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Healthy Detox, 8 Steps Towards Rebalancing
"Detox” is a term we often hear these days and the movement to “detoxify” the body has taken on all sorts of different facets and avenues. These trends make it hard to navigate the ins and outs of a proper detoxification process. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I prefer the term “rebalance” over “detoxify” as this more accurately exemplifies the goals of health and wellbeing. When I refer to rebalancing or detoxification, I don’t mean starving yourself, drinking only teas or fruit juices, or sticking to just a few types of food like maple syrup, lemon, and cayenne pepper. By definition, detoxification is the science of eliminating unwanted waste. To ensure optimal health it is important to enhance our body’s ability to detoxify because the build up of waste leads to diminished wellbeing.
In our modern world, we are exposed to many toxins each day that challenge several organs including the liver, kidneys, lungs, digestive tract, and skin. These organs are powerful and have a high degree of adaptability, overcoming immense burdens and clearing impurities. Unfortunately, the challenges can sometimes outweigh the power of these organs, leading to detoxification system overload. The results of this often present slowly, creating fatigue, mental fogginess, headaches, weight gain, bloating, skin problems, muscle/joint pain, and many other symptoms. Detoxifying the proper way, takes the strain off of these vital organs, allowing them to regain optimal function, reduce inflammation, and eliminate unwanted symptoms or health issues.
How To Effectively and Safely Detoxify
The best way to detoxify and rebalance the body (and mind) is to follow a whole-foods approach that reduces inflammation and encourages the absorption of vital nutrients, allowing body systems to focus on repairing themselves and eliminating the burden of toxins.
Every person is unique in his or her genetic makeup, current symptoms, and lifestyle factors. In order to effectively and safely detoxify, consult an appropriate healthcare provider to guide you through the process with professional support. Proper detoxification is more a way of life, than a quick fix.
1) Keep it Simple
Cut out processed foods and reduce your toxic load. Focus on whole foods that nourish your vital organs and provide you with valuable nutrients. If the food comes ready-made, processed, or packaged, as a general rule it shouldn’t be included in your detoxification process. Reduce your exposure to toxins by eliminating artificial sweeteners, and, as much as possible, chemical-laden household items.
2) Focus on Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Nourish yourself with foods that will allow your body systems to focus on repairing themselves, rather than fighting daily assaults caused by inflammation. To do this, the majority of each meal should consist of vegetables, both brightly coloured and leafy greens. Other anti-inflammatory foods to include are poultry, wild fish, legumes, and gluten-free whole grains.
3) Eliminate Food Intolerances
Food intolerances can damage the body, creating symptoms such as bloating, gas, fatigue, headaches, skin issues, lowered immune system, mental fogginess, pain, and much more. Common food intolerances include gluten, dairy, soy, and eggs, and should be eliminated during the detoxification process. If you know of other foods that bother you, keep those off of the menu as well.
4) Watch your Liquid Sugar intake
A common mistake that is made when people try to detoxify, is to implement a diet of only juices that are high in sugar. Freshly made juices and smoothies have a number of fabulous health benefits, and I use these as part of my “rebalancing” protocol, but all too often people load their liquids with high-glycemic fruit, rather than focusing primarily on vegetables and fibre.
Fruits are nutritious and have a valuable place in our diets, but liquefying high-glycemic fruits at every meal can cause your blood sugar to spike and inevitably crash several times a day. Not only does this inhibit the rebalancing process because the body has to counteract the sugar spikes and crashes, it can also be detrimental to your health if you are diabetic or have blood sugar control issues. When juicing or making smoothies, use mainly green vegetables such as kale, spinach, or cucumber, and add small amounts of low-glycemic fruits such as blackberries or raspberries for flavour, only if needed.
5) Add Supportive Herbs & Supplements
Use teas to gently but effectively support the cleansing process. Dandelion root tea supports liver function and helps the elimination of toxins, while chamomile tea promotes relaxation so your body can repair overnight while you sleep. Additionally, a high quality probiotic can be added to replenish good gut flora and repair the digestive tract. I encourage the use of various herbs and spices including cilantro, turmeric, raw garlic and ginger for their anti-inflammatory and cleansing effects.
6) Promote Blood Circulation
By increasing the flow of blood and lymph in the body, you encourage nutrient transport to your cells, and the removal of metabolic waste from your tissues. This is easily accomplished through mild physical activity such as walking or yoga. Other techniques include contrast showers that alternate tolerably hot and cold water back and forth (always end with cold), and skin brushing, where you gently brush your skin in circles with a natural bristled brush towards the heart to stimulate blood flow and increase circulation.
7) Drink Water
Your body is made up of about 60% water, and your cells rely heavily on it to function optimally. The average person should aim to consume about half of their body weight, in ounces, of water daily. Play around with flavours by adding lemon or lime wedges, cucumber slices, and mint leaves for a refreshing take on plain H2O.
8) Nourish Your Mind
Rebalancing and “detoxifying” should also include rebalancing your mind. Set aside time each day to focus only on yourself. Clear your mind of thoughts using meditation, or practice mindfulness to focus on being present in the moment instead of worrying about past or future thoughts. Make time to sit down to eat your meals (and enjoy the process). Introduce deep breathing techniques into your day – while driving, at the grocery store, or cooking dinner. Attend a yoga class to promote circulation and mindfulness together. Simple techniques can go a long way towards creating a more peaceful, positive way of living each day.
Nicola Kempinska, BKin, BA, ND practices family medicine, with a focus on anti-aging & longevity medicine, and women’s health. She has a deep passion for natural health and the body’s ability to heal itself. To book an appointment call Cedar Springs Medical Centre in Burlington, Ontario at: (905) 333-9799.