Why do we need to detox? We are no longer living in a purely natural world, breathing clean air and eating natural foods. From the chemicals sprayed on our produce, cooked into our processed food or mixed into our household cleaning supplies and body cosmetics; to the pollution of our water and air by fluoridation, fracking, mining, and the burning of fossil fuels… we are BOMBARDED with toxins. Our body was masterfully designed to cleanse itself from toxicity, but in today’s modern world it simply cannot handle such high levels. We are now seeing the effect on our health and even more scarily on our children’s health.
I admit, I write from a personal place as right now two of my 'near and dear' are battling cancer, and as an early childhood educator I see more and more children suffering with allergies and learning disabilities. Did you know studies have shown toxic pesticides to be present in mothers’ breast milk?[i] Others are showing that environmental chemicals may be linked to obesity and diabetes (after diet and lifestyle factors of course).[ii] It is no secret that the American Cancer Society and the WHO acknowledge the effects of pollution on our bodies and its relation to cancer.[iii] While this all sounds a bit scary, we can help our bodies cleanse from this toxic overload!
While serious detox protocols may be necessary in some cases, I believe there are more simple, gentle and healthier ways of aiding our body as it cleans and renews itself. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your life!
Historically, sweating has been used as an effective way to heal and promote health both spiritually and physically. Worldwide traditions included the Native American and Aboriginal sweat lodges, Roman bath-houses, Turkish steam baths and Scandanavian saunas.
Our skin is a very important eliminative channel, and sweating is extremely valuable in the detoxifying process. Sweating in all forms can be beneficial, however some may be much more effective. While exercise and traditional saunas are both wonderful ways to ‘get your sweat on,’ many people tout the effectiveness of the infrared sauna. By heating the body from the inside and causing a deeper and more ‘cellular sweat,’ your body can produce sweat composed of up to 20% toxins.[iv] That’s a lot! When using sweat as a detoxifying channel it is very important to replenish the body with purified water and natural electrolytes! It is also key to support the body’s detoxification process with a clean and nourishing diet.
Because of a biological process called autophagy, which literally means that the body is ‘eating itself,’ fasting can play an important roll in toxic elimination. When this process of autophagy occurs the body is cleaning out toxins, debris and recycling parts of damaged cells.[v] While many of us cringe at the thought of skipping a meal or have learned that smaller meals more frequently speed up metabolism, giving our bodies the space and time to purge toxins (stored in our fat cells) can have an extremely positive effect on our health.
When I say fasting I don’t mean 40 days and 40 nights, nor do I mean even just one day!
Intermittent fasting is a very simple way to incorporate this detox strategy without reducing your calorie intake. This just means that you find a 15-16 hour chunk of time to let your body rest from processing food. Most of these hours you are sleeping so it can really be quite painless. Here’s how you do it. If you love breakfast, eat ‘yer’ breakfast but then stop food intake around 4 or 5 PM. Let your body rest until you wake up the next morning. If you can do without a meal right when you wake up, let your eating time range from around 11 AM to 7 PM. Give your body a rest for the remaining hours in the cycle.
You can practice this one time a week or 7 times a week. It is up to you! Just think, historically as mammals we are biologically used to going much longer periods of time without food. If you eat an ample amount of healthy fats you will not be hungry during your intermittent fasting. If you are eating all empty carbohydrates and sugars… well that’s another story. So try not to!
Drink Purified Water:
A lot of toxins are water-soluble! By drinking purified water you can help the elimination process. Do make sure that your water is clean, as unpurified water can actually be the source of toxic overload! Take flint Michigan for a horrific example. Ugh! Also avoid drinking out of plastic water bottles as much as possible!
Eat Detoxifying Food:
As I said in my last post, food choice is one of the best ways to cleanse our bodies! Eat LOTS of leafy green vegetables. Choose organic produce. Cook only organic, grass-fed/grass-finished and pasture-raised beef, organic pasture-raised poultry and eggs. Cut out processed foods and get creative cooking in your own kitchen. Pay attention to the ingredients in your grocery store purchases. If you don’t understand something on the food label don’t eat it! Incorporate fresh green juices and morning superfood smoothies as meal replacements. There are so many good recipes on the Internet and even more in your own head!
Sip Botanical Blends:
Experiment with herbal tea blends. There are botanical options for all of our body’s eliminative channels! While studying with the Green Wisdom School of Natural and Botanical Medicine, I obtained a great list of herbs for beginners. Here are a few suggestions for your individualized plan. Keep in mind that roots and seeds must be steeped longer than leaves, about 20 minutes versus 5. Herbs are strong medicines, so if you are not sure how to use them it is important to work with a community herbalist. The following are gentle and safe.
Nettle – Blood, Lymphatic
Dandelion Root – Blood, Lymphatic, Skin
Fennel Seed – Skin
Licorice Root – Digestive, Respiratory
Oregon Grape Root – Kidneys, Liver, Gall Bladder
Parsley Root – Kidneys, Liver, Gall Bladder
Oh my gosh, AND BREATHE!!! Please detox with focused deep breaths IN NATURE. Fill your lungs to the brim. Let the fresh air expand down towards your belly (don't stop at your chest) and then release all the crap your body wants to rid itself of out through your lungs. How could I forget this simple, simple suggestion. I guess that makes 6. ;)
Though we live in a world that seems to allow money and industry to preside over our health, by dumping poison into our environment and into our blood, we have the capacity to keep ourselves clean, happy and healthy. We also have the power to create global change! With knowledge we’ve got great power! While technology can be daunting at times, it is a glorious tool for social advancement. Power to US for educating ourselves, for taking care of ourselves and for demanding a better world for all. I am oh so excited for what we can do as consumers, lovers and protectors of our bodies and this earth. The wave has already begun!