The Reset: Detox This Spring
Did you know that there are over 77,000 man-made chemicals constantly circulating in our environment? Did you know that almost all of these chemicals are toxic to the human body and are the root cause of the majority of our health woes? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. The majority of man-made toxins in the environment are neither well-regulated by our government nor discussed by our primary care doctors. Fortunately, there are many resources available that list the most common toxic chemicals, their effects on our health, and how we can stop or reduce our contact with them.
Recently I ran a live video series about the importance of detoxification. Why detoxification? Well, this is how we can help our bodies eliminate any toxic chemicals that have already built up as well as reduce the number of toxins we take in moving forward. Detoxification is the process of removing harmful substances from the body. While our body is designed to detox on its own, due to the constant bombardment of toxins, we now have to step in and support our body in detoxification and elimination. At least, if we want to address and solve our health problems.
How do we know we need to detox?
There are a lot of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that are signs of a toxic overload in the body. Some diseases can even be traced back to toxins that have accumulated in the body. Some of the more common signs and symptoms of a toxic overload in the body include lethargy or tiredness, brain fog, excess weight gain/inability to lose weight, abdominal issues like bloating, indigestion, heartburn and constipation, allergies, chronic skin issues like eczema and psoriasis, insomnia and hormone dysfunction.
If you are suffering from health issues, I would encourage you to start a detox regimen. Why? Again, the majority of our health woes come from an accumulation of toxic chemicals that have built up in our bodies over time. A detox protocol will help you eliminate the influx of new toxins while supporting your body as it breaks down and eliminates the harmful substances that are already in your body.
Day 1 of the Reset: Detox This Spring Series
Getting Started on a Detox
So when you start a detox, you want to eliminate the intake of new toxins. This is why it’s important to know what some of the most common sources of toxins are so that you can avoid them! Here are the top ten sources of toxic chemicals in the U.S.: heavy metals (found not just in the food we eat due to contamination of our soil and water, but also in a lot of products that are used every day), synthetic foods (genetically modified organisms, preservatives, hormones, and processed sugar), tap water (can have a handful of different chemicals in it, including fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals, as our sewage plants take water from our toilets and return it to our tap and showerheads), skincare and cosmetics, electromagnetic fields (think electronics, like cell phones and towers, laptops, and microwaves), toxic home syndrome (this includes EMFs, household products, tap, and shower water, and indoor air pollution), stress, gut bugs, and pharmaceuticals (majority of prescription drugs often cause adverse health effects and are actually not needed by most Americans).
#1 Step: Eliminating Toxins
The first step of detox is eliminating (or at least reducing!) the number of new toxins or chemicals that you are taking in. it is also important to make sure that a good portion of this elimination comes from your daily diet. Some of the best foods to help eliminate from your diet include dairy, alcohol, refined or processed sugars, processed foods, and red meat. These food sources have been shown to have the highest levels of toxins and cause the most adverse health effects.
#2 Incorporate herbs and acupuncture
Once you start reducing the number of new toxins coming in, you can start to support your body as it begins to transform and eliminate the toxins that have already accumulated in your body. How do we support our body in detoxification and elimination? One way is with Traditional Chinese medicine; this includes both the incorporation of herbs as well as acupuncture. Some herbs that can be used to help with detoxification include milk thistle, red clover, dandelion root, burdock root, nettle, ginger, and turmeric.
You can utilize herbs as part of your daily diet (such as throwing in some dandelion root on top of a salad), herbal tea, or even as a supplement. As for acupuncture, it has been shown to be effective as supporting detox as it increases the effectiveness of the functioning of our detox organs (such as the liver, large intestine, stomach, and respiratory system) as well as helps things to move out of the body. It also helps to decrease the severity of any symptoms that might come about as you start your detox journey, such as headaches or tiredness.
#3 Support your body through massage and more
Another way you can support your body is through bodywork. Gentle massage, lymphatic drainage, cupping, and gua sha (scraping) are all different types of bodywork that can help aid the body in both detoxification and elimination. Although they work in different ways, the goal is to get the lymphatic system moving. Massage, cupping and gua sha are also very good at helping increase vascular circulation.
Day 2 of the Reset: Detox This Spring Series
#4 Support your body through movement
Other ways to support the lymphatic system is through movement and other tools. There is a mini trampoline known as the rebounder which is a fun, easy way to get your lymphatic system moving! There is also something known as dry skin brushing and the vibration platform machine which are two other fantastic ways to get the lymphatic system moving. It is recommended that these activities are done first thing in the morning, so that the body is able to eliminate the toxins that day and help move along anything new that is introduced that day.
#5 Eliminate toxins through sweat
Next is sweat. Sweating is a fantastic way to help your body move toxins out of your body. We often think of eliminating toxins through our urine or bowel movements, but our skin is one of our biggest detox organs that we have. When are unable to eliminate toxins through the usual methods, our body will often try to push out toxins and other substances through the skin. This is why some people may notice an increase in acne during a detox; your body is using all of its’ elimination pathways to clear out harmful substances! Sweating helps make the release of toxins through the skin easier. Exercise is one way that we can sweat; the use of saunas or steam rooms is another way that we can encourage our body to sweat.
#6 Hydration is key to success
Finally, we have hydration as a way to help our body detox and eliminate. It is advised that you drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each and every day. Water is essential not only for detoxification but for the efficient functioning of the body in general. Some of the most common ailments can be ‘cured’ simply by drinking more water. Of course, organic herbal teas are also another great source of hydration. Some herbal teas, like green tea, are natural diuretics and help the body with elimination. Further down some guidelines concerning when and how to drink water (yes, this is actually important!) are discussed.
Day 3 of the Reset: Detox This Spring, Moving Forward After a Detox
Healthy foods to consider after the detox
So aside from helping our body with detoxification and elimination, both by stopping the intake of new toxins as well as eliminating the ones that have already accumulated, we can start to think about moving forward in a way that keeps our bodies clean and functioning optimally. One of the first things we want to think about is the healthy foods that we want to encourage everyone to get more of.
It is recommended that the majority of your diet be plant-based. In particular, it is recommended that we all get in 7-9 cups of produce each day, with the majority of that being vegetables. We encourage you to check out what is known as the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” resources that you can find on the internet. There are some vegetables and fruits, that due to how they’re mostly grown and the structure, should only be eaten if organic (these are what are known as the “Dirty Dozen”). While fresh, organic food is the preferred method of getting in these fruits and vegetables, we understand that even someone who eats a full salad a day most likely isn’t going to reach this amount of produce. It’s okay to have a ‘greens’ supplement to utilize for yourself so that you can get all of the beneficial nutrients that you need and would get if you were able to eat 7-9 cups of produce a day. I use Equilife Vegetable & Fruits daily supplement; you can use it in a smoothie or simply mix and drink with a cup of water.
Of course, in addition to incorporating the right foods, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss food and water etiquette with you! How and when you drink and eat can play a part in your health and the functioning of your organ systems. It is encouraged to start your day with a glass of room temperature water. In fact, I would recommend that you have room temperature water throughout the day if you can. Ice requires more energy from the body to break down, causing more stress on your digestive system. It’s also recommended that you do not drink while you are eating. Again, we want to put less stress on the digestive system - not more! This is why you will see that in a lot of cultures, they often do not have iced water or drinks with their meals but enjoy a hot cup of herbal tea after their meal. As for when you are eating, as hard as they may be, it is encouraged that you are seated and free of distractions. This means no TV or cell phone with your meals. Also, take time to thoroughly chew your food. These recommendations may seem trivial, but they really can make a difference in how efficiently your digestive system works.
Clean, Toxic-Free Living
Not that we have covered food that should be incorporated into your daily routine, let’s talk about some clean, toxic-free products that you can use! The biggest one for most is likely going to be products, appliances, and air quality in your home. When you can, go green when it comes to household cleaning products. You can go to the Environmental Working Group’s website and find some of their top recommended cleaning products: ewg.org. I also want you to take a look around your home and minimize the number of electronics that you might have, especially those that might be in the bedroom or anywhere you might put your head to rest!
We also want to take a look at our tap water and showers. There are many different filters out there that can help minimize the toxins that we are exposed to from these two sources. You can have a home water filtration system installed if you are able to invest that money. Of course, there are less expensive options, too. I personally use a Berkey countertop water filter for my tap water and an AquaBliss shower filter in our bathrooms. If nothing else, there are Therasage water filters that look like a Brita water filter but have been found more effective at purifying water.
For indoor air quality, there are actually a number of different tools that you can utilize to help with better air quality! One is the use of HEPA air purifiers. I use one in my living room and bedroom, as these are the two places that I spend most of my time when I am home.
You can also utilize indoor plants to help ‘clean’ the air: spider plants, snake plants, Boston ferns, and succulents are just some of the plants that are known to help with air quality. You can also make use of what are known as Himalayan salt lamps. Not everyone might not believe in these, and that’s okay. However, it is thought that these natural salt lamps help to ionize the air around them, purifying the air. You know how you feel happier and like you can breathe better while walking along the beach? Same process! Of course, some of the easiest things you can do is start and/or keep up a consistent dusting routine. Dust is one of the biggest sources of indoor irritants. Making sure to change your pillowcases and bedsheets (hopefully, organic material) 1-2 times per week is also helpful for improving the air quality and reducing any potential allergens.
Another way to ‘green up’ our living is through the use of natural, clean toiletries, skincare products, and makeup. Again, the EWG is a great resource in terms of helping you know the toxicity of your current products as well as some of their recommendations: ewg.org/skindeep. One of the reasons why it is so important to have toxic-free products is because the chemicals in these products are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. While the food we eat has to go through the stomach and the complete digestive system, which can help break down and convert or rid some harmful substances, those products that we absorb through our skin do not have that same barrier.
The last thing to remember...
Finally, to make the most of a detox and future optimal health, we can’t forget to touch on lifestyle! Three important factors of our lifestyle that I want to emphasize are stress management, exercise or movement, and sleep.
As was previously mentioned, stress is actually a source of toxins. Chronic stress creates an accumulation of inflammatory factors in the body, leading to a host of physical and mental issues with our health. The inflammation created from chronic stress also feeds any bad bacteria that we might have in our gut biome. It’s important to manage your stress on a daily basis. Take time each day to even just engage in some deep breathing, maybe a few minutes of meditation, or even a quick break to listen to some brain wave music! I have a “word of the day” that helps to pull me back to the present moment! Usually, it’s gratitude and I repeat this word in my head whenever I feel myself tensing up.
Next is movement; try to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. While we discussed the importance of sweating earlier for detoxification, movement is essential for a well-functioning body. It helps to ensure that the body is functioning and moving as it should!
Finding a Sleep Routine
Finally, there is sleep. If you don’t already have one, start a sleep routine that you can stick to as consistently as possible. Try going to bed and waking up within the same 30-minute period each day if possible; this helps regulate our waking and sleep hormones, allowing for better energy during the day and sleep at night! Also, do as the farmers do: go to bed when the sun sets and get up when it rises. Studies have shown that 10-6 is the optimal time for bed. Even if you just do some small things here and there to help with your lifestyle, they can make such a positive impact on your health.
With that, there is of course a ton of other information that can be said about detoxification, the importance of it, and some of the best ways to detox. However, hopefully, this series was able to give you at least a basic understanding of why it is important to detox at least once each year and some ways we can about detoxing, as well as how we can move forward from it in a healthy manner. As always, if you have any questions, never hesitate to reach out!