Spring is in the air! And this time of year, I always get a slew of questions about one particular health topic: detoxification diets, cleanses, and fasting.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I don’t sing the praises of any particular detox diet or cleanse.
It’s not that I don’t believe they work or that they may not have their place in specific situations.
The reason I don’t recommend them is because their effects are often short-lived, many of them are not proven effective, and some can even be counter-productive to promoting your long-term health. Especially if you’re already stressed out or nutritionally depleted (which many people are).
What do I recommend instead?
Taking non-drastic, daily and weekly measures to fine tune your body’s detoxification pathways through sound nutrition and lifestyle choices.
This way you keep your nourishment up, your stress levels down, and you never have to endure another three-week deprivation diet or liquid fast again.
6 ways to detox without dieting (or deprivation)
#1: Cleanse your organs daily with greens
This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about the crucial role of green foods and vegetables in detoxification.
Historically, traditional societies ate liberally of spring’s green bounty to help thin their blood, optimize digestion, and boost immunity for the season ahead.
Bitter spring greens, such as arugula, kale, spinach, dandelion, and watercress are especially beneficial to your liver, gall bladder, and digestive tract.
Asparagus is ideal for your kidneys and urinary tract.
And artichoke is great for your lymphatic system (one of the largest detoxification system in your body, more on this to come).
My favorite way to get my greens is to blend them into smoothies, eat a salad every day, and use them in soups (like this Wonder-fuelled Watercress Almond Soup you’ll love hot or chilled).
Aim for 2-3 servings a day in spring, then if you wish, cut back to 1-2 in the summer.
Your digestion, skin, and energy levels will thank you!
#2: Take a weekly Epsom salt bath
If you can’t get to the spa for a massage once a week, this is the next best thing.
Epsom salts are a powerful, inexpensive, and often overlooked detoxification tool.
Rich in naturally-occurring magnesium, a simple Epsom salt bath will reduce stress, break down lactic acid in your muscles, promote healthy heart function, stimulate lymphatic function, soothe inflammation, and help your body detoxify safely.
#3: Drink and/or cook with bone broth regularly
Juice fasting may be popular—and don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of green smoothies for detoxification—but I would argue that the best way to keep toxins from entering your body IN THE FIRST PLACE, is to protect and nourish your gut lining.
If your gut lining is weak, thin, or has tears (known as Leaky Gut Syndrome) all kinds of toxins, including undigested food particles, wind up in your blood stream.
This can lead to a host of inflammatory health issues including depression, autoimmunity, and weight-gain.
The best I know to nourish and strengthen your gut lining is to take bone broth regularly.
Bone broth contains a wealth of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, collagen, glucosamine, gelatin, AND glycine.
Glycine not only helps heal and seal your gut, but also helps your liver detoxify more efficiently. A win-win.
#4: Drink lemon water every day
Lemons contain d-limonene, which has been shown to activate liver enzymes that are part of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification processes.
In layman’s terms: think of your liver and gall bladder as sponges that soak up toxins.
Now, you know how your lips pucker when you bite into a lemon? Lemons essentially make your liver and gall bladder do the same thing, and when they pucker they squeeze out old sludge like a sponge.
Here are 3 ways to get your lemon water every day:
- Squeeze 1-3 lemons into your water bottle a sip throughout the day (preferably glass).
- Make lemon tea with a little raw honey in the morning or before bed (1 lemon + 1 teaspoon raw honey).
- Make a refreshing and healthy lemonade by combining the juice of 4 lemons with 1 quart of filtered water and add liquid stevia to taste.
#5: Dry brush your skin daily
Widely practiced in health spas across the world, dry skin brushing feels AMAZING and is a simple way to help optimize detoxification of your skin and lymphatic system.
Your lymphatic system is one of the largest systems of detoxification in your body which includes your spleen, thymus, adenoids, and tonsils.
It runs from your ankles to your neck and acts as kind of a waste disposal system, carrying out lymph fluid, toxins, and neutralizing foreign invaders using the white blood cells found within its own fluid.
This remarkable unsung hero has but one design “flaw”…it doesn’t have its own pump. Therefore, it requires external stimuli in the form of movement, to keep its fluid flowing properly.
Aside from regular exercise, deep breathing, and massage, dry skin brushing is an excellent way to help stimulate lymphatic flow, circulation, and slough off old skin cells.
How to Dry Brush:
- Choose a firm, natural bristle body brush (like this one here, they’re kind of like back scrubbing brushes but smaller).
- Begin at your feet and brush in upward strokes toward your heart, using firm pressure (it should feel good, like a nice exfoliation treatment).
- Brush your feet, legs, buttocks, stomach, chest, arms, neck, and face.
- Repeat once or twice daily—before showering is ideal.
Proponents of dry brushing claim it helps reduce puffiness, detoxify your system, smooth your skin, and even helps reduce cellulite.
#6: Detoxify stress daily
I could not leave this out. Stress is the #1 cause of a plethora of preventable diseases, from heart attacks to leaky gut.
There are a lot of ways to detoxify stress from your life, but you need to take this seriously and do it daily.
Here are a few simple things to try:
- Take a 5-minute mental break every hour to stretch, take a walk, and/or breathe deeply.
- Journal out your worries before going to bed, you’ll sleep better.
- Find a way to laugh every day.
- Spend time outdoors every day, exercise, sit on the patio, walk the dog, walk around barefoot.
- Get in the flow with a hobby—paint, write, garden, find something that keeps your hands busy and relaxes your heart and soul.
- Sort out your sleep—a lack of sleep is a HUGE contributor to toxic stress and other health issues. Aim for 7.5-9 hours a night minimum, and if you’re unable to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up feeling rested seek the help of an integrative practitioner.
Bottom line, springtime detox diets and cleanses certainly have their benefits.
However, in my experience it is the little health and nutrition habits we practice in “real life” that add up to BIG long-term health benefits.
Why not try one or two of these out today? And be sure to let me know how it goes!