A well-designed detox can purge your liver, colon, and kidneys of toxins, clear skin, boost energy, and help you safely shed pounds. A cleaner lifestyle that allows you to detox round-the-clock and achieve long-term results.
For the next month, implement one of these 30 simple steps every day, and cleanse all month long.
- Get rubbed. Massage improves circulation, reduces stress, and stimulates lymph nodes, tiny immune-system organs that help the body filter toxins. Indulge in a spa, trade with a friend, or check out discount deals from local massage schools.
- Kick the coffee. Or at least cut back. It’s hard on the liver, hampers detox efforts, and stimulates the release of stress hormones. Wean off slowly—mix half decaf with regular coffee—or switch to tea. Green tea combines gentle doses of caffeine with compounds that boost liver detox.
- Ban sugar. Whole fruit is the best sweetener, and raw, unfiltered honey is the least processed of all the refined sweeteners. Other options include coconut sugar, palm sugar, brown rice syrup, or stevia. Be careful with agave: most brands are highly processed and have the same effect on the body as white sugar.
- Keep it moving. Add a tablespoon of ground psyllium seed or husk to an 8-ounce glass of water to ensure regularity. Psyllium husk has faster actions, but psyllium seed is more protective against colon cancer. For best results, use a blend of both.
- Go organic. Most foods contain pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals that hamper detox efforts. Always buy organic animal products; if you have to buy conventional produce, focus on those least likely to be contaminated. Download the Environmental Working Group’s pocket guide (ewg.org) for more details.
- Sweat it out. Steam saunas encourage perspiration, sending toxins out through the skin, the body’s largest detox organ. If your health club doesn’t have one, check with your local YMCA or community rec center; a local spa will have a more extravagant option. Ideally, you’ll steam at least once a week.
- Try hydrotherapy. It’s a classic detox technique for boosting circulation. Take a very hot shower for three to five minutes, then follow with cold water for 30 seconds; repeat two more times, then hop in bed and rest for 30 minutes.
- Stretch daily. It stimulates circulation and lymph function, and keeps muscles supple. Try a practice that also incorporates meditation, like yoga, tai chi, or qigong. Find yoga teachers at yogaalliance.org; ask local acupuncturists or martial arts studios for tai chi and qigong recommendations.
- Eat superfoods. Take supplements like antioxidants and multivitamins, but don’t overlook superfoods. They’re rich in antioxidants, fiber, and healing compounds that naturally detox the body. Focus on leafy greens, broccoli, blueberries, pumpkin, prunes, and sweet potatoes for concentrated nutrition.
- Purge your pantry of anything with high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, and other chemicals. Some, like sodium nitrite, propyl gallate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) have been linked to cancer. Others interfere with the liver’s natural detox function.
- Detox your soul. Toxic thoughts and feelings can harm your body as well. Start a journal, and make notes of troubling emotions. Are you carrying grief or anger? Do you feel sad or lonely? Write it all down, then assess: Is there anything you need to clean up? Where can you let go and move forward? Do this at the end of each day for daily spiritual detox.
- Make a better smoothie. Packaged smoothie mixes are high in sugar and added ingredients. Combine almond and/or coconut milk in a blender with half an avocado, a tablespoon of plain whey powder, a frozen banana, and six large handfuls of spinach; whirl until creamy to make two servings.
- Clean greener. Conventional household cleaners are filled with toxins that can increase cancer risk, lead to organ system damage, and cause reproductive harm. Buy natural, toxin-free versions, or make your own; baking soda, vinegar, natural orange oil, and natural soap will clean most surfaces.
- Stock up on beans. They’re high in clean protein, and rich in fiber to sweep toxins out of the intestines. Skip the canned versions: most can linings contain BPA, an endocrine disruptor. Buy a variety of dried beans, soak overnight, and cook on low in a slow-cooker. Make a big batch and freeze for later, or opt for super-fast red lentils (they cook in 15 to 20 minutes).
- Cook smart.Get rid of teflon, Silverstone, and other coatings that emit harmful perflourochemicals (PFCs). The EPA classifies them as carcinogens.
- Move more. Exercise increases circulation, encourages deep breathing, and promotes sweating. Build in mini-workouts throughout the day: take the stairs, bike or walk to errands, jog in place for 10 minutes. Or use a mini-trampoline for a fast, efficient workout that also stimulates the lymphatic system.
- Steam it.Heating oils damages them and creates toxins. Sauté vegetables in 1/4 inch of stock, or steam foods in a simple, inexpensive bamboo steamer or stainless steel insert; drizzle with oil after cooking.
- Get a great filter. Toxins in water can include fluoride, chlorine, pharmaceutical residues, and other chemicals. Invest in a good water filter; a whole-house filter is best. Or purchase individual units for your kitchen sink, bath, and showers.
- Tone your liver. Banish alcohol and coffee, and strengthen this vital detox organ with foods and herbs. Artichokes and bitter greens contain compounds that stimulate liver function, and the milk thistle can remove harmful substances and help repair damage.
- Unplug. Take a break from electronics for both body and soul. Electromagnetic pollution from cell phones, computers, appliances, clock radios, hair dryers, and other household goods can interfere with the body’s magnetic fields, slowing detox efforts. Connect with family and friends, instead of the internet.
- Meditate. It’s essential for relieving stress and supporting detox. Follow a simple practice like mindfulness meditation for 15 minutes a day, morning or evening. Find instructions and guided CDs at www.mindfulnesstapes.com.
- Try glutathione. This protein-like antioxidant is a must for detoxifying various pharmaceutical drugs, a wide range of pollutants, alcohol, and fungus found in food. To make glutathione, your body needs three key amino acids: glycine, cysteine, and glutamine, along with vitamin C.
- Get on the wagon. Alcohol in any form must be filtered by the liver, and some studies show even moderate drinking increases the risk of certain cancers. Stick to sparkling water or chilled herbal tea; reserve drinking only for special occasions, and in small amounts.
- Brush it off. Dry brushing skin stimulates the lymph system, one of the body’s main methods of detoxification. Using a soft-bristled brush, lightly brush your skin, starting from your fingers and toes and moving inward toward your heart. Follow with a warm shower to further boost circulation and move lymph.
- Deep clean your mouth. Bacteria can get trapped in crowns, root canals, and other types of dental work, allowing toxins to seep into the body and creating systemic damage. “Oil pulling,” an inexpensive Ayurvedic technique, is said to deeply clean teeth and gums. Find details in Perfect Health, by Deepak Chopra, or online.
- De-plasticize. Plastics contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that burden the liver, gut, kidneys, and lymphatic system, and can lead to cancer. Banish plastic wrap from your home, never heat plastic in the microwave (better yet, don’t use a microwave), and avoid foods packaged in plastic. Invest in glass and metal storage containers and drinking bottles.
- Breathe deeply. Oxygen is alkalizing, and deep breathing is a simple way to balance pH. Deep, slow breathing also reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels, even for short (15-minute) periods of time. Spend 15 minutes today sitting quietly and watching your breath; incorporate a daily meditation, to keep breathing fully.
- Toss the toxins in personal care products. The skin absorbs chemicals, and the effects are cumulative (think about how often you wash your hands every day). Avoid anything with parabens, phthalates, DEA, and other synthetic compounds, and stick to the naturals; try Aubrey Organics, Jason Naturals and others.
- Take a siesta. Schedule a nap, whenever possible. It’s luxurious and deeply rejuvenating, and even a short catnap can decrease stress levels. If you’re not sleepy, opt for 15 minutes of quiet time; meditate, deep breathe, or gaze at the sky.
- Eat a little less. The liver has to process everything you eat. Studies suggest that reducing calories (without cutting nutrients) can increase lifespan, halt inflammation, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
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JARROW FORMULAS Glutathione Reduced provides 500 mg of this important antioxidant involved in detoxification, amino acid transport, production of coenzymes, and recycling of vitamins C and E.
HIMALAYA HERBAL HEALTHCARE LiverCare This herbal formula’s antioxidant properties support liver cell integrity and detox, and assist the liver in dealing with occasional overwhelming challenges.
LANE LABS H2Go Uses magnesium, not fiber, to keep you regular on a daily basis. For a colon cleanse, increase the dosage for one week.
HEALTH DIRECT Ready Fiber is a tasteless liquid fiber that delivers 12 gm of soluble fiber per ounce. Just add to any food or beverage, hot or cold. Contains prebiotics for improved digestive health.