After gorging on home cooking and holiday desserts, and the usual whirlwind of rushing around at year end, the new year is a great time for a new you, or at least a ‘renewed’ you! That means giving your body a healthy boost. Detoxifying is great for a fresh start.
When you hear the word ‘detox’, you might think of juice cleanses, fasting or cutting certain food groups out of your diet. But if you eat a balanced, healthy, detox-friendly diet, and incorporate some simple detox tips, you’ll be golden.
But first, does detoxing actually work? Do you really need to detox or does your body already do that job on its own? The jury is out on whether actual juice fasts or cleanses really work to clean more toxins out of your body, and yes, the body does a great job of cleansing toxins on its own. That said, there ARE things you can do to help cleanse your body and aid your body’s natural detox processes. Here are some great ways to detox and feel lighter, leaner and more energized.
WHAT TO CUT
First, there are a few key things to cut out of your diet -- at least for a while. Cutting or significantly limiting these things will clear your body of substances that are probably slowing you down, and maybe bloating you up with inflammation.
Refined, Processed Foods
Overly refined foods like those that are high in white flour or white sugar, and overly processed foods that contain chemicals and preservatives, should be cut or significantly limited. Many times when in the grocery store, we pay attention to the colorful picture or the 'healthy' claims on the package ('natural' or 'low fat') rather than the nutrition label. Don’t let that image or the quick claim fool you because those don't tell you the whole story. Natural or low-fat foods, for example, could have tons of sugar or harmful additives hiding inside. Read the labels! A few examples that you should watch for are high fructose corn syrup, artificial food coloring, and trans fats. For more information, read this article 7 Food Additives to Eliminate Now. Focus on eating whole foods, as fresh as possible, organic when you can. Or when you need a portable snack, grab something with all natural ingredients like a Truth Bar. Truth Bars have good fats, proteins, and fiber, as well as both prebiotics and probiotics that aid in digestive health.
Alcohol is toxic to our bodies, plain and simple. The excessive amount of alcohol that you might consume during the holidays, on social outings or at home after a stressful day takes a huge toll on your entire system and may have long-term effects ranging from liver damage to cancer. In the short term, alcohol is a diuretic which means you will urinate more and absorb less water. This can make you feel sluggish, dehydrated and can dry out your skin. So, take a break from alcohol for a while. Maybe choose a virgin mimosa next time (we hear they are full of vitamins).
Sugar is something we all love, but sugar does not love us. According to The World Health Organization, 25 grams of sugar a day is the absolute maximum that you should consume. Less than that is even better. To put that into perspective, one serving of Chocolate Chip Cookies (two cookies) contains 14 grams. So just two servings would fill the daily maximum. Obviously, Christmas cookies justify the slight increase, but some reasons for cutting back on sugar afterward include sugar's connection to heart disease, acceleration of the aging process, and the increased risk for diabetes. Worried you won’t know what to snack on? No worries! Here is a great list of low sugar snacks that still satisfy!
WHAT TO ADD
Weeds from the yard? Yes, as long as they are not treated with any pesticides they are perfectly healthy. Dandelion tea is said to aid in reducing water retention, after those holiday cocktails, and increase metabolism. Accelerating metabolism is key to helping to reduce that bloating that you may feel after splurging on food. This happens because the dandelions work similarly to weight loss drugs by activating pancreatic lipase, which attacks fat cells in the body according to HealthLine. No dandelions in your yard? No problem, dandelion teas are found in any health food store and many grocery stores too.
Fresh Veggie Juice
Veggie juice is always something stocked up on shelves in grocery stores. But beware, you don’t want the added sugars mixed in. Making yourself fresh veggie juice at home is a great way to start the day. All you need to do is chop them up and put them in a juicer. If you don’t have a juicer, blenders and food processors are both great tools; just peel and cut fruit into small pieces first for best results. Hand-held reamers and hinged-squeezers are also great options. Use vitamin-packed vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, spinach, and broccoli. These are great for replenishing the body. Throw some citrus fruit in too for even more nutrients and great taste. Not sure what to make? Here is a great option for a Detox Smoothie. These detox drinks are good for daily use and not just detox week because they help give your skin a healthy glow and improve the quality of your hair! Just keep in mind, fresh juices have a shorter refrigerator life so drink up right away!
Everyone knows that they should drink water, but does everyone know how much and why? Most people think they should drink 8 cups of water per day, but Mayo Clinic suggests (based on data from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine) that the average male adult should consume 15.5 cups and the average female adult should consume 11.5 cups per day. Drinking the correct amount not only helps you feel hydrated, but it also has many health benefits -- e.g. cushions your joints, and protects body tissue. Water is key to detoxing because it increases the rate at which your body gets rid of waste through urination.
Hot Towel Scrub
Exfoliation and spa days are something everyone would enjoy, though might be a luxury. But giving your skin a head to toe exfoliation in the comfort of your own home is much easier. How do you do it? Just take a soft towel and dip it in warm water from the sink, bath or shower and rub your skin with it. This has many benefits ranging from opening pores to promoting better circulation, all while detoxifying the skin by bringing the toxins to the surface. This can be done any time of day before or after showering.
Oatmeal With Fresh Fruit
Although boiling oatmeal might seem like a hassle, making it that way is much healthier because it is less processed than the microwave version. This fiber-rich food can be eaten with any meal but is most popular for breakfast. Oats are rich in avenanthramides that help dilate blood vessels and increase the flow of blood throughout the body. Having poor blood flow can lead to countless problems such as leg ulcers, varicose veins, and strokes. Just one cup of oats each day can give you seven and a half grams of fiber and enough avenanthramides; the daily value for women in 28 grams and 38 grams for men.
Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a super-food commonly found in fruit bowls that have recently become very popular. Look at pictures of those beautiful bowls and you will definitely notice the deep purple color of the frozen purée. Yes, the purple makes it pretty but even better, it comes from a plant compound called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins can have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. In addition, according to Very Well Health, acai contains 70 calories, five grams of fat, one and a half grams of saturated fat, four grams of carbohydrates, two grams of sugar, two grams of fiber, 15% RDI of vitamin A, and 2% RDI of calcium. Acai is a great, light, super nourishing snack.
You can go to a studio or do it in the comfort of your own home. Yoga is not just stretching. The different poses have many benefits including stimulating digestion. Yoga also calms down breathing and the pace of your heartbeat because of the state of relaxation that your body moves into. Now, as you start a busy new year, you can reap the benefits of the mental aspect of yoga as well by using it as a destresser and a future coping mechanism. A basic yoga pose that is great for digestion is pawanamuktasana or wind-relieving pose. To do it: just lay on your back and hug your knee to your chest one leg at a time. Hold for a few breaths. Alternate legs and then pull both legs in together. Repeat at least a few times.
Spicy food isn’t everyone's favorite, but cayenne pepper, specifically, helps speed up your metabolism according to HealthLine. This is because cayenne pepper contains a thermogenic chemical called capsaicin. The sweat dripping from your forehead might feel gross at first, but your body is burning extra calories as it goes into cooldown mode. To receive the benefits of this food, you must have at least 28 grams of fresh cayenne pepper or one gram dried in your diet each day. It is most tasty mixed into different foods like stews or chilis, but who knows, maybe a cayenne Christmas cookie will make it to the menu next year.
So there you have it -- some easy detox tips and tools that you can start today to reap the benefits of less inflammation and bloating, potentially lower weight, better sleep, clearer skin, and the list goes on. Here’s to a healthy year!