TO CLEANSE OR NOT TO CLEANSE?
Now that Spring is here, it’s normal to feel the need to ‘spring clean’ your body by ‘detoxing’. Maybe you fed your tummy excessive sugary treats and now it’s acting out with as much angst as a rebellious teenager. Maybe you’ve had too much to drink over the past few months and it’s got you and your liver feeling lazy and sluggish. It could be that your tummy and liver have teamed up against you and now you’ve come to think it’s detox time – but it’s important to note that your body is actually one step ahead of you. It’s always detoxing.
With advertising everywhere to buy detox kits or jump on a juice cleanse, it’s tempting to hop on the cleanse bandwagon. What we may not think of is that detoxification is a natural process our bodies go through around the clock. Our kidneys, liver, lungs and skin are constantly working overtime to break down toxins. The challenge arises when we disrupt our body’s natural detoxification functionalities. That’s when things like yo-yo dieting come into play: you win some, you lose some – then you win some, and the perpetual cycle continues. Often strict detox diets can be unsustainable long term so learning to have a balanced diet is key to successful weight loss/maintenance and detoxification.
The body has two liver pathways in the liver detoxification process. In ‘Phase 1’, the liver breaks down the toxins. In ‘Phase 2’, the liver takes these toxins and makes them water soluble so that they can be excreted from the body. There are many foods we can eat to help support the liver as it works diligently at purifying itself during ‘Phase 2’.
Brassica vegetables, otherwise known as cruciferous vegetables or members of the cabbage family, are naturally cleansing foods. Vegetables such as brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli contain sulfur which helps enhance ‘Phase 2’ of liver detoxification. Eating sulfur-rich foods, such as brassica, aids your body to make more glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s superhero – it’s the body’s most powerful antioxidant that comes to the rescue to take down the bad guys, aka the toxins. Essentially, when the liver is able to tackle the toxins and detox itself successfully, hormones and cholesterol levels become more balanced and, generally speaking, result in a happier liver. A happier liver can equate to a happier you.
Brassica vegetables are also high in fiber which is necessary for ridding toxins from the body. Essentially, toxins bind to fiber and are flushed out of the system. Think of fiber as the broom that sweeps our digestive tract clean. For this reason, relying solely on juice cleanses to detox can be tricky because much of the fiber is removed in the juicing process. As a result, toxins have a more difficult time being flushed out if only juice is being consumed.
There are also many other ways you can support your body’s natural detoxification process:
CREATE NEW HABITS
They say it takes between 21 and 66 days to form a new habit – but the good news is you can get started on your new habit immediately.
Try to incorporate more water into your daily routine. Bored of plain old water? Add mint and cucumber or cherries and lime to it. Experiment with fruit and fresh herbs in your water for extra flavour and antioxidants.
Try to make a habit of ‘eating the rainbow’ to kill off free radicals and to create a stronger immune system. Eating the colours of the rainbow is also a great way to increase more fruits and vegetables. Opt for organic wherever possible to be kinder to your liver and lessen toxic overload.
WHEN IN DOUBT, DRY BRUSH
Did you know dry brushing can give you softer and more radiant looking skin and also help you detox? Dry brushing helps increase blood circulation, stimulates your lymphatic system and promotes lymph drainage. And of course, it exfoliates your skin and improves elasticity.
Your tongue is like a book that can tell part of the story of your body’s health. A thick coating on your tongue can be indicative of numerous things, including poor digestion. Tongue scraping is not just for oral hygiene, it helps in stopping toxins from reabsorbing back into the body. It also releases these toxins and other bacteria from your mouth.
While self-indulgence or just a keen interest in maintaining health has brought you to the point of considering a detox, it’s good to remember your body has built in mechanisms to clean itself. That being said, we can show our bodies some love by supporting it with nutritious foods and by creating new, fun and healthy habits.
Are you feeling stuck with your diet and need a nudge in the right direction? Contact us to help. We’re always here to help you stay accountable to your goals by way of delightful dishes.
Written by Amber Bechard, student of IHN.
Amber has a passion for laughter, wellness and writing.