Taking steps to detoxify can help you attain optimal well-being (and put spring back in your step). Here are some ways to show your body the love.
Give Dairy a Rest
“Even if you’ve been using organic dairy products, so many people have lactose intolerance—or even a dairy allergy that they’re not aware of—that just removing it for a week or so and seeing how you feel can often show a lot of improvement,” says chef and certified health counselor Alexandra Jamieson, author of The Great American Detox Diet (Rodale). She recommends cutting out butter, cheese, milk, yogurt and related foods, if only temporarily. This allows the body to acclimate to life without dairy.
Eat More Fruits & Veggies
Although the USDA recommends covering half of your mealtime plate with fruits and vegetables, Jamieson encourages upping that ratio even more, particularly if you’re looking to detoxify. Produce is packed with health-boosting nutrients. As Jamieson puts it, “Eat more real fruits and vegetables, and your body will cleanse.” Elson Haas, MD, author of The New Detox Diet(Celestial Arts), concurs. Haas believes the setting in which you eat is also important. “Chew your food very well and take enough time when you eat—relax a few minutes before and after your meal,” he says.
We naturally associate water with clarity and cleansing—think of the millions of showers taken every day. The same concept holds true for the inside of our bodies. Not drinking enough clean, pure water can impede organs from doing their jobs; that’s especially true of the kidneys, which remove waste from our bloodstream. “Your kidneys are your filters, so that’s why you want to drink, drink, drink throughout the day,” says Susana Belen, author of Detox and Revitalize (Vital Health Publishing). “We are supposed to drink half of our body weight in ounces of liquid per day. That means if you weigh 100 pounds, you have to drink 50 ounces daily.” Regular filtered water applies to this goal, as do herbal teas and water served with lemon (coffee, soda and alcohol do not count). Countertop distillers provide an extra margin of water safety.
Although it’s an entirely instinctive part of our existence, breathing can also help us to detoxify. “The same way we chew food, we need to ‘chew’ the air,” Belen explains. This involves inhaling slowly until your lungs are full, and then retaining that big breath so all that oxygen from the air can pass from the lungs into the blood. Belen notes that by inhaling deeply, holding your breath for a few counts and then slowly exhaling, you can bolster your body’s natural detox process. She suggests that each time you remind yourself about deep breathing—particularly while doing mundane tasks—you should inhale and exhale slowly 10 times. Such “breathing breaks” will help you incorporate this beneficial practice into your daily life.
Care for the Skin You’re In
Along with the lungs, kidneys, bowels and lymphatic system, the skin is one of what Belen refers to as the “the five organs of elimination” essential for getting rid of toxins. Though many people regularly tend to their skin, the practices they use may not always aid detoxification. Belen cautions that many creams and lotions can clog the skin’s pores, hindering toxin release. She recommends brushing your skin with a natural fiber brush to remove dead cells, which opens the pores. Jamieson suggests hot towel scrubbing: Prepare a hot wet towel and a basin, then “gently rub in circles from your fingertips up and from your toes up, and that opens the pores. It’s a nice way to take a break and actually get in touch with your body a little bit,” Jamieson says.
Drip, drip, drip. That’s the sound of your pores eliminating toxins via a good sweat. In addition to engaging in moderate exercise such as bicycling or jogging, a steam room or sauna can help you perspire. “People want to avoid perspiring, but the reality is that perspiration is a good thing. That’s why living in the desert is healthy, because the minute the sun hits you, even in the wintertime, you’re perspiring,” says Belen. Jamieson adds, “It can be moistening and help improve your skin quality. It cleans out the pores and increases oil production a little bit, so your skin tends to be in better shape.”
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.