Nine strategies for effective natural detoxification
At this time of year there is a lot of media focus on detoxing and much of it is negative. The word has become associated with fad diets, strict juice cleanses and deprivation. However it can be argued that your overall health can largely be determined by the ability of your body to detoxify itself.
Dry, blotchy and pimply skin, headaches, fatigue, stubborn weight, allergies, digestive issues and generally feeling under the weather are all signs that your organs of elimination are struggling to keep up with your toxic load. Proper detoxification is about nourishing your body with clean foods, giving your digestion a breather and stimulating the parts of your body responsible for cleansing and eliminating. Below I have outlined my favourite and most effective strategies to help rid your body of toxins on a daily basis.
1. Opt for a diet rich in whole foods that are free of additives and preservatives
Whole foods include unprocessed fruit and vegetables, whole grains (millet, brown rice, oats, rye, wholewheat, buckwheat, quinoa and cornmeal), beans and legumes (including lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans) and nuts and seeds. Whole foods of animal origin include eggs, small whole fish, seafood (including crustaceans), poultry and red meat such as beef, lamb, pork and veal. Eating foods that have not been processed ensures you consume the maximum amount of nutrients in the correct proportions.
Often when people start a diet or a health kick they turn to “diet foods”, those that are low fat, low calorie, or packaged for your convenience, this may be their demise. Packaged foods are usually loaded with additives and preservatives so whilst you may be eating fewer calories and fat, the man-made ingredients are wreaking havoc on your body. Get rid of foods containing ingredients that you can't pronounce and you start to cleanse your body immediately.
2. Turn to organic foods when possible
Eating non-organic plant foods exposes us to petrochemical residues from the agricultural practices like fertilisation. Post harvest non-organic plants are often treated with toxic chemicals to fumigate, sterilise and stop produce from sprouting, these are usually absorbed into the plants. Non-organic animal products contain residues from the antibiotics, hormones and growth promoters that are routinely used in modern farming. Uurrgh! Organic foods on the other hand are higher in nutrients and are free from genetic modification and irradiation. Buying organic is more expensive so it needs to be considered a long term investment in your health.
The dirty dozen and the clean 15 refer respectively to the fruits and vegetables that are the most and least contaminated by pesticide use. You can download a printable copy from my website. The rule of thumb generally goes that if you eat the peel or the outside of the fruit or vegetable that you should really opt for organic. Strawberries, apples, and tomatoes are good examples of the types of foods where organic really does matter.
3. Replace a meal each day with a detoxifying smoothie
When it comes to naturally cleansing the body a great measure can be to replace one meal a day with a smoothie. Smoothies are a really great way of getting a massive hit of nutrients straight into your system to really super-charge your cleanse. A good recipe incorporates natural and healthy ingredients that will promote digestion, introduce fibre, and help you to perform a cleanse in a regular and natural way. This can not only help with weight loss, but also with keeping the digestive system working the way that it should. Be sure your smoothies are vegetable-based with no more than two pieces of fruit per serving and feel free to super-charge them with nutrient-dense superfood powders such as baobab and moringa to further support your cleanse.
4. Cut out simple carbohydrates, white sugar and flour, and any fried foods
Did you know that the starchy sides at dinner like white rice or pasta are as damaging to your waistline and your health as the more extreme donuts, cakes, and cookies that you may enjoy? Refined carbs include mostly sugars and processed grains. They are empty calories and lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Make the effort to move towards complex carbohydrates which are better for digestion and get rid of the simple carbohydrates in the process. I promise you will be glad you did!
5. Eat more fibre in its most natural form
Over time toxins, preservatives from foods that we eat and waste that is not properly eliminated can build up in our digestive tracts which makes us feel bloated, weighed down, and tired. Introducing extra fibre helps to move this unwanted build-up rapidly through our systems leaving us feeling healthier and our digestive process working in the way that it is intended to. There are some great fibre supplements out there, but you should try to eat it naturally whenever possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains are all excellent sources of fibre. Start slowly to avoid adverse effects and your bowel movements will become more regular indicating that natural cleansing is improving.
6. Drink more water
You can go without food for days, weeks and even months, but going without water for just one day can negatively impact your health. Many people don’t realise just how important water really is. The human body is made up of 66 percent water and when a little is lost through sweat and elimination, and we do not replenish the lost liquid, our health begins to suffer right away. Most of us do not drink adequate water for good hydration and as a result go about life with chronic borderline dehydration. Thus, we suffer poor detoxification and a variety of global health conditions.
When you drink enough water throughout the day you are feeding the tissues and cells in your body and that gets the enzymatic system moving, which actually releases fat toxins out of the body! Now isn’t that good news? Rehydrating the body through pure water gets your metabolism running in full balance rather than being slow and sluggish, which is a cause of weight gain.
7. Turn to probiotics to get rid of the bad bacteria and welcome in the good kind
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can help restore balance in your gut. New studies show that taking probiotics can help your body detox and support weight loss by improving your metabolic rate. Certain strains of probiotics have also been proven to reduce levels for some heavy metals in humans.
8. Replace the morning coffee with green tea
A little caffeine is okay, but you do want to be careful about how much you take in throughout a day or week. You also want to be careful about where you get your caffeine from and how much you take in at any one time. Though an occasional cup of coffee is usually okay as a treat, if you are after detoxifying your body you might want to consider switching to green tea. Green tea offers important antioxidants that fight inflammation in our bodies. It offers a slight caffeine boost that can help to get you jump started in the morning, just as coffee does, but with much greater health benefits.
9. Get more sleep each night
You may look at sleep as a luxury, but it’s an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Without proper sleep you will lack natural energy and are likely to gain weight over time as you will lack the willpower to make healthy lifestyle choices. Sleep deprivation is unfortunately all too common as we prioritise rest below other aspects of our lives. After a while a chronic sleep deprivation will catch up with you through a compromised immune system that means you get sick more easily.
Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night you give your body a chance to rest and recuperate. This is not a luxury but essential if you wish your body to rebuild and prepare for the activities that you have ahead the next day.
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About Rosie Letts
Nutritional Therapist Bsc Hons mBANT CNHC. I use the functional medicine model to assess your health, the goal being to identify and address the triggers and underlying causes of your health problems rather than simply focusing on symptoms.
Consultations are available at my Bristol clinics or via skype