Gentle Detox? You’ve Got It!
Although your body has its own way of detoxing naturally, it can always use a helping hand now and again, especially after the postfestive season. The main way our body cleanses itself is through the key excretory organs: the liver, intestines, kidneys, lungs, and skin. To have a successful and lasting detox, we need to support these workhorse organs on a daily basis through basic but oh-so-effective nutritional and lifestyle choices.
As my biology teacher used to say, life is all about movement! Exercise is synonymous with detoxification, because as we breathe more deeply and—above all—sweat, we eliminate a phenomenal amount of toxins. Physical activity also encourages better blood and lymph circulation, and can help clear our minds, which leads to better detoxification and possibly our next brilliant idea! The simple act of walking awakens a lot of activity in your natural detoxification: It stimulates your intestines, leading to bowel movements, and increases your need to hydrate, which helps your kidneys do their cleansing job. Hormones released during physical activity also help detoxify; norepinephrine and dopamine contribute to fat metabolism, where most toxins are stored. Endorphins, produced more in cardio workouts, provide that sweet postexercise feeling of wellbeing. A walk around the block, a workout from the internet, snowshoeing, ice skating, or even an impromptu dance-off in the living room... whatever it takes, as long as you keep moving!
Yes, breathing is a major part of detoxification. Practice with deep breath-ins—starting from the abdomen and ending just under the clavicles—and follow with very long breath-outs. This is beneficial on two levels: it allows you to eliminate a maximum of CO2, a major source of oxidative stress, and to reconnect with the present moment. Maximizing incoming oxygen supplies nourishment to our cells’ small energy factories—the very concentrated mitochondria inside our organ cells that are in charge of detoxification. On top of all that, the back-and-forth motion of the rib cage delicately compresses the intestines, liver, and kidneys, further stimulating the detoxification process. Lastly, good breathing plays a major role in managing stress and improving sleep. Want the secret to longevity? Keep breathing!
If we look at food in the detox process, the solution is easy: Eat local, simple, unprocessed food, as much as possible, and organic if feasible. Fruits, vegetables, good vegetable oils, bread from the local bakery—ideally sourdough bread—legumes, and protein sources cooked with love are all at the top of the food list! If you need a few pointers, refer to Canada’s food guide or the principles of the Mediterranean diet, which are among the most beneficial for good health. Following these simple steps can be a powerful daily detoxification tool, as impactful—or more—as detoxifying with botanicals and nutraceuticals.
In regards to fluid intake, drink still water that’s either at room temperature or lukewarm. Forget coffee, alcohol, juices, energy drinks, etc., and drink at least one litre per day of water with a low mineral content (less than 500 mg of minerals per litre) and with a pH in the neutral range (a pH of 6.5–7.5). After a heavy, sweaty, workout session, choose a highly mineralized water to compensate for losses.
Finally, in terms of lifestyle, dare to disconnect... at least once in a while. Forget about technology, social media, or video games, and favour reading a good book or even playing a few games in the park with your children; when was the last time you made an imaginary animal out of leaves, twigs, or snowballs? Returning to simplicity is retuning to good health!
Unless you excel in mindfulness meditation, there’s really only one time when the body is at its most relaxed to do its repair work, and that’s at night. While we sleep, our body is hard at work; it revitalizes, deals with toxins treatment, and repairs body tissues. All the while, our mind is at rest, helping limit the toxic effects of chronic stress. An adage to keep in mind to improve the quality of sleep is “A king’s breakfast, a prince’s lunch, and a pauper’s supper.” That’s because at night, free from its digestive tasks, the body can devote itself entirely to doing its detoxification job. Finally, as much as possible, spend your night in the dark, disconnected from technology and in a room that is neither too hot nor too cold.
Has your liver taken a hit? Put some heat on it! Yes, literally! Use this simple but very effective method: Apply a hot water bottle for 20–30 minutes in the evening before going to sleep. This will help your liver function, especially to detoxify. Stressed and tired? Plunge into a hot bath to relax your muscles and open your skin’s pores; this helps eliminate toxins from your system. A sauna or Turkish bath is also an excellent hydrotherapy option for detoxification, but be careful to follow instructions! For all these options, don’t forget to rinse yourself off after with cold (or cool) water, starting from the extremities. Feeling tense, or even electrified? Take advantage of nature’s negative electrons to balance the overflow of electromagnetism that your body has stored. Forests, mountains, riverbanks, and parks are havens of serenity, as their negative ion-charged atmosphere reinforces the body’s oxygenation. The air after the rain is also a good source of serenity if you can’t get out to the park. Feeling stuck? A physio or osteo session can help put the pieces back in place, which releases the innervation of the internal organs. The result: Better-working detox organs.
Strayed a Little Too Far?
If you feel you’ve overdone the “indulging” and underdone the “self-care,” a natural health product can help. Look for formulas that include detoxifying herbs such as milk thistle, black radish, artichoke, burdock, dandelion, and beet. As for nutraceuticals, alpha-lipoic acid and N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), as well as B-complex vitamins are the most appropriate to help the body’s detoxification process. Probiotics and fibre may be considered for people who need an intestinal boost.
On that note, I’ll leave you with a quote from Romain Gary that’s quite apropos: “Renewal has always, first and foremost, been a return to the source.”