A plan for all seasons | Health

Time for a detox

The term ‘detox’ is bandied about as a fashionable health fad by some, and as a pointless form of starvation by others, but both of these actually miss the point. According to the ‘Free Dictionary’ online, detoxification is “the metabolic process by which the toxic qualities of a poison or toxin are reduced by the body”. It is an ongoing, natural physiological process, and periods of intensive ‘detox’ have been around since the beginning of time for both health and spiritual reasons.

What are toxins?

Endotoxins are produced through normal bodily processes such as breathing, digestion and emotions. We ingest exotoxins from the air that we breathe, what we eat and what is absorbed through our skin. Unless you live on a mountain top surviving off pure water and sitting still all day long whispering, your body’s going to have more toxins in it than it manages to get out. This means that your body, especially your liver, is overworked, busy neutralising and removing these toxins so that you can stay alive. Efficient detoxification and elimination is the basis of all health. 

Your body needs a spring clean too

It’s all about the environment: imagine fish in dirty tank water – are they going to thrive? No. They’re going to die. You need to keep the water clean. Sure, you can go out and buy another fish, but we only have this body. You need to keep the internal environment clean so that your cells can thrive and work optimally. Your cells cannot repair and grow at the same time. If they are constantly trying to keep up with regular maintenance, they won’t have time for repair and rejuvenation. Detoxing allows your body to get rid of excess waste, creating space for growth. The opposite is accelerated ageing, sickness and, yes, even fat as that is where toxins are stored long-term. The more toxins, the more fat is created. Waste is also stored in your bowel, so considering that 80 percent of our immunity and 90 percent of our serotonin production takes place in our gut, you can see why you don’t want it to be clogged up with layer upon layer of waste.

How to tell if you need to detox

Your skin might be acting up with spots, eczema or psoriasis. You might be craving sweets, experiencing hormonal imbalances or headaches. You might have low energy, digestive issues such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea or constipation, a stuffy nose, allergies, arthritis or a fuzzy brain. Or you’re angry, irritable or have difficulty losing weight. Any of these, and there’s a good chance that your liver is struggling and toxins are stuck in your body instead of being eliminated efficiently. Detoxing will give you more energy, an increased clarity of mind, clearer skin, brighter eyes, and an increased physical and emotional lightness. It will leave you revitalised, recharged and creating the space and awareness needed for you to be able to choose healthier habits.

Types of detox

Most detoxes last from one to 30 days. If you’re short on time, do not underestimate the power of short periods of detoxification − real detoxification is achieved after 72 hours as the entire cell lining of your gut is renewed in that time.

There are detoxes to match all shapes and sizes: liquid fasts, ‘mono meals’ where you eat just one type of food for a few days, and raw food-based cleanses being the most popular ones. Taking part in a professionally guided detox is a great way to get started and learn about the ins and outs of detox and how your body works.

Simple every day detox tools

Although periods of focused detoxification are useful, there are many things that you can do on a daily basis as part of a ‘detox lifestyle’ to help your body clear out the gunk:

  •  sleep − eight hours 

  •  exercise − sweat it out

  •  get some fresh air

  •  dry skin brush 

  •  use natural skin products, cleaning products etc

  •  reduce environmental pollutants (ditch the plastic − use wood, glass, ceramic instead; use stainless steel pots instead of teflon)

  •  manage negative emotions

  •  drink 2+ litres of water (start your day off with lemon squeezed in hot water to get your liver going)

  •  eat real food (avoid processed, pre-packaged food)

  •  eat organic

  •  eat fibre (oats, lentils, fruit with their skins)

Don’t think detox is for you? Give it a go and see. You’ve got nothing to lose other than about 4.5-11kg of impacted fecal matter in your colon and perhaps a symptom or two …

Caroline Cain is a half-English, half-French naturopathic nutritionist and reflexologist who believes that lasting health, radiance and energy is achievable through a practical, relaxed approach to clean, green, healthy eating and living and a generous dash of radical self-care. She also speaks Danish and Spanish. Find out more at www.carolinecain.dk.

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