In recent years, there has been this hype about detox diets and cleanse programs, here I will answer some of your burning questions about this ‘toxic’ subject.
In reality detoxification is a natural process in which our bodies rid of toxins that are constantly formed as waste products of metabolism. So in other words, you have been detoxifying since the day you were born. Yup! If anyone you have to give thanks to is the big daddy of all organs, your liver.
In a nutshell, whether it is natural waste product toxins or from exposure to the environment, the toxins are swept away to the liver for detoxification. Antioxidants play an important role in this process. As they circulate in the bloodstream, they pick up, neutralize and dump the toxins in the liver where they are further neutralized and eliminated.
What does it mean my body is toxic? Well, as mentioned above, getting rid of toxins is a natural process, the problem is when there is an overload of toxicity. One way your body is said to be toxic is when your cells are in an acidic environment. OK, what do you mean acidic? Good questions! An acidic condition deprives the cells from oxygen and nutrients; therefore, there is a decrease of energy production in the cell, a decrease in cell repair, and ultimately make the body more susceptible to fatigue and illness. So, what causes it? In our modern life, food is a major contributor and unfortunately the SAD (Standard American Diet) lacks whole foods and natural ingredients and mainly consists of highly refined and processed ‘so-called’ foods (sugar, meats, alcohol, pesticides) and the overuse of drugs which are also acid forming. Basically anything thatdid not grow naturally under the sun is TOXIC.
So, if our bodies are so perfect in keeping harmony and removing harmful toxins, then why the need to detox? Well, our society and lifestyle enhance certain habits that often times leave us exhausted, stuck, unhealthy, overweight, to name a few. Interestingly, we turn to food to feel better and we want it fast without paying attention to what we eat. Here is where things can break havoc in our bodies: there is overexposure of toxins from an unhealthy diet, environmental factors (skin products, cosmetics, laundry detergents, paint on our walls, air fresheners, fumes, etc) and mental toxicity that clutter our mind (stress, bad relationships, feeling stuck, not living your passions, etc).
Of course the body can’t process the toxins, so it get accumulated. In managing this unfriendly condition, the body (liver) turns on the emergency back-up systems that if occurs in a more regular basis, it can compromise the overall well-being. In turn, irritation and inflammation take place, THE WORST THING FOR YOUR BODY, causing chronic diseases like diabetes, heart problems, obesity and even turn on some cancer genes. Our bodies are not designed to handle all the toxins, therefore it has to work harder to eliminate them, and who gets to pay the bill? the liver.
Compared to other countries in the planet, we are the most toxic with highest diabetes and obesity rates and with escalating incidence of chronic diseases, that sadly are detected as early as in childhood. In some way, it is preventable and by choice because even though we know there is room for improvement, we don’t do it because we are stuck on limiting beliefs and old habits. We need to educate ourselves about what options we have, we need to connect with our body in all levels, physical and mentally) and understand our relationship with food.
You might ask, What can I do to maintain my gorgeous body clean? Here are some tips…
Start the day with warm lemon water. Although lemons are naturally acidic in taste, they are alkaline in the body when consumed with water. This one is a nice massage to the liver to jump start metabolism for the rest of the day, it will neutralize excess acidity and helps in digestion. Preferably do this soon after getting out of bed and before eating anything for breakfast.
Ditch processed foods and chemicals. Start by avoiding processed foods in your diet. Be aware of what is in your food, look at the ingredients and if there is anything that you don’t recognize right of the bat, don’t take it home. Would you bring a stranger home who you just found on the streets? It’s the same idea but with your digestive home. Remember, if it didn’t grow on a tree or in the soil, its not real food. Period. Probably you’ve heard this before: ‘you are what you eat’ and it is true in a deeper cellular level. Think about it, if it was made in a lab or factory, it has an expiration date. You eat something with an expiration date on it, most likely you are stamping a ‘live by’ date on to your cells. I know it sounds extreme, but you get the idea. WE SHOULD EAT WHAT IS PROVIDED BY MOTHER NATURE with little man intervention and not mess around with what is already perfect: YOU! Think of what our ancestors ate, what is locally grown, and seasonal. The same applies to the meat you consume, if your chicken or cow eats junk, processed, GMO foods, guess what?… You are consuming that too, so in this case ‘you are what your chicken/cow eats’. Try to experiment with ‘greener’ choices instead of meats or at least reduce meat consumption and be aware of how you feel. If you are an avid meat eater and can’t think to give up your weekly steak parties, make sure it is of good quality, sustainable and handled properly. Also, try to reduce alcohol and definitelyreduce sugar, the number one toxic and addictive substance. It has been shown that sugar triggers certain areas in your brain that are also stimulated by cocaine. Do you ever wonder why you can’t stop eating a sweet treat after you had only one? Yup, because it is addictive. But wait, don’t reach out to the lab made alternatives (Equal, Aspartame, NutraSweet, Sweet & Low) they are as bad or worst acid producing substances.
Incorporate a more plant based diet. Almost obvious right, eating more vegetables not only gives you good quality nutrient, but also will provide with fiber that will trap unwanted guests in our GI tract as well as to help move and eliminate the trash our of the disposal pipes. One practice that is widely used in many detoxing programs is to resource to ‘green’ juices. But why juicing? Although that deserves a blog on in itself (stay put folks), when consuming juice, the body is getting a break from digestion, so instead of churning down food, the energy is directed to healing and cell repair. Also, the nutrients are intact and in more volume (think about it, would you really eat a whole bunch of kale, head of celery and a whole cucumber in one sitting?… I thought so) and most importantly: it is readily available for absorption by the body, which usually happens from the first 15-30 minutes after consumption. Click here for a quick recipe of one of my go-to juices to aid detoxification. The same goes for a smoothie with the difference that there will be less ingredients used but you get all the fiber so there is some energy spent in digestion. Although switching meals for a juice might be challenging and even unappealing to some, I recommend you start with using ingredients you are familiar with and are neutral in taste, later you can experiment your way to more exotic flavors. It might be overwhelming with the many juice fast programs out there, but you don’t need to torture yourself to only live on green liquids for a number of days. Eating the right type of foods also promote detoxification of the body. So lets go back to basics!
Exercise. Once again, the dreaded physical activity we hear all the time everywhere. But it doesn’t have to be taunting, from a walk around the neighborhood for half an hour to going to the gym, it all does the trick. An active body helps your heart pump the blood and transport oxygen to every corner in your body. The antioxidants will circulate throughout and remove toxins to drop them in the big detox center, the liver. Just accept it, exercise does the body good. Not crazy to go to the gym? No need to, start by walking around the neighborhood; take the stairs instead of the elevator at work; opt for ride your bike to work instead of driving; play with the kids outside, not only you get some sweat going, but you are also spending some quality time and bonding with the kids. It is recommended to do 30 minutes a day, that is not too bad.
Get a good night sleep. Some snooze time is as important as breathing, eating the right foods and getting some physical activity. Even when we sleep we also detoxify; it is the time when our bodies heal and repair damaged cells, help reduce inflammation, boost immunity. You will lower stress and decrease chances of depression because your brain is also resting and detoxifying.
Eliminate the junk and yucky stuff. ready! have the toilet paper handy. Simply, go poop!! yes!! this is my favorite topic which also deserves its own blog (stay tuned). But think about it, what comes out of your butt? trash, gunk, the waste from digestion so you need to get that out of your system pronto! The more trash is in the pipes, the more likely the toxins in it will get reabsorbed and that’s toxicity overload that you don’t want to have. And those reabsorbed toxins are worst that the first time around. So if you experience constipation, take care of it soon: eat more fiber, drink plenty of water, move around, eat magnesium rich foods (nuts, seeds). Frequency depends on the individual, but as long as you once a day you are ok, twice is better. Once I learned this, going to the bathroom never felt the same anymore, and it has become a different experience for me. I actually get happy and thank my body for doing its job at eliminating, I even hugged myself once, silly Wendy!
The process of detoxifying your body is more than just fasting, or drinking juice for a number of days and being in agony if that is not your thing. It is about having all things in balance in relation with the body and establishing a connection with the food we take. Once we learn what foods are beneficial for our health, what environment we should surround ourselves in, but most importantly, once we understand how to declutter our minds, then we will find that space where we can find ourselves happy with the options we take.