Chances are your body has been telling you it's time for a body detox, you just haven't been listening.
Getting rid of toxins that naturally build up in our body over time by doing a good body detox can boost energy, help with weight loss, improve memory and keep our bodies healthy overall.
A lot of people associate a body detox with a fast, or drinking lots of juices throughout the day. Yes, there are some juice detoxes, but they don't have to be juice-based. In fact, the modified detox I love the most is food-based.
Before I go too deep into what a good body detox looks like, here's a quick primer on why it's so important.
Body Detox 101
When I was a kid, I used to think that detoxification was something only alcoholics and drug addicts needed to do - not people like me who weren't dependent on a chemical or substance. Back then, I thought the purpose of a detox was to conquer the addiction - get over it and move on, hopefully, without a relapse. Certainly easier said than done, no doubt.
Today, a few decades later, detoxing or cleansing means something very different. As an adult, I have a completely different understanding of my body and a fervent respect for how every single thing I put in it can either make it healthier or increase the likelihood of disease. There's very little gray area.
5 Signs You Need A Detox
Most people have no idea how good they can feel if they only took a few days to clean out their system. If you regularly experience any of the following, you probably need to take some time to reset your body with a good detox.
1 - Cravings
If you have a sweet tooth and can't imagine going a day without candy, sugar-sweeted coffee drinks (even decaf), pastries, breads or sodas, you could be (and probably are) very addicted to sugar. Cravings aren't a sign that your liver is necessarily congested, but they're a big clue that you won't be able to give up the sweet stuff very easily, which will create problems down the road ranging from excessive weight gain, inflammation and diseases (including fatty liver disease).
2 - Fluid Retention
Provided you're not nine months pregnant, managing a belly the size of a bowling ball, unexpected fluid or water retention can be a very serious health concern. If you can't squeeze your rings on your fingers as easily or if you're hanging on to an extra pound or two of fluid throughout your body, it could be a sign that your body isn't able to get rid of toxins as quickly as it should. Excess waste that's accumulating in your fat cells could be a reason. Note: If you experience unusual swelling, especially in your ankles or hands, contact a medical professional.
3 - Fatigue
A lack of energy or excessive fatigue could be related to a great many things, but it's not at all uncommon for our body to react this way when we need to detoxify. Nutrients, including enzymes and minerals, can't make their way to where they need to go in the body if the highways on which they usually travel are jammed up.
4 - Weight Gain/Inability to Lose Weight
One thing I always try to tell people who have stubborn body fat (especially belly fat) is that it's nearly impossible to lose weight if they have existing inflammation. Inflammation is largely controlled by the foods we eat. We can reduce inflammation, very effectively, by initially detoxifying our system, followed body a diet of mostly anti-inflammatory foods.
My book, The Belly Burn Plan, discusses this at great length...and includes a full meal plan (including a 3-day cleanse). I have people following my program who have tried for years to lose weight and have always been unsuccessful. After starting my program with the 3-Day Cleanse, they're able to lose weight...and more importantly fat. Some people lose weight very quickly (10 pounds seems to fall off), and others lose weight moderately (about 1.5 to 2 pounds a week). It's amazing and so wonderful to see.
5 - Constipation
Needless to say, if your colon gets backed up, you've got toxins moving to places they shouldn't go. We we don't eliminate food at least every 24 hours, it's likely toxins get reabsorbed back into our bodies. If you're constipated and not up for a full-on detox (not everyone is), take a look at your diet right now. If bread products, dairy, sugar-sweetened beverages, alcohol and meats make up a majority of your diet, you need to refine quite a bit.
Toxins All Around Us
You have an air filter in your body called your liver. It's amazing. And it's primary job is to keep your body free and clear of toxins...in a perfect world.
When your liver starts getting bogged down with garbage, things start feeling more stagnant and we can't break down everything that's accumulating, including:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Fast food
- Refined sugar
- Refined vegetables oils (corn, soy bean and canola oil)
- Mercury (in fish)
- Trans Fats
- Cigarette smoke
- Parabens and Phthalates (in shampoos and soaps, etc)
- Bisphenol-A (BPA) (from plastics)
When your liver gets congested, toxins can't move out the way they need to. This also means you won't be able to lose body fat as easily!
Your Amazing Liver
Let's say that your liver is your body's air filter (and for the most part, it is). It helps to filter out junk and keep the good stuff moving to where it needs to go. When it gets congested, we start feeling it. Sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly. Older bodies feel a congested liver much more quickly than younger bodies. The goal is to unclog or decongest the liver, your body's air filter.
Our liver is truly amazing. Regardless of how rundown we feel, our liver is always equipped to continue detoxifying, regardless of what we put into our body. Sugar, alcohol, heavy metals from the air we breathe...all of it eventually gets moved out of our system thanks to this organ. The speed at which it moves out, however, often dictates how "healthy" we truly feel.
I just returned from a short weekend away in Miami with my husband. This may sound odd, but when I'm out of my routine and away from my kitchen in which I love to make special (healthy) treats for my kids (like these awesome homemade Larabars), I find it easier to eat healthy.
If you have kids, you can probably understand that it's also a little easier to relax. But travel, airports and the pillow in the hotel room bed that isn't quite like my own and doesn't let me sleep as well catches up to me. By the time I'm home, I'm ready to reset my body with a modified detox of my own.
We don't need to eat poorly or drink a bottle of wine every night to experience an overload of toxins in our body. Stress, a lack of sleep and environmental toxins (think smog, car exhaust and household cleaners) can jam up detoxification pathways.
5 Ways to Eliminate Toxins From Your Body
I strongly suggest you pick up my book. After you have it, join me in my private Facebook support group. It's full of great people who have made incredibly inspiring achievements. Outside of that, here are a few things you can start doing right now.
You can also download my free one day cleanse right now. It's really easy and is filled with lots of great recipes!
1 - Drink 8 ounces of room temp or warm water before EVERY meal or snack.
We all know that water helps to remove toxins from our body, but do you drink enough? Just as important is the temperature of water. Cold water before a meal or snack can restrict your colon, making it harder to eliminate toxins. Sip on room temp water or your favorite tea before eating.
2 - Eat two servings of veggies with every meal and one serving of veggies with every snack.
Sounds like a lot, but it's not. Serving sizes of just about everything are small, including vegetables. Fiber-rich vegetables act like sponges on toxins lingering in our colon and can help to pull them out. Carrots, peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli or celery are just a few veggies that are easy to grab when you're feeling a little hungry.
3 - Cut back on high sugar foods, including fruits.
Excess sugar is a killer - all forms - including fruit sugar, also called fructose. You and I both know how important it is to cut back on foods that contain a lot of sugar, like cookies, candy, soda and energy drinks. But fruit can also be a problem if you're eating too much of the high sugar stuff - like bananas, mangos and pineapples.
Whether or not you gain weight, you increase the likelihood of developing non-alcoholic liver disease when you consume too much sugar. You don't have to obsess about sugar, but be conscious of it.
If you've read The Belly Burn Plan, you may have noticed I don't go overboard on fruit in the 6-week meal plan, especially for apple shape bodies, or those who store belly fat through their midsection.
4 - Sleep 7 to 8 hours a day.
I could preach all day about the importance of sleep and detoxification. Sleep is important to hormone regulation, muscle recovery and actually helps our brain get rid of metabolic waste. Do you best to get as much sleep as possible, especially if you're under the 7-hour mark.
When you sleep a full night, you help to regulate cortisol, insulin and adrenal hormones - all of which play hand-in-hand with detoxification. If you're looking for a more in-depth explanation on how you can actually sleep your way to a lean body, Eating too late at night throws off your insulin levels and affects digestion. You don't need what you're eating shortly before bed getting stored as fat, do you? That's what happens when we eat too much too soon to hitting the sack. If it's a late night and you must eat something, make sure it's on the lighter side the closer you get to bedtime.
5 - Stop eating three hours before bedtime.
Eating too late at night throws off your insulin levels and affects digestion. You don't need what you're eating shortly before bed getting stored as fat, do you? That's what happens when we eat too much too soon to hitting the sack. If it's a late night and you must eat something, make sure it's on the lighter side the closer you get to bedtime.