by Leyla Moudden, Naturopath and Director of Education for Enzymedica UK (www.enzymedica.co.uk)
Summer has arrived, and with the sunshine comes the perfect opportunity to take some time to detoxify our bodies, revitalise our skin and renew our energy levels. In natural terms, detoxification is helping the body process food and waste more effectively, whilst nourishing it with a steady flow of fresh nutrients and minerals. By doing this, we increase our energy and vitality, as well as reduce any extra weight we may have accumulated over the winter months.
Our bodies are purpose built for detoxification, yet during the winter months we tend to sabotage our natural detoxification pathways by overloading the body with carbs, sugars, fats, caffeine and alcohol. When the weather is colder, we tend to hunker down indoors, eating foods less for their nutrient content, and more for their comfort factor. In the cold, we usually sweat less and tend to be less active, which can slow down our channels of elimination. The result is sluggishness, poor skin tone, low energy levels and that extra soft body fat around our middle. All of these effects can be reduced with a detox programme, which aims to give our elimination organs the nutrients they need to manage and clear waste from our bodies more effectively.
The end goal of any detoxification programme is to clear the system of toxins that have built up in the body, or more specifically remove the foods that create inflammation, drinks that dehydrate us and chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and preservatives that put a huge toxic burden on our organs. An ideal detox programme would be part of a weekly or monthly routine, but for many of us, that’s not a realistic goal. Instead, an occasional 10–18-day detox plan is an excellent way to get our metabolism back into shape and revive and rejuvenate our bodies.
Here we take a look at the key components to a safe and successful summer detox:
- Be gentle on yourself
Depending on your current health, undertaking a radical change in eating and drinking such as a detox routine should match your health level. If you do yoga three times a week, swim at the weekends and eat 100% organic food, then you can probably handle a more intense detox, such as 10-days on just juices, bone broths and home-made vegetable soups. If you are a person who is relatively healthy but guilty of hitting the snack cupboard and skipping exercise, then giving up processed food, switching to organic foods and using only filtered water as your daily fluid for 18 days will do wonders for your health and mood.
If you have chronic health issues and struggle with your weight, then I suggest that you find a supportive health practitioner to work with and create a tailor-made detox plan that is specific to your needs. As time goes on and your health improves, so too will your detoxification routine, so it’s important that you find a level of detoxification that is achievable for you.
- Have a clean diet
Tastes and flavours can be added using fresh herbs and if you must use salt, opt for natural salt that contains many trace elements and minerals such as sea salt, or rock salt. You may wish to boost your detox with a supplement such as glutathione. Glutathione is known as the body’s master detoxifier, helping your body process and eliminate toxins, supporting energy production, and boosting your immune system.
- Rest and digest
Giving the digestive system a rest between meals is a must during a detox programme, which is why I recommend a 4-hour break between meals, as well as having a strict cut off time for eating, such as four hours before bedtime. Sleep is also incredibly important, as this is when our detox organs do most of their work, so getting a good night’s sleep is critical for a successful detox.
To enhance the uptake of nutrients and minerals from your food into your system, and particularly if you are over the age of 30, add in a digestive enzyme supplement with each meal. Digest Gold™ from Enzymedica UK will reduce the energy demands of the digestive process and enhance your nutrient levels after eating, and with that comes more energy.
A detoxing process needs to be supplemented by low stress levels, so take breaks to relax when you can. Reduce your exposure to blue lights from electronic equipment such as phones, screens and laptops. Research shows that the average person spends 11 hours each day listening to, watching, reading or interacting with technology and a large percentage of people check their devices 150 times a day. Remember, technology is a tool for us to use, not to be enslaved by!
- Support elimination
Our bodies need to get rid of waste to keep us healthy. If we are constipated, bloated or suffering from skin outbreaks, these are clear signs that one or more of our channels of elimination is struggling to rid our bodies of waste. We detox naturally by having a bowel movement, urinating and sweating. So gentle exercise to get us moving such as walking, re-bounding (think mini trampoline), yoga or Chi-Gong are ideal when we are in a detox phase. Having sessions in a red-light sauna is also greatly beneficial for a good sweating session.
Another great detoxification trick is ‘dry skin brushing’ before a cool shower. Take a firm, natural bristle shower brush and gently brush your skin whilst it is dry. Start from the feet, brushing in smooth strokes all the way up your legs towards the groin area. Then from the hands down the arms towards the armpits, across the collar bone then gently around the tender skin of the breasts / chest area towards the heart. Include your head and neck, brushing downwards from the top of your head. Dry skin brushing not only feels great, but it also stimulates your lymphatic system and provides a huge treat for the skin.
- Drink filtered water
Scientists estimate that 60% of the human body is made up of water and our elimination organs need fluid in order to excrete properly. Even mild dehydration can lead to our body systems slowing down, reducing our energy levels, aging us faster, wrinkling our skin and building up our toxic load.
Filtered drinking water keeps the natural minerals in the water, yet filters out any pollutants and chemicals that may be in the water from the treatment plants or the pipes that carry the water to your home. If you don’t have access to filtered water, it would be worth investing in a filter jug to have as ‘unpolluted as possible’ water to drink. If you have a reverse osmosis system in your kitchen, this water will have been stripped of all its natural minerals, so it’s very helpful to make sure that you do include pink Himalayan rock salt or natural sea salt in your diet to put the minerals back in.