How Detoxing Works
There are a lot of misconceptions that surround detox diets. From crash diets that freak your body out and only make the problem worse to flushing without replenishing the system, fad detox diets are everywhere.
It’s important to note that detoxing doesn’t mean starving, nor does it mean you’re performing a flash sale on your digestive system. For a detox to be successful, you have to remove the bad toxins, keep the good bacteria, and fill the freed spaces with nutrients.
How to Detox After Holiday Feasts
1. Up Your Magnesium Intake
Magnesium is great for relieving stress and helping your heart. After all of that turkey, you can feel tired and overstuffed, but magnesium, which is used to treat fatigue caused by a deficiency, can help give your body a little boost. Magnesium is also good for the heart and blood pressure.
Magnesium can easily be imbibed through foods. Try to add extra whole grains, nuts, fish, and dark green vegetables to your diet after the holidays. You can also take supplements or snack on pumpkin seeds or almonds to make sure you get your daily dose.
2. Try Fasting
Although extended fasting isn’t recommended, a short fast over a few days can help you feel lighter and re-tune your body after a day or two of gorging. A healthy fast will involve a lot of water, nutrient-rich juices every two hours, and a light dinner that is full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Fasting has been used for centuries to help people “lighten up” after a long winter and has been known to give the faster some mental clarity akin to enlightenment. Although we can’t promise a spiritual experience, we can assure you that a few days of careful fasting will help you detox after that big Thanksgiving dinner.
If you want to release and flush out the toxins in your body, you need to make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of water each day. The recommended amount is your weight divided in half and converted to ounces. For example, a 140 pound woman would want to drink 70 ounces of water a day, which amounts to just over 2 liters.
4. Start Taking Probiotics
A healthy gut helps regulate the rest of your body, which makes regulating your gut health over the holidays that much more important, as it can help with digestion, as well as stress and fatigue.
There are over 100 trillion microorganisms from about 400 different species living in a healthy gut, and maintaining them and their environment helps your body efficiently absorb all of the good stuff and eliminate the bad.
Though you can get a lot of probiotics from food sources, it might be worthwhile to take a probiotic supplement over the holidays to give your body that extra boost.
5. Take Deep Breaths
Have you heard of the stress hormone cortisol? It’s the chemical responsible for the fight or flight response our bodies have to danger. When we feel threatened, our brains release cortisol, which shuts down digestion and slows the metabolism to prepare for a fight and store energy sources.
When this reaction happens without an actual threat-which occurs a lot in today’s safe but stressful society-your body simply stores fat and stops burning calories. Yikes! To get your metabolism back on track after a stressful situation, take some deep breaths.
Breathing deeply activates the vagus nerve, which calms the body and brain and jumpstarts those fat-burning processes again. Just five slow, deep breaths can help to reignite your metabolism.
6. Sleep it Off
When your body is tired, it turns to a quick energy fix. This means an exhausted body will crave sugar for that boost of energy, but the kick is brief and the body is left more tired than when it began.
To keep from running to the cookie jar for a pick-me-up, get enough quality sleep each night. The holidays can be stressful, but take measures to make sure sleep isn’t getting snubbed. Give yourself enough hours, turn off all electronics, and stretch before bed. You’ll sleep better and be able to resist those tempting sugary goodies in the morning.
7. Get Alkaline
Alkaline is essentially the opposite of acidic, and your body needs to be both to be healthy. The balance between the two is called your pH level. A negative pH level means your body fluids and tissues are very acidic. A positive pH means your body is more alkaline. The healthy ideal level is a pH of 7.0 or above.
A positive pH level can help your body in multiple ways. It reduces inflammation, keeps colds at bay, helps to manage stress, and supports blood sugar levels. You can help to raise your pH by eating alkalizing foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and reducing your consumption of acidic foods like sugar and alcohol.
8. Watch What You Drink
Although you may be craving pumpkin spice lattes and peppermint mochas, be very cautious about the sugary beverages you indulge in. Liquid sugar calories are worse than those from food because they get funneled straight to your liver without going through any breakdown or filtration process.
Also, sugary drinks don’t make you feel full, even though they’re the single biggest source of sugar calories in most people’s diets. Not only do you never fill up on sugary drinks, your body craves it more and enters a vicious cycle of sugar indulgence.
Skip the sodas and fancy coffees this holiday season and switch to water, tea, and black coffee to help your body detox after a sugar-filled season.
9. Go For a Walk
The body uses the circulatory system to transfer toxins between filtration systems and eventually get them out of the body. That means the more oxygenated your body is, the easier it can get rid of toxic build up from weeks of splurging.
Try going for a walk after meals to help clear glucose from the bloodstream and help oxygenate your organs so digestion goes smoothly.
10. Counter Sugar with Fat
No, this isn’t a joke. There are healthy fats that can help you feel full and energized so you can cut back on sugar.
Reach for healthy fats, such as those found in protein-rich foods like nuts and omega-3-rich fish. Other fat-smart foods include avocados, coconut butter, and extra virgin olive oil. When you feel a sweet tooth craving coming on, try to satiate it with these alternatives and you can keep the pounds from piling on over the holidays.
11. Turn to Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt should already be a staple in your diet-it’s low calorie, full of nutrients, and contains healthy probiotics-and it should absolutely be a pillar of your detox diet.
Greek yogurt contains fructose, which can help to burn any lingering alcohol in your system. Include some nutritious additions, such as energy-boosting pistachios or antioxidant-rich blueberries to really put this snack over the top.
12. Detox Your Life
Food and drink aren’t the only toxins in our lives that may hurt our health. The first of the year is a great time to purge your life of toxins and chemicals that may be harming you.
Obviously, alcohol, refined sugar, and processed foods have got to go when you’re detoxing. But other toxins to eliminate include cigarettes, fragranced soaps and candles, and harsh cleaning chemicals. Introduce all-natural alternatives into your home so that those toxins don’t re-enter your body when your detox diet ends.
13. Sip on Dandelions
Yes, we mean those weeds that grow in your yard each spring. Dandelions are actually a powerful plant full of nutrients. Some studies have shown that dandelions contain diuretic and liver-detoxifying properties, and one study even showed that dandelion root extract reduced alcohol-related liver damage in mice.
You can easily find dandelion teas at your local health foods store or try a dandelion supplement to receive all of the plant’s healthful benefits.
14. Sweat it Out
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, which makes it an essential part of a comprehensive detox. Although you may not feel like heading to the gym on New Year’s Day, you’ll benefit from sweating out those toxins from the night before.
Even if you can’t get yourself to the treadmill, a session in the sauna or hot shower can help you excrete toxins and leave your body ripe for replenishment with nutrients and lots of water.
The temptation to overindulge during the holidays is strong, but a you have seen, there are endless ways to fight off cravings, detox bad decisions, and repair the body with essential nutrients. Maybe you’ll even start a new family tradition this holiday season.