Is a detox really necessary? In short, yes. The large number of pollutants we encounter every day complicate the body’s detoxification efforts, which in turn leave the body more vulnerable to illnesses and disease, not to mention hormonal imbalances.
Regardless of their source, all toxins must be processed through the body via the detoxification pathways in our liver, which is why it gets the bulk of our attention during any detox program. By supporting your other organs as well, however, you will improve the results of your detox and in turn reap the benefits of better health, glowing skin, better digestion, and increased energy.
Breathe a little easier: While many people don’t consider the lungs as part of your detoxification squad, they are responsible for filtering out fumes, allergens, mold, and airborne toxins. When we are stressed, we tend to shift from deep belly breathing to short, shallow ‘chest’ breaths which in turn reduce your lungs ability to transport oxygen to all your tissues. If you want to boost your lung power, begin to practice diaphragmatic breathing a few minutes each day:
- Lie flat on the floor. Raise your knees. (You can put a cushion under them if you wish.)
- Put one palm on your upper chest and the other over your navel. (Your objective is to have the lower hand rise first when you breathe in.)
- Breathe out fully – and then a little bit more. With practice you will find you can do this by drawing in your abdomen. Pause for 2-4 seconds.
- Allow the air to naturally flow in again.
- Slowly and calmly repeat this cycle a few times.
You can also look for a general liquid lung cleanse product at your local health food store to improve blood flow in the lung capillaries, stimulate the activity of lung macrophages, and act as an expectorant. Ingredients such as rosemary, honeysuckle and N-Acetyl L-Cysteine help to dilute, detoxify and drain the lungs of toxins. If you find yourself suffering from frequent respiratory infections, this will help you recover your lung health.
Love the skin you’re in: You can and should sweat out your toxins, regularly. Your skin is a source of toxin elimination, and like your lungs, it can both absorb toxins and release them. Exercise is a great and easily accessible way to burn calories and excrete toxins, ensuring that you work up a sweat three times a week for 30 minutes. I also recommend the use of an infrared sauna one to three times a week. Not to be confused with a regular dry sauna, an infrared sauna penetrates more than 1.5 inches into the body. It helps immensely with estrogen detoxification, circulation, fat loss, skin health, athletic performance and improved immune response. While the mechanism is not entirely understood, a 20 – 40 minute session can also boost your mood and calm your nervous system. While in the sauna I recommend adding a teaspoon of buffered vitamin C and ¼ tsp of Celtic sea salt into a 1L jug of water and drinking regularly to replenish electrolytes and expedite the detoxification process. If you don’t have access to an infrared sauna you can use good old fashioned Epsom salt baths. Simply place 1 – 2 cups of Epsom salts into a warm bath and let yourself relax for 20 minutes.
Lastly, consider brushing your skin daily. This improves lymphatic drainage, boosts immunity and removes dead skin cells. Look for a natural bristle brush with a long handle and practice brushing your skin (in the direction of your heart) before showering at least once per day.
Better out than in: If your bowels are not moving, waste will create toxicity and impede health, especially estrogen by-products since estrogen is metabolized in the liver and excreted into the digestive system in the bile. The bacteria in the large bowel further the breakdown of estrogen. Liver function, bile secretion, bacterial balance and frequency of bowel movements are essential processes for ridding the body of excess estrogen which has been known to increase cancer risks. A bowel movement after each meal is perfect bowel function. Cleansing your digestive system will clear your complexion and improve your energy levels as you gain a sense of well-being. Improving intestinal wall competency will also aid absorption of nutrients and water, while preventing absorption of unhealthy bacteria and incompletely digested food or toxins.
For optimal bowel health I recommend adding in a probiotic twice daily, ground flaxseeds or a non-psyllium fibre source, magnesium glycinate to bowel tolerance. If you are prone to constipation you can also consider adding in the herb Triphala, an Ayurvedic herbal blend commonly used for supporting intestinal detoxification, occasional constipation and overall colon health.
Clear it out: If your urine is bright yellow it’s an easy sign that you need to up your water intake.Your kidneys flush waste from the blood and without enough water they can’t do their job very well. The human body is also extremely good at preserving water if you don’t drink enough (and in turn, your rings may not fit at the end of the day). Herbal teas that have a blend of goldenrod, dandelion leaf and parsley will help get your bladder going. In turn, some veggies such as celery stalks and cucumbers are great natural diuretics. If you enjoy two cups of water before each meal and snack you will most likely meet your water goal, and you may be surprised to find that you look and feel slimmer when fully hydrated.
Natasha Turner, N.D. is a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor and founder of the Clear Medicine wellness boutique. She is also the author of the bestselling books, The Hormone Diet and The Supercharged Hormone Diet. Her latest book, The Carb Sensitivity Program, is available now.