Is a detox really necessary? In short, yes. The large number of pollutants we encounter every day complicates the body's detoxification efforts, which in turn leaves the body more vulnerable to illnesses and disease, not to mention hormonal imbalances. While you may have the perfect detox diet and supplements already lined up, by integrating these four steps you will ensure a more successful fall cleaning.
Clear out your bathroom: Believe it or not, a good detox should start with your environment since that is where your toxins are and the bathroom is the biggest culprit. Think of all the products we put on our skin, and imagine how the daily absorption of these chemicals adds up over a lifetime. This long-term exposure is a definite hormonal and health concern. Your cleansing products should be free of sodium lauryl sulphate, a harsh detergent present in shampoos and cleansers. The products you use on your body or face should be free of methylparabens, propylparabens, formaldehyde, imidazolidinyl urea, methylisothiazolinone, propylene glycol, paraffin, isopropyl alcohol, and sodium lauryl sulphate. You should know that most perfumed products contain many of these harmful chemicals, but the ingredients are not identified on the label. Therefore, look for products that contain natural oils and fragrances. Take a look through your cosmetics from shampoo to hair gel to eye make-up remover -- you may be surprised to find many of these not-so-friendly ingredients.
Raid your kitchen: Lurking in your kitchen are foods that can inhibit the success of your detox in a big way. The list below covers foods you should never eat. In fact, I recommend you remove them from your kitchen immediately to prevent further hormonal disruption.
• Products containing artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, etc.).
• Products containing high-fructose corn syrup.
• Vegetable oil, shortening, margarine, cottonseed oil; anything containing partially hydrogenated oils; products containing trans fats.
• Processed and packaged foods that contain lots of preservatives, loads of sodium and few nutrients, e.g., prepared pasta side dishes.
The next step to get rid of your plastic food storage containers, plastic water bottles and replace all of them with glass. Use paper wraps instead of plastic whenever possible; if you do use plastic wraps, make sure those you put in contact with food do not contain phthalates (if you're not sure, ask the manufacturer).
Never microwave foods in plastic containers or polystyrene foam, which may leach harmful compounds (in fact, you may want to reduce your use of the microwave as much as possible). Potentially harmful or cancer-causing, estrogen-like chemicals called dioxins can leech into your foods and drinks, especially when heated or frozen. Always choose metal, glass or wood instead of plastic for storing, reheating and serving foods. Your household cleaning and laundry products are no exception. Look for household cleaning and laundry alternatives that are less toxic. With a little creative Googling you may even be able to find a good recipe to make your own (if so, please share it in the comment section below).
Take out the trash daily: If your bowels are not moving, waste will create toxicity and impede health, especially estrogen by-products since estrogen is metabolized in the liver and excreted into the digestive system in the bile. The bacteria in the large bowel further the breakdown of estrogen. Liver function, bile secretion, bacterial balance and frequency of bowel movements are essential processes for ridding the body of excess estrogen which has been known to can increase cancer risks.
A bowel movement after each meal is perfect bowel function. Cleansing your digestive system will clear your complexion and improve your energy levels as you gain a sense of well-being. Improving intestinal wall competency will also aid absorption of nutrients and water, while preventing absorption of unhealthy bacteria and incompletely digested food or toxins. For optimal bowel health I recommend adding in a probiotic twice daily, ground flax seeds or a non-psyllium fibre source, magnesium glycinate to bowel tolerance. If you are prone to constipation you can also consider adding in the herb Triphala, an Ayurvedic herbal blend commonly used for supporting intestinal detoxification, occasional constipation and overall colon health.
Fill up (and empty) your bladder more: If your urine is bright yellow it's an easy sign that you need to boost your water intake. Your kidneys flush waste from the blood and without enough water they can't do their job very well. The human body is also extremely good at preserving water if you don't drink enough (and in turn, your rings may not fit at the end of the day).
Herbal teas that have a blend of goldenrod, dandelion leaf and parsley will help get your bladder going. In turn, some veggies such as celery stalks and cucumbers are great natural diuretics. I enjoy having a glass of warm water with lemon at least twice daily for digestion and the alkalizing effects. In addition to that, if you drink 1- 2 cups of water before each meal and snack you will most likely meet your water goal, and you may be surprised to find that you look and feel slimmer when fully hydrated.
You can't beat beets! Beets are full of vitamins B3, B6, C and beta-carotene. They're also a valuable source of iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium -- all necessary to promote optimal detoxification and elimination. Beets also support good gallbladder and liver health -- organs that are paramount for breaking down and removing toxins. The high amount of fibre in beetroot improves digestion and helps eliminate bodily waste.
Often known as seaweeds, these amazing foods house powerful antioxidants that help to alkalize the blood and strengthen the digestive tract. The algin in seaweeds absorb toxins from the digestive tract in much the same way a water softener removes the hardness from tap water. Sea vegetables offer the broadest range of minerals of any food, containing virtually all the minerals found in the ocean -- the same minerals that are found in human blood. Dulse is my personal fave.
Dandelions are considered a powerhouse food full of nutrients that are essential for anyone regularly eating the "Standard American Diet" (SAD). They're a rich source of minerals and provide a variety of phytonutrients. They're super antioxidants that support cleansing of the digestive tract and offer great liver support. Try adding dandelion leaves to your salad.
Broccoli is part of the powerhouse brassica family of vegetables. Broccoli contains important phytochemicals that are released when they're chopped, chewed, fermented, cooked or digested. The substances are released then break down into sulphorophanes, indole-3-carbinol and D-glucarate, which all have a specific effect on detoxification. Broccoli sprouts can actually provide more benefit than regular broccoli as they contain 20 times more sulfurophane. Add these to your salads and get creative with them in your meals.
One of my favourite "superfoods," flaxseeds serve many purposes. When detoxifying your body, it's essential to ensure toxins are eliminated properly. Ground flaxseeds provide a wonderful source of fibre that helps to bind and flush toxins from the intestinal tract. They're also a great source of health promoting omega 3 oils. Try consuming two tablespoons of gound flaxseeds in lemon water every morning
Who doesn't love lemon? This wonderful fruit stimulates the release of enzymes and helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that can be easily excreted from the body. Drinking lemon water, which is alkaline-forming, first thing in the morning will help to balance out the acidity of foods we've consumed. Don't forget to add your ground flaxseeds to enhance toxin removal.
No detox plan should be without some garlic: It's a powerful antiviral, antiseptic and antibiotic. Ridding your body of these pathogenic microbes can reduce endogenous (made by your body) toxins. The vital sulphuric compounds garlic contains makes it an essential detoxifier.
Artichokes are not only a very tasty food, they're also incredibly healthy. Artichokes have been shown to increase bile production and purify/protect the liver. They also have a mild diuretic effect on the kidneys, ensuring proper removal of toxins once the liver breaks them down.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which gives it its yellow color. The rate at which your detox pathways function depends on your genes, your age, lifestyle and a good supply of nutrients involved in the detox process. Curcumin is used a lot in Ayurvedic Medicine to treat liver and digestive disorders.
Apples are full of wonderful nutrients. You get fibre, vitamins, minerals and many beneficial phytochemicals such as D-Glucarate, flavonoids and terpenoids. All of these substances are used in the detox process. One flavonoid, Phlorizidin (phlorizin), is thought to help stimulate bile production which helps with detox as the liver gets rid of some toxins through the bile. Apples are also a good source of the soluble fibre pectin, which can help detox metals and food additives from your body. It's best to eat only organic apples as the non-organic varieties are among the top 12 foods that've been found to contain the most pesticide residues.
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