It’s that time of year when we millions of people commit to making those ever so important New Year’s resolution. For many Americans losing weight or getting fit repeatedly cracks the top 10 New Year’s resolution. I agree that improving health by staying fit or losing unnecessary weight is essential, but I also think another goal should be to make a cleanse (or detox) to the top of the new year’s resolution list.
In my medical practice, I recommend that my patients participate in a cleanse at least twice a year, making the beginning of the year an ideal time for implementing a detox protocol and a great new year’s resolution. Much like staying off a sprained ankle or nursing a sore throat, it makes sense to rest the main detoxification organ in the body — the liver.
The liver acts like a filter or a sieve for our blood. It works around the clock to ensure that everything that goes into your body especially harmful substances such as medications, alcohol, chemicals, and pollutants are safely and properly eliminated. On the other hand it also provides storage and conversion of vital nutrients (minerals, vitamins, sugars) delivering them as needed to cells through out the body. A highly functioning liver will also produce the necessary levels of bile that is needed for optimal digestion.
The benefits of a cleanse can be vary from individual to individual, but some of the common improvements include: improved energy, clearer skin, regular bowel movements, improved digestion, increased concentration and clarity and may even decrease the appearance of cellulite.
If the liver becomes compromised from constant exposure to these harmful substances then the filtering mechanism begins to get “clogged” and the by-products of these harmful substances can begin to accumulate in our system. This of course creates negative effect throughout the body such as headaches, fatigue, skin reactions, and digestive issues to name a few. This also compromises the livers ability to properly release important nutrients to their delivery sites where they play role in preventing disease or chronic illness.
So what is a detox? Quite simply a practice of supporting the liver’s ability to reduce unwanted metabolites (or toxins) from the body and properly eliminating them to be excreted by the intestines, colon and kidneys. My naturopathic approach to a post-holiday cleanse entails looking at many aspects of health. Usually I recommend patients eliminate ALL reactive foods (dairy, sugar, wheat, gluten, eggs) from the diet. Over the course of a cleanse I want ensure they get gentle yet effective support to their over-burdened liver and kidneys by introducing a medical grade protein drink. It is also vital to clean up the environment by removing or reducing exposure to common toxins. Switching over from harsh chemical-based products to natural based cleaning and hygiene products can easily help you to accomplish this.
Maintaining some level of physical activity (never increasing or starting up to a strenuous level), usually 30-minutes a day, practice meditative rituals using breathing techniques either to start the day or at the conclusion. Sleep is not only essential but next to water it is very important. The body does need rest and the sleep hours are when the body on so many levels can re-charge itself — so shoot to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night during the cleanse period.
“Water is the essence of life”. Not only should one be drinking plenty of purified water on a daily basis, but during a cleanse it is essential. Keeping hydrated will aid in proper elimination and excretion from all the organs. On a cleanse it is important to increase your intake of water by an additional 2-3 liters depending on your size. Typically one should drink enough water to produce colorless or slightly straw-yellow urine and to prevent becoming thirsty, as thirst is typically a sign that your are not adequately hydrated.
A typical cleanse can last anywhere from 7 to 21 days. If you decide to maintain a longer time frame or any type of fast, it is always best to work with a qualified health care practitioner. Pregnant and lactating women, children, extremely weakened individuals, anyone with an eating disorder or anyone with a chronic illness cannot participate in a detox.
So if you recently gave up chocolate or you goal is to lose those 10-15 extra pounds this year, consider starting off those New Year’s resolution with a cleanse, it may give you the extra bit of motivation and be the exact catalyst for the ultimate health reset.