You think detox is for hippies? Think again, your body is detoxing right now…

You think detox is for hippies? Think again, your body is detoxing right now…

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.

Papaya Smoothie with a zing

Papaya Smoothie with a zing

 
 

5 minutes

Sweet, vibrant orange papaya, ahh such an exotic fruit!  Papayas are excellent source of vitamins C, A, E, K, Bs, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper.  They also have alpha and beta carotene and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant also found in tomatoes.

Among some of the health benefits possibly associated with diabetes, cancer, aging, macular degeneration, heart disease, the most commonly known is related to digestion.  Papayas contain an enzyme called papain that aids in digestion and can also be used as a meat tenderizer (hmm not a bad idea to have papaya salad as a side dish with grilled steak!)  Papaya is also high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract.

And one of my favorites, papaya is so good for the skin too!  Try a facial mask and will leave your skin soft and moinsturized due to the vitamin A, also great for the hair.   Papaya appears to promote healing and preventing infection on skin burns and cuts.

If you haven’t had papaya before, give it a try by mixing with the following ingredients so your palate gets used to the flavor.  Instead of using water to thin out the drink, I use herbal teas.  My favorites: boldo, peppermint, chamomile.

Serving 2 BIG glasses

  • 1-2 cups diced papaya
  • Half a cucumber
  • 1 inch ginger
  • Lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds.

Herbal tea, decide how much you want if you want thin or thicker consistency.  I use about 1 cup.

Put all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!!

Rainforest heaven, Juanjui – Perú

Rainforest heaven, Juanjui – Perú

It has been about a month since I’ve been back from an AMAZING trip to rainforest heaven, and I’m still taken away by the wonderful experience I had.  Pictures can’t describe or justify the beauty and magical moments I experienced in the mountains and the jungle: where the days are endless and starts with a wake up call from the roosters; where each breath was an invigorating gift for my lungs and body; where you can eat fresh fruits and vegetables right from a tree alongside the road; drink clean fresh water from a creek; where plantains can be eaten in a hundreds different ways and all of them delicious; where eating worms doesn’t sound so bad because you know where they came from; where you can leave the front door open to welcome anyone and not to worry about burglars; with happy, friendly, welcoming people, a community of mostly hard working farmers whose main priority is the family.  This piece of heaven is Juanjui, San Martin – Peru.

Juanjui is a small city at the western side of the jungle in northern Peru.  Every time I go back to Peru, after visiting family and friends for a few days, I take off from the city-life and hide in some small town out in the mountains or visit some historical sites.  This year I went to visit my childhood friend Alfonso who moved there from the capital 2 years ago to live with his wife and her family.  As with many of my trips around Peru, I didn’t plan as much.  All I told Alfonso was, “I am not sure what day, but I am coming to visit you, I will”.  It had been more than 20 years since we saw each other last, and we lost contact until a few years ago, so I don’t think he believed that I was serious about my trip until he finally saw me at the airport.  Great surprise for the both of us!!

I stayed with him and his new family for about a week, learning about the culture, food, traditions and the loving people in the community, whom after knowing me for a few days, or even hours, welcomed me into their homes and lives.  Most families own ‘chacras’ (orchards) and grow fruits and vegetables that are sold at the markets in the city and in other towns and villages along the Huallaga River.   Cacao is the main agriculture and is the primary ingredient in chocolate and it is one of the best in the region, making it the main contributor to the economy.  I was in cacao heaven!!!!  Could it be true? Lately with all the rage about healthy foods and cacao being an ancient superfood, I was mesmerized and eager to learn more about cacao agriculture.  So I had the privilege of helping Alfonso and his family at their orchards. (more about cacao in a following post 😉

My days started early, with the wake-up call from the roosters before dawn, which sometimes started as early as 2am.  One night I just couldn’t fall asleep at all; my mind was racing with ideas, filled with excitement, joy and a little sadness because I knew this trip to paradise was ending soon.  I closed my eyes, taking in every second and appreciating the opportunities and all the new friends I made there.  I wanted that moment to be mine, big inhale, shush! exhale.. I felt welcomed by the noises of the jungle and introduced my breathing sounds to the Amazonian beat.  The continuous singing of crickets and other insects, the crowing of the roosters, and a puppy, who seemed to be in distress out in the streets, and to complement, the snoring sound of my friend who was sleeping next door. Even though I was tired physically and mentally, I just couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to exclude myself from what was happening around me.  This was what I was looking for, PEACE.  Finally, I fell asleep.

I only slept a few hours, the next morning we had to start a hike at 5am to one of the ‘chacras’ that was almost 4 hours away, approximately 7 miles through mud, fallen trees, narrow trails, steep inclines and deep ditches.  Because of the harsh terrain, we brought 2 of the family horses to help bring the crop back to town.  We ascended through the dense jungle, over various mountains, climbing higher and higher.  Then the scenery changed: the clouds were almost to our level, and slowly the sun was breaking though them, over the foliage and green tops.  It was just gorgeous; it was the perfect gift to start the day.

It was here where I had a magical and empowering moment, that of infinite love and nurture.  Feeling that even though I am small in this vast Universe, every step I take is a gigantic leap towards my purpose of directly or indirectly making a difference in people’s lives.

“No matter what you do with your amazing life and no matter how challenging it may at times seem, never stop ‘stretching’ yourself as you reach towards the stars.”

 

Juanjui has breathtaking scenery, interesting food and amazing people. They are friendly, generous, spontaneous and very laid back.  Soon after arriving in Juanjui, as I was exploring the town and interacting with people, I could feel a sense of calmness, warmth and contentment in them that I could almost breathe in the air.  It seemed that people didn’t have the habitual stress that is sometimes perceived from city residents.  Well, people here don’t have deadlines, huge debt to pay and simply don’t stress about little things.  Their worries revolves around family stability and working their land, which is not perpetual and it mostly depends on Mother Nature.  Weather conditions have to be optimal to maintain their land, but most importantly there has to be easy accessibility from the orchards to town in order to transport the harvest.

When I say ‘Juanjuinos’ are hard working people, it is no joke.  On the days they have to work their land, it is usually 3-4 days a week for long hours under the imminent sun, the humidity and the prickling reminder of the mosquitos and insects that there is no time for a break.  It is hard physical labor but it has to be done to see the fruits of their work, literally.  This is a family activity where everyone gets involved and the community helps each other when needed.  Another thing I admired from them, is that people have a clear distinction between hard work and leisure time. Working hard doesn’t mean exhausting yourself. As much as the people are hard workers and it is a demanding physical job, they also make sure to have time to relax, spend time with the family and get involved in social events.  At one point, I couldn’t help to wonder why there wasn’t a set schedule for each day.  There is no need for it, they are their own bosses and go with the flow with what’s happening at the moment.  As long as the crops were taken care of, the rest of the days were pretty flexible.  Some days we went sightseeing (because I was visiting), others we sat out at the front porch to see what’s going on in the neighborhood, taking a rejuvenating nap, but it all was done together as a family.  I guess because most people work their own land and have flexibility in their daily activities, that gives them the ability to spend more time with their loved ones.  Family is priority and every one takes care of each other.  Kids grow up learning about being part of a community, about building a connection with nature, working the land and food.

This trip and the experiences were beyond of what I expected.  I was so lucky and grateful for spending those amazing days with my friend and his family instead of staying in a more touristy city.  I had the premium package deal!! Not only lived with a wonderful family who easily opened up their hearts to me, but also went on hikes and ‘personalized tours’ not found at any tour agency.  I went looking not only for some time off from the busy life, but rather, I went with a vision of giving back in some way, at least my humble attention and appreciation.  Since then my mind has been busy with ideas to help the community somehow, and who knows, maybe in the future I will be blogging from some small town in the jungle.  For sure I will be back to this paradise.

I was driven by the abundance of life, resources, opportunities and the cohesive relationship of nature and her inhabitants.  We have forgotten to pause and pay attention to things that contribute to our well-being.  We allow other things to take precedence like technology and find ourselves in a rut, hitting a wall and looking for ways to scape from the hectic lifestyle.  We forget to take care of ourselves.  We forget to live a more simple and humble life.

 Life is simple but full of wonderful things if we have our hearts open to receive them.