As more people are realizing the consequences of all the toxic chemicals that are being dumped into our environment, cleanse programs, fasts, and and special detox diets and supplements have been increasing in popularity. Some people dismiss these methods as “fads”, especially so-called “conventional doctors” (who have practially no success in curing chronic conditions…), but the truth is that when designed intelligently, a proper cleanse can help resolve chronic health problems like chronic fatigue, inflammatory digestive disorders, depression, and skin issues like eczema and acne, among other things. However before embarking on an intensive cleansing program, it is important to understand how you can facilitate your body’s detoxification functions on a daily basis.
Three main pathways that our bodies excrete toxins are through urine, feces, and sweat. If you are doing those three things regularly then you are off to a great start, but for many overweight or unhealthy people, these areas are far from optimal. The following four habits are a great place to start:
1. Limit exposure to toxins
First and foremost, you have to stop making the problem worse. Choosing organically grown produce or at least eating from the “Clean 15” and avoiding the “Dirty dozen” is a great start. Drink filtered water. Buy organic coffee, tea, oils, meats and butter. Limit intake of large fish like tuna and swordfish which accumulate a lot of mercury and other toxins over their lifespan, and instead opt for small fish like sardines and anchovies. Avoid personal care and cleaning products that contain parabens, BPA, and other hormone disruptors (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/).
2. Drink enough water!
Don’t even think about adding supplents or doing a fancy cleanse program if you haven’t gotten this habit down! Obviously your water
needs will vary based on activitly level and temperature, so make sure you adjust accordingly. I have never been one to advise specific water quotas. Instead, just monitor the color of your urine. If it is dark yellow you need to drink more. If it is clear or light yellow you are doing ok. Not too complicated!
3. You should poop at least once per day
This is one area where a lot of people struggle. If you don’t have a solid bowel movement at least once per day (2-3 times/day is ok too), then you are not detoxing like you should. You may come across many websites that say it is normal to have a bowel movement only 2- 3 times per week, but I strongly disagree with that (unless you are barely eating). It may be common, but that doesn’t mean it is optimal for good health. When you get “backed up”, some waste products will end up being reabsorbed in to the body. This can cause the skin to break out, irritability, and bloating. To help get things moving again, eliminate ALL gluten from the diet, get fiber from greens, cruciferous vegetables, quinoa, and fruits (dates, figs, avocados), drink enough water, and get probiotics from fermented foods or from supplementation.
4. Sweat on a regular basis
When it comes to eliminating toxins, sweating is the path of least resistance in some regards, as it is easier for your body to eliminate certain toxins like mercury, PCB’s and dioxin. Again, if you do your own research on this subject, I’m sure you’ll come across other websites that say you can’t eliminate toxins via sweat, but just search for “sauna” on www.pubmed.gov and you will find plenty of studies backing up the benefits of sweating. Sweating in any form is good, whether it is a result of exercise, sauna (conventional or infrared) or steam room. Of course if you exercise outside on a warm sunny day, you can get the benefits exercise, sweating, and Vitamin D all at once!
Start implementing forming these habits and you’ll be surprised at how much your quality of life will improve!