As we shift into fall, it has me thinking about my quarterly cleanse to give my body a tune-up for the upcoming season. Four times per year I do a cleanse. In April and October I do a shorter, more intensive cleanse and then in February and June I do a longer, gentle cleanse to support my body with detoxification. I believe it's important to support our detoxification systems during the different seasons of the year.
Detoxing. Maybe you have done a detox before, or maybe you have never done a detox and feel a bit intimidated by it. This is a topic that can be confusing for people, so my goal is to help clear up some confusion about detoxing and explain what role it can play in your life.
Why Consider Detoxing
Some people will say we don't need to because our body naturally does it. This is true. We wouldn't be alive if our bodies didn't have a method of processing toxins. BUT, in 2017 we are bombarding our bodies with toxins from many angles (the foods we eat, what we drink, the air pollution we breathe inside and outside our homes, and the products we put on our bodies daily) so our detox system can start getting overwhelmed. Our bodies can handle a certain amount of toxin exposure, but we're adding to that with processed packaged foods loaded with chemicals we can't even pronounce (read the ingredients label of a few boxes, cans, bottles, or bags you have in your cupboard right now), drinking alcohol, smoking, breathing in pollution, and putting toxic chemicals on our bodies with conventional hair and skin products. This causes a huge toxic burden that is more than our bodies can process. At the same time, a lot of us aren't giving our detox organs what they need in order to function properly - our kidneys, liver, lungs, lymphatic system, colon, and skin. These organs typically neutralize and remove toxins from our body but unless you're giving them the nutrients they need, they can become sluggish and stop working as efficiently as they should. I have seen enough test results now, including my own, to know that in today's world we need to be proactive about helping our body detox otherwise it will become too burdened and not function optimally. When the toxic load is higher than the baseline our bodies can handle, the body sends out signals that it needs help with detoxification and it's time for a change.
5 Signs That It's Time To Detox
1. Skin Issues - The skin is usually the first place we'll notice a toxic overload or that something is wrong. It's a good indicator of what's going on inside. Breakouts can often be from food sensitivities and hormone imbalances and a detox can eliminate common food allergens and add in foods that nourish the body and hormone system. Rashes are often from something we're consuming or something we're putting on our skin that it doesn't want. Complexion can also be an indicator. Dull, lifeless skin can indicate we're not giving our body what it needs. Our skin is our largest organ and is the last place to receive nutrients we consume. Our body has a hierarchy of who gets the vitamins and minerals first (vital organs first - heart, brain, lungs, etc. then what's left over goes to nonvital organs and skin is the last on the list). You need to eat an abundance of nutrient dense foods in order to get clear, glowing, healthy skin.
2. Low Energy - If you experience low energy it can be a sign that you're fueling your body with something that's slowing it down. Most people feel like they need coffee to get through the day. If you're in the cycle of feeling tired and needing coffee to wake up throughout the day, a detox can help. We should be able to get through the day without coffee. Getting out of the coffee cycle can actually result in more energy.
3. Sugar Cravings - We all know sugar isn't healthy for us but we all eat it. Most people eat it every day even though we know it causes weight gain, can break us out, causes premature aging (wrinkles), and weakens our immune system. It tastes good in the moment, but we often feel terrible after we eat it. One of the best ways to get off sugar or at least reduce it is by doing a detox. Flooding the body with nutrients it needs can help reduce sugar cravings as nutrient deficiencies tend to cause overeating and cravings. Filling nutrient voids can cause cravings to subside and change taste buds so much that something that once tasted good becomes overly sweet and not as enjoyable as it once was.
4. Digestive issues - Gas, bloating, burping, constipation, and diarrhea are very common today and are signs you are feeding your body things it isn't digesting properly. Removing common food sensitivities and learning about mindful eating on a detox can make it clear what you don't do well with when you start to add certain foods back in.
5. Trouble losing weight - The body stores toxins in fat cells and it can hold on to the fat in order to protect itself from the toxins that would be released if weight loss occurred. It holds on to the fat until it can safely remove the toxins from the body. If the fat cells shrunk and pushed the toxins out into the bloodstream, you would have a much bigger problem than not being able to fit in your skinny jeans. Detoxing allows toxins to safely be removed.
You don't have to experience all five signs, you can experience just one to warrant a detox and benefit from it. A detox is typically a short-term period where we take out toxic substances and add in things that support the body's detox organs. Most people lose weight, their energy goes up, their skin looks clearer, and the five signs are reduced or eliminated. A short-term detox will result in short-term benefits, but if you go back to your pre-detox ways of bombarding the body with toxins, the signs just come back. However, most often what a person gains from a short-term detox is the motivation to keep going with their healthy habits. A detox is often the first stepping stone towards a healthier lifestyle. Most people get used to not feeling well all the time so they stop thinking about it as much - they get used to covering up breakouts with makeup, used to carrying tums or tylenol in their purse, used to going to starbucks every day until it becomes second nature. A detox can serve as a wakeup call that you can feel good every day, you can have more energy, and your skin can be clearer. It can kick start some long-term healthy habits.
How To Detox
You may have heard of or tried detox juices, pills, smoothies, teas, etc. or you may have thought about doing a detox but put it off because it seems like such a commitment and like the timing had to be right. I want to keep it simple and focus on how to detox with food because that's how you can detox without the deprivation. It also helps you learn sustainable things to do consistently long-term which will make the biggest impact on your health and well-being. There are specific foods I use in my practice that I find work really well to cleanse the body. Each food works on a specific organ or detox mechanism to support cleansing the whole system. I am going to share 4 of these with you. They are powerful detoxifiers you can start adding in to your daily life to support your body in detoxification.
1. Lemon Water - Water is the best cleanser we have. It helps the kidneys flush out toxins that have accumulated and helps all the cells in the body communicate better. We want to aim to drink half of our body weight in ounces each day. If you weigh 120 lbs, that means you want to drink 60 ounces or 8 cups of water per day. Most of us know this, but knowing is not the same as doing. Ask yourself if you are really drinking that much every single day. I personally set alarms on my phone to remind myself to drink water while I'm busy working. Adding freshly squeezed lemon or doterra lemon essential oil to your water will upgrade it to become even more cleansing and anti-inflammatory.
2. Dark Leafy Greens - This means things like collards, chard, kale, arugula, and spinach. The thing that makes them such powerful detoxifiers is the same thing that gives them their dark green colour. Chlorophyll purifies and cleanses, oxygenates, and helps pull heavy metals out of the blood. It's also full of insoluble fiber to help cleanse the digestive tract. Aim for 3-4 cups per day in daily life, and double that on a detox.
3. Chia Seeds - They work like an intestinal broom that sweeps everything out and ensures the digestive tract is moving how it should be. They're also a plant-based source of minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids beneficial for skin, bone, and heart health. They keep you satiated on less food so they help you stay full longer and not feel as hungry. 1-2 Tbsp per day is all you need. On a detox you would up it to 2-3 Tbsp per day. An important step is to make sure you allow the chia seeds to gel before you use them. Add the seeds to water and let them sit for 10 minutes until they form a gel. Keep in the fridge and add the gel to smoothies, or try making one of my favourite chia pudding recipes.
4. Turmeric - Turmeric has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, and in the past 30 years, western research has shown it can back up its ancient claims for healing. When it comes to detoxification, it helps cleanse and support the liver and decreases inflammation in the body. At least 1 tsp per day is how it has been traditionally consumed, often mixed with black pepper, cumin, paprika, and cayenne in vegetable and meat dishes.
If you are someone who is experiencing any of the five signs you need to detoxify your body, I invite you to a free consultation with me where I can help you decipher what's causing it and what dietary and lifestyle changes can be made to help you feel better in your body. You can fill out my contact form here and I will be in touch within 24 hours.
I’d love to hear from you! Have you experienced any of these signs that your body needs detox support? Have you tried cleansing before? Share and let me know!