Junk food, alcohol, pollution – your body battles numerous toxins on a daily basis. Fortunately, it’s got a great detoxification system in place. Your skin, your immune system, and your intestines work to eliminate, screen, or protect you from harmful substances. Your liver helps to metabolize nutrients like zinc and copper and neutralize dangerous metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium. And of course, your kidneys filter out toxic waste materials.1 But thanks to our lifestyle habits and other environmental factors, these systems are often put to the test. So how can you lend your body a hand and rid it off toxins?
No Magic Pill Or Quick Fix For Cleansing Your Body
From cleanser diets, where you restrict yourself to just fruit juices or green smoothies, to detox foot pads that claim to eliminate toxins, you’ll find a host of “magical” remedies making the rounds. But the truth is you’ll need to make a more sustained effort to keep your body clean.Your best bet is some healthy and consistent measures that support the natural detoxifying mechanisms of your body. This way, your toxin busting organs get all the help they need to keep this intricate system going.
Here are 10 steps you can put in place from today to rid your body of toxins and keep it in top form.
1. Get Some Fiber
Dietary fiber helps in eliminating toxins by maintaining bowel regularity. Insoluble fiber can bulk up stool and quicken the movement of waste and food through your digestive system. So it’s particularly useful when you’re dealing with constipation. Meanwhile, soluble fiber is known to hamper the absorption of cholesterol and fat as help control blood sugar levels, which makes it great for your heart.
What to do: It’s recommended that you have around 25 g of fiber per day if you’re on a 2000 calorie diet. Fruits, nuts, and vegetables are good sources of both soluble and insoluble fibers. Also mix in fiber-rich whole grains to meet your daily quota. There’s a whole variety of foods you can choose from: beans, lentils, apples, blueberries, oatmeal, and nuts will give you soluble fiber while brown rice, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and legumes offer insoluble fiber.
2. Neutralize Free Radicals With Antioxidants
Compounds present in processed food, exposure to the sun’s rays, the conversion of food into energy by your body as well as toxins like alcohol, tobacco, and pollution can result in the formation of free radicals. These free radicals can damage your DNA and cells. Therefore, they have a role in aging as well as a range of diseases from diabetes and heart disease to cancer. Antioxidants can help protect your cells from damage due to certain toxins. They protect your body against free radicals as well as reverse the damage to a certain extent.
What to do: Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants. Make sure you eat a colorful mix to get a range of antioxidants. For instance, watermelon, tomatoes pink grapefruits, and apricots can give you lycopene; peas, papayas, squash, mangoes, carrots, and cantaloupes can give you beta-carotene; green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collards can give you lutein – all antioxidants you’d want to tank up on.
3. Go Easy On Salt
Most of us use too much salt or sodium in our food. Salt can raise your blood pressure, strain and damage your kidneys, and impair their ability to remove toxins from your body. Toxins can then start to accumulate in your body.
What to do: Try to keep your salt consumption below 6 gm a day. And remember, many processed foods like ready-made sauces and store-bought bread can be deceptively high in salt so check the labels diligently. You don’t, however, have to resign yourself to flavorless food just because you’re cutting down on salt. Spices like cinnamon, pepper, and ginger can be used to make food tasty and interesting.
4. Cut Down Alcohol
Your liver cleans and detoxifies your blood and it filters alcohol when you drink. But each time this happens, a few liver cells die out. The liver is capable of regenerating itself but excessive alcohol consumption can hamper this ability and result in permanent liver damage.
What to do: If you have alcohol then exercise moderation. Stick to 1 drink a day if you’re a woman and 2 drinks if you’re a man. One drink is defined as 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, 12 ounces of beer, or 5 ounces of wine. Better still, cut down completely for a while to detox!
5. Flush Out Toxins With Water
Your kidneys filter blood to produce urine which is made up of waste and extra fluid. And drinking sufficient water will help keep your kidneys functioning well. Urine is normally straw-colored but if your urine is darker in color it could be an early sign that you’re not getting enough water.
What to do: Make sure you get enough fluids. Women need around 2.1 liters in a day while men need about 2.6 liters. But you may need more if you’ve been exercising intensively or it’s really hot, to compensate for the extra fluid lost through sweat.
6. Quit Smoking
Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals. And many of these can be extremely toxic. Here’s a sample of the substances that you could be breathing in when you smoke: formaldehyde, the chemical that’s used to preserve specimens in labs; ammonia, a chemical used in toilet cleaners; hydrogen cyanide, which is found in rat poison; toluene, which is a part of paint thinners … you get the drift! No wonder then that smoking can cause cancer, increase your risk for heart disease, and damage your lungs.
What to do: Quit smoking. If you’re struggling, online programs or counseling may be helpful. Also consider nicotine replacement products or prescription medication that help lessen withdrawal symptoms. Research shows that they can double your chances of success.
7. Try Herbal Remedies
Here are a few herbal remedies that can boost your liver function and help cleanse your body.
Milk thistle contains silymarin, an antioxidant that can improve liver function. Silymarin is thought to lessen inflammation, flush out toxins that can be harmful to your liver, and regenerate liver cells that have been injured. It’s commonly used to counteract the damaging effects of alcohol on the liver and can help it become healthy again after a person stops drinking.
What to do: Grind up 12 to 15 grams of the dried fruits of milk thistle and consume it. You could also steep it and take it as a tea. Milk thistle is also available as a supplement. If your liver function is impaired it might take 8 to 12 weeks of use before you see an improvement and those who with chronic liver conditions may need to use milk thistle long term. But do check in with your doctor if you’re planning on using milk thistle therapeutically for a liver condition.
Turmeric has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. Its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can protect your liver too. One animal study also showed that it could inhibit the progression of liver cirrhosis in rats exposed to the harmful chemical thioacetamide.
What to do: This flavorsome spice makes a great addition to your dishes. So try a spicy curry with some turmeric today. You can also make a traditional drink that comes from Southeast Asia – Turmeric milk. It’s easy to prepare – all you need to do is boil a glass of milk with about a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Gulp this down every day for an immunity and liver boost.
Licorice contains flavones with strong antioxidant properties which may be able to protect your liver. One animal study even found that it can halt alcoholic fatty liver disease.
What to do: Make a licorice tea by boiling around 14 grams of licorice roots in 500 ml of water for about 15 minutes. Drink this tea warm.
But do keep in mind that licorice contains a compound known as glycyrrhizin which can be harmful when used long term. So please check in with your doctor if you’re planning on using licorice for more than two weeks.
8. Get Enough Sleep
Did you know that a good night’s sleep plays an important role in clearing your brain of toxins? Toxic molecules implicated in neurodegenerative conditions accumulate in the space between brain cells during the day. But researchers have found that the cellular structure of your brain changes while you sleep and the gaps between brain cells increase. And your glymphatic system which helps control the flow of cerebrospinal fluid – fluid that surrounds your spinal cord and brain – opens. Fluid then rapidly flows through your brain flushing out harmful toxins.
What to do: On average, an adult needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. Make sure you don’t skimp on sleep. Start your day with a clear head!
9. Try Intermittent Fasting
Fasting has actually been a way of life for people for most of our evolution when we were hunter gatherers. It is also a part of almost every major religion from Christianity and Islam to Hinduism. And researchers have found that it might be good for your liver. Your body produces more of a certain protein known as GADD45β – which stands for “Growth Arrest and DNA Damage-inducible” – when you’re hungry. This protein is involved in the repair of DNA but it has also been found to regulate the absorption of fatty acids by the liver. The accumulation of excess fat can be harmful to your liver. It can lead to swelling and scarring of the liver which could cause liver failure. It has been found that people with low levels of GADD45β have a greater accumulation of fat in the liver and higher blood sugar.
What to do: Limit the calories that you have in a day to 500 calories on two nonconsecutive days in a week while following a regular diet for the rest of the week. You could also follow a time restricted diet, where you have meals within an 8-hour period on a day and then fast for the remaining 16 hours. But do check in with your doctor beforehand to see if you have medical conditions or take medications that might make it inadvisable for you to fast. For instance, fasting can aggravate complications like kidney disease in those who have diabetes.
10. Get An Ayurvedic Detox
If you’ve been searching for a comprehensive detoxification program, you should consider Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, the accumulation of toxins (known as dushivisha) affects your immunity and vital life energy, resulting in disease. To clear out toxins from the body, this ancient medical system uses 5 techniques together known as panchakarma. These include therapeutic vomiting (vamana karma), purgation (virechana karma), enema therapy (basti karma ), nasal administration of medicines (nasya karma) and bloodletting therapy (raktamokshaņa karma). Before the main detoxifying process is carried out, oleation or sudation may be used as a preparatory process to soften toxins so that they can be eliminated.
What to do: An ayurvedic practitioner can help you put together a detoxification program based on your constitution and tailored to your individual needs.