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Cleansing stems from detoxification, which really means your body's ability to process and eliminate toxins from the body. While the body itself creates its own toxins through physiological processes, the reality is we have become much more toxic today than our ancestors. Through the increase of air pollution, contaminated water pathways, commercial farming practices, conventional medicine, and toxic chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis, we really need all the help we can get. This is why it's so important to ensure proper eliminatory function through the bowels, liver, kidney, lungs, lymph and skin, to ensure that we are getting rid of toxins instead of letting them build up inside of our bodies.
Fasting is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and has been used as a detox method to decrease the toxic burden on the body, while releasing stored toxins from the body. Fasting can be a safe and effective method when done correctly. However, in our toxic fast-paced world today, it oftentimes can do more damage than harm. Fasting should be done during a period of rest, allowing the body to reset the system without responding to demanding activities in our everyday life. Fasting should not be attempted during long periods if you are not experienced and if your lifestyle is not modified accordingly.
In order to ensure we are as toxic-free as can be, the first step is reducing our exposure to what is coming in.
But when it comes to your food, what should you avoid during a cleanse?
Caffeine can deplete the body of B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, and decrease the absorption of iron and calcium. During detoxification, the body requires additional nutritional support in order to process toxins and waste. This process can become impaired with high and chronic coffee consumption. Coffee is also a nervous system stimulant, increases blood sugar, and can negatively affect digestion.
Up to 95% of alcohol must be metabolized by the liver, which can lead to fat accumulation in the liver and a build-up of toxins due to increased demands. Nutritional deficiencies are also common, as alcohol can deplete vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B, D, E, K and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Many of these nutrients are needed for liver detoxification pathways to be completed.
The problem with sugar is that we have become so accustomed to it in our diet nowadays that we are consuming it in alarming amounts. This is detrimental for many reasons as it can result in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, cravings, yeast overgrowth, pathogens, and mood imbalances. Processed sugars like HFCS and artificial sweeteners are even more problematic as they can damage the liver over time and lead to kidney damage, and diabetes.
Processed foods contain highly inflammatory ingredients, additives, chemicals, GMOs, and are commonly void of nutrients. Not only do they put an added burden on the liver to process, but they have also been linked to endocrine disruption, cravings, weight gain, diabetes, neurotoxicity, heart disease, and cancers. Check out the dirty dozen list of food additives to avoid at all costs!
Your body needs a substantial amount of nutrients to ensure phases of detoxification are completed properly. This is why good nutrition is one of the best ways to promote cleansing in the body.
Start your day with a cup of warm lemon water.
Join a yoga flow class to restore your mind and spirit and reduce inflammation.
Eat organic foods whenever possible.
Drink filtered water.
Eat whole foods and avoid packaged foods.
Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
Practice dry brushing.
Feed your gut bacteria with probiotics and prebiotics.
Get plenty of fresh air and time in nature.
Detox from social media at least once per week.
Get your body moving and sweat once per day.
Minimize red meat consumption.
Increase your water consumption.
Eat your last meal 3 hours before bed.
Eat cruciferous vegetables, brightly coloured fruits, and leafy greens.
Fiber: binds onto toxins to promote elimination and faster transit time and supports a healthy microbiome in metabolizing waste and toxins. Include 1-2 tbsps of chia or flax seeds as an addition to a fiber-rich diet of fruits and vegetables.
Multivitamin: a good quality multivitamin is a great way to guarantee that you are providing your body with all of the nutrients mentioned above, that are so critical for the detoxification process.
Antioxidants: these compounds help protect the liver, tissues, and cells from free radical damage created in the detoxification process. As our toxic load increases, so do our need for antioxidants. You can get antioxidants from brightly colored fruits and vegetables, or through supplement form.
Dandelion root: liver cleanser that helps filter out toxins and promotes digestion by stimulating stomach acid and bile. Enjoy a cup of dandelion root tea as an alternative to coffee!
Curcumin: potent anti-inflammatory that is protective to the liver and boosts glutathione production (master antioxidant in the body), and naturally supports detoxification. Add turmeric root to your meals, make a turmeric latte, or supplement with a potent curcumin product.
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.