The holidays have come and gone and if you're anything like me, you are ready to leave indulgences behind and move into the new year with renewed vitality and purpose. While rigorous or involved cleanses are particularly popular this time of year, it's important to remember that small changes can have a big impact on our health. If you don't feel you have the time, energy or desire to do a "hardcore" detox, that's ok. Incorporate the five following changes into your daily routine and reap the benefit of mental clarity, better sleep, and a positive mood to boot.
1. Drink Lemon Water (and Lots of It): Most of us walk around dehydrated on a daily basis. Increasing your intake of water and incorporating lemon, known for aiding digestion and helping with detoxification in the liver, is an easy way to reduce fatigue and improve the quality of your skin. Citric acid—contained within lemon—stimulates our body's own natural production of digestive juices and bile. Furthermore, lemon is high in antioxidants and vitamin C, an essential building block for collagen, the protein makes our skin both smooth and firm.
2. Eliminate or Reduce Coffee and Alcohol: Coffee and alcohol dehydrate us and also cause our adrenal glands—the part of our endocrine system tasked with regulating our sleep/wake cycle and coping with stress—to work harder. "Adrenal fatigue" or the overworking of the adrenal glands to keep up with the pace of modern life, is rampant. Putting further stress on these glands can lead to a myriad of health consequences. Swap out your coffee for green tea and cocktail for a mocktail and reap the benefits of increased energy without a the jitters or a caffeine crash.
3. Eat the Rainbow: The vibrant colors present in fruits and vegetables are not only there to entice us. The color of our produce is a result of the vitamins, nutrients and polyphenols (plant antioxidants) found within it. The color red indicates lycopene or anthocyanins are present while yellow and orange is a sign that beta carotene can be found within. Because each of these nutrients has its own health promoting properties, eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day ensures our body is getting the building blocks it needs for optimal health.
4. Move Your Body: Our lymphatic system is responsible for moving proteins, cellular debris, bacteria and viruses, immune cells and certain toxins around our bodies for elimination. However, unlike our circulatory system which has it's own musculature, things only move through our lymphatic system if we move. Perform some moderate cardiovascular exercise as a way to boost your immune system and eliminate toxins. Furthermore, sweating helps us to release certain toxic chemicals and excess hormones and since many environmental toxins are stored in fat, even a small decrease in weight can help to reduce your overall toxic load.
5. Clean Up Your Personal Care Products: You may be well aware that the majority of personal care products available on the market contain harmful chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to hormonal disruption, developmental delays in children, improper functioning of the nervous system, and even cancer. While it can be daunting to replace all your personal care products at once, use this opportunity to replace one or two items with chemical-free counterparts. For ideas of which shampoo, lotion, and make-up is truly safe, visit the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database.
For more information on detoxes and cleanses or to sign-up for a medically supervised detox program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Elizabeth Winter practices integrative and functional medicine in San Diego, CA and sees patients from a distance via Skype. For more information about her and her practice philosophy visit About Dr. Winter.