Looking for a Healthy Cleanse? Look at the Big Picture!
I am an advocate of short-term cleanses and fasts, when appropriate. They can give the body a much-needed break and help get you out of any bad habits.
But the truth is that you need to detox every day to filter the stress hormones, inflammation, infection, chemicals and pollutants that you deal with constantly.
So when you think about detox, I encourage you to think about the big picture, not only the quick fixes.
That means reducing the toxins you are exposed to and supporting the body systems that do the detoxing.
Let’s look at the overviews of detox, and please note areas that you may need to make some changes to be a better daily detoxer.
1. Detox Your Home
What is the best way to cleanse your body? First, you need to consider the potentially toxic environment your body lives in: your home. We spend the majority of our time in the home, and especially the bedroom.
If you detox your body but then sleep on a synthetic mattress that’s off-gassing chemicals, it doesn’t do much good, right?
Take a tour of your home tonight. Here are some things to look for in your own home. I can’t cover all these areas in detail in a short article, but I’ve linked to additional resources.
Please don’t get overwhelmed! Just focus on an area or two that you can afford to explore right now.
Plastic Utensils, Plastic Wrap and Plastic Food Storage Containers
Alternatives: wood, steel, glass, bamboo, beeswax wraps
Synthetic Air Fresheners and Fragranced Detergents
Alternatives: Use essential oils for scents or unscented products.
Why: Artificial fragrance is a cocktail of chemicals that can induce weight gain.
Alternatives: Filter your water through a carbon filter, reverse osmosis or other means.
Why: Tap water can contain heavy metals and residues of multiple drugs and pesticides.
Poor Indoor Air Quality
Alternatives: Clean your air ducts, upgrade your home filter and consider a room filter.
Why: Did you know that EPA reports that indoor air quality can be 2- 1,000 times worse than outdoor air? (3) Modern homes tend to be sealed up tight, and inside are lots of objects and materials that are off-gassing. You also could be facing toxic mold in your home if you have unaddressed leaks.
Toxic Furniture and Building Materials
Alternatives: Look for solid wood items with a natural finish, and consider tile or cork over linoleum.
Why: Our furniture, cabinetry, drapes, paints, floors and more can off-gas multiple chemicals, and sometimes for the life of the item… like 20 years! Avoid getting caught up in the excitement of decorating and slow down and think about the materials and ingredients in each item.
2. Detox Your Beauty Routine
According to the Environmental Working Group, “the average woman uses 12 products containing 168 unique ingredients every day. Men...use 6 products daily with 85 unique ingredients, on average.” (4) Personally, I’m going for zero toxic ingredients in my beauty routine!
Most women are dealing with hormonal imbalance and want to balance hormones naturally. Switching out beauty products can be an area of resistance because you’ve become attached to certain beauty brands.
I can assure you that nowadays there is a replacement for everything that works just as well. Sure, it can take some experimentation to find your new favorite brands, but I think it’s worth it to skip out on possible carcinogens, lung irritants, and hormone disruptors.
Perfumes for essential oil blends (this is my favorite)
Shampoos and body washes with sodium lauryl sulfate to “SLS” free (5)
Aluminum-based deodorant for zinc-based (this one is super effective!)
Little by little, you can create a low-tox beauty routine that leaves you looking and smelling great. A little extra help: if you used aluminum deodorant for many years, you can get stinky in the transition. Try this pit mask. It gets great reviews!
3. Support Detox Pathways
Ok, now we’re ready to talk about getting toxins out of your body. There are a few routes through which toxins can exit your body: breath, urine, sweat and bowel movements.
In order to detox well, all these pathways must be moving and working. If any are backed up, you will get uncomfortable and potentially dangerous symptoms if you use strong detox techniques.
How to move your detox pathways:
Whenever we move, we also move lymph, breathe and massage the bowels. So take a walk after dinner, do a little yoga upon waking, and make it to that dance class.
You breathe all the time, but how deeply? It’s a simple and great idea to do some conscious deep breathing each day. You can do something as easy as a 5 count inhale and 7 count exhale. Or you can do a technique like breathe of fire for a truly detoxifying breathe experience!
Dry Brush and Trampoline
I’m a big fan of these gentle, quick ways to move lymph and blood. Here’s my blog to learn more about it.
I am a sauna lover. When I was sickest with mold toxicity, it was a saving grace for me. If you’re looking for the best way to sweat out toxins, sauna use lowers stress, repairs damaged cells and detoxes chemicals, mold and more.
You don’t need to run out and buy a sauna if you’re not ready for that step. Many health clubs have them available at an affordable price point. If you can’t stay long, that’s ok. Listen to your body and don’t overdo it.
Stimulate the Vagus Nerve
So many people have constipation these days. To be clear, that’s defined as a bowel movement that comes less frequently than every 24 hours. And ideally, we are having 2-3 bowel movements in 24 hours.
You can stimulate the vagus nerve, that in turn stimulates elimination through cold showers, singing, yoga, gargling, laughing and more. (6)
4. Support Your Liver
When you think of detox, you likely think of the liver. It’s true; the liver is an important player in this detox game. Here are a few things to consider to support your liver:
Reduce the Load
Besides cleaning up your home and beauty routine, reduce the chemicals coming in through your mouth! Eat organic as much as possible. Realize that animal products are the most concentrated in pesticides, so these are most important to be organic, wild or grass-finished.
For a liver cleanse diet, avoid processed foods with artificial colorings, flavor enhancers and bastardized fats like canola oil and hydrogenated oil. (Sorry, I couldn’t think of a better adjective there!) These things are all foreign in your body and require extra detox effort.
Give it Nutrients
Your liver has two phases of detox, appropriately named phase 1 and phase 2! Each phase requires a certain mix of nutrients. In phase 1, your body is extracting toxins. For this phase, your liver requires B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate, glutathione and flavonoids.
In phase 2, it’s attaching these dangerous toxins to a carrier so that they can safely leave the body. This phase requires methionine, cysteine, magnesium, glutathione, vitamins B5 and B12, vitamin C, glycine, taurine, glutamine, folate, and choline.
Dr. Terry Wahls has a fascinating story of how she recovered from an advanced stage of MS. She had already added supplements and moved to a paleo diet, and made some progress. But when she added a high quantity of nutrient-dense vegetables, her progress skyrocketed.
Looking for what foods cleanse your liver? I make sure my clients get plenty of vegetables (including leafy, colorful and cruciferous) for foods high in antioxidants. I also recommend a daily multivitamin with methylated B vitamins like our ONE multivitamin.
Some of my favorite oils for detox and antioxidant protection are rosemary essential oil, grapefruit essential oil, and juniper essential oil. Or try Zendocrine, a pre-blended detox oil by doTERRA.
5. Improve Digestion
A weak point for most modern Americans is digestion. We eat on the run, get bloating and heartburn, and bounce from constipation to diarrhea. These are not good signs!
Gut health is important for detoxification because it’s one pathway for toxin removal. We absorb and create nutrients there, and untreated gut infections can be an extra source of toxicity.
I group my approach to digestion into two camps: upper and lower.
My ‘upper’ approach to digestion is to improve digestive activity. This includes: chewing your food, cooking your own food more often, eating in a relaxed environment, and taking digestive bitters or digestive enzymes.
This helps ensure that your food will be broken down properly and reduce the odds of parasites and other bugs surviving the stomach.
My ‘lower’ approach involves killing bugs with herbal preparations, adding fermented foods and prebiotic fibers, taking probiotics, and eating foods that soothe and move the bowels.
The topic of detox may seem daunting, but once you get the big picture of detox you can tend to areas that need work, like tending to a garden. I encourage you to enjoy learning about detoxing, little by little. Just implement what you can now, and file away ideas for later.
Are you ready for an easy way to jumpstart your detox?
Add in my simple 5-minute routine in the morning to have more energy for the day!
Grab our Five-Day DIY Detox Guide and get some spring back in your step, naturally.
Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is trained in functional health coaching and has worked with thousands of women over her career since 2004. She is the founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative llc and HormoneDetoxShop.com.