To Detox or to not detox…that is the question.
Here we are, not only a new year, but a new decade! New Year’s goals and resolutions have begun and for many that includes the urge to cleanse or detox. It is the big question…To Detox or not to Detox? With several emails asking how and whether or not to go on a cleanse, I hope to spare you from many of the trendy detoxes that promise dramatic results. Diets that claim to clear your body of all those holiday treats, release toxins and at the same time, shed a few pounds. In my years as a nutritionist, I’ve seen many fads in health and wellness. So many diet trends, cleanses and detox programs that I even have a hard time keeping up with them all.
Let’s start at the begining…
Detoxification is a series of processes occurring DAILY in our bodies. It’s Mother Nature’s way! The liver, intestines, kidneys, skin, sweat glands, and lymph nodes all aid the body in breaking down and eliminating impurities that result from an abundance of processed foods, environmental toxins, or that we produce naturally.
As you can already tell, I’m not a fan for drastic detoxes! I am an advocate for a year round, nutrient dense diet as opposed to stretches of deprivation and eliminating whole foods groups – they are simply impossible to maintain and not an easy thing to do without guidance. My philosophy is based on creating a strong foundation for your health with great nutrition and lifestyle habits that you can tweak and improve along the way. A quick side note here, if you are trying to deal with digestives or skin issues, inflammation, candida, arthritis etc., then eliminating the top triggers for food sensitivities might be what you need to get your health back on track.
I’m a big believer in eating with the seasons and Winter is a time for hearty, grounding and warming comfort foods. Lots of soups and stews with root vegetables on the ingredients list. Hop over here and read more about Root Vegetables and why they are so good for you at this time of year.
In addition to eating seasonally, here are my top 5 suggestions to help nudge our bodies in the cleansing direction…
- Sleep and lots of it! Sleep is fundamental for detoxification and rejuvenation. Getting into bed before 10:00 p.m. is not only essential but much easier to do at this time year with the longer, dark evenings. ‘Every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight.’ Your body naturally cleanses, repairs and restores mostly during sleep.
- Hydration! Good clean water is essential for flushing the liver and kidneys, our primary detox organs. Drinking enough water keeps your intestines smooth and flexible. It also helps keep the food you eat moving through your intestines.
- Fermented Foods! Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso and tempeh are all foods to consider adding to your diet. Fermenting brings foods to life – literally! Through the act of fermentation, millions (some reports say trillions) of beneficial – live – bacteria are formed. It’s these beneficial bacteria that support our health in so many ways. Read more about fermented foods on my blog.
- Show your liver a little love! Many foods and herbs can help your liver to cleanse. Bitter herbs like dandelion and milk thistle are top on this list. These can be found as a supplement, tea or as a prepared tonic commonly called a Liver Flush. Warm lemon water in the morning is one of those daily habits that I mentioned earlier that helps build a strong foundation for health.
- Self Care! There was a time, not so long ago, when soaking in a tub, enjoying a nourishing face mask or curling up with a cosy blanket and a good book were considered indulgences. Thankfully we now realize that self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity for our health and well-being. When it comes to detoxing and cleansing, the skin is a great place to start. One of the easiest ways we can show our skin a little love is with the centuries old practice of dry brushing. Dry brushing helps exfoliate dry winter skin and helps detoxify by increasing blood circulation and promoting lymph flow and drainage. Wondering what dry brushing is all about? Read an article by the Wellness Mama here.
We’ve just come through the season of indulgence, a time when we are eating more salt and sugar, maybe more alcohol and probably moving our bodies less. But if we adopt the 80/20 concept of living life and don’t believe that health comes with an all or nothing mentality, then a little indulgence over the holiday season is ok. Good food is more than nourishment…it is social, cultural and definitely something to be enjoyed!