about lowering your toxic burden check out my blog post about turning off the tap of toxins.