Fall is almost here! I absolutely LOVE this time of year, as nature bursts into brilliant warm colors, in a dramatic display of beauty before the quiet of winter. This season of transition is a great time to detox, as is Spring. As the seasons change, some people may decide to do a more intensive detox program - and more power to them! However, that is not for everyone, especially if you cannot afford to lay low and take extra time to rest for the few days of aggravation that usually come along with an intense detox program.
The good news is that even just focusing on intentionally adding in a few simple practices to encourage your body's natural detox processes, improving the body's transport of toxins and supporting elimination of toxins through the gut, urinary tract and skin, can do wonders for your health and happiness. Read on to learn about 7 gentle detox and elimination supportive practices to try this Fall.
1. Start the morning right: Drink a large glass of warm lemon water
This is not only a great way to fire up your digestive tract, but also a great way to get a head start on making sure that you start the day well hydrated. Drink it right after you wake up to stimulate liver function and bile flow to help your body flush out toxins. Just add the juice of 1/2-1 lemon to 1-2 cups of warm (not hot!) water, and drink up. A quicker alternative is to use 1-2 tablespoons of pure organic lemon juice (make sure there is nothing added). If you want to spruce it up even more you can add a little ginger, which is extra warming for cooler days. And remember that your urinary tract is one avenue by which toxins exit your body so keep up your good hydration habit throughout the day by drinking plenty of filtered or spring water.
2. Keep moving!
As the weather cools, we sometimes find ourselves starting to slow down and move less. And while during the depths of winter it can make sense to start to start to conserve our energy a little more than usual, it's not time for that lull just yet! Commit to movement that gets your heart rate up and gets you sweating for at least 15 minutes a day. Movement that gets your heart rate up aids your metabolism, gets your lymph moving and gets you sweating for extra toxin-elimination support. If you need some inspiration for fall workouts, check out some ideas here. While the weather is still pleasant, you may want to seize the opportunity to get outside to hike, kayak, run or play your favorite sport.
3. Eat vegetables in abundance
I know you've heard it before, but I'm going to say it again, because it is SO important: eat your veggies! And lots of them! Eating at least 5-9 servings of vegetables a day provides you with lots of fiber to keep your bowels moving, supports a healthy microbiome, and provides you with lots of vitamins and minerals that are needed for a multitude of cellular processes. Cruciferous vegetables are especially helpful for supporting the detox pathways in your liver. The soluble fiber in vegetables binds up with toxins that are dumped into your intestines by your liver so that you can excrete them. If you're eating a low fiber diet and have sluggish bowels, no matter how hard your liver works to detoxify, toxins just end up being re-absorbed in your gut instead of excreted out. Need some inspiration for upping your ante on vegetable intake? Check out this autumn detox salad recipe. For those of you who prefer warmer meals, you can always find creative ways to steam, sauté or bake your vegetables. Lastly, it is always best to eat organic, if you can, to avoid increasing your body's toxic load by eating pesticides. To prioritize what to eat organic when on a budget, refer to the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen guides to help you decide when it's most important to eat organic, and when it's alright to go with the conventionally grown option.
4. Brush your skin
Dry skin brushing is fabulous for stimulating your lymphatic system. Our lymphatic system is where a lot of cellular waste and environmental toxins are dumped into, to be moved along to the liver for breakdown or detoxification, then moved to the digestive or urinary tract for excretion. Movement can be great for getting your lymph moving via the pumping action of muscle, but you can give it an extra boost with dry skin brushing. Read more about dry skin brushing and how to do it here.
5. Declutter your mind: Automatic writing
So far we have looked at ways of supporting the physical body. But the mind is just as important to tend to as the body, and both are inextricably interconnected. One mental "detox" I like to do once in a while is automatic writing. It's very simple, you need no creative writing skills and it only requires 20 minutes a day for 4 days. Here's what you do: set aside 20 minutes when you will be undisturbed, find a cozy writing space, close the door and silence your phone. All you need is some paper and a pen. Set a timer for 20 minutes and start writing. There is no prompt or assignment. Just write down whatever comes into your mind, with no editing. If nothing comes into your mind just write "I don't know what to write" until something pops into your mind. Just keep writing. Once the timer ends, do not read through what you wrote. Just get rid of it (rip it up, shred it, whatever you want). Then repeat for 3 more days.
6. Sweat it out!
As mentioned, sweating is one of the ways that toxins, such as insecticides, herbicides, toxic metals and natural body waste, exit the body. Exercise can get you sweating, but for an extra boost, you can add in time in the sauna. Both exercise and therapeutic heat can increase mobilization of toxins from fat tissue into the blood stream, to be shuttled off for detox and elimination. If you have never been to a sauna before, start very slowly and leave if you feel at all light headed, dizzy, get a racing heart, fatigue or nausea. These are all signs that you may be overheated, dehydrated or electrolyte deficient. Some people find that they need to take a break every 10-15 minutes. During these breaks make sure to take a cool shower, drink water and replenish electrolytes with electrolyte mixes, fresh vegetable juice, V8 juice or sports drinks that are caffeine and sugar free. You can also take a high quality trace mineral every day. NOTE: Saunas are contraindicated in some chronic conditions such as COPD, heart failure, uncontrolled hypertension, arrhythmia and poorly controlled diabetes; if you have a serious chronic condition, consult with your doctor before using a sauna. If you do not have access to a sauna, another way to get encourage sweating at home is to take a warm epsom salt bath. For extra sweating potential, sip one of the herbal teas mentioned below, while you take the bath.
7. Love your liver with herbal tea
Herbal tea is a fantastic way to increase hydration and also get therapeutic benefit at the same time. It's hard to pick favorites, but a few good choices for liver supportive tea are dandelion root, artichoke leaf, and yellow dock root. These all have bitter properties, which means that they stimulate bile and they are all great for lessening liver congestion and supporting a healthy liver. There are many other liver supportive herbs, that can be taken as teas, tinctures or dried extracts, but I will save that for a future blog post. For now, think about sipping some dandelion, artichoke or yellow dock tea enhance your detox and elimination. You can also find some great tea blends aimed at enhancing detox. Two of my favorite brands are Traditional Medicinals and Choice. Keep in mind that not all tea brands are equal; for tips on choosing safe tea brands, click here.
In future blog posts I'll discuss ways of reducing your toxic load by decreasing your toxic exposure in the first place and go more in-depth into ways that you can support your "powerhouse of detoxification": your liver.
I'm off to make a cup of tea,