I hope you enjoyed every indulgence the holiday season offered! But if the season to be jolly has left you with a jiggle around your middle or feeling mentally and physically sluggish, a super nutrient boost is just what you need to cleanse and detoxify.
My holistic approach is to restore balance by infusing yourself with natural foods, herbs, and supplements!
Many cleanses can leave a person even more depleted and run down than when they started. My approach to cleansing and detoxification is to infuse the body with the nutrients it needs to do the job. Our bodies are designed to detoxify and cleanse on a daily basis, always moving towards health and wellness. Therefore these detoxification recommendations can be used throughout the year to support your ongoing health.
I will discuss three areas to focus on to support your daily detox and cleansing; the mind, the gut, and the liver.
Detoxification begins in the mind. Therefore, my first suggestion is to forgive yourself for any holiday over-indulgences and create the serenity to start fresh today. There is no point in ruminating about the past or counting pounds obsessively as this may indeed lead to more stress and unnecessary weight gain.
Start your cleanse with an affirmation and repeat it every night before you go to bed. This is a simple self-healing practice that allows you time to reflect on what you want for yourself. It is a time to clear your mind and think healthy thoughts. Getting into this practice will have you awakening each day refreshed, calm, and balanced. A favorite affirmation of mine is called Self-Healing By Diane Mariechild.
Perfect health is the natural state of my being.
I will have a comfortable, restful sleep and awaken filled with energy.
Each cell of my body is regenerating, my heart is pumping steadily and strongly, my lungs are filling with healing energy, and as I exhale I am releasing all toxins.
My spine is straight, my muscles and tendons are relaxed.
I am a strong, vibrant and energetic woman (person).
You can write your own affirmation, intention, or mantra, too!
The second strategy in restoring your body, so it can efficiently and safely rid itself of waste products, is to heal and fortify the digestive tract. Just as your mind needs to be clear in order to absorb information and function well, so does your gut. Most nutrients are absorbed in the digestive tract, so it won’t matter how well you try to eat or how many supplements you take if nothing is getting absorbed.
There are many amazing strategies to heal and nourish the gut, so many that numerous books have been written about it. Below I will focus on a few dietary musts that are worth you becoming cozy with, like balancing your body’s pH, using the wise tradition of taking bitter herbs, the necessity of reinoculating your system with beneficial bacteria, and finally to welcome the undervalued and mysterious digestive enzyme. These strategies are worth incorporating into your health regime because they will jump-start you on the path towards balanced cleansing and detoxifying.
Creating an alkaline pH condition in your body is one of the secrets to creating optimal health. Reducing sugar, stress and yes, eating your veggies, are some ways to achieve this. It is a good idea to boost your ability to alkalize. Upon awakening, flush your system with an 8-ounce glass of warm/hot lemon water. Lemon is an alkalizer that will help balance your pH by reducing the acidity caused by too much sugar, stress, alcohol and the effects a deficient diet might create. Lemon water actually helps mineralize the blood thereby supporting digestive acid production (HCl). That is a good thing!
How to take: Squeeze half a fresh lemon or a few tablespoons of lemon juice into warm or hot water and drink before your first meal. Enjoy every morning.
Although not as glittery and flashy as holiday lights, digestive bitters will keep you sparkling (er, or not sparkling if you know what I mean), in all of the right places. What goes in your mouth must be processed, so when enjoying heavier meals with fatty gravy, hearty meats, or decadent desserts, digestive upset, sleepless nights, and blood sugar problems may result, if you don’t have what it takes to digest it all.
The body needs nutrients, like bitter foods, to act as a catalyst for proper gut digestive function. Bitters are made from foods and herbs like artichoke, dandelion, turmeric, ginger, hops, and gentian root. If you look into traditional diets from around the world, in literally every culture, they always include bitter foods in their diets.
Bitters are so important and worthy of eating because they stimulate bile production and stomach acid (HCl) while enhancing bowel function, thereby keeping everything clear and running smoothly. So when you experience bloating, gas, heartburn, and acid reflux, it usually is a result of low digestive juices.
The catch is that you actually need to be able to taste the bitters on your tongue. There is no getting past the taste by taking them in a pill, as the bitter flavor actually signals your brain to produce gastrin, a hormone that regulates stomach acid.
Thankfully, there has been a resurgence of eating bitter foods, like arugula, endive, radicchio, kale, and dandelion greens. These can all be enjoyed with your meals.
How to take: Enjoy eating bitter foods or take a bitter liquid formula. There are many excellent elixirs on the market and they do make them taste nice. You can either look for one that has the above ingredients or you can start with a single herb. For instance, you can try artichoke extract – take 300- 600 mg of standardized extract before, during or after a heavy meal.
Another vital factor in boosting digestion is supplementing with food enzymes. These crucial catalysts are critical in cleansing and balancing because they contribute to the body’s ability to efficiently pre-digest the three main macronutrients that supply our calories – fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Enzymes are also essential to break down plant fibers. Do you know the sounds your belly makes when it has a hard time doing this?
Commercially packaged, processed, and most cooked foods are missing what would be naturally occurring enzymes found in plant and animal foods. Therefore, supplementing with food enzymes greatly reduces the stress and strain put on the body to produce more of its own pancreatic enzymes that would then be responsible to digest all of the foods in order to compensate for the lack of dietary enzymes.
How to take: When in doubt, it is prudent to take comprehensive supplemental enzymes (with amylase, lipase, and protease) with every meal. Supplement with 2-4 dosages taken before or during your meal.
When consuming sugar in all its sinful forms, be it chocolate, candy, white breads, alcohol or sweet drinks, your body will start hosting not so friendly guests in your gut if you are not careful. The “holiday” time of year tends to have us indulging in more sweets, refined carbohydrates and white fluffy foods that cause more gut imbalances than we bargained for. So, if you had your cake and ate it too, candida or gut dysbiosis, may have taken over your system.
Bad or “unfriendly” intestinal bacteria, when out of control, can create candida overgrowth that leads to poor digestion, lethargy, inflammation, compromised immune function, and brain fog. Lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and L. acidophilus are just some of the strains of beneficial bacteria that colonize our guts that thwart the growth of pathogenic diseases and inactivate carcinogenic substances.
How to take: Take a comprehensive probiotic. You can buy them in health food stores in the refrigerator section. Take every day with food to aid in the restoration of the gut. This will go along way to keeping you and your insides happy.
A popular saying is Love Your Liver and we should do just that and for good reason. The liver is one the body’s major detoxifying organs, working at great lengths to keep you clear of unwanted chemicals, contaminants, and waste products. We can help our liver do its job daily by supplying it with vital nutrients, herbs, and supplements.
Eat beets! Beets contain betaine, a detoxifying agent that is great for cleansing of the blood, liver, and intestines. Beets also help to relive constipation (if you are not going more than once a day, you are constipated), helps with fat metabolism, and is high in fiber, which we all know is absolutely critical in keeping things clear and moving regularly. This is what detox is all about folks!
Enjoy Healing Herbs
There is extensive research on this wonder herb, or some may say weed, for its capacity to support liver function. The active chemical, silymarin, in milk thistle, has been shown to protect the liver from damage by chemicals and free radical damage. It is known to have more antioxidant power than vitamin C and vitamin E. Milk thistle is also a friend in detoxifying the intestines, gall bladder, circulatory, and lymphatic systems.
How to: Take milk thistle in tincture form or as a supplement in capsule form.
You might associate licorice with candy but the truth is it is a powerful medicinal herb. Licorice enhances digestion, promotes liver and heart health, and assists in cleansing the blood and digestive tract of stored toxins. This herb is plays a role as a wonderful anti-oxidant that contains healing flavonoids and isoflavonoids.
How To Take: Make a tea with equal parts dried licorice, nettles (a mineral rich herb that aids in digestion and elimination), and dandelion leaf (providing bitter for the liver and minerals for alkalinity). You can also take licorice as a supplement, or as a chewable tablet before meals.
I hope you have been nourished by reading about all of the wonderful and delicious ways we can support or body’s own natural rhythm of cleansing. Celebrating our body’s natural ability to detoxify daily means that all you need do is supply it with the needed nutrients with a good dose of happy thinking. Cleansing and detoxifying are what we are meant to do. It is still fine to choose times during the year that you eat lighter but you’ll never have to starve yourself with another crazy cleanse again.