It is that time of year when spring cleaning is happening all around us. It is that feeling when you look through your winter closet of clothes and exchange them out for warmer ones. The feeling of washing your car and pruning the weeds out of the garden. The plants and trees do it as well, you can see the old leaves just falling to the ground as the new buds and green healthy leaves are sprouting to the surface. It is so natural to want to clear out the stagnant and bring in new energy. That is the essence of spring and a detox can kickstart that process for your body.
What is detoxification? Well just about every organ does some form of detoxing, releasing wastes and holding onto healthy nutrients. The main detox organs are your intestines, skin, sweat glands, mouth/tongue, liver, kidney and urinary tract. All of these organs needs support when trying to do their best job possible. If one system is blocked or dysfunctional that can also affect the other organs.
For the intestines, it is important to have enough fiber in the diet. Fiber binds toxins and excretes them out in the form of waste. The more sluggish your bowels, the longer toxins can stay in the body and be absorbed. Alternatively having a bowel movement that is too fast, may cause nutrient deficiencies. Good sources of fiber include dark leafy greens, whole grains, and chia seeds for example. Drinking water to help push the fiber out is just as important, aim for 1/3 of your weight in ounces of water.
The skin is a good indication of how your inside body is doing. Do you have oily skin, breakouts, or dry scaly patches? Alternatively, is your skin moist, smooth and clear of blemishes? I think the skin is a great indicator of liver health. Some people get breakouts or eczema from too many inflammatory foods in their diet. The most common ones are wheat, dairy, eggs, sugar, yeast, and soy for example. Try taking out these foods for a few weeks to see if that makes any difference for your skin. Liver support comes in the form of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli. Other great liver supportive foods include turmeric, milk thistle, and artichoke. Alcohol and smoking as well as synthetic hormones or NSAID’s can really stress the liver. Healthy fats like omega-3/6/9 from fish, nuts, avocado, olives and seeds can support skin health internally. Topically try coconut oil, olive or avocado oil for extra moisture of the skin.
Sweating helps to open up the skin pores, it increases circulation to the entire body, improves gastric motility, and releases stuck toxins. The most common way people sweat is through exercise. Sauna or hot baths increase sweating as well as adding epsom salts for an additional detoxifying effect. To do something simple every morning, make a detox smoothie. I like to add kale, chia seeds, walnuts, berries, water, ice and to enhance that add some cilantro, ginger, and turmeric powder. Start your day off right, it may be challenging but each day you will feel better than the last.
Dr. Allison Apfelbaum is a Naturopathic primary care doctor at Tree of Health Integrative Medicine.