Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday Words and The "Unsexy" Detox

Today’s words are two I’ve been using lately, and I realized that I don’t use them in the same sense that the media often does. DETOX and CLEANSE. Wooo-ey! These are terms that get thrown around a lot in the news! I mean, who hasn’t heard the latest celebrity Miss Skinny doing a master cleanse, or Mr. Fancy Pants doing such-and-such a detox regimen. And wow, don’t they just look great and slim?!

The way they media uses them, you might as well say “UNDERNOURISH” and “STARVE.” But that’s not what these terms really mean! Sure, there are many fad programs around that ask you to drink crazy concoctions, or fast, or use enemas, or who knows what else! And yes, with such a caloric restriction, you will probably lose weight - while your on it. But most of the time, people who follow these plans just end up back where they started afterwards, because they haven’t changed their lifestyle. They only brute-force made their way through on shear determination and will-power, not a gentle lifestyle change of acceptance.

(slow and steady does it! It's not a race to heal your body!)

But, you body IS made to detoxify and cleanse itself naturally. And you CAN do some things to help promote these functions!

Usually DETOXING is the process of loosening undesirable toxins from being stored in the body. Undesirables can be medicines, alcohol, pollution, chemicals, pesticides (go organic when you can!).

The liver is your primary detoxifier, with the kidneys offering some help. So if you want to better “detox,” you want to support your natural kidney and liver functioning and avoid things that drag down efficiency. Alcohol, fried foods, and processed foods can be tougher for your liver to deal with, so try to avoid those. Conversely, I mention in a previous blog about kale helping to stimulate digestive enzyme production in the liver, so kale may be thought of as a “detoxifying” food. Kale comes from the cruciferous vegetable family. Other veggies in this family can help as well: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and Brussles sprouts. These foods contain sulfur. For me, sulfur often dredges up images of the demons from Frank Peretti’s book This Present Darkness... ;-)

(or on a less book-nerdy level, burnt matches!)

But sulfur is a molecule the liver uses to detoxify the body of a wide range of prescription medications, pesticides, and other types of environmental toxins. Other sulfur-continuing foods include onions and garlic. Studies are now also looking to turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice as helpful for the liver detoxing.

And CLEANSING is often your body purging those toxins out of your body completely.

So primarily, your intestines and skin are important routes for disposal. You want to keep these pathways healthy. When I counsel women suffering from constipation, I always recommend “The 3 F’s: Fluids, Fiber, and Fitness.” Fluids keep things soft; fiber helps push it through; and aerobics (even just walking) can also help stimulate movement. These three items work together to help your intestinal tract and eliminations moving efficiently. Go for that Smooooth move!

Regarding skin, general hygiene keeps your pores open so they can provide a way for toxins to leave. Sweating is good! (I hear my little sister groaning now, ahh, the sweet sound!) ;-) But seriously, it can help get some of the junk out, just be sure to wash it off as soon as you can rather than letting your body reabsorb it! And try to avoid caking your face in a make-up once in a while to let your skin breathe! So, due to its skin benefits, yesterday’s Skin-So-Smoothie recipe could possibly even be considered a “Cleansing” drink!

There has been suspicion that there is a link between dairy and acne. There still needs to be more research done to be sure, but one study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology looked at 47,355 women (that’s a lot o’ estrogen!) and compared their dairy intake to acne history. They looked at milk, instant breakfast drink, sherbet, cottage cheese, and cream cheese and all were positively associated with acne. They said “We hypothesize that the association with milk may be because of the presence of hormones and bioactive molecules in milk.” Hmmm… so, if you’re going for the dairy, AT LEAST please grab the organic, hormone-free variety! …But I digress…

Detoxing and Cleansing are very detailed topics in the nutrition world, so I really only touch on them here. But I hope that covers some of the basics, at least! Remember: your body loves you; love it back! :)

I’m sorry if I have disillusioned any “sexy” ideas of detoxing and cleansing. There really aren’t magic bullets, and natural health is best! Your body is made to take care of itself – just don’t overdo the harmful things! And help it along with the right healthy lifestyle.

But, if you want an “unsexy” sounding detox plan… well, try this plan for 7 days and let me know how you feel!

The Unsexy Detox:

1.Eliminate these “toxins”:
-Table sugar
-Pops/colas/sports drinks
-Fast food/highly processed foods
-Foods with added sugars – cookies, cakes, candy, etc
-Refined starches – white flour, white rice, white pasta

2. Drink plenty of fluids
–aim mostly for water (plain or with some lemon, lime, cucumber, mint, etc), and maybe a little tea -Listen to your body, but usually the average recommendation is 6 to 8 8-ounce cups daily.

3. Eat real foods with plenty of fiber
-fruits, veggies, seeds, whole grains
–try some fun grains! Quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat…

4. Get AT LEAST the recommended 5 fruits or veggies daily, if not more!
-Have a green smoothie with some extra kale and collard greens!

See if you can get 10 servings in! (C’mon, all those smoothie recipes will usually have at least 4-5 servings for just one recipe!)

5. If you need meat, eggs, or dairy, make sure it’s the lean versions, and go organic and hormone free!

Do that, and I bet you’ll feel better (after the first few days), and likely, you’ll drop some weight!

Ok, so that was a long one. But I hope you start to apply some of the ideas and remember how much food can affect your health! Enjoy some whole, healing foods and save that dessert for this Valentine’s weekend!

Honeydew Hugs!

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