Natural detoxification: not just a fad. At this time of year, there is a lot of media attention on detoxification, and much of it is negative. The word has become associated with fad diets, strict juice cleanses, and general deprivation. However, it could, in fact, 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 involved in the elimination process are struggling to keep up with your toxic load. Proper, natural 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 cherrypicked 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 that you consume the maximum amount of nutrients in the correct proportions.
When people start a diet or embark on a health kick, they often turn to ‘diet foods’- those that are low fat, low calorie, or packaged for your convenience. However, packaged foods are usually loaded with additives and preservatives, so while you may be eating fewer calories and fat, the man-made ingredients are wreaking havoc with your body. As such, try to get rid of foods containing ingredients that you can’t pronounce, and you will 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, and 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, undeniably, more expensive, so it needs to be considered a long term investment in your health.
The dirty dozen and the clean fifteen 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. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb stipulates that if you eat the peel or the outside of the fruit or vegetable, then 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 an excellent way to get a massive hit of nutrients to 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 will not only help with weight loss, but will also keep the digestive system working the way that it should. Be sure that your smoothies are vegetable-based with no more than two pieces of fruit per serving. 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 carbohydrates include mostly sugars and processed grains; they are empty calories and lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. As such, make the effort to move towards eating complex carbohydrates, which are better for your digestion. You won’t regret it – I promise!
5. Eat more fibre in its most natural form
Over time, the toxins and preservatives from foods that we eat can build up in our digestive tracts, making us feel bloated, weighed down, and tired. Introducing extra fibre into our diet helps move this unwanted build-up, 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 in its natural form whenever possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains are all excellent sources of fibre. Start slowly to avoid adverse effects. You will find that your bowel movements will become more regular, which is a promising sign that your body’s 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 do not 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 eliminates fat toxins from your body! Now isn’t that good news? Rehydrating the body through water kickstarts your metabolism and prevents it from becoming 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 indicate 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 have 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 also offers a slight caffeine boost that can help energise you 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 fall victim to gain weight over time, since 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, 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. If you wish your body to rebuild and prepare for the activities that you have the next day, then you really should view sleep as an essential, not a luxury.