As the weather warms up, just like all of nature, we emerge from winter’s hibernation just in time for a spring detox!
Of course our bodies are detoxifying all the time, so what we are really talking about here is supporting that natural process.
Consider all the ways in which your body processes and excretes toxins, and focus on ways that you can support it to work optimally. You’ll feel lighter and more energised, with a spring in your step!
There are 5 detoxification or elimination pathways:
- Skin and lymphatics
This amazing organ helps to transform 99% of toxins ready for excretion from the body. The liver is involved in many other processes alongside detoxification, so the best way you can support it, is not to overburden it by reducing the following:
- Processed foods, added sugars, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, hydrogenated and trans fats, and alcohol.
- Chemicals in household and personal care products and pesticides in foods. Eat as organically as you can afford, filter your water, go fragrance free, and use glass instead of plastic.
- Your stress level! The liver has to process your stress hormones, so the lower your stress levels the better. Take up yoga, Tai, Chi and Qi Qong to get you out of fight or flight mode. Meditation, mindfulness and breathing practices are all well researched for stress reduction. And prioritise 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night
- There are lots of foods that your liver will thank you for:
- B vitamins found in leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, eggs and sunflower seeds
- Antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. Orange foods including carrots, sweet potato, mangoes and squash; berries, apples, parsley, kale, rocket and citrus fruits; raw nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, avocados and fish.
- Healthy fats including avocado, chia seeds, extra virgin olive oil, nut butters and oily fish.
- Bitter vegetables, especially at the beginning of the meal to support bile production and fat metabolism.
- Cruciferous vegetables e.g. broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage; onions and garlic, beetroot, turmeric and mung bean sprouts. All of these foods actually help the detoxification process.
Passing a stool regularly is so important for your health. You want a stool that is soft enough to pass easily but firm enough to capture and ‘brush’ out toxins on the intestinal wall. Fibre and fermentation by good bacteria are required for stool formation:
- Foods to include:
- Both insoluble and soluble fibre in your diet, such as oats, rice and vegetable and fruits with peel on.
- Probiotic and prebiotic food in your diet such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, pickles, leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, beans, raspberries and bananas.
- Ensure you are well hydrated with at least 2L of water a day.
- Eat mindfully so that you are supporting the digestive process.
- Movement, exercise and massage can also help.
Your kidneys filter approximately 180 litres of blood daily, storing unwanted substances in the bladder for excretion via urine.
- The number one kidney support is water! Adequate hydration is essential for clearance of sodium and toxins, and lowers your risk of chronic kidney disease.
- Include natural diuretics in your diet to help you to flush out extra fluid and toxins: cucumber, celery, asparagus, dandelion tea, hawthorn tea, parsley, bell peppers and watermelon.
- Other foods to support kidney health: papaya, beetroot, sweet potato and dark green leafy vegetables.
The Skin and Lymphatics
The skin is approximately 2 square meters making it a huge eliminatory organ! Sweat glands excrete water, minerals, lactic acid, and urea. An overload of toxins in the body will result in toxins being added to sweat and pushed out through the skin. The lymphatic system sits just below the skin and is involved in tissue drainage.
- The skin is often a reflection of the state of the gut, so supporting digestion and elimination is important here.
- Exercise to encourage sweating and to drain the fluid from the lymphatic system which has no pump of its own.
- Dry skin brushing to stimulate circulation, exfoliate dry, dull skin and boost lymph flow. Unclogging pores in the skin will also allow the body to sweat more effectively to release toxins.
- Simply start with your feet and legs, brushing upwards towards your heart in short, gentle strokes.
- Use circular motions on your tummy and armpits.
- Stroke from the hands up along your arms.
- Jump in the shower!
- Lymphatic drainage massage can help to support the immune system and promote the flow of lymph into the blood.
- Epsom salts baths, saunas and steams are all beneficial.
Proper exhalation is paramount to health. Carbon dioxide, a product of respiration, must be removed as an excess can lead to more acidic blood.
- Make sure that you are breathing using your respiratory diaphragm. This is important as it helps to optimise gas exchange, massages the organs in the abdomen, supports the return of blood to the heart, and promotes lymphatic drainage. Not sure if you are breathing from the diaphragm? Try this exercise:
- Lie down with your knees bent and feet on the floor.Take a deep breath in through your nose.Note where your in-breath is coming from (i.e. abdomen or chest?).
- Now, breathe in again, this time making full use of your diaphragm, before breathing out slowly through pursed lips.
- Get physical! Aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming or running not only strengthen the lungs but also for promotes heart health.
If we are well hydrated and ingesting more nourishing foods than congesting ones, then we prevent toxicity from building up in the body in the first place. It’s all about balance, if we aim to eat a healthy diet for most of the time, then the body can cope with the occasional blip!
If you’d like a dietary review to support you in your spring detox, do get in touch https://annabrownewellbeing.com/work-with-me/nutritional-consultations/.