As a registered dietician, every time I begin a talk or a client session with "better nutrition is actually simple" I get looks that range from incredulous, to hopeful, to (frankly) pissed off. Read
New year, new you, right? Does your resolution involve a healthier and cleaner lifestyle?
The start of the New Year is a very popular time for health resolutions. One of the most common health resolutions is a cleanse or a detox, which is a great way to start off the New Year, but detoxification shouldn’t stop there. We live in a toxic world, but we have access to air purifiers, organic and wholesome foods, water filters, and organic, toxin-free clothing. Any step toward a toxin-free lifestyle is a step in the right direction!
Detoxification refers to the body’s ability to flush out harmful toxins and chemicals. Instead of detoxifying your body once or twice each year, I encourage my patients to actively detoxify their bodies on a daily basis. Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone live off of green juice from now on, but I do believe that there are many different ways to support your body’s detoxification.
8 Signs Your Body Could Benefit from Detox
- Digestive issues like constipation
- Migraines, headaches
- Hormone imbalances, infertility
- Anxiety, depression, mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating, brain fog
- Diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, or cancer
- Muscle or joint pain
Keeping toxins out of your body is the first step in detoxification. The best way to detoxify your body on a daily basis is to think about the food that you eat, the water that you drink and absorb, and the air that you breathe. A great way to jumpstart your body's detoxification is to participate in a guided cleanse with a health care professional you trust.
Nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and high quality animal protein contain vitamins and minerals that can help heal the gut and strengthen your immune system. Toxic foods include alcohol, sugar, caffeine, gluten, and dairy. While these foods may not be harmful in moderation, they can wreak havoc on your gut and your health when consumed in excess.
Excessive amounts of these foods can weaken your immune system and increase your risk for illness and inflammation. If your diet is high in tuna or other mercury-containing fish, consider reducing your intake or avoiding them altogether to avoid exposing your body to additional toxins, such as heavy metals. The best way to prevent toxins in your diet is to:
- Avoid packaged foods
- Choose wholesome foods (fruit, vegetables, and high-quality animal protein
- Avoid inflammatory foods (like gluten and dairy)
- Avoid GMO foods (like corn, soy, and canola oil)
- Choose organic foods when possible
- Avoid fish that are high in mercury (tuna, swordfish, grouper, atlantic salmon)
Water is essential for optimal health. Every cell in your body needs water to function properly, making hydration a crucial step in proper detoxification. Since more than half of the body is comprised of water, it’s important to take note of the quality of water that you consume, both by drinking and bathing. We absorb water internally as we drink it, but we also absorb water through our skin.
Since plastic waste from plastic water bottles is harmful to the environment, I choose to always drink from glass or stainless steel. In fact, according to the EPA, 32 million tons of plastic waste were generated in 2011 alone. I use a stainless steel water bottle (my favorite is Kleen Canteen) instead of plastic water bottles in order to reduce plastic waste but also to avoid toxins like Bisphenol A (BPA), which has been shown to imitate estrogen and other hormones in the body. Drinking filtered water is a great way to save money, preserve the environment, and avoid BPA.
The quality of the air we breathe is another significant factor in optimal health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns, “Indoor air levels of many pollutants may be 2–5 times, and on occasion more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels.” You can protect your home environment with a HEPA air filter, which I have in both my home and office.
How to detox
1. Support the liver
The liver is the main organ responsible for detoxifying your entire body. Supplements like alpha-lipoic acid and milk thistle can help support the liver as it rids your body of toxins. Antioxidants like omega-3 fatty acids, glutathione, resveratrol, and n-acetyl-cysteine can all help support the liver as it clears toxins and unwanted chemicals from your body.
2. Eliminate toxins
Once the liver is able to filter toxins out of the blood, it sends them off to be eliminated from the body in a few different ways. The body is able to get rid of toxins through urine, feces, and sweat.
3. Stay hydrated
In order to properly eliminate toxins, it's best to stay very well-hydrated and drink water throughout the day. Even though it may seem inconvenient to use the restroom so frequently, you'll be helping your body eliminate toxins and supporting your immune system.
4. Have at least one bowel movement a day.
This ensures that unwanted toxins are removed from your body. If you aren’t having one bowel movement per day, this is a sign from your gut that something is not functioning properly. If constipation has become a chronic problem for you, I'd highly recommend taking magnesium citrate, vitamin C, and fiber, or purchasing our Bowel Care package with all of these supplements in one place.
Another way to help your entire body detoxify is to use an infrared sauna. Infrared saunas help your body release a number of toxins, including heavy metals, like mercury and lead, and environmental chemicals. I have an infrared sauna in my home from Sunlighten Saunas that I use frequently.
If you’re new to infrared saunas, I recommend starting out with 4-minute sessions at 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit and slowly working your way up to 15-30 minute sessions. If an infrared sauna is not available, but you have access to a regular sauna, I would recommend a 10-20 minute session at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
To learn more about detoxes, check out our video course 14-Day Detox.