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Garbage Out

Hit the “refresh” button on your body and mind with a detoxifying cleanse.

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Hit the “refresh” button on your body and mind with a detoxifying cleanse

As summer approaches, it’s the perfect time to cleanse, nourish, and feel radiant from the inside out. The body does an amazing job of detoxifying itself, but the amount of toxins we’re exposed to on a daily basis has dramatically increased in our ever-more-plastic world—meaning that sometimes, your body might need a little help getting rid of all the garbage. Here are 10 simple ways to support your main detoxification pathways and put the spring back into your step.

1 Cleanse with Chlorella

This blue-green alga has clearly stood the test of time, with fossils indicating that it’s been around at least 530 million years. Its single-celled structure and high content of chlorophyll give it unique abilities to nourish the body while also absorbing very small particles. More than just a superfood, chlorella can bind heavy metals, toxins, and pesticides and carry them out of the body. It can be taken in a capsule form or mixed into a smoothie (throw in a little cilantro for an added detoxifying effect).

Sweating helps reduce levels of heavy metals and toxins—including BPA, arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium.

2 Nourish Your Liver with Milk Thistle

This well-known plant has been used for more than 2,000 years to cleanse and support the body. Its active substance is called silymarin, which is found in the seeds. Studies have shown that milk thistle not only supports the liver, but also rejuvenates it. It’s a potent antioxidant, has anti-inflammatory properties, and has been proven to repair and grow new liver cells. The liver has hundreds of jobs to perform, and one very important duty is to remove toxins and waste from the blood. Adding milk thistle to your supplement regimen helps support the cleansing process while giving you the added benefit of glowing skin.

3 Get Glowing with Glutathione

This intriguing molecule is made of three amino acids—cysteine, glycine, and glutamine—along with a sulfur group that enables it to bind to free radicals and toxins. A potent antioxidant produced by the body to aid in the liver detoxification process, glutathione can become depleted due to an overwhelming toxic burden. A supplement called N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid precursor that can stimulate glutathione synthesis and support cleansing.

4 Rebalance with Probiotics

A healthy gut plays a vital function in eliminating waste, optimizing nutrients, balancing immune function, and improving mood. The Journal of Nature Reviews Immunology published a study in 2009 that revealed an association between disturbances in gut flora and impaired immune response. So how do you keep your body’s good bacteria in balance? Eat probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, miso, and other fermented foods. And take a high-quality probiotic that contains a range of strains to help restore gut health.

5 Move Your Lymph

A key component of immune health, the lymphatic system is a network of 600 nodes and glands that help remove toxins and waste. Common lymph-loving herbs include red clover, cleavers, burdock root, queen’s root, and calendula. Dry skin brushing can also help stimulate the lymphatic system while also improving circulation and removing dead skin cells. Brush your skin in an upward circular motion, beginning at your feet before moving to your torso, and from your hands to your chest—the same direction that your lymph flows.

6 Sweat It Out

Eliminating toxins through the skin is a gentle, yet very effective, approach to easing the burden on your kidneys and liver. In fact, a 2011 study published in Archives of Environmental and Contamination Toxicology revealed that sweating helps reduce levels of heavy metals and toxins—including BPA, arsenic, lead, mercury, and cadmium—from the body. Increase your sweat by exercising, warming up in an infrared sauna, or taking a bath.

7 Listen to Your Body

Have you noticed that certain foods make you feel tired and bloated, or make your skin break out? Now is the time to eliminate them from your diet and give your digestive system a needed break.

Have you ever tracked your sleep? Creating a sleep diary will help you hone in on what time and how much sleep helps you feel your best. Each morning, document the number of hours you slept, the quality of your sleep, and whether you woke up feeling refreshed or groggy. Optimize your sleep by going to bed at the same time each night and creating a relaxing bedtime ritual. For some people, eliminating caffeine after 10 a.m. also helps.

8 Get Back to Nature

Being closer to the earth is a simple way to feel grounded and more relaxed. Think you don’t have the time? A study published in the Journal of Psychological Science in 2008 showed that people who were exposed to natural environments for 50 minutes had increased focus and directed attention afterward. Perhaps taking time to relax the mind makes you even more productive. Want to really get in touch with nature? Go barefoot!

9 Feast on Detoxifying Foods

It’s no secret that food is the best medicine, and the delicious combinations are endless. Artichoke is a gorgeous and tasteful veggie that contains a phytonutrient called cynarin, which stimulates the production of bile and hence, improves digestion. Often called a superfood, artichokes are loaded with antioxidants (including liver-supportive silymarin), packed with vitamin C, and rich in fiber to keep the body regular. Focus on liver-loving veggies such as artichoke, broccoli, onions, beets, and cabbage. Infuse extra detox-supporting flavor to your meals with garlic, cilantro, parsley, cinnamon, basil, and turmeric. Maintain regularity by drinking water throughout the day and eating other fiber-rich foods such as apples, almonds, peas, and lentils.

10 Take a Break from Technology

Can you think of the last time you turned off your cell phone or put away your computer for an entire day? Set a time each day (or week) to unplug and engage in a relaxing activity to melt away the stress. Take a bath infused with lavender, meditate, read a book, or create art to renew your mind and revive your senses.

If going cold turkey from technology isn’t an option, try ending your computer time two hours before bed. Artificial computer light can reduce your body’s levels of melatonin, which is an important hormone for sleep. A trial published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that individuals exposed to room light compared to dim light before bedtime shortened their melatonin duration by 90 minutes. These findings show that electrical lighting can have a profound effect on well-being, and that simple changes can make a huge difference in how you sleep and feel.

Ayurveda for Cleansing and Chronic Constipation

Chronic constipation? There’s no need to be embarrassed. There are an estimated 2.5 million doctor’s visited per year in the U.S. related to constipation, and laxatives are among the top-selling over-the-counter drugs in the country. While it’s not something people like to talk about, chronic constipation is clearly a widespread problem for many. In relation to detoxification, colon health and regular bowel movements play a vital role in the body’s complex elimination process.

Signs of chronic constipation include having fewer than three bowel movements a week, experiencing difficulty passing stools or passing hard, lumpy stools, and having abdominal discomfort and bloating.

There are many natural approaches and medicines that work to relieve chronic constipation, but one stands out from the crowd—triphala. According to Julie McIntyre, a medical herbalist in Silver City, N.M., this Ayurvedic herb, which is actually a combination of three herbs, is particularly effective for treating chronic constipation, as well as fluctuating bouts of constipation and diarrhea. Triphala is rich in vitamin C and other nutrients, and is considered a rejuvenating herb with detoxifying qualities in Indian medicine.

For chronic constipation, triphala moistens and tones the colon, helping to restore it to health. You may need to adjust the dosage, but start with 500 mg two to three times daily. Reduce the dose to 250 mg per day once you experience relief. You can take triphala indefinitely at this lower dosage. The most common side effects are loose or runny stools and stomach cramping. Reduce your dose or stop taking it if this happens. —Nicole Brechka