01/26/2017 06:27 EST | Updated 01/26/2017 06:27 EST

Kickstart A Healthier Life With A Detox

All humans and animals alike detox on a regular basis. It is the natural daily cycle in which our body eliminates the toxins from the food we consume, and the unhealthy atmosphere we're immersed in. Liver, kidneys, lungs, bowel and skin; they all work together to provide us with an excellent system to get rid of the things the body doesn't need.

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Glasses with fresh vegetable juices in the garden. Detox diet.

All humans and animals alike detox on a regular basis. It is the natural daily cycle in which our body eliminates the toxins from the food we consume, and the unhealthy atmosphere we're immersed in. Liver, kidneys, lungs, bowel and skin; they all work together to provide us with an excellent system to get rid of the things the body doesn't need.

So, if we are so capable of cleansing by ourselves, why are detox practices so popular nowadays? Well, even our perfectly designed bodies could use a hand from time to time, and by using these practices we're facilitating its job. "The purpose of a detox is to support these organs of elimination, so that toxins can be metabolized and excreted" explains Breanne Kallonen, expert in nutrition and Naturopathic Medicine.

How to tell if you're in need of a detox

The mainstream concept of a detox has been related to the consumption of alcohol and junk food. However, everyone needs to detoxify. Because even if you don't consume these products, chances are that your diet includes food with preservatives and artificial ingredients; or maybe you use perfume with toxins; or probably you just live in a big, polluted city. The truth is, unless you've decided to retreat in the mountains and grow your own organic vegetables, most of us are constantly exposed to toxins.

Still, there could be signs our body gives that tell us that it's time to take extra care. The consensus among experts is that common signs of more serious need for detoxification are:

• Constant fatigue or low energy

• Brain fog

• Mood Imbalances

• Anxiety

• Constipation

• Low libido

• Poor quality sleep

• Muscles and joint aches

• Chronic diseases

• Amalgam fillings in the teeth

Therefore, if you relate to any of these, you should probably start thinking about assisting your system by taking some workload off the detoxifying organs.

Methods to detox

There is a great variety of cleansing programs to choose from, but all of them tend to converge on the idea of having a healthy diet, good sleeping habits and an active lifestyle. To be more specific, the experts recommend to start detoxing by avoiding red meat, wheat, alcohol, dairy, sugar and processed foods. Instead, you should ingest as many organic fruits, vegetables and water as possible. And talking about water, the researcher Nedalee Thomas, found out an interesting way to detox: "drinking ionized alkaline water for a gentle cleanse daily, followed by periodic fasting where I consume nothing but the water for a few days to weeks."

Some other alternatives to lend your system a hand, are special diets like seven days of raw food, ten days of brown rice. Nevertheless, according to Jannice Rosenthal, Certified Massage Therapist and Lecturer in holistic living, "While these cleanses are great ways to give your organs a much-needed rest, they do not address the deeper areas of the body in desperate need of a true detoxification. For that, there is a variety of programs, which deliver fantastic results, and each one can take three weeks or more to complete". Some of these methods are the Candida Diet, Anti-Parasite Cleanse, Heavy Metal Detox, Obesogen Detox, Colon Hydrotherapy, Detox Acupuncture, Infrared Sauna, Sugar Detox, Kitchari Cleanse and Panchakarma.

Benefits of a detox retreat

Once you decide to try a detox on your own, you might still encounter two little issues: the first one, not being surrounded by the right ambiance to start a healthy lifestyle; and the second one, not counting on the guidance of a specialist. The good news is that both can be solved with a detox retreat.

A detox retreat could be a life-changing experience, and not because of the false idea that you can eliminate all toxins accumulated throughout the years in just a few days of holiday, but because it could be a great way to kickstart a healthier life. During a retreat, you're provided with all the tools you need to detox. You're given a diet and a routine to follow, so you don't have to worry about anything but eating and drinking what you're being offered.

In addition, the relaxing setting of a detox retreat helps to reduce stress, which helps to provide more micronutrients to the body. At a retreat, "your regular stress triggers tend to go away allowing for better habits to be formed. Meditation, yoga and being outdoors are common activities, and all of these tend to use the relaxation parasympathetic nervous system. When we are stressed our bodies hold onto fat, so when we aren't our bodies can function better" states Kate Hamm, Bliss Sherpa at AnamBliss, who has organized many retreats, during which she's witnessed the benefits first hand.

Last but not least, probably the most significant advantage of detoxing on a retreat, is the professional support available "Doing a detox can be difficult and requires discipline, which is why it's easier to go away on a retreat to do a professionally supervised program where you can focus and get the best out of the process. It's also easier to stay on the program, [...] when you remove yourself from the temptations of your everyday food routine, your own fridge, or from your family who are eating normal food" comments, Tania Ho, expert in detox and founder of Museflower Retreat & Spa.

The key after a detox

Let's be clear, a detox program of any kind is not a magic pill. The key to a detox is your commitment to apply what you've learned afterwards. Once you've completed it, you must be disciplined and keep the habits that you've cultivated during the detox program in order to make way for a new and healthier lifestyle. Going back to your old ways would render the time & effort you spent on detoxifying useless.

As Functional Medicine practitioner, Morgan Mellas says, "Anyone who is going to the trouble of a serious detoxification should be conscious about avoiding returning to a toxic state by consuming 100% organic food, clean water, staying away from toxic chemicals and beauty products, and creating awareness in all other areas of their lives". But still, according to Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania, nearly 65 percent of people who go on a diet, return to their old habits and weight within three years.

For that reason, perhaps the most important key after a detox, is to enjoy the process and be grateful for the clean slate you hold in your hands. That way, you think of it as a fun new lifestyle and not as a burden you must bear. "Connect and stay tuned to your body. Sometimes it does crave for meat or something sweet, so it's important to balance and enjoy yourself while appreciating the food you eat. Be grateful rather than feeling guilty strictly following a certain type of diet. Food and eating are supposed to be fun!" advices Tania Ho.

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