Several weeks ago, I decided that it was time for me to eliminate toxins from the body. Detoxification is basically a way to remove impurities and revitalize the body’s systems. Known to help with a variety of symptoms, I had tried a detox cleanse once before but never finished it. There were just too many pills to take and rules to follow. This time I hit the health food store looking for a simple body detox plan, but left again feeling overwhelmed by all the options.
Then last week three of my girlfriends and I went for massages to celebrate one of their milestone birthdays. As I lay on the massage table trying to recall the last time I had felt so relaxed, I began thinking about the benefits of massage, one being detoxification. The more I started considering it, perhaps there would be a way for me to detoxify the body beyond an elaborate system of pills from the store after all.
What are toxins?
Toxins are all around us and we unknowingly ingest them all the time. They are chemicals and impurities in the air, in our food and water; even in the products we use every day.
At home: Some of our clothing fabrics, carpeting and upholstered furniture are treated with chemical-laden flame retardants that are hazardous to our bodies. Air fresheners and candles can contain toxic chemicals too. Many common household cleaners and pesticides are loaded with petrochemicals. Since they were meant to kill mold, mildew and bugs, it is no surprise that these products that are extremely harmful to our bodies. Even if we eliminate pesticides from our homes, some cities are now spraying from above to kill mosquitoes, ironically to reduce the spread of viruses.
In our food: Ingredients such as hydrogenated oils and other additives such as: MSG, aspartame, sucralose, dyes, and hydrolyzed yeast extract are in the foods we purchase at the supermarket. The containers holding some of the foods we purchase and store food in contain harmful BPA. Additionally, when we cook with or eat at a restaurant which uses non-stick pans, there dangerous chemicals going right into our meals. (Lovely, isn’t it?)
On our skin: Synthetic ingredients used in fragrances can cause respiratory issues, allergic reactions and skin infections. Sodium laurel sulfates, which are commonly used to clean car engines, are also found in soaps and shampoos. Many toothpastes contain both SLS and aspartame. (Can I get an “EWW”??)
In the water: As if all that were not scary enough, our water systems contain lead and have been treated with chlorine, fluoride, medications, and over hundreds of other chemicals that can be harmful when ingested at certain high levels.
So, what is detoxification and it be helpful?
Detoxification is about cleansing and restoring the body to a natural state by eliminating toxins. While most of the body’s impurities are removed through the liver, toxins are also found in (and can be removed from) the kidneys, lungs, lymph nodes, intestines and skin. There are several ways to give your body the cleansing, nutrients and restoration it needs. Experts say that a detox can help with a variety of symptoms, such as: lack of energy, headaches, acne, brittle hair or nails, minor aches, restlessness, weight loss, hair falling out, digestive issues and some allergies. Some believe in detoxifying the body once a year, while others recommend ongoing methods of eliminating toxins. Pregnant women, nursing moms as well as people with certain conditions and diseases should consult a doctor before doing any kind of detox program.
What are the easiest ways to detoxify the body?
Read labels. You can start to eliminate toxins from your body by switching to foods and household products that do not contain harmful additives, chemicals and hormones. I recommend eliminating any food that is not made from organic ingredients. Also consider reducing your intake of: caffeine, saturated fats, alcohol, nicotine, refined sugars, and saturated fats. Lower your red meat intake too.
Watch out for household products and personal care items, which are typically loaded with synthetic ingredients. Instead, reach for organic, natural brands with no harmful added chemicals.
Drink more filtered water, and lots of it. Consume enough filtered water daily to flush out your system. Water is absolutely vital to keeping our systems functioning properly, and to ridding our bodies of toxins. You can also drink from pitchers that are designed to make your drinking water more alkaline, such as the Pitcher of LIFE. I also have one of these Alkalkine Water Sticks that I use at home.
Drink green tea, it is a natural purifier. Green tea is loaded with polyphenols, which are strong antioxidants that protect the cells in your body from free radical damage. Need more persuading to go grab a glass? Here are 10 reasons why you should drink green tea.
Eat right: There’s a reason why the old saying goes that you are what you eat. In addition to going organic and eliminating foods that are harmful, you can add foods that are helpful. For example, foods that are high in fiber and those rich in vitamin C are purifying to the body. In fact, many of the natural detox supplements available in health food stores are made up of foods rich in fiber and vitamin C.
You can also get your detox in by increasing your intake of dark berries and fruits as well as green leafy vegetables. Their antioxidants pack a punch that will knock out the free radicals in the body.
If you love garlic or cilantro in your dinners, keep on eating them! Garlic and cilantro are two of the best natural body detoxifiers available. Garlic helps your body fight the effects of toxins while cilantro has antifungal properties and the ability to remove toxins quickly. So that pesto sauce you love is healthy for you too!
Use your juicer. If you want to get in those purifying foods, juicing is a terrific option. Mix up a variety of ingredients until you find the combination that works best for you. Juicingis especially helpful for those who don’t like certain healthy foods because they can be masked by other flavors.
Consider including wheat grass or barley grass, which are both rich in vitamins and nutrients. Chlorella is a vegetable that can also be added to juices and is highly recommended for its ability to eliminate toxins quickly from the body.
Fruit pectin is also very popular for detox juices because if its ability to flush out the body. Pectins are commonly found in the pith of limes, lemons and other citrus fruit as well as in apples, bananas, grapes, carrots and cabbage.
Take care of your body. Here are some additional suggestions for easy, natural detoxification:
- Exercise! When in doubt, sweat it out! You can eliminate toxins through perspiration.
- Practice Yoga or Quigong (martial-arts based exercises with tremendous health benefits). Stretching your limbs can help to release the toxins stored in your muscles and tissue so they can be eliminated from the body.
- Practice deep breathing techniques which allow oxygen to circulate through the brain, blood, and body systems.
- Take a shower of hot water followed by cold water.
- Dry brush your skin with a loofa sponge or natural bristle brush. Experts suggest brushing in a motion that moves towards the heart.
What are some other ways to detoxify the body?
Take herbs. Many people prefer to take herbs as part of their daily vitamin and nutrient routine. Herbs are effective for eliminating toxins from the body, though experts recommend telling your doctor and pharmacist before taking herbs to make sure that they do not interfere with traditional medicines. Herbs that are commonly used for detoxifying the body include: Alfalfa, Aloe Leaf, Burdock Root, Dandelion Root, Cascara Sagrada Bark, Marshmallow Root, Milk Thistle, Rhubarb Root, Sarsaparilla and Slippery Elm bark. Many of these herbs can also be found in teas which you can drink on a regular basis.
Try activated charcoal for removing toxins and purifying the body. For more information on how to use activated charcoal, ask an expert at your local health food store.
Use essential oils. Look for pure, therapeutic grade essential oils such as the ones made by Young Living. Essential oils can also be applied to the skin, and as such, they are commonly used in detox massages in spas and salons. Essential oils can also be used as aromatherapy, and many of them can be ingested.
Head to the spa. Get a massage or hit the sauna. (Not a bad way to detox, am I right??) Some spas now have Far Infrared Saunas, which use harmless rays to increase sweat production for releasing toxins through the skin. Try a body wrap, a technique that has been used for centuries for detoxifying the body. Get an iconic foot bath, which eliminates toxins through your feet by soaking them in a tub of water which contains currents that attract metals. After any of these spa treatments, make sure you drink lots of water to rehydrate your body.
Use a detox supplement packet. While this was not the right method for me, many people choose to cleanse using supplement packs. They can be purchased at health food stores, pharmacies and even in many supermarkets. These cleansing packets typically include a three day, seven day or fourteen day schedule. They usually contain pills made of detoxifying nutrients and ingredients. The vast majority of detoxification kits are safe to use, though they may contain herbs and you should notify your doctor before taking them.
There are other methods for detoxifying the body, but these are some of the most commonly used and simplest to follow methods. The best methods are the ones that are right for you, because those are the ones you will follow.
What you need to know about detoxing
Understand that some detox methods can have minimal side effects. For instance, when I did an ionic foot bath a few years ago, my feet were uncomfortably itchy for a day afterwards though my friend had no side effects at all. Remember that the substances being eliminated from your body are quite harsh and can include everything from metals to chemicals to dyes and radiation and side effects should be temporary until the toxins are gone. As with any treatment for any condition, consult your doctor if symptoms persist.
Have you done any detox treatments lately? Do you do any on a regular basis? What is your method of choice and why?
As for me, I am ready for another massage….
For more information about detoxing, here are two great resources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/detox-tips_b_1289488.html and http://www.livestrong.com/remove-toxins-from-body/.
Please note that this post is intended to share information and ideas, as well as to create conversation. Please consult a medical professional before making changes to your lifestyle.