If you want to reset and cleanse your body of all the toxins that have built up over time, you are in for a rewarding yet slightly trying ride. Since you are exposed to toxins on a daily basis, whether airborne or through your dietary preferences, it may be hard to let some of those habits go, but you will be happy you took on the challenge.
Toxins are in everything from household cleaners, personal hygiene products, and bottled water to contaminated produce. They can take a toll on your body and make your mind foggy, and even lead to memory impairments and depression.
Cleansing is becoming extremely popular as of late whether through juice cleanses, fruit and vegetable cleanses, or a general increased intake of detoxifying foods. Many have found truly amazing results, as the variety of foods can flush out these toxins due to their unique compounds. Choosing organic is essential, since non-organic foods may have pesticides and herbicides that would defeat the purpose.
Antioxidants are an integral part of a good detox program. They are anti-aging and support glowing skin and healthy hair. They also prevent the accumulation of free radicals in the body, some of which are present as a result of exposure to toxins. This buildup can cause oxidative damage to your DNA, resulting in anything from sagging skin to cancer.
Although usually more praised for its kidney cleansing function, asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) contains a very special antioxidant, called glutathione, which is a deeply detoxifying compound that can break down carcinogens. Acai (Euterpe oleracea) is also packed with antioxidants that are famous for their ability to help beautify you from the inside out. Of all known fruits, acai contains the most antioxidants.
Clearing the Digestive Tract
Clearing out the digestive tract is great for feeling less weighed down by all of the processed and fat-heavy foods that are so prevalent. It can also reduce harmful bacteria in the intestines, as well as prevent gastrointestinal issues. Senna and prunes are known for being natural laxatives that will get things moving and alleviate constipation. Senna (Senna alexandrina) is even an FDA-approved alternative to prescription solutions, and prune (Prunus domestica) is well-suited to long-term cleansing.
Toxins can build up in the bladder quickly and take a toll on your overall health. For example, the accumulation of calcium in your urine can lead to painful kidney stones and urinary tract infections. The number one priority is to get enough water. Most adults do not drink enough water, and this slows your kidney function. Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) or cranberry juice is highly recommended, in addition, to break down calcium buildup. Make sure juice has no added sugars, as added sugars should be completely avoided during a cleanse. Celery (Apium graveolens), especially raw or juiced, has been found to contribute in the prevention of kidney stones as well.
Fast food, alcohol, excessive salt, and artificial sweeteners can make things difficult on your liver. The first step is to eliminate the aforementioned detriments for the entirety of your cleanse. For added support, try a milk thistle (Silybum marianum) tea or supplement. This herb has been used for over 2,000 years to alleviate ailments of the liver. As a bonus, silymarin - the active compound in milk thistle - is also an antioxidant. More liver cleansing classics include artichokes (Cynara cardunculus) and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), so adding a few drops of their tinctures to a juice can further boost the liver.
Some people will choose to cleanse because of a general feeling of puffiness or bloating. This can make you irritable and cause joint pain. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) has been used in Ayurveda for millennia because of its anti-inflammatory power. The main medicinal component is a volatile oil called curcumin, which helps you feel relieved and less inflamed.
Relaxing the Mind
Many people practice meditation to accentuate the benefits of their cleanse. As you start to feel relieved of physical blockages, your mind is better able to become relaxed. Practicing 20 minutes of meditation daily, in addition to two and a half hours a week of gentle physical activity, will make you feel at ease. Exercise should not be as strenuous when you are cleansing, so brisk walking, yoga, or swimming are great options. Appreciate the fruits of your labor by treating yourself to a moment of serenity.
Do not let your environment or food habits take over your vital organs, which are centrally important for wellness of the body and mind. When you cleanse every now and again, your entire system is able to take a break and function at an optimal rate. This will lead to positive thinking, a healthy appearance, and a sense of well-being.
Attaluri, A. et al. (2011). Randomised clinical trial: dried plums (prunes) vs. psyllium for constipation. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 33(7), 822-828. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04594.x
California Department of Health. (2007). Exploring California Asparagus. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://www.sde.idaho.gov/site/cnp/ffvp/fruit_veg/Asparagus.pdf
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University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Turmeric. Retrieved March 18, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric