As well as doing a twice-yearly intensive detox program, making changes within your diet and lifestyle so that your body is better at detoxifying naturally is a fundamental pillar to good health, and vibrant energy.
It’s important to make any changes gradually so you can integrate them into your lifestyle as ongoing healthy habits and activities.
Be sure it’s your choice to change, rather than feeling pressured to do it and start with the things that you enjoy the most and are easiest to make a regular part of your day. That way the changes will last and you’ll maintain that healthy glow and energy for life!
There are many things we can do within our diet and lifestyle to support our health, and regular daily activities that can support your body’s natural detoxification processes. Here's some of my favourite ways to detox, naturally.
Good wholesome food
What we eat or, more importantly, what we don’t eat, is an essential part of the cleansing process. When we eat processed and heavily modified foods our bodies become sensitive and slow down. Source as much organic fresh and raw food as possible, and eat local, seasonal foods so that you get natural enzymes present in fresh foods.
The main structure of a diet for optimal detoxification consists of:
- Spray free/organically grown produce where possible. If you can’t afford an entire switch, aim for the foods you eat in higher quantities to be organic.
- A higher portion of vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and kale. Adding bitter vegetables like radish, rocket, endive, and mesclun helps to stimulate digestive secretions, supporting powerful digestion.
- Fibre, present in vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
- Raw or soaked nuts and seeds and good quality virgin olive and coconut oils.
- Wild-harvested, ocean-derived foods: small fish, local seaweeds, and green-shell mussels.
- Local grass-fed animal protein sources, eggs, or broth in small quantities.
- Clean, filtered water – aim for 30 ml per kg of weight, e.g. 60kg person = 1800ml water per day.
- Fermented foods like homemade kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso support healthy gut micro flora.
The diet should be low in:
- Sweet treats and high-carb snacks – these are “treat foods”, not for every day
- Trans-fats, artificial preservatives and additives
The guidelines for adults in New Zealand are to drink no more than two standard drinks per day for women or three for men and no more than 10 per week for women or 15 for men, and also have two alcohol-free days. It’s important to understand that no amount of alcohol is considered safe and drinking alcohol can be harmful. All alcohol will impact on the liver and kidneys by creating oxidative stress as well as producing metabolites that need to be neutralised.
Try our delicious liver loving bitter spritz next time you feel like a special drink. It's free from alcohol, delicious, and your liver will love it.
Rest and rejuvenate
Stress is a part of life and not always a bad thing. It can alert, stimulate, motivate and excite us. Moderate to high levels of on-going daily stress can interfere internally with hormone production as well as digestion, mood, sleep, weight and externally with relationships and careers. Take steps to deal with the cause, while you manage the problem.
High on our list of great tools for managing stress are mindfulness practice, a good night’s sleep, deep breathing and physical activity. Finding something to laugh about and something to be grateful for every day can make a big difference too.
Sleeping is a prime time for your body to be repairing and rejuvenating. Proper sleep supports good energy and a sense of wellbeing, as well as allowing the specialised lymph system in the brain to work better. Aim for 7 – 9 hours of solid sleep in a darkened room with no cell phone or other artificial lights.
Some additional therapies that can relive the effects of stress on the body include:
- Relaxation massage or lymphatic drainage treatment
- Infrared sauna
- Soaking in an Epsom salts bath or Float therapy
- Yin yoga
Choose a form of exercise you enjoy and make it a regular activity. Try to mix high intensity cardio workouts with something more relaxing like swimming, gardening, or dance. If you need motivation, see what social exercise groups are in your area.
Moving our body supports the movement of our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system carries metabolic waste from our cells. Exercise is great for circulation, helping nutrients get from the top of our head to the tips of our toes.
Did you know you can rest your digestive system as well as your body? An easy way to do this is to take a 12-hour fast each day by not eating between dinner and breakfast – it sounds simple, and it is. This gives our bodies time to rest and cleanse naturally – a kind of mini-cleanse every night.
Begin the new day with a glass of warm water, on its own or with a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar added, then take some time before ‘breaking your fast’ with a healthy breakfast. Your liver will love you.
Our favourite herbs to look out for when you’re ready to detox
As well as the diet and lifestyle tips we just covered, there are many herbs and nutrients that can be taken to support a detox program. Herbal tonics and nutrients offer support for healthy elimination through the liver, bowel, lymph, kidneys, pancreas, skin, lungs, and support overall function of these organs. Often detox programs include some or many of these ingredients, and they’re great options to look out for in products.
These herbs can be consumed as a herbal infusion or in a capsule or concentrated liquid extract. Herbal infusions are a great alternative to coffee and black tea, which are best avoided during a detox.
- Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), also known as St Mary’s Thistle, is perhaps the most well-researched herb for supporting liver function. The seed contains a group of compounds known as silymarin, which support the normal repair and renewal of the liver cells while also supporting its capacity to perform its detoxification role.
- Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) leaves are prized for their ability to support and restore liver cells. Globe artichoke supports healthy bile flow and normal cholesterol levels. This magnificent herb is useful when there are queasy feelings and is also supportive for good kidney function. Globe Artichoke – the “big gun” of bitter plants, supports good fat digestion and bowel regularity.
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Root is an excellent tonic for the liver. While the leaves have more of an affinity with the kidneys, the root supports liver function while also gently supporting bowel clearance thanks to the bitter nature. Dandelion Root has been shown to support healthy liver and gallbladder function and it also contains the fibre inulin which helps to feed the good bacteria in your gut.
- Green tea (Camellia sinensis) is rich in flavonoids. Catechin is one of the main flavonoids and includes EGC and EGCG. These powerful antioxidant compounds can support the side effects of modern living, support healthy cholesterol good energy. Catechins can also be used to support healthy cells that are exposed to ionizing-induced free radicals found in radiation.
- Cleavers (Galium aparine) are commonly found sprouting in gardens during spring and has been used traditionally by herbalists to support healthy blood. As well as supporting the kidneys to eliminate with its mild water-drawing nature, Cleavers will support healthy lymph flow and clear skin.
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) leaf offers antioxidant protection and supports the health of the liver when it is exposed to damaging chemicals. Coriander leaf supports the natural detoxification phases within the liver and also supports the elimination of heavy metals, particularly from the kidneys.
- Kelp (Fucus vesiculosus) is a great antioxidant rich seaweed that supports heavy metal detoxification. Kelp contains many minerals including iodine, which supports good hormone health in all genders. Iodine is also essential for a healthy thyroid, a gland which is responsible for the metabolic rate of the body.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa) supports healthy liver detoxification and soothes the lining of the digestive system. Turmeric supports healthy bile production and elimination of fat-soluble toxins. Turmeric is also known for its strong antioxidant actions.
- Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum), one of our native pepper trees, is another favourite digestive tonic, and is also with wonderful liver support. It is a great herb to use after eating heavy meals. One or two leaves infused in hot water make a stimulating and tasty tea.
- Golden Rod (Solidago virgaurea), Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) offer great kidney support and support the body’s elimination of water-soluble metabolic wastes, like excess sodium and uric acid.
Over-indulging during celebratory times of the year should be a guilt-free, relaxed and enjoyable experience, and balance should keep the body feeling great through the rest of the year. If over-indulging has become habitual, replacing some habits with healthier routines will support and restore the body organs and energy levels.
After completing an intensive detox programme there’s a good chance you’ll feel clearer, lighter, and more energised. It feels really good to give your body a break from some unhealthy habits and experience the benefits. Having more energy and a clear head is great motivation for continuing to incorporate some of the healthy dietary changes you’ve made into your regular daily eating pattern.