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Detox to Retox

With the turning of the autumn season, the Earth sheds the lush, verdant, luxurious excesses of spring and summer. The leaves turn, exploding in a rainbow of colours, then swirling, floating towards the Earth.The harvest is abundant with fruits, figs, grapes, and vegetables. The world begins the transition from the cycle of the harvest to the restoration that comes with the hibernation of winter. As the Earth cleanses, cleanse your body. It is a great time to detox – just in time to “retox” for the winter celebrations!

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All societies have their traditional detoxifi cation methods – fasting, massage, breathing, chanting, dry brushing, sweating, exercise, herbs and oils. In the past, these techniques were often incorporated into the daily lives of lay people at specifi c times of the year – perhaps at the changing of the seasons, or revolving around religious ceremonies, rites of passage or the gathering and hunting of food. For whatever reason, detoxing has been or should be a ‘way of life’ that we can all incorporate into our lives.
The body has its own detoxifi cation systems that perform every day. These consist of our skin, liver, colon, lymph nodes, lungs and kidneys. It is important to keep these systems functioning well.
The liver’s job is to prevent noxious substances from entering the body; it dismantles them with specifi c enzymes and excretes them through bile into the colon. It is the fi rst line of defence against toxins, poisons, excess hormones, proteins and internal steroids that are found in the food or medicine we consume or that we make in our body. The kidneys fi lter our blood to remove other toxins, which are excreted in the form of urine. The colon is fi lled with helpful and harmful bacteria, which break down and fl ush out contaminants before they are re-absorbed or become stagnant. The skin, a major organ of detoxifi cation, is constantly releasing toxins through sweat and interactions with the surrounding world. Although it is great for your health to do a gentle fast or detox on a regular basis, signs that your body may really need a tune up

include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headache
  • Persistent sluggishness
  • Persistent gastrointestinal distress
  • Constipation or sluggish elimination
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Psoriasis or skin disorders
  • Food, chemical and environmental allergies
  • Fibromyalgia or auto-immune disorders
  • Water retention or oedema
  • Extreme anxiety, stress, fear or emotions with no apparent reason
  • Excessive alcohol, medications or environmental toxin intake
  • Increased low-grade infections
  • Distended stomach
  • Bags under the eyes

Of course, the best recipe is to eat healthy foods, huge amounts of vegetables and fruits, exercise, meditate, drink herbal teas, sweat, get massages, use essential oils, turn off electronics a few days a week, look at beautiful things, listen to relaxing music and spend quality time with loved ones all the time. In this day and age, though, all that might be a tad diffi cult (just a tad). So here are some suggestions to help you detox physically and mentally, to keep you healthy, and make sure that you start out the new season fresh and ready to take on the New Year.

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THE TOOLS:

Sweating

  • Improves Circulation
  • Boosts immune system
  • About 1% of toxins are released through sweat, but it can be dehydrating so make sure you refi ll on fl uids
  • Important for mental and spiritual cleansing
  • May release toxins stored in the subcutaneous fat tissue

Fasting/Juicing

  • Decrease in calories causes the body to utilise its fat stores for energy
  • When the fat reserves are used for energy in any type of a fast, they release stored toxins and chemicals which can then be excreted through one of the detoxifi cation organs (liver, colon, skin and lungs)
  • Helps divert the body’s energy away from the digestive tract into the immune system and metabolism
  • Is thought to increase vital force and the connection to the spiritual world in many cultures
  • Allows vital nutrients, phytochemicals, in an easily absorbable manner to provide the body with what it needs to heal.

Breathing

  • Yogic deep breathing can empty the lungs of carbon dioxide and allow more oxygen in
  • Better circulation leads to better oxygenation of all tissues, which in turn brings toxins to the liver and kidneys to be reabsorbed or excreted.
  • Strengthens the lungs which allows easier release of toxins

Exercise

  • Improves circulation
  • Increases blood and oxygen fl ow to all organs and muscles of the body
  • Opens joints and increases fl exibility which engages the fascia and promotes health and a balanced mental and physical body
  • Gentle exercise during a cleanse to aid the blood in getting the toxins to the correct organ for excretion
  • Yoga twists and heart opening can aid in physical, emotional and mental detoxifi cation
  • Restorative yoga poses relax the fascia and help maintain good neurohormonal feedback
  • Exercises where there is a repetitive pumping motion increases lymph fl ow which helps the bodies immune system to clear toxins

Herbs

  • Used to promote and assist different systems in the body
  • Ingesting teas, inhaling oils, using them to cook with, using in lotions or as a compress can all stimulate the body to function better
  • See Chart

Dry Brushing

  • Helps rid the body of dead skin
  • Improves vascular circulation and lymph fl ow
  • Rejuvenates the nervous system
  • Assists in the absorption of nutrients as it decreases clogged pores
  • Skin is the biggest organ of the body so take care of it
  • Follow with a hot and cold shower and great moisturizer. You can add those herbal essential oils to it!

Massage

  • Assist in the movement of lymph
  • Increases circulation to provide a good nutritional supply to the body
  • Increases venous return
  • Helps rid the muscles of metabolic by-products so they can be recycled by other organs in the body
  • Improves blood fl ow to the kidney and liver to aid in their detoxifying capabilities
  • Feels good
  • Decreases stress, improves mood and decreases anxiety

Diet

  • Many of our toxins are taken in through the food and beverage choices we make. Therefore when we eat fresh, organic, fruit and vegetables, compassionately-raised meats, poultry and fi sh that are steamed, broiled or sautéed and plenty or raw foods, nuts, seaweeds we are ultimately providing the body with the nutrients it needs to maintain its own cleanse.
  • Drink hot water with lemon every morning to assist in digestion. It triggers nerve and hormone activation in the digestive tract.
  • Drink a fresh fruit and vegetable juice as a snack, for instance, kale, lemon, ginger, apple and beet juice.
  • Avoid processed foods, high fats, and white fl ours and grains on a daily basis
  • Once a week, do a modifi ed fast: stop eating at fi ve p.m. and don’t eat anything else till the morning. It gives the gut a chance to rest and regenerate all the enzymes it uses to digest your foods.
  • Certain foods contribute to the functioning of the liver and the kidney. See chart.

Sleep/Rest

  • Sleep is the great healer! It lets the nervous system restore itself, it calms the mind and it rests the digestive tract.
  • It is especially important to rest when you are detoxing. This is not a time to do heavy exercise. Spend time listening to your body; notice the changes it is going through.

THE ORGANS

Liver

  • Blood and lymph cleansing – screens out metabolic wastes and returns fl uids to the body.
  • Produces enzymes and hormones necessary for metabolism, for example, bile which is produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder to digest fats.
  • Filters excess hormones.
  • Maintains levels of vitamin D, oestrogen (decreases amount in blood), fi brinogen (blood clotting), growth factors, blood pressure control.
  • Acts as reservoir for glycogen for glucose control and vitamin and minerals.
  • Makes cholesterol which is recycled by the liver and is important in the production of sex hormones and cell membrane maintenance.
  • Makes triglycerides which are involved in insulin production from the pancreas.

Kidneys

Regulate and excrete toxins through the urine daily. Important to drink enough fl uid to keep the system well hydrated. Consume half your body weight in ounces – 100 pound person would drink 50 ounces.

Skin

  • Largest organ in the body – we have both inner and outer skin.
    Contains two types of glands for sweating

    • Apocrine glands found in armpits and hair follicles are odour-containing glands. They are very active in stressful situations
    • Eccrine glands that produce water sweat (water and salt), found all over the body
  • Wherever it comes into contact with the environment, it acts as a fi lter bringing nutrients in and releasing toxins.
  • The lymph system is right underneath the skin. This is called SALT: Skin Associated Lymphatic Tissue. It is part of the immune system so it neutralises, metabolises and gets rid of any toxins coming in to the body via this pathway
  • The stomach also has a layer of ‘skin’ which holds the lymph system called GALT – Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue. This is where 80% of your immune system lies. So if the skin on the outside isn’t good, the skin on the inside probably isn’t either.
  • The lymphatic system is an organ under the skin that aids in detoxifi cation and immune function. Colon
  • Has bacteria that breaks down the indigestible portion of foods. They can create benefi cial or harmful chemicals. You want to keep your colon fl owing regularly to prevent a build up and reabsorption of these unwanted chemicals
  • The inner lining of the colon changes every three days.

Lungs

  • Your lungs come in contact with environmental toxins every day. These toxins can build up in your lungs and cause emphysema and other lung issues
  • This is the organ that provides oxygen to the rest of the body, so take care of it – you can’t go more than a minute or two without breathing

HOW TO BEGIN A DETOX:

STEP 1:

The fi rst step is to gradually reduce caffeine, alcohol, refi ned sugars and processed foods. Start shutting down your electronics early, going to bed earlier and increasing mild exercise (walking, restorative yoga). Decrease the amount of foods you eat every day.
Choose more vegetables, fruits, juices and salads. This allows your
body to slowly adjust to decreased calories so you can get the most impact out of your detox. Pick a time when you can relax, aweekend or week with no pressures from work, family or an active social schedule. You can benefi t from just 24- 48 hours of a detox, or it can last up to a few weeks. Hopefully you will incorporate some of the techniques into your daily life. The main thing to remember is a detox should be gradual and gentle – you don’t want to provide even more stress to the body. Don’t go cold turkey! Don’t try quitting alcohol, smoking, fried foods and caffeine in one day. Stress is worse for your body than anything else!

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STEP 2:

After the initial period you can choose to do a complete fast for two to three days or try a juice fast. If you are choosing a water fast, make sure you check with your health professional. Some disease states are exacerbated by a fast. There are many different suggestions as to what to add to the water you are drinking to make sure you maintain adequate vitamins and mineral status.
You can also choose to do a fruit and vegetable juice fast. You drink a variety of fruit and vegetable juices every 90 minutes; this prevents you from being hungry, provides nutrients and gives the gastrointestinal tract a break. In the end, it is what you eat on a daily basis that will keep the colon healthy, but giving it a ‘vacation’ can be useful to your physical and mental health.

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STEP 3:

Add in other forms of release. Pick from one of the tools above or utilise them all: dry brushing, massage, deep breathing, etc. Just remember: be gentle. You may not want to incorporate all methods at once to avoid overloading the body. You need to detox slowly so your liver, lymph, kidneys and colon can safely process these noxious materials.
End your detox with watermelon and gradually add back in increasing amounts of fruit and vegetables till you feel well.
Another alternative is just to eat fruit and vegetables for 1-4 weeks, cutting out saturated fats, processed foods, salt, chemicals and fried foods.

FOODS and HERBS that HEAL – Not limited to this list

Beets
  • Aid in liver functioning
  • Help the body excrete wastes
  • Free radical
  • Anti-carcinogen
Artichokes
  • Increase liver production of bile
  • Contain protein, fi bre, magnesium, folate and potassium
Spirulina, Chlorella
and Seaweed
  • Oxygenate tissue,
  • Loaded with B vitamins
  • Diuret
Vitamin C Helps the body produce glutathione – used by the liver to remove toxins
Watercress Increases circulation, cleanses and oxygenates tissuen
Blueberries,
Cranberries,
Pomegranate
Enhance kidney function
Fermented foods Contain pro-biotics
Burdock tea Removes waste products via the kidney
Asparagus
  • Aids in liver drainage
  • Antioxidant
Garlic Boosts the immune system
Avocados Mono-unsaturated fat
Ginger
  • Increases liver function
  • Aids in decreasing fatty liver from alcohol and fried foods
Grapefruit Aids in liver function
Green Tea Antioxidant
Kale Flushes out the kidneys
Lemongrass
  • Flushes liver, kidneys and digestive tract
  • Improves circulation and digestion
Lemons Aids in digestion
Olive oil Mixed with lemon, helps gall bladder to expunge gall stones
Rosemary Improves circulation to the lungs
Garlic Boosts the immune system

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Type

Action

Bitters Stimulate digestive processes, liver production of bile
Milk Thistle Supports liver function and regeneration
Lemon juice Triggers nerves and hormone activation in the digestive system
Cruciferous Vegetables
(broccoli, Brussels sprouts, caulifl ower,
cabbage)
  • Contain glucosinolates that protect the liver from damage and assist in removing toxins and extra hormones
  • help lower cortisol levels
Turmeric Anti-infl ammatory
Dandelion root Digestive
Methionine Essential amino acid that is needed for liver detoxifi cation
Bitter greens –
arugula(rocket),
endive, dandelion,
spinach
Increase bile fl ow

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 WHAT TO EXPECT:

You may feel light-headed, tired, cranky and smelly. You may get headaches, stomach issues, rashes, dry mouth, sleep disturbances, nausea, gas, bloating and bad breath. All these are normal and will stabilise. If the symptoms are too harsh or come on rapidly, you are starting too quickly. Drink some juice, eat some fruit or brown rice – slow down. If you are vomiting, have cramps, dizziness (a sign of dehydration), or excessive diarrhea, then stop! You have gone too far and you may have long-term consequences. Many people report increased clarity of mind, vigour, high energy, calmness and reduced worry after a fast. Try it out and see how you feel.
Other than the aforementioned issues it is something we all should try. ‘Detox to Retox’ – get in shape for the holidays or the summer or just for yourself. Keep your mind, body and emotions balanced with these tools. It takes your senses to another level and makes you appreciate everything just a little bit more.

 

 

 

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