A gentle seasonal detox can leave you feeling more energetic, less stressed, and physically refreshed.
Detoxes are showing up everywhere these days—from the lemon juice-maple syrup-cayenne pepper fast, to increasingly popular juice cleanse programs. While a cleanse typically focuses on one area of the body, a detox is considered a system-wide reboot. And done wisely, say many health experts, a detox can provide serious benefits. “Many minor ailments, such as headaches, fatigue, poor concentration, and insomnia, are caused by a buildup of toxins,” says Annie Kay, an integrative dietitian who leads Healthy Living immersion programs at Kripalu.
While the body naturally eliminates waste through the skin, kidneys, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and simply by breathing, sometimes it could use a little assistance. By targeting the liver, where toxins and mood-altering hormones can build up, as well as the colon, where waste is held, detoxes provide a mind/body housecleaning of sorts. And though spring is a great time to do it—as the weather gets warmer, that warmth helps support organ function, allowing impurities to flow out more easily—detox is something that can, and should, be incorporated any time of the year.
The first step is to pick a three-day period that works with your schedule, one during which it’s easy for you to eat on your own terms and get a lot of sleep. “A detox should include quiet time, away from work and intense social interaction,” says Jim Conzo, a certified nutrition specialist who leads programs in detox and GI health at Kripalu. (Note that people with conditions such as diabetes, cancer, kidney or liver disease, as well as women who are pregnant or nursing, should consult their doctors or schedule a one-on-one with a Kripalu nutritionist before embarking on any detox program.)
For the duration of your detox, eliminate meat, fish, poultry, soy, dairy, eggs, gluten and flour products, sugar or artificial sweeteners, salt, fruit juice, caffeine, and alcohol. Aim for three meals per day, eating an amount that “gently satisfies” (don’t stuff yourself), and focusing on raw fruits and vegetables, basic grains, nuts, and legumes. Experiment with cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. And stay hydrated! Aim to drink two liters of water throughout the day. Try to meditate, and cut out media as much possible. On day three, treat yourself to a massage. It’ll help stimulate your nervous and digestive systems—and provide a much-deserved reward!
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