Spring is here – it’s official – and with the change of season comes the detox itch. As we prepare for warmer weather and longer nights, most of us feel the urge to purge our closets and kitchens, and it’s this time of year that I also feel excited to do a detox.
Detoxing, or cleansing, means different things to different people. My favourite type of detoxification protocol is very supportive and never leaves me hungry (or ‘h-angry:’ how I get when my blood sugar dips low) – I very rarely recommend fasting or juice cleansing – and usually involves an anti-inflammatory diet in combination with a couple of supplements to support the detox and elimination pathways. A 10-day detox is adequate for anyone just looking to clean up their act after a winter of hibernation (and carb-loading..). For patients with high toxic burdens, I’ll recommend longer detoxes. You also don’t have to leave home or drop hundreds of dollars in order to do a cleanse. This 10 day detox is easy enough to follow at home, and doesn’t require you to be overseen by a doctor unless you have specific health concerns or diagnosed medical conditions.
Here is what I recommend as an easy to follow, super supportive 10-day ‘staycation’ detox. It’s fairly easy to implement and follow, you won’t be starving or running to the toilet every hour, and though you may feel temporarily worse (ie. caffeine or sugar withdrawal headaches) – any symptoms should last no longer than 3 days and you’ll feel rebooted and refreshed after.
8 Steps to a Gentle 10-Day Staycation Detox
1. Eliminate from your diet: sugar, dairy, wheat, coffee/soda/black tea, flour, processed foods and alcohol. These are inflammatory foods that play around with your immune system and hormone balance. It might make things easier to ease into this – do 3 days without caffeine, then take away sugar for the next 3, then eliminate the rest. Also, start this on a Friday (if your weekend is Saturday and Sunday) so if you get caffeine withdrawal headaches you’ll be able to rest at home instead of pushing through work.
2. Eat unlimited amounts of veggies, the darker coloured the better: and lightly steam or cook most if not all of them. Raw veggies have higher enzymatic potential but are harder for you to digest. Most of my patients cannot digest raw foods well, so when we switch them to lightly cooked veggies their bodies assimilate and absorb more effectively.
3. Make each plate up like this: 50% vegetables [or fruit at breakfast (lightly steamed or cooked veggies are easiest to digest)], 25-30% high quality protein (if animal protein, make it hormone- and antibiotic- free, free-range and organic), 15-20% a whole grain you’ve cooked yourself (think quinoa, brown rice, millet), and a tablespoon or so of healthy fat (EVOO or flax, drizzled on already cooked food). Meals in this proportion will ensure you’re having regular bowel movements during the next 10 days, and eliminating toxins.
4. Drink warm water and lemon first thing in the morning, and have a green tea mid-morning: yes, green tea has some caffeine in it; the antioxidant benefits of green tea outweigh the bit of caffeine. Green tea helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels and assists in detoxification. The warm water and lemon jump-starts your liver detoxification pathways.
5. Sweat: Every single day if possible, but at least 4x per week – you can do any type of exercise that brings you joy, but you must do it regularly to allow your body to eliminate all of the toxins you’re pulling from your system.
6. For women: increase your consumption of cooked brassica vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, Brussels sprouts), these help with your estrogen detoxification. For men: cut out soy during these 10 days, and focus on green veggies every day (they’re high in nutrients that support male hormone and sperm production).
7. Meditate: or do yoga. Or sit and breathe deeply – for 20 minutes every morning when you wake up (while you’re sipping your warm water and lemon). Do something that calms your nervous system and puts you in a calm mood to tackle the day. And make sure you’re also sleeping 8+ hours a night.
8. Dry skin brush before your shower every day: use small circular motions, starting from your extremities (feet and hands) and working your way in to the centre of your chest. Not only is this a great exfoliation practice for your skin, but it promotes lymphatic flow and detoxification through the pores of your skin (one of your routes of elimination).
Do these 8 simple things for the next 10 days, and I know you’ll feel rested, rejuvenated and welcoming spring [and upcoming beach season ;)].