The practice of detoxing has been performed for centuries in hopes to improve overall health and to help clear the mind. Detoxing can be a wonderful way to rid unhealthy toxins, but just as we are all different from our heads to our Yogi toes, not every detox program is right for everyone-let’s explore some options.
Our bodies are naturally equipped with a self-cleansing process. If you are generally healthy, the kidney, liver and colon work hard at making sure to flush or filter unwanted toxins.
Not so Good News:
With excess caffeine, sugar, processed foods, stress, chemical laden cosmetics, and too little exercise in certain cases, the natural detoxification process slows down. When there is overflow, toxins get stored in the liver, lungs, kidneys, fat cells, intestines, bloodstream, and skin. This overflow can lead to chronic illnesses and the following: feeling sluggish, memory loss, allergies, infections, anxiety, depression, difficulty gaining or losing weight, muscle and joint pain, weakness, rashes and/or indigestion.
To maintain optimum wellness, it is essential that you cleanse and eliminate toxins.
Detoxing through Whole Foods
If you are new to detoxing, a good way to start flushing your system is to add in foods as close to their source, natural whole foods. Detoxing through whole foods does not require any special machine such as a blender or juicer, nor does it restrict you to staying home. It just takes being conscience of eating more greens and grains in each meal and less sugar, caffeine and/or alcohol. Chances are that when you eat more whole foods, you will eat less of those foods that cause toxins, buildup and disease.
Any whole food (such as fruits, vegetables and grains) will do, but the foods listed below are especially good for cleansing:
~ Aloe Vera (great to add to smoothies)
~ Asparagus (roast, eat raw or lightly steam)
~ Beets (wonderful roasted and added to salads)
~ Blueberries (eat raw or add to your smoothies)
~ Cabbage (add to any baked dish)
~ Carrots (eat raw or lightly steam)
~ Celery (add peanut butter and you have a perfect snack)
~ Cucumbers (juice, blend, add to salads, eat raw- ideas are endless)
~ Daikon Radish (grate and add to your salads)
~ Greens (lightly steam, enjoy as a salad)
~ Mushrooms (saute or add to pasta, rice, etc)
~ Seaweed (add to your salad or eat on their own)
~ Watercress (add to your smoothie or salad)
~ Barley (makes a nice breakfast cereal)
~ Brown Rice (add steam veggies for a perfect stir fry)
~ Oats (makes awesome granola with honey, coconut oil and your favorite dried fruits and nuts, also makes a wholesome breakfast)
~ Quinoa (so many possibilities- but I like to add my favorite veggies, olive oil, dried fruits and feta or goat cheese)
One of my favorite detoxing foods is a wonderful plant based protein, Quinoa. It is a complete protein (it contains all essential amino acids) and is rich in magnesium. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 5 grams fiber and 8 grams protein, plus significant folate, magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin E. We love this quinoa salad (link to recipe), but feel free to explore and have fun with these nutritious whole foods.
Also enjoy a nice cup of detoxing tea such as Ginger, Dandelion, Chrysanthemum Flower, Milk Thistle, Hawthorn Berry and Tumeric (Yogi Tea and Traditional Medicinals make excellent teas).
A Juicing Detox
The second natural option for detoxing is to Juice. Juicing can be a good method for those used to consuming whole foods, while looking to intensify their detox. Juicing can be a wonderful way to get all the vitamins and minerals into the blood stream quickly and also give the digestive system a well-deserved rest.
However, if you are not used to juicing, you may want to try making one juice a day for seven days (such as for breakfast) before you try a 24 hour juice cleanse (I generally do not recommend one for longer than 24 hours, if you choose to go longer, I would consult with your physician prior to starting).
Juicing can be as much physical as well as emotional. When you stop eating habitual foods, you start to notice how emotionally connected we can be to foods and especially to “snacking.” If you want to commit and push past the cravings and try a juice detox, you will need a juicer and depending on which juicer you choose, you may be want to be home bound during the duration.
Juicers can range anywhere from $50 to $500 and in the following types; centrifugal juicer, a masticating juicer, or a triturating (twin gear) juicer. Generally, the less expensive juicers lead to juices that will start to oxidize quicker and should to be consumed right away. The juice extracted from more expensive machines can generally be stored for longer periods of time in an airtight container in the fridge. The down side, beyond the cost, is that they generally take up more counter space. If you juice often, investing in a good juicer will actually save you money, so think about how often you will juice and do your research to find the one that is best for you.
Before you detox
At least four days before you detox, try to eliminate or reduce the following in your diet:
~ Soft drinks
Avoiding these foods days before will help prepare you physically and mentally for any detox so you can focus on cleansing during your duration for the detox.
During the Detox
No matter which detox you choose or when you get started, make sure to drink plenty of water (add lemon or apple cider vinegar to increase the cleansing benefits) and get moving, whether it be walking, running, yoga, tai chi, biking, etc. to aid in the daily removal of toxins. Also, write about your experience, good or bad, so that if and when you want to go back, you will know what to expect.
After your detox, make sure to ease out of the detox with raw veggies (via salads, soups) and fruits (smoothies and whole fruit) for the first day or two. Above all, before, during and after the detox, listen to your body and do what is right for you. Share your experience with a friend, or us, we love to hear how it went!
Finding the right detox is a lot like finding the right yoga class, it has to fit and be one you are comfortable with. I recommend starting slow and integrating more whole foods in your diet, followed by salads, smoothies, juices and then trying a more intense system of flushing. In the end, the goal is to feel lighter and clearer, so take your time and listen to your body. Your mind can be a challenge in overcoming habitual eating, but in this process, you may find the reason you tend to eat those not so good foods and start creating some good new healthy habits.
A word of caution, detoxing can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, and/or fatigue. To be on the safe side, make sure to consult with your physician before you start any type of detox.
Good luck and as always, please let us know how we can help you achieve all of your wellness goals.
Kristin Ritter is a Registered Yoga Instructor, Holistic Health Coach and founder of Nourishing Storm. When she is not on her mat, playing with her two beautiful children (who are both naturally drawn to the mat and the practice) or cooking up a storm with new smoothies and meals in the kitchen (with ingredients so wonderful provided by Mother Nature), she is reading and writing about wellness through awareness, nutrition and movement. Her life’s work is now dedicated to creating harmony between the practice of Yoga and Food- making it accessible, joyful and nourishing for all! You can contact her at [email protected].