Quick and easy detox helpers
Spring is the perfect time to think about detoxifying. It's much better than the new year in fact, when your system is still in winter slow-down mode. In the springtime, we're are naturally much more ready to get moving and to make changes, which means you're much more likely to stick to any changes you do make. Think of the expansive force of energy in nature at this time of year - plants and trees are waking up and beginning to use the energy they have been quietly gathering through the winter.
You can see little spring flowers literally forcing their way up through the hard, frozen ground, and the trees are forming buds ready to produce leaves and flowers. Just in the same way, our bodies need to conserve energy in the winter, and in spring we're ready to move forward and have a clear out. Detoxification doesn't have to be punishing or complicated. After all, our bodies detox all the time without us consciously 'doing a detox'. But helping it along by making small conscious changes is never a bad idea, especially considering the challenges many of us face concerning our diets, lifestyles, and our exposure to environmental pollutants. Why not harness the power of springtime, and try building some of these detox helpers into your daily routine. Warm water and lemon When you wake up, make yourself a cup of warm water with a slice of fresh lemon and drink it before you do anything. This tried-and-tested method stimulates the liver to produce bile, kick-starts the digestive system and encourages healthy pH balance in the body. Lemons also contain anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immune-boosting properties. Hydration Water helps to dilute toxins in the blood for elimination via the kidneys, so drinking plenty is vital for healthy detoxification. Ideally filter tap water or opt for bottled water in glass bottles if possible. Try not to drink much water, or any liquid, with your meal. It can dilute digestive secretions and hinder digestion. Leave about half an hour either side of mealtimes. Herbal teas Dandelion and nettle teas are thought to be nourishing to the liver and kidneys, containing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They both also help to alleviate water retention and bloating. Detox super foods Try to include the following foods in abundance every day – onions, garlic, leeks, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, spinach, asparagus, parsley, watercress, beetroot, carrots, celery, apples and berries. They provide nutrients and substances necessary for detoxification. Dry body brushing Dry skin brushing is a swift and powerful way to enhance the detoxification process. Not only does it improve the appearance of your skin by eliminating dead cells and helping new skin to regenerate, it also stimulates blood circulation and the lymphatic system and greatly enhances toxin elimination. Using a long-handled, natural bristle brush (available from most health food shops, larger chemists and Neal’s Yard), start by brushing the feet, including the soles, moving up the shins and calves, over the knees and upwards to the thighs and hips, in long, firm sweeping motions. For the upper body, put one arm up and brush down both sides towards the armpit and then move to the other arm. When brushing the torso, make sure you brush towards the heart, going gently around the abdomen in a clockwise direction to avoid disturbing the digestive system. Remember to focus on the groin and armpits where there are concentrations of lymph nodes. Finish by brushing your back, neck and shoulders. Get quality sleep at night Aim for seven to nine hours per night to enable your body to rest and carry out its important reparative and restorative functions. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed, and put a sleep routine in place in the evenings to help you wind down - you may like to take a bath, meditate, listen to relaxing music or have some calming essential oils diffusing in your bedroom. Exercise every day Activities like walking, stretching practices like yoga and Pilates or gently rebounding on a mini trampoline are all fantastic for supporting detoxification without robbing the body of too much energy. Exercise will help to keep your lymphatic system moving and prevent your digestive system from becoming sluggish. Deep breathing Most people are too busy to practise deep breathing, but it only needs to take 10 minutes per day, and don't forget that your lungs are an important part of your detoxification system, helping to expel toxins through the breath. You can even do it in bed before you go to sleep or when you wake up in the morning. See it as a priority because there’s no doubt that stress can sabotage any well-planned health programme, promoting chronic disease and unhappiness. Epsom salt baths Epsom salt baths are a great way to relax, absorb magnesium (useful for muscle relaxation) and aid detoxification. Three times per week, relax in a hot bath that you have added a cupful of Epsom salts to. Try to stay in the water for half an hour; you should sweat as your body absorbs magnesium and releases toxins. Make sure you drink plenty of water and rest afterwards – it is good to take Epsom salts baths in the evenings as it promotes restful sleep.