Aaah, the cleanse.
By now, most of us have either attempted one or at least dealt with the hanger-induced rage of a mid-cleanse friend. Perhaps that friend was Beyonce circa 2006*, when she did the so-called “Master Cleanse” in preparation for her role in Dream Girls, drinking only a lemon-cayenne-syrup mixture, a saltwater drink, and herbal tea for a week straight.
Sounds pleasant, right? Yeah, not really. And while these more extreme versions will likely result in immediate weight loss, they can be dangerous if not done properly, and you’ll likely gain the weight back pretty quickly after returning to a normal diet.
Luckily, it IS possible to detox in a way that won’t make you want to throw things at strangers. A healthy detox is more gradual, and will leave you feeling energized, rather than depleted.
*Okay, so it was probably not Beyonce. You get the picture.
So, what is a detox?
A detox, simply put, is a method of eliminating toxins. Though the body naturally detoxes on its own, you can lessen its workload and improve the detoxification process by 1) decreasing the toxins you put into your body and 2) supporting the systems that work to remove those toxins.
This is where a detox comes in! Benefits include restoring balance in your body, increasing energy, speeding up metabolism and strengthening immunity, just to name a few.
How to detox the right way
Instead of extreme, short-term cleanses with short-term results, aim for a gradual approach with long-term benefits. To get you started, we put together a list of 12 simple ways you can start incorporating detoxifying habits into your everyday routine.
Now, you do NOT need to try all of these at once. Choose a few (maybe even just one for starters!) that seem most achievable to you and go from there. (And, of course, consult your doctor if you have any questions about which kind of detox is right for you.)
- Start your day with lemon water or tea – Lemons are full of citric acid and pectin, which support digestion. Tea is tasty, makes you feel kinda fancy, and it’s ALSO rich in antioxidants.
- Avoid processed foods, refined sugar and alcohol – Don’t make your liver work any harder than it needs to by filling yourself with processed junk, refined sugar or alcohol. Reach for healthier alternatives instead. Which leads us to…
- Smoothies! – It’s surprisingly easy to throw together a great-tasting smoothie that’s also full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep you full longer and aid your digestive system. (Tip: the sweetness of pineapple totally cancels out the flavor of spinach in a smoothie, so you can reap all the benefits without feeling like you’re drinking a salad! Because, gross.)
- Hydrate, a LOT – Duh. Water helps your kidneys and digestive system function properly by flushing out toxins. The Institute of Medicine suggests that women drink 2.7 liters per day (make that 3.7 liters for men). And no, alcohol does not count! Nice try, though.
- Incorporate superfoods into your diet – Superfoods like spinach and kale are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, and many specifically enhance liver function (cranberries, for example).
- Eat more fiber – A high-fiber diet means healthier bowel movements, which means fewer toxins. The Mayo Clinic recommends that women eat 25 grams of fiber a day and men eat 38 grams. Some awesome sources of fiber include whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
- Try probiotics – Probiotics are good bacteria that help the digestive tract and boost the immune system. Natural probiotics can be found in things like yogurt, kombucha, and miso. They’re also available in supplement form.
- Work it out – Yoga in particular is great for increasing circulation, which brings more nutrients to the liver. And regular aerobic exercise breaks down fat tissue that toxins are stored in, helping remove those toxins. Aim to exercise 20-30 minutes a few times a week, and don’t forget the tunes!
- Treat yourself to a massage – Massages stimulate the lymph system, making it filter waste faster and more efficiently. The perfect excuse to treat yourself.
- Get more sleep – Sleep lets your body rest and recharge, so that processes like digestion and detoxification can function smoothly during the day. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Get your zen on – Detoxing can be challenging or stressful at times, especially if you’re trying to give up vices like alcohol or sugar. You can improve your willpower by meditating, according to Stanford health psychologist Kelly McGonigal. Brain changes in the prefrontal cortex (which controls decisions and behavior), have been seen after just eight weeks of short, daily meditations.
- De-stress – Stress can take a toll on the digestive system, causing it to function below its full potential. Try to limit stressors and unwind in healthy ways, like exercise and meditation.
Since healthy detoxing is largely about putting the right things into your body, here are some foods that will cleanse your system naturally and make you feel great! (Find even more detox food ideas here.)
- Ginger – Ginger aids in digestion and can even help relieve an upset stomach. Some say it also helps you feel fuller longer. Try it in tea form, too!
- Beets – Beets are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help improve liver function.
- Artichokes – The cynarin in artichokes stimulate bile flow, which aids digestion.
- Milk thistle – Milk thistle is commonly associated with detoxing because it aids the liver in removing toxins from the blood.
- Garlic – Garlic stimulates the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps facilitate the natural detoxification process. It’s also good for your immune system!
- Dark, leafy greens – Superfoods like kale and collard greens are rich in chlorophyll, which has enzymes that aid in cleansing the blood.
- Broccoli – Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage boost detoxifying enzymes, which help your body excrete toxins.
- Raspberries – Raspberries are high in fiber, which is good for digestion. (Apples, blackberries, and bananas are also good sources of fiber!)
- Kimchi – Fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt and sauerkraut are natural probiotics that improve digestive function.
- Oats – Like raspberries, oats are rich in fiber, which is good for your digestive system and leaves you feeling full longer.
Remember: detoxing isn’t about depriving yourself. It’s about giving your body more of the nutrients it needs in order to function at its best (and make YOU feel your best). So stock up on those superfoods, start planning your new workout routine (in style, of course), and tell Beyonce she can have that saltwater all to herself.
www.nourishholisticnutrition.com | www.people.cornellcollege.edu | www.dailyhealthpost.com | www.livestrong.com | www.articles.mercola.com | www.draxe.com | www.shape.com 1, 2 | www.mensfitness.com | www.mayoclinic.org | www.health.com 1, 2 | www.oregonlive.com | www.scopeblog.stanford.edu | www.everydayhealth.com | www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 1, 2 | www.livestrong.com | www.womenshealthmag.com | www.nutritionfacts.org