This year, more than most, we have noted a significant increase in the stress levels and health issues with our clients. Stress over finances, the economic and political climate and an especially bad flu season where it has taken people a lot longer to recover from sinus, bronchitis and other infections.
It is natural to fall prey to the detox ‘buzz’, especially at this time of year. As we get excited about the warmer weather and look forward to our summer holidays, it is tempting to try out new diets and exercise routines to get that ‘summer body’. However, there is a general misconception about what detoxing really is. Here at Somerset West Wellness, we truly believe in empowering our clients on their health and wellness journey –and that is exactly what it is, a journey and not a destination. Our therapeutic massages, Cryotherapy, beauty treatments and our natural and organic Le Bleu products are healthy tools to assist you in living a healthy lifestyle.
When it comes to detoxing in this context, the focus is on quick diets and supplements to eliminate toxins (in most cases for weight loss). We forget that our bodies already has a sophisticated way of eliminating toxins that involves the liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs. If you shift your focus on maintaining a healthy body, your body will naturally detox itself and eliminate toxins.
Here are 8 easy and natural ways to assist your body to detox:
1. Reduce alcohol
More than 90% of alcohol is metabolized in your liver. Liver enzymes metabolize alcohol to acetaldehyde, a known cancer-causing chemical. Recognizing acetaldehyde as a toxin, your liver converts it to a harmless substance called acetate, which is later eliminated from your body. While observational studies have shown low-to-moderate alcohol consumption beneficial for heart health, excessive drinking can cause a myriad of health problems. Excessive drinking can severely damage your liver function by causing fat build-up, inflammation, and scarring. When this happens, your liver cannot function adequately and perform its necessary tasks — including filtering waste and other toxins from your body.
As such, limiting or abstaining entirely from alcohol is one of the best ways to keep your body’s detoxification system running strong. Health authorities recommend limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two for men.
2. Get enough sleep
Ensuring adequate and quality sleep each night is a must to support your body’s health and natural detoxification system. Sleeping allows your brain to reorganize and recharge itself, as well as remove toxic waste by products that have accumulated throughout the day. One of those waste products is a protein called beta-amyloid, which contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Poor sleep has been linked to short- and long-term health consequences, such as stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. You should sleep seven to nine hours per night on a regular basis to promote good health. If you have difficulties staying or falling asleep at night, lifestyle changes like sticking to a sleep schedule and limiting blue light — emitted from mobile devices and computer screens — prior to bed are useful for improving sleep. Find out how massage therapy can help with sleep.
3. Drink lots of water
Water does so much more than quench your thirst. It regulates your body temperature, lubricates joints, aids digestion and nutrient absorption, and detoxifies your body by removing waste products. Your body’s cells must continuously be repaired to function optimally and break down nutrients for your body to use as energy. However, these processes release wastes — in the form of urea and carbon dioxide — which cause harm if allowed to build up in your blood.
Water transports these waste products, efficiently removing them through urination, breathing, or sweating. So staying properly hydrated is important for detoxification. The adequate daily intake for water is average 2 to 3 liters per day. You may need more or less depending on your diet, where you live, and your activity level.
4. Reduce intake of sugar and processed foods
High consumption of sugary and highly processed foods has been linked to obesity and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. These diseases hinder your body’s ability to naturally detoxify itself by harming organs that play an important role, such as your liver and kidneys. Focus on eating natural foods such as vegetables and fruit. And where possible, try to make our own foods from scratch.
5. Eat antioxidant rich foods
Antioxidants protect your cells against damage caused by molecules called free radicals. Oxidative stress is a condition caused by excessive production of free radicals. Your body naturally produces these molecules for cellular processes, such as digestion. However, alcohol, tobacco smoke, a poor diet, and exposure to pollutants can produce excessive free radicals. By causing damage to your body’s cells, these molecules have been implicated in a number of conditions, such as dementia, heart disease, liver disease, asthma, and certain types of cancer.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help your body fight oxidative stress caused by excess free radicals and other toxins that increase your risk of disease .Examples of antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Focus on getting antioxidants from food and not supplements such as: berries, fruits, nuts, cocoa, vegetables, spices, and beverages like coffee and green tea have some of the highest amounts of antioxidants. Cryotherapy is also a great tool to assist with oxidative stress.
6. Eat foods high in prebiotics
Gut health is important for keeping your detoxification system healthy. Your intestinal cells have a detoxification and excretion system that protects your gut and body from harmful toxins. Good gut health starts with prebiotics, a type of fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut called probiotics. With prebiotics, your good bacteria are able to produce nutrients called short-chain fatty acids that are beneficial for health.
Eating foods rich in prebiotics can keep your immune and detoxification systems healthy. Good food sources of prebiotics include tomatoes, artichokes, bananas, asparagus, onions, garlic, and oats.
7. Decrease your salt intake
For some people, detoxing is a means of eliminating excess water. Consuming too much salt can cause your body to retain excess fluid. This excess fluid build-up can cause bloating and make clothing uncomfortable.
While it may sound counterintuitive, increasing your water intake is one of the best ways to eliminate excess water weight from consuming too much salt. That’s because when you consume too much salt and not enough water, your body releases an antidiuretic hormone that prevents you from urinating — and therefore detoxifying.
By increasing your water intake, your body reduces the secretion of the antidiuretic hormone and increases urination, eliminating more water and waste products. Increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods — which counterbalances some of sodium’s effects — also helps. Foods rich in potassium include potatoes, squash, kidney beans, bananas, and spinach.
8. Get active
Regular exercise — regardless of body weight — is associated with a longer life and a reduced risk of many conditions and diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. While there are several mechanisms behind the health benefits of exercise, reduced inflammation is a key point. While some inflammation is necessary for recovering from infection or healing wounds, too much of it weakens your body’s systems and promotes disease. By reducing inflammation, exercise can help your body’s systems — including its detoxification system — function properly and protect against disease.
It’s recommended that you do at least 150–300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise — such as brisk walking — or 75–150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity — such as running. Cryotherapy and massage are great tools to assist you with inflammation.