Here’s how to cleanse without feeling majorly deprived for days.
Tracy Peternell and Joshua Duvauchelle
Do you cringe when you hear the word “cleanse,” imagining days of guzzling green juice and staring longingly at your coworker’s takeout sushi? Cleansing doesn’t have to leave you feeling hangry and tired. Bid farewell to the scary detoxes of old and say hello to healthy choices that naturally revitalize your body. A cleanse is a treatment or diet program designed to rid our bodies of toxins. Yet our bodies have the remarkable ability to cleanse themselves via our liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, colon and skin. This means that radical detox diets are not only difficult, but also generally unnecessary. Even so, toxins can build up in our system, leaving us feeling depleted. According to registered holistic nutritionist Keyrsten McEwan, “Despite good intentions, we’re commonly exposed to toxins in food, water and the environment.” Help support your body’s detox mechanisms by eating well, drinking sufficient water and taking supportive supplements. Not sure where to start? Follow this list of clever cleansing tips.
Great in cereals, smoothies or salads, ground flaxseed gently helps the colon rid your body of waste through a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber. A diet rich in fiber is a natural way to support detoxification of the gut, liver and kidneys.
A yellow-orange Indian spice, turmeric, according to McEwan, may assist enzymes that flush out toxins from our diets. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it’s available in supplement form.
Chlorella is a potent type of algae that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s thought to improve immune responses. According to registered holistic nutritionist Paula Blanchet, chlorella “may amplify the rebalancing process for anyone with high levels of toxins from exposure at work or in [their] diet.”
Water is pretty important to well-being. It promotes proper digestion, lubricates your joints and even supports your brain (which is more than 70 percent H2O). Rich in minerals like potassium and magnesium, alkaline water is less acidic than tap water and may offer an additional benefit: It’s thought to help counteract acidity in the body, promoting overall health and increased energy.
Some health care practitioners believe that apple cider vinegar is a great way to stimulate the liver and digestion, naturally helping the body detoxify.
Skip the limp iceberg lettuce in favor of dark green veggies like kale, broccoli and collard greens, which support natural liver detoxification and are rich in nutrients. To get even more green goodness in your diet, add a convenient greens powder to your daily routine.
Minimizing alcohol, caffeine, sugar and processed foods is sensible. These culprits contain minimal nutritional content and may strain your body’s ability to achieve optimal health.
Cleansing is about both the mind and the body. According to McEwan, in traditional Chinese medicine, “it’s thought that the liver detoxifies both our bodies and our emotions, leaving us feeling better both physically and mentally.”
Address both health dimensions by adding more self-care practices into your day—it’ll leave you recharged and relaxed from head to toe. Promise!
Blanchet recommends dry brushing as a naturally relaxing way to stimulate movement in the lymphatic and circulatory systems, which is thought to help rid the body of toxins more quickly. Before showering, use a soft body brush designed for dry brushing to make long, sweeping strokes along your body toward your heart.
In addition to its relaxing benefits, sauna therapy has multiple health benefits, including the reduction of chronic fatigue and pain. It’s also believed to help support detoxification.
You might not be able to fit in an hour-long workout every day. But you can almost definitely make time for 15 minutes of yoga or a brisk walk to reduce stress and get your body moving.
Excess screen time takes away from the present and may leave you anxious and overstimulated. Stay mindful of mental strain; take time away from tech.
Speaking of overload: Remember that while change is empowering, you don’t have to overhaul your diet and routines overnight. McEwan reminds us not to underestimate the power of changing just one thing. Before long, you’ll feel cleaner, fresher and healthier—and not deprived at all.
“There are a variety of supplements that can be taken to aid in detoxification and digestion,” says naturopath Jonathan Beatty. In addition to chlorella (of course!), Beatty favors B-complex vitamins. “B vitamins are required for many detoxification pathways,” he says.
To strengthen the liver’s natural detox capability, Westin Childs, MD, suggests milk thistle, glutathione or N-acetylcysteine. “To eliminate waste from your body, your liver has to be in good working condition, [and] these supplements boost the liver’s ability to detoxify the blood,” he says.
Always consult your health care practitioner about which supplements are right for you.