Food is medicine. What we eat can either contribute to or prevent chronic illnesses and/or other diseases. The holiday festivities are over and we are probably planning our goals for this year. One of the most popular resolutions are always about losing weight, getting back into shape, or just overall better health. An effective way to start is to do a detox. Our bodies have their own natural detoxification system, but we still need to provide support to help all systems work properly.
The first step in a successful detox is to avoid or, if possible, eliminate alcohol, caffeine, sugars (including refined sugars), cigarettes, and to reduce stress. Each item may seem minuscule in our busy lives, but by not addressing each one, we hinder our detoxification and healing process. Stress itself can cause digestive issues such as indigestion, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
To help keep our energy flowing, we will need to increase our water intake. If we are being honest with ourselves, most of us did not drink much water when we indulged in holiday treats. Water is essential and makes up about 70% of our bodies. It regulates your body temperature, lubricates joints, aids digestion and nutrient absorption, and detoxifies your body by removing waste products. Think of water like a garbage truck. The garbage truck comes around to pick up any unwanted substances and takes it to the proper dumping location. In general, we should drink water to the extent that our lips and mouth are not dry and we are urinating several times a day. The exact amount will vary depending on the amount of fruits and vegetables and hydrating foods that you eat.
If drinking water is a struggle for you, try these teas:
- Herbal teas such as alfalfa, burdock, chamomile (except if you are allergic to ragweed or are taking warfarin or cyclosporine), dandelion, milk thistle, red clover, or rosehips help to rejuvenate the liver and cleanse the bloodstream.
- Echinacea tea (except if you are allergic to ragweed) should not be taken daily for longer than three months.
- Peppermint tea helps to calm and strengthen nerves, and resist indigestion and nausea.
- Slippery elm tea serves to reduce inflammation.
- Garlic & ginger tea are great antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and enhance the immune system.
The next step to detoxify is to take a look at the food we eat. We have all been taught to eat our fruits and vegetables. This is a good idea! Do that! Here are some other foods that you can add to your daily diet:
- Chlorella or Spirulina contain high levels of chlorophyll. These high levels help cleanse our body and blood from impurities. More importantly, chlorella or spirulina are also chelating; meaning they will bind to metals in our body and carry them out as waste. Chlorella and spirulina are also anti-inflammatory and strengthen our immune system.
- Turmeric is mostly known for making “golden milk” or the spice used in Indian cuisine. Turmeric contains a phytochemical called curcumin, which is a power antioxidant and is also anti-inflammatory. Because of the curcumin property, turmeric helps our liver cleanse and rejuvenate cells. Our liver is important in helping us digest and absorb the fats we eat. Turmeric is best eaten or drank with a healthy fat and a spice like black pepper.
- Ginger & garlic, very similar to turmeric, also contain curcumin but are not as potent. Ginger also stimulates digestion, circulation, and sweat, which are three main ways our bodies detoxify. Ginger not only reinforces our liver but also our colon and gut health. Ginger and garlic may be spicy for some and the best way to tell how much we should eat or drink is to be mindful of your tastebuds. Your body will tell you if you have had too much. If it burns going in, it may burn coming out as well.
- Dark leafy greens are full of fiber, beneficial for our bowels and slows digestion. The insoluble fiber will sweep up unwanted substances from our digestive tract and assist them out of our body, while maintaining blood sugar levels from the foods we eat. Some excellent options for boosting our natural detoxification are spinach, kale, moringa, alfalfa, cilantro, and parsley.
- Beets are exceptional for liver support and cleansing our blood cells with their phytonutrient pectin. Beets are also high in antioxidants, iron, and folate.
- Probiotics and prebiotics work synergistically to make sure our gut health is functioning correctly. Some great sources of probiotics are sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, tempeh, natto, miso and pickled vegetables. Probiotics will be productive when prebiotics are in our diets as well, such as jicama, onions, garlic, chicory root, artichokes, asparagus, and leafy greens (e.g. spinach and dandelion greens).
It’s almost effortless to get caught up with the holiday festivities but challenging to start the new year with healthier goals. Drinking more water and adding the foods above will help naturally clear the unwanted toxins, supporting our body repair and self – replenishment for a healthier you. Here is to a new you- happy detoxing!