This time of year you may hear a lot of people talking about doing a detox or a cleanse. These detoxes, or cleanses may be a juice or smoothie cleanse or it might be taking a bunch of supplements that are promised to cleanse your system and rid your body of any residual toxins from over-indulging during the holiday season. I am here to say that no extreme measures are necessary to help keep your body’s natural detoxing abilities at top notch!
Your body is amazing, it works hard to keep you in a state of balance, or homeostasis, at all times. When given half a chance your body WILL heal itself. So why does it seem that we feel like we need a heavy duty detox and cleanses in order to be healthy? The fact is, we are exposed to A TON of potential toxins all day long. From the foods we eat to what we might drink to the air we breathe, potential harmful toxins are out there. Two primary toxins your body has to manage are the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol when they are flooding your body excessively. We are living more stressful lives and yet not necessarily managing the stress well. These practices below will help you keep your body’s natural detoxing channels working effectively and efficiently while creating more balance and reducing your stress!
For now, when thinking about detoxing, think about it in a way that allows you to consider how to maintain the natural detox channels within your body not as a one time thing, or only used if you feel you “over-indulge.” When you incorporate these practices below, you will give your body a greater chance of naturally detoxing the excessive environmental and internal toxins we are exposed to every single day.
Your body releases toxins through these primary channels: elimination through the bowels, elimination through the urinary tract, elimination through your breath and through your skin. All of the organ systems of the body are intimately interconnected and work hard to release toxins through these channels. Having a basic wellness routine helps to keep these systems of the body in optimal balance.
Here are three natural, safe and easily doable practices you can add into your wellness routine regularly in order to aid your body’s natural detoxing processes.
1. Sweat + Rehydrate
Do you notice in the summer that you typically don’t get as many illnesses as in the fall, winter and spring? The body releases toxins through the skin by sweating and in the summer, we naturally sweat way more and focus on hydration than in the other months! Doing 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise will help you break a sweat for a sustained period of time. Exercise—which can be absolutely free!—is the best place to begin when focusing on detoxing using the skin as primary channel of elimination. Taking up jogging, cycling, getting to an aerobics class or high intensity interval training (HIIT) or even hot yoga can all be a great place to begin.
You can also use an infrared sauna for 15-40 minutes 1-3 times per week. This option comes with a price, but the benefits are many! As always, you want to start slowly and work your way up if you have not been breaking a sweat for a while! And of course, sweating more must come along with drinking more water! Hydration is key to continue to release the toxins through elimination as well!
2. Oil Pulling + Tongue Scraping
This is a super simple practice to add to your morning routine. When you wake up, take a tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil and swish it in your mouth for 5-20 minutes, the longer the better. Be sure to spit the oil out into a trash can and not into your sink drain! A lot of microbes get into our system through our mucus membrane, and they enter the system right in your mouth. Oil pulling attracts the microbes and other toxins and releases them when you spit it out. After you spit out the oil, you might swish your mouth with water and spit that as well. Then, using a tongue scraper, gently scrape over your tongue 1-3 times, rinsing your mouth once again.
3. Kapalabhati Breath
*Do not practice this breath if you are pregnant, have untreated hypertension, abdominal pain, heart disease or stomach problems such as ulcers or IBS. Stop if you feel dizzy or anxious. There are many wonderful breathing practices out there, so if this one isn’t for you, that’s ok!
The Kapalabhati Breath is a powerful breathing practice that helps to cleanse the sinuses and invigorates the digestive system. This breath is best practiced on an empty stomach. You will want to start with a low amount of repetitions and begin to increase slowly over time. Kapalabhati is translated to mean “skull-shining breath.” The meaning is believed to relate to the cleansing benefits of the practice, that it creates smooth and brightened skin—especially recognized on your face!
This breathing practice helps you to release stress and toxins from the mind and body. It helps to cleanse the lungs, increases oxygen to your cells, improves digestion, clears your mind and increases focus and attention. This breathing practice helps to improve your mood and increases energy. The practice consists of a forceful exhalation through your nose where you quickly draw your navel in towards your spine followed by a natural inhalation through your nose. The movement primarily involves your diaphragm. Begin slowly, starting with five repetitions quickly in a row. Over time you can slowly increase the repetitions as it becomes more comfortable. I now do a round of one hundred repetitions in the morning.
Try these three practices and notice how you feel. If one of the practices works for you, continue using it, if it does not, there are many other practices and options to encourage the natural detox process of your body.
If you do try any of these, let me know how they work for you!