Post-holidays can become quite the recovery time. Maybe your mom “forced” on you more homemade sweets than you would ever otherwise consider eating. Maybe all that jet lag and stress are taking a toll on your immune system. Or all that on-the-road fast food that was your only option.
Have no fear! A simple (and safe) detox regimen may be the ticket to cleaning out all that junk and helping your immune system stay healthy.
The suggestions listed below are gentle, safe detox methods. They are not starve-yourself-crazy-fad-diet-colon-cleanser types of methods, but are instead simple (and often inexpensive) steps that you can take to help your body function the ways it was meant to.
Five Simple and All-Natural Detox Methods
- Lemon/Vinegar Water – Start your day off, before you eat your breakfast or drink your coffee, with a tall glass of water. This helps jump-start your digestive system and metabolism. Your body has been detoxing and repairing itself during the night. Drinking a full glass of water helps wash some of the waste away and ensures you’re a little bit more hydrated. Adding a squeeze of lemon or ~1 tsp of raw apple cider vinegar helps balance the internal pH of your body and flushes toxins from your liver. It can also stimulate stomach acid production, which is important right before breakfast. Drink throughout the day as well.
- Dry Brushing – This is my new favorite before-shower ritual. Dry brushing is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that gently stimulates the lymphatic system (located just below your skin) using a dry, natural-bristle brush to move lymph throughout your body and increase circulation. The lymphatic system does not have its own pump, like the heart, and relies on bodily movement and contact to flow. Lymph plays an important part in your immune system, and making sure your lymph system is moving healthily is important in keeping winter colds at bay (also see Movement and Massage below for other ways to move your lymph). You can pick up a dry body brush from many natural health stores, or online.
- Herbs – Treating the liver is important whenever you are thinking about detoxing. The liver is responsible for up to 500 functions in your body and is your largest internal organ. It performs several roles in metabolism, breaks down hormones and toxins, and stores different vitamins and nutrients. Treat your liver right! Certain herbs stimulate and cleanse the liver that can easily be taken in tea or tincture form: Dandelion root or leaf, Burdock root, Red Clover, Yellow Dock, Licorice root, and Milk Thistle seed. If you have a Whole Foods by you, they often carry bulk herbs and I’ve always found a good selection of herbs there (pick up a mesh tea strainer too if you don’t have one). Mountain Rose Herbs is a popular online vendor of quality organic herbs. For those that don’t want to deal with mixing herbs themselves, Yogi Organic Tea and Traditional Medicinals both make great tasting liver detox teas that have always worked well for me. Additionally, some herbs to look out for that target the lymphatic system include: Calendula, Cleavers, and Mullein.
- Movement – Do not dismiss movement! Adding more movement to your day is key to keeping your body in check. This can include such activities as yoga (downward dog, inversions, and twists are good for detoxing), walking, sprinting, lifting heavy things, rebounding (on a small trampoline), tai chi, karate, biking, swimming, hiking, fencing, doing pull-ups, climbing trees, jumping rope, bodyweight exercises, climbing stairs, or doing some quick and varied stretches every 20 minutes during work. Try your best to do some of this movement outdoors, as it increases your exposure to the sun’s Vitamin D-producing rays and a diverse bacterial environment (which strengthens your immune system). Either way, include varied movement throughout your day (rather than one big burst in the morning or evening) to reap the most benefit.
- Massage – Not only does it feel great, but massage moves the lymph system and cleanses the body. In a years time I will be able to tell you of all the particular benefits of massage therapy (getting my degree, whatwhat!), but until then, you probably don’t need all that much convincing that a massage is a great idea. While a massage from a professional is ideal, getting one from a friend or loved one will deliver many of the same benefits.
Hope that helps! Try all these steps for the greatest benefit. If you have contracted one of those horrible winter colds, these methods will help you rid your system of it’s icy grip. Make sure you are limiting your exposure to toxins and allergens by taking note of how your body reacts to different food (and modifying your diet in response) and purchasing organic when possible. These practices are of little use if you continue to load your body full of things it is reacting to. Also, drink plenty of water!