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The right foods can detoxify and heal our bodies, increase vitality and add years to our life…
But, the wrong foods are more like illicit drugs: highly addictive and dangerous. We can’t stop eating them, despite our knowledge of the harm they can do. It’s like we have no willpower left.
This is where a cleanse can be especially useful.
One major advantage of a cleanse is that it can help reset your diet. That’s because when you balance your blood glucose and insulin by eating nutrient dense, low glycemic (low sugar) foods, those unhealthy cravings driving you nuts often vanish. Plus, the increased energy and sense of wellbeing that can result from healthy eating become key motivators to stick with the program.
So how do you get started?
A detoxifying diet serves as the foundation for a cleanse. And the first place to start is eliminating foods that increase your toxic load. For this reason I recommend eliminating animal protein from your diet during a cleanse, but if that’s not practical, then use a small amount of organic, pasture-raised meats and avoid dairy products.
Next, eliminate inflammatory foods and beverages — mainly processed foods, refined foods, sugars and sweeteners, cooked oil and trans fats, excess salt, alcohol, caffeine, and preservatives. Try to emphasize organic food to avoid pesticide exposure and GMOs.
Focus on organic fruits and vegetables, and vegetable-based proteins. Green leafy and cruciferous vegetables are high in nutrition and detoxifying agents like sulfur compounds and chlorophyll. Soak and sprout grains, legumes and nuts for better digestibility, less acidity and higher nutritional content.
Don’t forget your friendly flora. Every week it seems that a new study outlines the importance of beneficial bacteria for physical and mental health. Healthy populations of good bacteria aid detoxification, boost nutrition and keep harmful microbes at bay, among other benefits. Probiotic-rich, cultured foods may be the best way to help maintain our natural flora. In particular, look for sauerkraut, kimchi, natto and miso to help keep your GI tract, and the rest of your body, on healthy footing.
It’s also important to stay hydrated. Drink at least 64 oz. of fluids — mainly filtered water, herbal teas and low-sodium, homemade vegetable broths. Avoid carbonation as it can interfere with digestion. Fruit juice is also off the list, since it can spike blood sugar and thus, inflammation. When the body is well-hydrated, cravings can also diminish.
Bind toxins in the circulation and digestion
One concern with many popular detox programs is that they are positioned as a quick fix. But detox is not a quick process and trying to speed it up can cause problems, aka, a “detox crisis.” Some experts claim such a crisis is a sign the program is working. However, the reality is that people can become weak from the oxidative stress that occurs with methods like extended fasting or harsh detox formulas, which often cause toxins to be released from tissues too quickly. The body doesn’t have a chance to process these toxins, and they get redistributed. In the meantime, you’ll get symptoms like headaches, fatigue, flu symptoms and others as the body struggles to manage the sudden increase in circulating toxins.
On the other hand, if the burden of toxins being released into our circulation is managed properly, we can achieve a much more thorough cleanse with little to no side effects. For this we turn to natural binding agents.
So after adopting a cleansing diet for a week or so, the next step is to begin cleansing the blood and digestive tract with specific compounds that bind and safely eliminate toxins. This strategy helps to clear the way for a more in-depth detox of organs and tissues. It’s kind of like sweeping out surface debris before doing a deeper cleaning.
There are several gentle supplements which can support this preliminary cleansing process. My top recommendation is clinically researched blend of modified citrus pectin (MCP) from citrus peels and alginates from seaweed. This formula is designed to bind and remove toxic metals, environmental toxins and radioactive isotopes from the circulation and digestive tract, without removing essential minerals.
Another class of supplements that are extremely beneficial in numerous areas of health, including detox, is medicinal mushrooms. They act like sponges, traveling to hard to reach areas of the body to mop up toxins and pathogens, and support repair and restoration.
Mushrooms, MCP and alginates are key detox agents that work to physically bind toxins in the circulation, digestive tract and other areas, and safely eliminate them through the urinary tract and bowels. This prepares the body for deeper detoxification using botanicals and nutrients that enhance the detox functions of the liver, kidneys, skin and other organs of elimination, effectively optimizing the body’s natural detox abilities.
Support detox organs
After you’ve incorporated a cleansing diet and natural binding agents to help clear out toxins, you’re ready to add targeted detox ingredients that encourage more in-depth detoxification. Some people proceed to this step after just a few days, for others, it may be a few weeks or longer. It depends on your health, toxic burden, and other factors.
For this next step, I recommend adding ingredients such as milk thistle, dandelion, astragalus, gingko, MSM, lipoic acid, N-Acetyl cysteine and other compounds that support and enhance detox capacity, right down to the genetic level. By stimulating and optimizing the detox functions of the liver, kidneys, skin, GI tract, lungs and other organs, these ingredients allow for a deeper, more thorough removal of toxins from tissues and organs. These compounds also contain powerful antioxidants to combat the oxidative stress that can occur during intense detoxification.
Another way to promote detox is to regularly exercise, which is essential in removing toxins and bringing oxygen and nutrients to tissues. Movement and massage are what stimulates our lymphatic system to remove toxins and encourage healthy immunity.
Strengthen willpower and enhance your detox with meditation
Simple meditation practice is an excellent way to enhance your detox program. It allows for a release of old patterns and energies, refreshes the mind and renews the spirit. Give yourself some quiet time to contemplate what you want to release and let go of. Sitting comfortably, focus your breath on a specific object in front of you, like a stone or candle. As you breathe in, visualize nourishment and light entering your body through your breath, and as you breathe out, visualize the release of all that no longer serves you. Continue for ten to twenty minutes if possible. At the end of your meditation, dedicate the merit generated by your practice to benefit all beings. This last part helps keep an open heart and connectivity, essential components of healing and rejuvenation.
Breathing is a central detox function, so practicing deep breathing exercises not only can help us relax, but also reduce toxic body burden. Furthermore, when we alleviate stress, our inflammatory and oxidative markers go down, which helps reduce toxic body burden and increase our detox capacities. It is also shown to help strengthen willpower and support healthier choices.
The balance between detox and nourishment is a central concept to life, as fundamental as breathing. And in today’s era, detox support is more important than ever — but it doesn’t have to be complicated. With these simple steps: diet, binding and elimination, and enhancing detox capacity, we can safely and effectively remove toxins, prevent their accumulation, and bring more health into our lives.
For more comprehensive guidance on completing a successful detox program, check out an educational presentation I recently recorded, here.