It is easy to feel overwhelmed and that your life is spinning out of control – Detox your life and let go of the things that are holding you back from optimal health.
When most people hear the word detox they think of dieting, fasting, cleansing or special water concoctions endorsed by celebrities. And while these approaches may help eliminate some toxins from the body, they tend to be a temporary fix.
True detoxification is a natural process conducted mostly by the liver. It transforms toxic substances into compounds that our kidneys can remove from the body. Sounds simple enough.
Unfortunately, our liver has a lot of work to do and most of us don’t make its job any easier. Environmental toxins are all around us. They’re in our air, soil, water, food, homes, and offices and they quickly exhaust our body’s ability to detoxify. Once we have a weakened detoxifying system, chronic conditions including heart disease, obesity, cancer and autoimmune diseases can develop.
There are around 80,000 toxic chemicals registered for use in the United States and very few of these have been tested for their long-term impact on human health. According to the nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average newborn baby has almost 300 known toxins in his or her umbilical cord blood. Just imagine how many toxins that same baby will be exposed to over the course of their lifetime.
But all hope is not lost. With a few simple changes, you can start to greatly reduce the amount of toxins you and your family are exposed to.
1. Detox Your Air
When people think of air pollution they mostly think of all the pollution outside. Fumes from cars and factories, pesticides sprayed on crops, particulate matter, the list goes on and on. But it may surprise you to learn that the air inside your home or workplace can be filled with as many or more toxins and pollution that the air outside. Yikes!
So, what’s a girl to do? Not breathe? Well, that’s probably not the best option but there is a better solution that will not only help clean the air but also make your home prettier too. Houseplants to the rescue.
If that answer surprised you, you’re not alone. I always thought house plants were too much work for the same visual benefit that could be achieved with some high-quality fake ones. I can barely remember to feed the dog, let alone water a plant that doesn’t even have the decency to pull its dish around the kitchen when it’s hungry.
But once I learned about the amazing air-cleaning qualities of some house plants, not to mention the oxygen producing skills of all houseplants, I decided to give it a try. A year later I’m pleased to report that I’ve only killed one plant out of the dozen or so that I have all over my house. The rest are doing great and not only do they clean several key pollutants associated with indoor air, they bring the beauty of nature inside, and that just makes me happy.
So maybe you’re not ready to buy a pallet of house plants from your local home improvement store just yet. That’s okay because even a single potted plant can help clean up the air in roughly 100 square feet of space. Put it in a beautiful, brightly colored pot and it will lift up your spirits as well as your oxygen levels. It’s a win/win!
Wondering which plants clean air the best? Check out this list from NASA at http://en.wikipedia.org/
2. Eat Detoxing Foods
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts have sulfur-containing compounds, which are believed to increase the body’s production of detox enzymes. Studies show that cruciferous veggies also contain cancer-fighting compounds and can reduce inflammation, enhance heart health, regulate blood sugar, promote weight loss and even prevent premature aging.
What’s not to love about that?
Other detoxifying foods you can incorporate into your diet are:
- Black raspberries
- Swiss chard
- Collard greens
- Bok choy
- Mustard Greens
- Farm-fresh eggs
- Fish oil
Another great way to detoxify, as well as make your food taste better, is to add herbs and spices to your diet. This simple and effective way to add flavor to your meals also raises your body’s detoxification defenses. Allicin (found in garlic, onion, shallots, leeks ), apigenin (found in parsley, cilantro, peppermint), and carnosol (found in rosemary, sage) are all compounds that increase the production of detoxification enzymes.
And it goes without saying that the less processed, sugar-laden and fast foods you eat, the better. The Standard American Diet has taken a terrible toll on our health and adds toxins and synthetic chemicals to our bodies that our detox organs have a hard time eliminating. Eat real food, organic when possible, and avoid anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce.
3. The Detoxing Power of Water
One of the easiest ways to help your body detox is something that you do naturally every day–drink water. Sounds simple, right? Except most people don’t get nearly the amount of water they need because water is so easily replaced with other beverages that we think taste better. While water is the only liquid our bodies actually need to live, we often substitute it with less healthy alternatives like juice, soda, milk, coffee or alcohol. But here’s why drinking more water every day is a powerful detox.
Your liver is an amazing organ that changes toxins into water-soluble chemicals, and by doing so it helps your body dispel the junk naturally. But if you aren’t hydrated enough throughout the day, your body can’t do its job of filtering and excreting toxins in your urine.
Water not only quenches your thirst, it also carries nutrients to our cells, aids digestion by forming stomach secretions, flushes our bodies of wastes, and keeps our kidneys healthy. It regulates our body temperature and our metabolism keeps our moisture-rich organs like skin, eyes, mouth, and nose functioning properly, and lubricates and cushions our joints just to name a few of its many functions.
Many doctors believe that proper hydration can improve conditions such as diabetes, hypoglycemia, arthritis, kidney stones, obesity, constipation, dry skin, wrinkles, cataracts, and glaucoma as well as slow the signs of aging. Did someone say slow the signs of aging? Excuse me while I go fill up my water bottle. 🙂
For most healthy adults the recommendation is to drink 8-10 8-oz. glasses of water a day, and like all good habits, drinking the proper amount of water gets easier the more you do it.
4. Detox With Exercise
No matter how much conflicting information is out there about how to get healthy, no one can argue that exercise has to be a significant part of the process. But can regular exercise also help to lower toxic load?
Your most important organs for detoxification are the lungs, liver, intestines, and kidneys, and most toxins are excreted in your feces and urine. But recent studies show that sweat can contain higher levels of toxic metals, phthalates, BPA and PCBs than urine. This means that sweating is your body’s preferred way of getting rid of these toxins. And the best way to get your sweat on? Exercise, of course.
Regular exercise helps your body to sweat and release toxins naturally while keeping your lungs in top condition to filter out debris and toxins. In addition, toxic chemicals are actually stored in subcutaneous fatty tissue, and one of the most effective ways to break down those fat cells and flush the chemicals out is through regular exercise. And finally, getting your body working and in top condition helps your systems to better function at optimum levels overall.
Exercise is essential to living a green and healthy lifestyle. There are endless forms of exercise and all have benefits, so find an activity you enjoy and that fits your personal needs and fitness level. It’s okay to start out with just a walk around your neighborhood as long as you take that walk every day. And if you have a dog, take him with you. Domestic animals, especially ones with sedentary lifestyles, are often overweight and have high levels of toxic load too. (I’m looking at you, Nico!)
5. Detox With Better Sleep
We all know that sleep plays an essential role in our physical and mental health. While you may think of sleep as a time of rest, your body is actually hard at work healing and repairing itself. As you drift off to dreamland your body begins the ever-important work of the night-shift including:
- Healing damaged cells
- Boosting your immune system
- Recovering from the day’s activities
- Repairing and recharging your heart and cardiovascular system
- Forming new neural pathways to help you learn and remember information
Sleep is such an essential component of good health that chronic lack of sleep can cause everything from weight gain to heart disease to mental illness. And while we all know the value of sleeping well, in our busy society many of us are not getting the quality sleep needed to be truly healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Making sleep a priority is one of the most important changes we can make in helping our body feel and perform it’s best.
So how do you get a better night’s sleep? Here are a few science-backed ideas:
- Always got to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends.
- Turn off all screens at least one hour before bed.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual like meditation or listening to soft music.
- Invest in a high-quality mattress and pillow.
- Keep your room completely dark and noise-free. Use an eye mask and earplugs if necessary.
- Get daily exercise.
Inadequate sleep can cause a lot of damage to your body. Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night can be very hard and take a surprising amount of effort but the benefits to your body make it well worth it.
6. Detox Your Cleaning Cabinet
Many years ago I started reading the labels on the back of my store-bought cleaning products and I was horrified. It’s shocking the number of synthetic and toxic chemicals we spray all over our house under the guise of cleaning. Especially shocking because those toxic chemicals are so much more harmful to our bodies than the germs we’re trying to kill ever were. Synthetic cleaning chemicals produce a byproduct called dioxin which is an endocrine disruptor, immune modulator, and carcinogen. No thanks!
Once I decided that caustic cleaners that envelop everything in a cloud of toxic fumes should have no place in my home, I knew it was time for a complete cleaning cabinet makeover. I started by switching from conventional cleaning products to greener ones. There are a lot of earth-friendly green cleaners available on the market now that greatly reduce the levels of toxic chemicals in your home. But even a lot of the “green” cleaners still have questionable ingredients, and so I finally took the plunge and switched to homemade.
It really only takes a handful of ingredients to make your own cleaners and most of them you probably already have at home. Try replacing bleach with vinegar, bathroom tile “scrubbing foams” with baking soda and use hydrogen peroxide to remove stains. Switch to vegetable-based liquid soaps for dishes and general cleaning. Also, essential oils are great for disinfecting and making every room in your house smell like a spa.
You will be thrilled at the amazing jobs these natural products do in cleaning your whole house and feel good knowing that you’ve eliminated one of the biggest toxic culprits from your home. Here’s my favorite homemade cleaner to get you started:
1 c. water
1/2 c. 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
1/2 c. distilled white vinegar
1 tsp. pure vegetable glycerin
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops white fir essential oil
10 drops melaleuca essential oil
7. Detox Your Mind & Spirit
Regularly detoxing your mind and spirit might be the most important type of detox you can do, and yet it’s one most people never think about. But you should, because the most prominent source of toxins for your body, mind, and spirit come from one source–stress.
Stress is a toxin on our system that we shouldn’t ignore. Our body cannot tell the difference between emotional stress and physical stress. It reacts similarly to both by producing generous amounts of cortisol which is the fight-or-flight hormone. Normal levels of occasional stress in our bodies produce cortisol levels that can easily be handled by our systems. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have normal levels of stress and it’s definitely not occurring occasionally.
Long-term stress creates an overabundance of cortisol that wreaks havoc on our bodies, throwing off internal systems that regulate everything from digestion to reproduction. When the body experiences stress over many months and years, it can lead to undesirable chronic diseases and symptoms like high blood pressure, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, IBS, sleep issues, and increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.
But how to control the stress in our lives is always the tricky question. It’s essential that you find a way to relax and unwind that you enjoy and will do often, even daily if possible. Whether it involves yoga, meditation or deep breathing, spending time in nature or a fun hobby, find something that works and do it every day. It might be the most important detox you’ll ever do.
Follow Leah on Instagram @fabulousfarmgirl