Sometimes everyone gets that feeling of wanting to start with a clean slate. Whether it’s career, relationships, or health, you may long to just hit the restart button and do things right the second time around. While a reset is possible for most parts of life, it usually requires a lot of time and effort—starting a new career, for example, might mean working your way up from the bottom all over again.
Luckily, when it comes to health, a reset is possible in just a few days through a detox. Detox, short for detoxification, simply means getting rid of toxins that may be wreaking havoc on your body. This primarily means creating a healthy gut. A more holistic approach will also include taking care of your skin as well as your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Why You Should Detox
Experts will tell you that the human body is very efficient at flushing out toxins—the liver, kidneys, and other organs do the work. But it can’t be denied that days or weeks of eating fast food and sweets can tax your organs and do a number on the body. You may also feel less-than-healthy after consecutive weekends going out drinking alcohol with friends. During these times, the body needs a bit of a nudge to help it get rid of all the bad stuff.
The Benefits of a Detox
A detox can affect people in different ways but some of the benefits are:
Reduced inflammation. Feeling a little chunky around the arms and tummy? Some foods are responsible for that dreaded bloat. Detoxing can help reduce this, giving you a flatter tummy and a leaner appearance.
Increased energy. You might initially feel sluggish when you cut out certain foods but once your body gets used to it, you’ll feel much more alert and energized.
Better skin. Because skin health is closely linked with gut health, some of the skin problems you’ve been experiencing may clear up on a detox.
How to Detox
Detoxing shouldn’t be extreme—forget about eating just one thing, ingesting teas that make you purge, or giving up solid food for the next seven days. Try this healthier approach to detoxing:
Avoid problematic foods. The very basic thing you can do is eliminate highly processed food (such as canned goods, fast food, packaged snacks with ingredients you don’t understand) from your diet and instead opt for whole foods. But even whole foods can be causing a reaction in your body that you aren’t aware of. You can try cutting out common food allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, and shellfish from your diet, and then introducing them back in one by one over the span of a few weeks. This will help you determine if any of them have a negative effect on your body.
One thing you should definitely omit from your diet: sugar, especially the refined kind. It’s not just found in chocolate and pastries; take note that even ready-made sauces, condiments, and salad dressings can be loaded with the sweet stuff. Your daily coffee shop frap can also be a sugar bomb. You can get your sweet fix from fruits, but choose berries over overly sweet fruits like grapes and mangoes.
Choose healthier options. The importance of gut health cannot be overstated when it comes to your general health. Foods with high fiber can help your body more efficiently get rid of waste in your body. (Read more about fiber here.) Avoid red meat and instead go for leaner proteins like turkey and white fish. You can also load up on beans. Nibble on nuts and enjoy some nut butter (as long as it’s made with no added sugar). Load up on antioxidant- and nutrient-rich vegetables.
Exfoliate. Getting rid of dead skin cells can open up pores and stimulate circulation, which helps your body provide more escape routes for the bad stuff accumulating inside.
Sweat it out. Go for regular workouts during your detox period. You can also try to sit in a steam bath or sauna to release some of those toxins through your pores.
Get enough sleep. A study published in the journal Science concluded that the “restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system.” Simply put, you should get your seven-to-nine hours a night to help your brain get rid of toxins that build up during the day.
If you think about it, detoxing in its purest form simply means going back to basics: creating a healthy gut by eating whole foods, avoiding anything processed, getting enough rest. These days, most people have just so gotten used to consuming processed food and skipping out on sleep that it’s become the norm. Try a detox and see how you feel—the changes might encourage you to turn it into a lifestyle!