Detoxing – Fad, Fear or Ancient Science? (part 2)

Today’s post is the second part of a 2-part blog, by guest blogger and extendYoga teacher, Leslie Edsall.  Last week, we talked about what is means to detox, our fears and our relationship with food.  This week, we’ll talk about how we can reduce our toxic load and begin the detox process.  Enjoy!

The most amazing gift we can gives ourselves is some time to breathe and come to a point of readiness to change. If we give ourselves time to change our behaviors, mentally, by doing a detox program, we can make lifestyle changes to feed our bodies with the foods that is was created to take in.  We were made to eat what our grandparents ate – foods from the ground, foods from the trees and water from the ocean rather than some amped up version of water with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and caffeine while ingesting foods that are laden with so many fillers that the food has more calories than vitamins or minerals.

I want to dispel any myths you might have about a whole food-based detox (a.k.a.: clean eating or foods found in nature) and take the “fear” out of the word detox for extendYoga’s readers.  If you come away with a better understanding of how the body works and why a detox can be beneficial a few times per year, then I have done my job!  🙂

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Detoxifying during seasonal changes is common in other cultures throughout the world, especially in the spring & fall.  Ayurveda is one example of a 5,000 year old way of eating that includes a cleanse (means the same thing) with the change of seasons.  Let me dispel one notion about detoxing – a detox is not a diet, though you may lose weight as a by-product of releasing toxins.  The real purpose of the detox is to remove the items that fog the mind and clog our systems.  On a detox, you replace those items with whole foods & activities that enhance well-being. The items I’m speaking of are not just food related.

I will never forget thinking I was super healthy – consuming green juices, smoothies and eating all the healthy foods I could get my hands on – but I had not given up the toxic shower products, lotions or toxic household cleansers.  Everything we touch, ingest and breathe forces our liver to get to work.

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Your liver is what detoxifies your body to protect you. It filters out the bad stuff so it can keep you healthy.  Too often we have too many toxins in our environment and our organs get exhausted simply trying to do their jobs to “clean our internal house.”

Your liver is like superman because has at least 500 know jobs to handle. The biggest job of all is to filter all the toxicity from your body and excrete it.  Your liver is always working hard to filter toxins from your bloodstream and make sure they leave your body.  A few jobs that the liver takes on include:

  • Endocrine function, releasing substances in o the blood such as globulins, liver glycogen and T3.
  • Metabolic regulation and taking care of 13% of your blood supply.
  • All toxins (internal & external) must be filtered by the liver.
  • Thyroid regulation.

Imagine giving your liver and all of your organs a break: supporting them just for once instead of asking them to continue to do all of the work while we arm the body with toxins if doesn’t deserve to deal with. What is we were nourishing our organs and telling them, “No worries, my friends; I am here to help.”  Let me share some more interesting facts with you.

5 tips to reduce your toxic load:

1. Use herbs that support the “detox organs” – your liver, kidney and colon. I suggest drinking herbs in their natural state such as milk thistle tea, nettle tea and dandelion tea.

2. I encourage dry skin brushing. You can use a towel or a loofa to brush the dead skin off your body. Your skin is your largest organ and by doing this daily you are supporting the excretion of toxicity and lessening the burden for your liver.

3. Eat organic whenever possible. There is a list called “the dirty dozen” and I have included the link below for your knowledge. Remember, pesticides lead to liver overload.

4. Reduce processed and packaged foods. These are all loaded with toxins and chemicals.

5. Replace household and personal products with products that are 100% natural and chemical-free.

Your organs deserve some love.  Just like you love to be loved, so does you liver. What else can you do to release toxins?  A LOT, read along for more tips.

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Mindful Movement
Aim to move for 20-30 minutes each day of a detox by doing gentle exercises including: walking, yoga, tai chi, light aerobic exercise. Be present and use it as a form of moving meditation. Focus on your breath, the smells, sights, sounds and feeling within your own body. Let go of thoughts on what to do next and become mindful of offering your body this gift of movement and freedom. This exercise will awaken your mind, body & spirit.

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Daily Breath Work & Mindfulness
In order to release stuck toxins & clear the mind, daily breath works key. Create a mantra for your detox. Examples include:

(Inhale)                (Exhale)
No where to go   Nothing to do
Om                         Peace
I am                       Love

Daily Affirmations & Journaling
Journaling and positive affirmations are an excellent way to let go of old habits of thought and speech.  Find 5 minutes a day to write down something “new & good” that happened or what you look forward to today.  Also, add one thing that you are grateful for each day.  Gratitude is an easy, but amazing way to shift you away from negative thought patterns. This is a very rewarding and detoxing exercise when it is practiced on a daily basis. Try it out and you will see!

A massage is also an excellent way to move lymph through the system and rid the body of toxins.  Choose the type of massage that is right for you.  Deep tissue and lymphatic drainage massages are best for detoxing.

Detox your Closets or Office
This is a great time to take a look at areas in your home or office that need a little bit of clearing out. This activity will make you feel lighter, happier and deepen the overall detox process.

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Be Kind to Yourself.
Most of all, be kind of yourself on a detox program because holding on to negative thought patterns are counter-productive to the detox process.  A detox is all about letting go of your former beliefs about yourself, your looks, your diet, your career, your relationships, your home life and so on. A detox is a chance to re-set the system, from head-to-toe, with support from others. Begin to love yourself more and let to “fitting in.” The only person judging you on how you “do” on a detox is yourself. Be kind, un-wind, breathe, try new foods, get more rest, read more, criticize less, and you may even have an epiphany or two along the way.

Happy detoxing!

Leslie Edsall is a nutrition, yoga and health education expert who offers nutrition programs, teaches at extendYoga and offers workshops in the local community.  To learn more about Leslie: