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After years of visiting numerous doctors who couldn’t tell me why I’d get random episodes of brain fog and fatigue, or why my digestion and immunity were so out of wack, I finally found a crew of integrative doctors who checked out my whole body picture.
Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto's autoimmune hypothyroid disease, adrenal fatigue, intestinal candida, and leaky gut, I’ve been following a plant-based diet and have eliminated all gluten, dairy, sugars, processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine. It took baby steps to get here. With each step, I noticed my energy soaring, my brain fog clearing, my thyroid rebalancing, my digestive system working the way it should, and my immune system getting stronger. I can tell you from experience that cleaning up the toxic load inside your body isn’t a one-step, juice cleanse quick fix.
If you’re looking to change your diet, digestive health, and immunity for the long-term, I can tell you from honest experience that this total body cleanse is the way to go! It follows the Ayurvedic principle that all disease originates from improper elimination of toxins through the digestive system.
1. Eat real, whole foods.
A clean diet consists of food that is organic, grown without hormones and pesticides, isn't processed, and doesn't contain refined sugars. Read labels on everything – if it has more than four ingredients and contains things you aren’t familiar with, it’s not worth eating. Kris Carr suggests, “If it’s made in a lab it takes a lab to digest. If it has a shelf life longer than you, don’t eat it.”
Shop on the exterior of the grocery store, where you can find whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds. These are beautiful superfoods that will give you energy naturally. Challenge yourself to a week of a diet that is purely plant-based, gluten-free, caffeine and alcohol-free. Keep a journal of how you feel. I can bet you will feel lighter, more radiant, and less fatigued!
2. Go alkaline!
To function optimally, the human body should maintain a pH of 7.35-7.45. However, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is very acidic. Animal protein, gluten, sugars, fried foods, processed foods, foods grown with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, emotional and environmental stress are all acid offenders. They all break down into acid in the body.
An alkaline diet fights inflammation! Start small: have a green juice a day. A daily shot of E3-live will make you a clean, energized green machine. A diet rich in alkaline organic vegetables, green juices and smoothies, and supplements like chlorophyll, chlorella, and spirulina will support strong immune and digestive health. Drinking warm lemon water throughout the day stimulates the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis — the waves of muscle contractions that keep things moving. Lemons and limes are also high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract. Contrary to intuition, lemons are an incredibly alkaline food, as the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized.
3. Embrace natural and organic skincare and beauty products.
Just like everything you consume, everything you put on your skin either gets assimilated or eliminated. Chemical creams and perfumes tax your body big time, and many contain hormone-mimicking chemicals that can scramble human hormones and cause a host of health problems. This infographic on chemicals in beauty products takes "Cosmetics Dirty Dozen" to a whole new level.
4. Detox your home.
Ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, and neurotoxicity, and we are exposed to these ingredients routinely, increasing our risk for these health problems. Chronic exposure adds to the body’s “toxic burden,” the number of chemicals stored in its tissues at a given time.
I’ve noticed that the toxins and fumes in most commercial cleaning products leave me with cracked hands and a headache, and bathroom cleaners with ammonia and bleach leave me feeling nauseous and dizzy. Triclosan, an ingredient in antibacterial hand soap, is an endocrine disruptor in the human body and discharges into the environment when you wash your hands with it. When triclosan breaks down, it turns into dioxins, which are known carcinogens.
There are three simple ingredients that will change the way you approach cleaning – vinegar, baking soda and borax. You can even get creative with essential oils such as tea tree and lavendar, which have antiseptic properties and are great for freshening up the toilet, shower, countertops and floors.
5. Sweat it out, baby.
Make it your priority to sweat daily. My favorite activities are yoga, detox baths, saunas, and running or spinning. Yoga detoxifies the lymph system, strengthens the immune system, and supports digestive health. When you're on your mat, you notice everything about your body. You notice how you're moving, if you have an off day where you feel heavy jumping from Down Dog to Uttanasana, you’ll realize that maybe the three-cheese pizza you ate last night was a bad idea. You become aware of your nutrition, your digestion, your skin, your muscles, everything.
You’re constantly cleansing your body as you wring out toxins. When you breathe deeply, you clear your lungs, focus the mind, and the body relaxes and lets go of stress. Stress taxes our immunity and digestion, so a regular yoga practice provides a huge benefit to the body.
Every Sunday evening, I like to end the weekend and start the week with a relaxing detox bath with Himalayan sea salt, baking soda, and fresh ginger root. Ginger enhances the detox process because it has anti-mucus properties, is a natural decongestant, and opens the pores. Adding sliced fresh ginger root to hot bath water will make you sweat profusely as you soak, which is exactly what we’re going for to clear out congestion. That is why a detox bath with ginger and Himalayan sea salt is a remedy to kick a cold or infection out of your system.
After the bath, I like to wrap up in sweats and a robe and lay on my yoga mat in Savasana and restorative poses for another 30 minutes as I continue to release toxins through sweat. After the sweating stops, I take a quick rinse off. Sitting in a sauna will also help to relax your muscles and eliminate toxins through your skin. Infrared sauna sessions will improve circulation and internal congestion, promote the elimination of heavy metals, radioactive particles and other toxins and improve oxygenation of the blood. Remember to drink plenty of water after your sauna or detox bath sessions to help replenish the fluids lost from sweating.
After years of digestive distress, this five-step plan has worked for me to get my immune system strong, my thyroid levels rebalanced, and my belly happy. Be aware of what you are putting in and on your body, what you use to clean your living space, make a point to sweat out those remaining toxins, and clear out stress through breathing exercises and meditation. Work on incorporating each step into your lifestyle, and remember, small, gradual steps are the way to go. Before you know it, you’ll be a green, clean, glowing machine. These rituals will become second nature.
And never, never, never give up. I believe in you.