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Detoxification is a primary cornerstone of optimal health. We live in a world that has been polluted by chemicals which in turn affect our air, our water, our soil. In the United States alone, over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released by industry into the environment each year, including 72 million pounds of recognized carcinogens. So it is easy to see how important it is to assist one’s body in ridding itself of such substances.
While I certainly advocate doing more rigorous detoxification practices regularly, making smaller lifestyles changes on a daily basis can really add up. Your body has four main routes of elimination – skin, lungs, intestines and urinary tracts. In this article, I will discuss ways you can support each of these organ systems to keep them in good working order.
Skin. Your skin is your body’s largest organ of elimination and it gets rid of toxins through sweating. Use deodorant instead of anti-perspirants which block the body’s sweat glands from working (if you find your sweat is particularly odorous, it is an indication that a more thorough detox is required.) Exercising/moving your body is perhaps the best way to get your sweat going, but you can also use a sauna or even sip hot tea in a hot bath to induce sweating. Dry skin brushing in the shower before you get wet is a great way to stimulate your skin as well as improve your lymphatic circulation. Regular Epsom salt baths are great for two reasons – they open your pores and they are made of magnesium sulphate – the magnesium helps to soothe your nervous and musculoskeletal systems, while the sulphur is detoxifying. Research indicates that bathing in mineral salts reduces circulating levels of inflammatory enzymes, improves symptoms of stress and enhances the urinary excretion of stress hormones.
Lungs. Get into a regular practice of deep breathing on a daily basis to support your lung’s eliminative capacity. Start with a minute/day and work your way up to several minutes several times a day. Use a drop of essential oils such as eucalyptus or peppermint over sinuses at bedtime to open up the respiratory tract. Exercise is a great way to stimulate circulation, increase heart rate and improve respiration. Houseplant s help to clean indoor air – your best choices are weeping fig, Boston fern, peace lily and English ivy.
Digestion. Go vegetarian 1x/week – vegetarian diets are higher in fibre which help support proper bowel elimination, as well as being easier to digest than animal protein. Add freshly squeezed lemon to your drinking water which stimulates your gallbladder and other organs to increase digestive enzyme production. Give your digestive system a break by doing a modified fast – try to finish your evening meal by about 4pm and only have fluids (preferably clear) until noon the next day. Try to eat fruit away from other foods as they get broken down at a different rate than all other foods – have them as snacks as opposed to part of main meals. Add a good probiotic and antioxidant to your daily supplement regimen.
Support the liver and kidneys. Drink dandelion or nettle tea on a regular basis. Substitute coffee with Tulsi (Holy Basil) tea which helps to support your stress response and increase energy in a healthy supportive way. Replace/limit coffee, alcohol, soda and sugary drinks with good quality drinking water to support both your kidneys and reduce the workload of the liver. Eat a minimum of 1-2 cups daily of inexpensive dietary detoxifying sulphur-rich veggies like garlic, onions, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts.
Regular detoxification practices compared to periodic cleanses is like the difference between taking out the trash daily and taking it out weekly! By following these guidelines, you are giving your body’s organs of elimination the continued nutrients and resources they need to work efficiently, ensuring optimal health for years to come.