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I’ve been planning some much-needed detoxification the past week because the holidays were just a totally evil time for me — seriously, no self-control whatsoever — and of course I’m paying for it now. I’m bloated, acidic, sluggish and feeling generally BLAH – kind of like a sleepy, gassy elephant wading through a sea of Jell-o.
The thing is, in my experience, detoxification usually goes hand in hand with deprivation, and I’ve never been a big fan of quitting anything cold turkey. I prefer to do things gradually, because I think that sudden deprivation just leads to all sorts of sorrow and mayhem.
Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Honestly. I nearly gnawed on my husband’s arm during my last juice fast — which I failed miserably, if you must know. And trying to quit caffeine just makes me feel like I’m dying a slow and miserable death.
Another issue I have with a lot of popular diet and detox plans is that they’re usually quite expensive. It’s like you’re PAYING to make yourself SUFFER. What’s up with that?
I do realize, however, that regardless of my issues, detoxification is a must if I want to get back on track, so I’ve been doing some research and was pleasantly surprised to find some solutions that were decidedly doable.
Digestive care expert Brenda Watson actually advises against practices that leave you feeling deprived and run down. According to Watson, regimens that require strict fasting or eliminating entire food groups from your diet “typically end up having the exact opposite effect — causing sharp fluctuations in blood sugar that often lead to increased cravings and overeating.”
Instead she recommends natural cleanses combined with some healthy lifestyle habits that can be sustained over the long term. The body has its own detoxification systems that work best under conditions of regularity.
If you’re still suffering from the effects of excess and overindulgence during the holidays, here are 5 natural, doable ways to detoxify that don’t have to break the bank.
1. Drink more water.
Ah, water. So simple, so cheap, and yet so often overlooked – so much so that most people suffer from mild dehydration without even being aware of it. Water is the foundation of detoxification. It separates blood platelets and floods the fatty tissues where toxins accumulate. It also prevents constipation and wakes up the digestive system and liver, which is key to ridding the body of waste and toxins.
So drink more water. Try for eight 8-ounce glasses a day, or half your body weight but in ounces. (If you’re 120 pounds, half of that is 60 pounds. Drink 60 ounces of water per day.)
Note: If you can add some lemon to your water, that’s even better. Lemon water is an excellent detox drink, because lemon is a diuretic, contains vitamin C and other antioxidants, and cuts cravings for soda and other sugar-based drinks. It also balances PH, kickstarts the digestive system and aids in weight management, among other things.
2. Cut out the junk, and pile on the fiber.
Most detoxification programs will require you to eliminate certain types of food from your diet for a period of time: processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and anything with sugar, saturated fats, gluten, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol.
While that may be achievable and beneficial for a day or two (or more, depending on your willpower) it’s more important to think long-term and make some diet changes that you can sustain.
Think baby steps. Cut out or minimize junk and processed food over time, and add more fiber to your daily menus to help your body eliminate waste with regularity. Here’s a list of 20 high-fiber foods to get you started.
3. Hit the spa.
NOW we’re talking. :) This may not be as inexpensive as the other methods mentioned above, but it’s fun and definitely doable. You can try a lymphatic massage but your best bet is just to sit in the sauna for half an hour to sweat out toxins.
Bear in mind, however, that there are protocols to using the sauna for detoxification, as well as certain types of people for whom sauna use is discouraged (those on certain medications and people with high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, for example). Consult your doctor beforehand, just to be sure.
While recent findings suggest that exercise isn’t as effective for detoxification as fitness folk claim, it’s still a good idea to exercise anyway.
Exercise makes you sweat, keeps the body in good condition and helps to achieve the last (but definitely not the least of our doable detox activities).
5. Relax and get more sleep.
Never underestimate the restorative powers of a good night’s sleep. While you sleep, your body processes and neutralizes toxins, and releases essential hormones to repair tissues and grow healthy new cells. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep, and note that the best time for healing and detoxifying is between 10 pm and 2 am.
And that’s it! That doesn’t sound too difficult, does it?
Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, chief of women’s sports medicine at Harvard Medical School, says there really is no need to do anything drastic to detoxify the body.
”If you start talking about exercising to detoxify, there’s no scientific data,” she says. The same applies to fasting. “No good scientific data supports any of those cleanses, where you drink juice, or (only) water for a week.
“The human body is designed to get rid of what we don’t need.” All we need to do to help it along is adopt and maintain a healthier lifestyle -- eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and get enough rest -- to enable it to do what it’s intended to do. - Rappler.com