This seasonal transition, as everything is coming back to life (so are you, hopefully, after this winter!) is the best time of year to give yourself a little extra support on the detox and cleansing front.
Here's the thing: Your body is toxic. We all are. The beauty is that we have several organs and systems in the body to handle these toxins and waste, but given how we live (too much sugar, not enough rest, too much stress, not enough movement, you get the idea), giving the body an extra boost during this time of year is fantastic.
In this post, I share the 10 things you can get going with TODAY without spending hundreds on a juice cleanse or starving yourself. IN FACT, I find that going more gentle when it comes to cleansing has much more lasting impact.
1. Start every day with lemon water.
This simple act is such a major game-changer for so many clients (and myself). First thing in the morning, squeeze about 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice (as in from a lemon, not a bottle) into about 8-10 oz of warm filtered water. I warm water up in my electric kettle, add the lemon and then a bit of room temp filtered water to get it the right temperature.
2. Drink plenty of filtered water all day long, but not too much.
A key part of detoxing and cleansing the body is getting things moving. Drinking filtered water throughout the day will support this. I recommend drinking approximately half of your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 150 lbs, drink 75 oz of water. And this is just water (you can add a cucumber or lemon wedge if you like). An acupuncturist once told me "the body only sees water as water" and I thought that was really interesting. Feel free to also have herbal tea, broth, kombucha, whatever you like- but make sure to drink good ol' water as well. If your urine is clear, back off a bit. Urine should be a pale yellow... not a dark yellow or clear.
3. Get yourself a detox tea to sip as well.
While we're on the topic of fluids, you can also buy a detox tea. Yogi Detox Tea and Traditional Medicinals Everyday Detox are two of my favorites and available in all health food stores or Whole Foods. Note: Both of these should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
4. Dry brush your skin.
I love this one! Get yourself a body brush and brush your skin before you shower. Dry skin brushing activates your lymphatic system, which is a key player in detoxification. When your lymph is not moving, your body will hold onto toxins more. Other benefits include: getting your circulation going (a great way to start the day), exfoliating, reducing bloating by massaging lymph nodes and getting rid of extra fluid, softening skin, reducing cellulite (so they say!), and is both relaxing and invigorating at the same time. How to: Start near your hands and with circular motions work your way up to your chest on both arms. Then start at your feet and work your way up to your hips. Dry brush your abdomen following the direction of your colon (up on the right, across and down on the left). Brush your back where you can reach it. Get into your groin and arm pits as well (where we have a lot of lymph nodes) and finally move towards your heart. Time saving tip: drink your lemon water while you dry brush!
5. Contrast hydrotherapy in the shower.
If you've started your day with lemon water and dry brushing, this is the non-toxic icing on your gluten-free anti-inflammatory cake. Take a shower as you normally do. When you're ready to get out, turn the water as cold as you can stand it for 15 seconds, then turn it hot again for 15 seconds, cold again, hot again and end on cold. You'll switch off three times. A double espresso has nothing on contrast hydrotherapy! You'll feel alive and invigorated. Doing this gets things flowing and moving, which is what detox is all about.
6. Nix the inflammatory foods.
Refined sugar, refined flour products (including gluten-free), gluten, alcohol, and caffeine (organic green tea is okay) are out. Need I say more? For 2 full weeks, stay away from these foods. Learn how your body feels without these and if you feel like introducing them, please do so mindfully. This might also be a good time to experiment without other commonly allergenic foods like eggs, soy, and dairy. Oh and, you know, eat more greens too.
7. Get plenty of sleep and rest.
While your body is working through this cleansing process, rest and a good night's sleep are essential. Here are a few sleeping tips from my winter sleep guide, but they apply here as well. This is NOT the time to book up your social calendar and be out every night.
8. Take epsom salts baths.
Epsom is a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. These minerals have very powerful health benefits that can enhance the detoxification capabilities of the body. Magnesium and sulfate are both readily absorbed through the skin and into the body's blood stream. Using a powerful mineral base such as Epsom salts in a bath water creates a process called reverse osmosis. This process pulls salt and harmful toxins out of the body and allows the magnesium and sulfates to enter into the body. Magnesium is a powerhouse mineral and is involved in over 325 enzymes (helps to improve muscle and nerve function, reduces inflammation and improves blood flow and oxygenation throughout the body). In other words, you need it! Sulfates are necessary building blocks for healthy joints, skin and nervous tissue. Epsom salts replenish the body's magnesium levels and sulfates. This combination helps to flush toxins from the body and helps build key protein molecules in the brain tissue and joints. You can take an Epsom Salts bath anytime and doing these regularly is great for anyone chronic disease or chronic pain to de-inflame while improving mineral and sulfur balance in the body. I recommend getting Epsom Salts at CVS or another local drugstore or online-- it's the best price. NOTE: Avoid Epsom salts baths if you are dehydrated, pregnant (or early postpartum), have an open wound and best to consult your doctor if you have a heart condition.
9. Clean out a drawer or closet.
I find that this is a great time to clean the space around you as well. We accumulate junk in our bodies and in our space and I am a firm believer that it's quite difficult to declutter our bodies when we live in clutter. If you're not a great organizer/declutterer, consider hiring someone! Just doing a little spring cleaning in my space creates freedom and openness in a way I didn't feel previously.
10. Cleanse from your electronics.
Consider taking a break from social media, checking your smart phone every 2 minutes, perhaps giving yourself an electronics-free day... whatever works for you. People say that we are all so connected all the time with these devices and it's my belief that we are more disconnected than ever. Tune into your body, take a few deep breaths before reaching for your phone just to see what someone who you barely know posted on Instagram. Connect to yourself, your body, your health and let us know how you feel!
What other gentle and easy cleansing tips can you share? Feel free to comment below.