Whether it's from everyday toxins, or compounded from too many holiday parties, many people head into January feeling frumpy and fatigued. Not to mention that the large number of pollutants we encounter every day complicate the body's detoxification efforts, which in turn leaves us more vulnerable to illnesses, disease, and hormonal imbalances. While you may have the perfect detox diet and supplements already lined up, by integrating these four steps you will ensure that your New Year's resolutions are well within reach.
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 products are no exception. Look for cleaning and laundry alternatives that are less toxic from your grocery store or health food store. 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 comments 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 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 fiber 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 one to two 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.