As you transition your body into springtime, you may be considering a cleanse; after all, what better way to reboot your body after the wear and tear of the cold winter months? Justine SanFilippo, MS, CHC, shares her experience below—and offers her own effective tips to naturally detox every single day.
I once went to a fancy juicing retreat in Martha’s Vineyard for a three-day detox. On my birthday. With my mom. Why I thought starving, detoxing, only drinking juice for my birthday, and dragging my mom into it was a good idea, I’ll never know. I somehow endured the three days of drinking miniscule amounts of juice and some pureed soup, but I had no energy, a constant headache, and was nauseous. The only relief was when I slept. I did lose eight pounds, but on the fourth day I had a bowl of soup for lunch and some raw vegetables, and all the weight came back. So, so much for that.
Detoxing: What is It?
We’ve heard of juice fasts, master cleanses, detoxing supplements, and juicing retreats. Detoxing is important because it helps the body remove excess toxins. Toxins can come from the environment, chemicals in foods and beverages, smoking, alcohol, and other unhealthy habits. Some people will go to extreme lengths to detox the body in a short period of time. Toxins are stored in the fat cells, so when a person detoxes, the fat cells (where your body isolates nasty substances) can shrink. There could be many unpleasant side effects to detoxing, such as headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, feeling irritable, fatigue, dizziness, and rashes. Rapid detox dumps such a heavy toxic load on your bloodstream all at once it’s no wonder you feel miserable.
I’ve tried several detoxes, and I must tell you that fad gimmicks don’t often work in the long run. If your intention is to simply cleanse the body and not lose weight, you could be successful—but if you intend to drop weight fast and keep it off, you’ll be sorely disappointed that most, if not all, of the weight lost will come back the second you return to normal food habits.
How to Naturally Detox
Rather than going on a crazy detox diet, consider helping your body detox naturally by making smart food and beverage choices. Every single day, the body detoxes naturally through the liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and skin. Here are my go-to tips:
- Eat organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, and unprocessed foods to help the body be more efficient
- Sweat through exercise to facilitate the detox process
- Drink at least 64 ounces (8 cups) of water a day
- Eliminate or reduce beverages like soda (both regular and diet) and alcohol
- Reduce caffeine consumption, which can cause dehydration and lead to water retention
- Add a wedge of lemon or lime to your water
- Have a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar a day to improve digestion and promote alkalinity
- Eat enough fiber (28g/day for women and 35g/day for men)
- Add more dark, leafy greens to your diet such as kale,
Swiss chard, and spinach
- Drink herbal teas, such as decaf green tea
- Reduce sodium, which can cause water retention and bloating
One of my favorite ways to naturally detox is to make a fresh juice drink each morning. It’s a great way to start my day and give my body a super boost of vitamins and minerals. Just place ingredients in a juicer and enjoy; then, eat breakfast! My favorite juice recipe includes:
1 to 2 carrots
1 to 2 cucumbers
Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, or Swiss chard
Wedge of lemon
How do you know you’ve been successful at naturally detoxing? You’ll have more energy, you’ll sleep better, your stomach won’t be as bloated, and you’ll crave healthier foods rather than junk food. As a bonus, your skin will be clearer and brighter, your hair will be silkier, and you’ll feel better overall. When you start to follow a healthier lifestyle, you’ll find that when you do fall off the bandwagon and have some sweets, junk food, or too much alcohol, you’ll feel it. Listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs—and what it doesn’t!