Leave the colonics and juice fasts to the celebs, and try these far less extreme and more effective ways to cleanse your body.
Instead of juice fasts many celebrities do, which slow your body down and put your body in a stressful situation, what you really want is to give your body a vacation from stress pileup. “Most of us don’t treat our bodies very well. We’re just go-go-go,” says Dr. Erika Schwartz, a specialist in menopause and hormones.
The new detox “light” is about giving our body a deep dose of the nutritional and physical relief it craves.
Here’s a step-by-step guide.
Cleanse the Liver
Our bodies carry a load of petrochemical and industrial toxins that we absorb from the environment, such as allergens from food, plants and mold, and internal toxins like bacteria, fungus and yeast, says Dr. Mark Hyman, a medical consultant and author of Ultrametabolism. “Our livers have a very effective system for removing garbage from the body, so what you want to do is help the liver along,” he says. The simplest way to do this: a diet of wholesome, unprocessed foods.
One way is to temporarily bid goodbye to sugar, wheat gluten, milk products and meat. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits, which provide the antioxidants and other nutrients the liver needs to clear toxins from the body. Simplify your diet to cooked vegetables and rice as much as possible and eat only the healthiest, most easily digested foods.
Cut out Stimulants
If skipping your morning cup of coffee is going to give you a blinding headache, then taper off gradually. But it’s a good idea to cut down on caffeine, alcohol and nicotine as much as possible, says Dr. Jay Sloop, a physician who practices detox himself. “Too much caffeine or alcohol can actually cause harm to memory and sleep patterns,” says Sloop. “Eliminating them from the system goes a long way in helping your body function effectively and resume a normal sleep-wake cycle without artificial highs and lows.”
Eight to 10 glasses of water or other fluids a day during your detox is key to the “flushing” effects of this process. Focus on drinking water at the beginning of the day and between meals rather than with them. “When it comes to flushing out toxins, the least effective time to drink water is when the stomach is already full,” says Sloop. If you’re bored with water, you can add lemon or ginger, or dilute fruit juice with water to avoid the high-sugar content of juice alone. Vegetable juice (as long as it’s low-sodium) is always beneficial, and green tea is useful for weaning yourself off coffee while adding antioxidants.
“If following a detoxification regimen stops you from eating junk and cleanses your system, it's good even if you only do it for 24 hours,” says Schwartz. The optimal period for a detox, experts say, is three to seven days.
When our minds and bodies are stressed, there’s a direct physiological impact on our bodies that causes us to experience symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, pain, insomnia and bloating. Taw suggests complementing physical detoxification with relaxation exercises like deep breathing, yoga and meditation so your mind feels as clear and clean as your body.