Detoxification is one of the greatest nutritional strategies that we can practice. That’s because we live in a world where we are exposed to so many poisons, many of which find their way into our body, where they can do profound damage. Detoxification is a surefire way to protect ourselves and help the body clean itself out so we can regenerate and heal. The good news is, detoxification doesn’t have to be a brutal process of drinking bitter tonics or starving yourself. Here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating we teach that there are plenty of simple ways to detoxify every day, and they’re practices that work with body and mind to create an integrated and supportive experience.
Here are four easy ways to detoxify on a daily basis:
Drink Water Throughout the Day
Our bodies are roughly 65% water, just like the planet we live on. We often focus on food when we think of matters of nutritional health, but water is the best way to stay hydrated for our bodies to work optimally, and for us to detoxify properly. Drinking water helps clear out the toxins that are produced by stress, that we ingest from processed and conventionally grown foods, and that we breath in through the air.
Water is needed for our blood to maintain proper pH balance. It’s needed for the right hydrochloric acid levels for our stomachs to digest our food properly. It’s needed to lubricate joints and tissues. It filters through our kidneys and intestines to eliminate waste while maintaining proper electrolyte and mineral balance.
When there isn’t enough water in the system, it’s like a hose with the water barely turned on. Nothing moves through properly. The system isn’t vital or vibrant. It’s more like a droopy plant.
Keep in mind that when we are thirsty, we are already dehydrated, and when this happens, we can confuse thirst for hunger. As the fields of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition teach us, it’s especially important to pay attention to and understand the messages we receive from our body. Making sure you drink enough water throughout the day can give you clarity on what your body needs – water, food or emotional attention. So drink up. You can add a lemon, lime or cucumber in your water for even more detoxifying power.
Play with Temperature
Working up a sweat is another great way to detoxify on a regular or semi-regular basis. Our skin is a detoxifying system meant to clear toxins through sweat and cool us down when we overheat. A steam shower or sauna is a great way to induce cleansing without having to work too hard physically. And it also boosts our mood and clears our complexion.
Switching between hot and cold temperatures, such as in a shower, is good for immunity if you’re relatively healthy. The sudden change in temperature helps stimulate the immune system by recruiting lymphocytes to eliminate bacteria, and mobilizing viruses and monocytes to decompose waste. The sudden change in temperature also strengthens our capillaries – tiny blood vessels that do a big job when it comes to blood circulation, tissue oxygenation and detox.
Dry Skin Brush
Our skin is actually the largest organ in the body and has a great deal of responsibility to help us detoxify, especially if our digestive system is taxed. Our pores can get clogged, even with regular showering or bathing. Skin brushing is an old tradition to maintain skin health.
Skin brushing is done with a firm-bristled brush in a motion toward the heart, on dry skin, usually first thing in the morning because it’s stimulating. It invigorates and tonifies the skin while sloughing off the dead skin cells. Skin tends to feel more alive after this practice. When the skin is brushed, it can do a more effective job with toxin elimination because the pores are open and clear from obstructions. This also helps skin receive moisture and stay hydrated, radiant, and supple.
Detoxifying Herbs Before Bed
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, our bodies have times of day and night that are dominated by particular organs at peak function. The gall bladder, liver, and lungs, some of the major players in detoxification, are at prime function while we are sleeping. Taking detoxifying herbs before bed can help catalyze detoxifying organ effectiveness during their peak hours.
Some suggestions include milk thistle, aloe vera, and turmeric. Milk thistle and turmeric are antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that support liver and gallbladder function. Often, inflammation in the intestines can jam our elimination process, keeping toxins in our bodies. When the inflammation is cleared, it allows our bodies to eliminate what doesn’t belong.
Aloe vera is much more than a skin salve. It can be ingested in juice or powder form as an anti-inflammatory that aids in digestion as well.
Here at the Institute, we understand that the synergy between nutrition and psychology is what so often works best when it comes to daily detoxification. So not only do we need to do detox practices that are based in diet and lifestyle, but we also need to do a regular inventory of our internal world – our mind, our thoughts, and our emotions – to see what toxic thoughts and feelings we may need to let go of. With this integrated approach, our detox efforts can be far more powerful.
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