As soon as we pass Christmas and New Years, most people feel like doing a detox or committing to a new year’s resolution. I’m not one for restrictive and challenging ‘diets’ just because it’s the beginning of the year, but do encourage people to do what I call ‘palate resets’. I find that each season brings with it an opportunity to use the weather to support bodily processes. The warmer weather naturally encourages us to lose winter weight; eat lighter and fresher foods; and exercise more. In the spirit of summer ‘lightness’ let’s chat about how and why it’s important to support your bodily functions and some suggestions of what you can try.
The body consists of several eliminatory organs. These organs (and the systems they pertain to) can get overwhelmed with day to day living and the juggles we all have. It is important to not see these recommendations as a detox per se but to take on board the recommendations into your daily living. Our bodies are our temples. Supporting and respecting each organ and the role they play will only further support optimal health long term.
Skin and lymphatics
Our body has a phenomenal network of lymphatic vessels lying just underneath the skin. The skin is our largest organ and can eliminate many, many toxins if we support it. There are many simple strategies you can do to assist this process.
- Skin brushing with strong loofahs such as riffi mitts will stimulate circulation and encourage blood flow and lymphatic clearance.
- Massage after bathing with cold pressed oils and essential oils including lemon, bergamot and rose.
- Use your shower to your advantage – alternate the cold and then the hot water to get your blood moving at the end of your bathing.
- Epsom salt or clay baths will help to draw out impurities and excrete toxins.
- Sweat, sweat and then sweat some more. Exercise. Dance. Move your body and allow your body to truly purge.
- Ocean swimming and walking on the sand barefoot
- Ditch aluminium containing deodorant and switch to something natural. The natural deodorant market has boomed in the last few years. You can now find effective deodorant sticks, pastes, creams, sprays and roll-ons. If you tried historically to ditch the bad stuff, try again – they have all improved tremendously. Brands I recommend are JASON, Weleda, WooHoo, Alaffia, Schmidt and Black Chicken.
- Blood moving foods include celery (and its leaves), beetroot (and its leaves), green leafies, water, electrolytes (mineral water and Himalayan/Peruvian or Celtic salt, seaweeds).
- Circulation movers such as ginger, garlic, chilli and turmeric
- Ensure you’re adequately hydrated and that the water you’re drinking is pure spring water. Filtered water often has no electrolytes in it (depends on the filtration device used) so either add them back (pink salt or similar) or drink spring water in lieu.
Digestion and liver
The goal is to always have a daily bowel movement, shiny hair, clear eyes, glowing skin and fresh breath. The digestive system and liver are key organs that enable this.
- Exercise and movement – sedentary lifestyles are a definitive no no
- Core exercises should be encouraged to tone the abdomen and support its function
- Adequate sleep – aim for 8 hours per day. Be asleep by 9/10pm and wake with the sun rising.
- Reduce stress levels
- Spend sufficient time in the bathroom when relieving your bowels – don’t rush it
- Meditate – even for 5 minutes first and last thing. Set your intention for your day and night.
- Fibre to bind to toxins and support elimination – slippery elm, psyllium husks, chia seeds
- Vegetable juices to clear out the digestive system especially green juices including spinach, bok choy, beetroot leaves, lemon and ginger
- Waking beverages to kick start the digestive system including apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in warm water
- Supportive foods to improve the integrity of the digestive system including okra, ghee and bone broth
- Anti inflammatory foods to calm the liver including vegetable soups and broths, turmeric and ginger
- Natural pre and pro biotic foods including miso, kefir, kim chi and sauerkraut
- Natural bitter agents to stimulate bile and digestive enzyme secretion including Dandelion root coffee, Bitter greens and green olives
The urinary system including the bladder and kidneys require much nurturing to assist with their depurative functions. It is vital to drink enough fluids (aim for 30ml/kg body weight) and ensure that the quality of what you’re drinking is optimal. Avoid the obvious coffee, tea and alcohol or if you do drink it, have an extra glass of water per drink to balance it out somewhat.
- The most important simple recommendation is to go to the toilet regularly and to not hold off. Flush your bladder as often as you can.
- Respect your energy ‘tank’. Don’t burn out and push yourself beyond your limits as it will exhaust your ‘chi’. A useful analogy is to always only use up 75-80% of your reserves so you always have some to repair your body.
- When you’re focussing on what to eat or drink choose what gives you energy rather than what takes energy to digest, process and assimilate. Don’t exhaust your kidney yin from bad food choices.
- Vegetable juices – especially celery and celery leaves, dandelion leaves and cucumber
- Green smoothies – ensure you don’t overdo the fruit though
- Herbal teas including couch grass, dandelion leaf and nettle leaf
- Water and more water