For me, the New Year is a new beginning, a time to refocus on many of my health goals for the upcoming year. One of the biggest trends I see around this time of year is cleansing. In an effort to rid themselves of the holiday excessiveness many people have embarked on some sort of cleanse to help to reset their bodies. I am always a fan of challenging the body, but for some, a cleanse may be too extreme. The good news is, our bodies are naturally designed to detoxify and you can always assist this process by decreasing your toxic load (i.e... reducing the "bad" things in your diet, and/or supporting your bodies natural detox pathways). The added bonus is your skin will be sure to thank you! Here are some tips to get you started:
Cut back on toxins
This is not as easy as it sounds. Many of us have entrenched habits that are hard to break, but reducing your consumption of "toxins" will help decrease the strain on your body. Cutting back on alcohol, sugar, caffeine, pop and/or processed foods is a great start. I always suggest either eliminating or reducing the biggest toxic source in the diet for 30 days. This can also be an opportunity to analyze what that item is doing to you or the effect it is having on your body. Maybe caffeine is a big part of you diet because you are truly exhausted, or maybe your alcohol consumption is tied to high stress levels. By challenging yourself to change, you may be able to find a healthier alternative.
Drink more water
I cannot stress this enough. Just drinking more water can be a natural cleanse in and of itself. Yes, it will increase your trips to the bathroom, but this is not a bad thing. It can help with weight loss, improve skin, assist your kidneys to detoxify, regulate bowel function, and prevent dehydration among many other benefits. So drink up! I keep a water bottle on my desk at all times to remind myself to just keep sipping.
Support the liver
Your liver is an extremely important organ when it comes to detoxification. It performs over 400 functions in your body and filters virtually everything you ingest. By supporting your liver, it is like disinfecting your washing machine so it can clean your clothes better. Having warm water with a wedge of lemon in the morning is a great way to kick- start your liver. Also, eating a diet rich with vitamins and minerals, will contain a lot of cofactors that help the liver function more efficiently. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, collards, apples, onions, garlic, and squash are all great choices.
Move it out When doing any detox it is extremely important that you ensure your pathways of elimination are working properly. The last thing you want to do is mobilize a bunch of toxins, without having an exit strategy. Sweating, urinating and having regular bowel movement are the best way to excrete toxins. If you have any issues in these areas, I strongly recommend you seek the advice of a professional before starting a cleanse. Exercising, saunas and increasing dietary fiber (fruits and vegetables) are easy ways to help your body's elimination.
Pick the right product
When it comes to cleanses, there are a lot of products on the market, many of which are just laxatives and diuretics. While this can help the toxins exit, it doesn't cleanse on a deep enough level. Looking for products with lots of B vitamins, and milk thistle, can help to balance the detoxification process. Before starting any supplement regime it is very important to speak to your naturopathic doctor to ensure the product is right for you.
Yours in good health,
Dr. Tamarah Chaddah, Naturopathic Doctor