A Month of Detox

30 simple ways to cleanse and energize every day-try it for the month of April

A well-designed detox can help purge your liver, colon, and kidneys of toxins; clear your skin; boost your energy; and help you safely shed pounds. But many programs include fasting, powders, complicated formulas, and laxative herbs that can deplete your body and irritate your colon. And most are quick fixes that don’t result in life-long changes.
A better approach: Create a cleaner lifestyle that allows you to detox ’round-the-clock and achieve long-term results. For the next month, implement one of these 30 simple steps each day for a healthy spring cleanse.

  1. Kick the coffee. Or at least try to cut back. It’s hard on the liver, hampers detox efforts, and stimulates the release of stress hormones. Wean off slowly-mix decaf with your regular coffee-or switch to tea. Green tea combines gentle doses of caffeine with compounds that boost liver detox.
  2. Skip the sugar. Whole fruit is the best sweetener, and raw, unfiltered honey is the least processed of all refined sweeteners. Other good options include coconut sugar, palm sugar, brown rice syrup, or stevia. We recommend: NOW Foods BetterStevia.
  3. Sweat it out. Steam saunas encourage perspiration, sending toxins out through the skin-the body’s largest detox organ. If your health club doesn’t have one, check with your local YMCA or community rec center. Ideally, steam at least once a week.
  4. Go organic. Most foods contain pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals that hamper detox efforts. Always buy organic animal products; if you have
    to buy conventional produce, focus on fruits and veggies that are the least likely to be contaminated. Download the Environmental Working Group’s pocket guide (ewg.org) for more details.
  5. Keep it moving. Add a tablespoon of flaxseed meal or psyllium to an 8-oz. glass of water to ensure regularity. Psyllium husk has faster actions, but psyllium seed is more protective against colon cancer. For best results, use a blend of both. Or try a fiber formula. We recommend: Garden of Life RAW Fiber.
  6. Eat superfoods. They’re rich in antioxidants, fiber, and healing compounds that naturally detox the body. Focus on leafy greens, broccoli, blueberries, pumpkin, prunes, and
    sweet potatoes. For a superfood snack, we recommend: Greens+ Chocolate Energy Bars.
  7. Try hydrotherapy. It’s a classic detox technique for boosting circulation. Take a very hot shower for 3-5 minutes, then follow with cold water for 30 seconds; repeat two more times, then hop into bed and rest for 30 minutes.
  8. Purge your pantry. Get rid of anything that contains high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, and other harsh chemicals. Some, such as sodium nitrite, propyl gallate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) have been linked to cancer. Others interfere with the liver’s natural detox function.
  9. Make a super smoothie. Pre-packaged smoothie mixes are high in sugar and added ingredients. Instead, combine almond and/or coconut milk in a blender with half an avocado, a tablespoon of plain whey powder (we recommend Well Wisdom Vital Natural Whey), a frozen banana, and six large handfuls of spinach. Makes two servings.
  10. Detox your soul. Toxic thoughts and feelings can also harm your body. Start a journal, and make notes of troubling emotions. Are you carrying grief or anger? Do you feel sad or lonely? Write it all down, then assess: Is there anything you need to clean up? Where can you let go and move forward? Do this each evening for a daily spiritual detox.
  11. Clean greener. Conventional household cleaners are filled with toxins that can increase cancer risk, lead to organ system damage, and cause reproductive harm. Buy natural, toxin-free versions, or make your own-baking soda, vinegar, natural orange oil, and natural soap will keep most surfaces clean.
  12. Stock up on beans. They’re high in clean protein, and rich in fiber to sweep toxins out of the intestines. Skip the canned versions-most can linings contain BPA, an endocrine disruptor. Buy a variety of dried beans, soak them overnight, and cook on low in a slow cooker. Make a big batch and freeze the excess for later. Or, opt for super-fast red lentils, which cook in just 15-20 minutes.
  13. Breathe deeply. Oxygen is alkalizing, so deep breathing is a simple way to counter excess acid and balance your pH. Deep breathing also reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels, even for short (15-minute) periods of time. Spend 15 minutes today sitting quietly and watching your breath; incorporate a daily meditation to keep breathing fully.
  14. Tone your liver. You can start by giving up alcohol and coffee, and then try strengthening this vital detox organ with a regimen of nourishing foods and herbs. Bitter greens and artichokes, for instance, contain natural compounds that can help stimulate liver function. And the potent herb milk thistle can remove harmful substances from the liver and help repair damage. We recommend: Nature’s Answer Liver Support.
  15. Stretch daily. Stretching stimulates circulation and lymph flow, and keeps muscles supple. Try a practice that also incorporates meditation, such as yoga, tai chi, or qigong. It’s a great way to clear your mind, relieve stress, and remove toxins. Find yoga teachers at yogaalliance.org; ask acupuncturists or martial arts studios for their tai chi and qigong recommendations.
  16. Unplug. In today’s ultra-high-tech world, it seems that we are never very far away from our computers, video games, or cell phones. Try taking a break from electronics for your body and soul. Electromagnetic pollution from all of our gadgets can interfere with the body’s natural magnetic fields, which can slow detox efforts. Try connecting with family and friends instead of the Internet.
  17. Get rubbed. Massage improves circulation, reduces stress, and stimulates lymph nodes, tiny immune-system organs that help the body filter toxins. Indulge in a spa, trade with a friend, or check out discount deals from local massage schools.
  18. Eat like a bird. The less you eat, the less your liver has to process. Studies also suggest that reducing calories without cutting nutrients can increase lifespan, halt inflammation, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  19. Deep clean your mouth. Bacteria can get trapped in crowns, root canals, and other types of dental work, allowing toxins to seep into the body. “Oil pulling,” an inexpensive Ayurvedic technique, is said to deeply clean teeth and gums. You can find more details in Perfect Health, by Deepak Chopra.
  20. Get rubbed. Massage improves circulation, reduces stress, and stimulates lymph nodes, tiny immune-system organs that help the body filter toxins. Indulge in a spa, trade with a friend, or check out discount deals from local massage schools.
  21. Get on the wagon. Alcohol in any form must be filtered by the liver, and some studies show that even moderate drinking can increase the risk of certain cancers. Stick to sparkling water or chilled herbal tea; reserve drinking for special occasions in small amounts.
  22. Purify your personal care. The skin absorbs chemicals, and the effects are cumulative-just think how often you wash your hands every day. So it’s best to avoid personal care products that contain parabens, phthalates, DEA, and other synthetic compounds, and stick to the naturals.
  23. Brush it off. Dry brushing skin stimulates the body’s detoxifying lymph system. Using a soft-bristled brush, lightly rub your skin, starting from your fingers and toes and moving inward toward
    your heart. Follow with a warm shower to further boost circulation and move lymph.
  24. De-plasticize. Plastics contain chemicals that burden the liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system, and can lead to cancer. Banish plastic wrap from your home, never heat plastic in the microwave, and avoid foods packaged in plastic. Invest in glass and metal containers and drinking bottles.
  25. Think Vegan. Diets that are high in meat have been linked with inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. Try eating nothing but plant foods for a day, and on an ongoing basis, focus your diet on vegetarian sources of protein such as beans, nuts, seeds, and soy in moderation.
  26. Purify your water. Toxins found in water can include fluoride, chlorine, pharmaceutical residues, and other chemicals. Invest in a good water filter. A whole-house filter is best, but you can also purchase individual units for your kitchen sink, bath, and showers.
  27. Cook smart. Get rid of pots and pans that are covered with Teflon, Silverstone, and other coatings that emit harmful perfluorochemicals (PFCs). The EPA classifies them as carcinogens.
  28. Steam it. Heating oils can create toxins. Instead, sauté vegetables in 1/4 inch of stock, or steam foods in a simple, inexpensive bamboo steamer or stainless steel insert, and drizzle with oil after cooking.
  29. Take a siesta. Schedule a nap, whenever possible. It’s deeply rejuvenating, and even a short catnap can decrease stress. If you’re not sleepy, opt for 15 minutes of quiet time.
  30. Meditate. It’s essential for relieving stress and supporting detox. Follow a simple practice such as mindfulness meditation for 15 minutes in the morning or evening. Instructions and guided CDs are available at mindfulnesstapes.com.

Are You Eating Chemicals?
To cleanse unwanted chemicals from your diet, find and toss any foods containing the following toxic, cancer-causing ingredients:

  • Sodium nitrite
  • Propyl gallate
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)