20 Healthy Ways to Detox That Don’t Involve Juicing
Juice cleansing may be all the rage, but it isn't always the most effective or safest way to detox. To flush out your body and boost your health, take a smart and safe approach to detoxification. These tactics are easy ways to get your body working healthfully and optimally.
Catch those Zzzs
You know you need to get plenty of shuteye. But between shuttling the kids to soccer, whipping up dinner, and sneaking in a few minutes for yourself, it's tough to hit the hay at a reasonable hour. Get some rest for the sake of keeping your health on track. The National Sleep Foundation says that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Adequate rest can help reduce inflammation and stress so your body can function optimally. Read on for the secrets sleep doctors wish everyone knew.
Break a sweat
When you exercise, toxins are expelled from your lungs when you breathe and from your skin when you sweat. Plus, getting moving will help you feel happier, more energized, and control your weight, says Mayo Clinic.
Get your zen on
Namaste, people! Yoga is a great way to detox your mind and your body. Moves that require twists stimulate your thyroid and digestive tracts, and deep, long breaths help promote the process of ridding your body of toxins. Yoga will also help you be a more mindful eater: Researchers have found that people who practiced yoga for at least 30 minutes a week for at least four years gained less weight during middle age, says Harvard Health Publishing. Researchers attributed this all to mindful eating and a more positive relationship with food. These are the things mindful eaters do at every meal.
A nibble here. A bite there. Mindless snacking may seem harmless, but it can get in the way of your health, especially if you're snacking on junk. When cravings kick in, opt for fruit or air-popped popcorn. "Keep it simple with a handful of unsalted macadamia nuts or pumpkin seeds," says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RDN of Essence Nutrition. "If you want to spice it up, roll them in olive oil and cayenne or cinnamon for an anti-inflammatory kick." She stresses eating a variety of nuts to get an array of nutritional benefits.
Brush your body
Using a handheld brush made of firm, natural bristles before you get in the shower can stimulate your lymphatic system, which helps with detoxification. By doing this ancient practice, you may help your body naturally release toxins and extra water. It's been suggested that body brushing can break up cellulite, remove dead and dry skin, unclog pores, strengthen the immune system, and boost circulation. Use long strokes in the direction of your heart, from hands to shoulders, knees to groin, belly to chest, etc. These are the best skin-care ingredients for detoxifying your skin.
It's just as important to cleanse your mind as it is to cleanse your body. Eliminating negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones enhances detoxification. "Positive thinking can transform your entire outlook on life," says Nadia Murdock, a fitness expert and coach. Try relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation. "Meditating daily helps you focus, think clearer, and boost energy," says Jeannine Morris, certified holistic health coach, yoga teacher, and founder of Joyfully-Me.com. She suggests trying a few types of meditation until you find what works for you. "Take five minutes each morning and commit to the practice," she says. "Over time, you'll reap the benefits."
Your body's natural detox process happens in the liver, and one way to help it work properly is to stay hydrated with water and pass on the alcohol and soda. Don't worry; water doesn't have to be basic and boring. "Jazz it up by adding fresh lemon, cucumber, mint, or any other fruit or veggie," says Alix Turoff, MS, RD, CDN, CPT. "Not only does it make the water taste more interesting, but when you take the time to do something 'special,' you're more likely to drink the water."
Turn on the tea (green tea, that is)
"Green tea is chock-full of antioxidants," says Auslander Moreno. "Green tea has been linked to fighting virtually every disease under the sun." Get its benefits by drinking just 2.5 cups a day. Read on to learn all the benefits green tea has to offer.
Focus on fiber
Eating whole foods is the best way to help keep your insides clean. "Fiber binds with toxins and cholesterol and helps to usher them out of the body," says Turoff. Avoid foods that are processed, sugary, and/or fried. Instead, munch on ones rich in fiber, like fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and beans. Eating these foods will help toxins get out of your body quickly. Plus, fiber helps regulate digestion and fight hunger. Here are some more cleansing foods that naturally detox your body.
Opt for smaller portions and eat slower
The bigger the meal, the more the bloat, so stick with eating more frequent meals that are smaller. And eat slowly so you don't gulp down air as you eat. "Eating slower allows your brain to catch up with your stomach," says Murdock. "Take breaks between bites by putting down the fork. Drink sips of water in between bites to help you eat at a slower pace." On the flip side, don't skip meals. Doing so will slow down your metabolism and you'll end up eating more calories since you're famished.
Curb the sugar
The more sugar you eat, the more you're demanding insulin from your body, which strains your pancreas and wears you out. Not to mention the fact that sugar makes you gain weight, puts you at risk for diabetes, and rots your teeth. So ditch artificial sweeteners, and limit natural ones, even honey and molasses.
Yes, dairy products like milk and cheese are good sources of calcium, protein, and other nutrients. However, if you can't break down lactose—the sugar found in milk and other dairy products—then dairy can cause digestive problems. You may be suffering from lactose intolerance and not even realize it. Try lactose-free milk products, or opt for milk alternatives like almond, coconut, rice, or soy milk.
Eat your veggies
Your meals should be plant-based, as much as possible. That's especially true if you're avoiding dairy, since you'll need to get your calcium from green leafy veggies. Calcium-rich veggies include collard greens, kale, bok choy, and broccoli. Learn some foods that are even better than apple cider vinegar for detoxifying your body.
Opt for organic
Fruits are healthy, but some are loaded with pesticides. Apples, for example, are a nutritious fruit to help you detox; they're low in calories, full of filling fiber, and lack sodium and fat. But the skin can be dangerous if your apple isn't organic. If the apple you're eating isn't organic, peel it before you eat it to avoid pesticides. (Always wash produce whether it's organic or not.) This is the best way to clean pesticides off your fruit.
Factor in fish
"The omega-3 fatty acids in fatty, small fish are essential to brain health, immunity, and lipid profiles," says Auslander Moreno. She suggests adding salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and cod (aiming for wild-caught varieties) to your diet. Avoid high-mercury varieties like swordfish, tilefish, and bluefin tuna.
"Probiotics can help maintain a healthy community of microorganisms in the gut and can help keep undesirable bacteria out of the digestive tract," says Turoff. Plus, she says they can help rebalance gut bacteria after it's been disrupted by antibiotics or disease. "By populating the gut with good bacteria, you can help prevent bacteria from proliferating," she advises. Get probiotics via pills or from fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, or kimchi, which contain natural sources of probiotics. These are the best probiotic foods to boost your good gut bacteria.
Just beet it
"My top way to 'detox' is to think about the liver, which naturally detoxes our bodies," says Sophie Uliano, New York Times bestselling author and holistic nutritionist. "Raw beets are one of the most potent foods you can eat that will help the liver do its job." She suggests eating them at least once a week. Try grating half a raw beet into a salad, toss a quarter into the blender with other smoothie ingredients, or use a mandolin to make beet carpaccio, she suggests.
Juice in a different way
Not all juice is bad for you. Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, loves 100-percent grape juice made with Concord grapes. "It offers fruit nutrients like polyphenols and the antioxidant vitamin C that can help everything from your heart health to your brain health and immunity." She says the juice may also be beneficial if you're looking to give your athletic performance a boost. In one recent preliminary study, recreational runners drinking the juice daily for about a month noticed enhanced performance. "Drink it straight up, blend it into a smoothie, or mix it into a salad dressing," she says. This is what happens to your body when you undergo a juice cleanse.
Create a morning and evening routine
"How you start and end your day is incredibly important," says Noelle Carbognin, a certified holistic health coach. "A morning and evening routine can detox your body naturally and instantly create a sense of calm among the chaos." She recommends drinking a cup of warm lemon water as soon as you wake up. "Taking some time each day to sit in peace with your warm lemon water not only allows your mind and body to relax, but it boosts your immune system, helps with digestion, balances pH levels, and results in radiant skin," she says. In the evening, she suggests writing in a journal. "The practice of journaling can reduce toxic emotions and lower stress levels," she says.
Consider natural antioxidants
Natural antioxidants can be safe and effective additions to a detox program, says Fred Pescatore, MD, PH, and author of The A-List Diet. He says that Robuvit® is an extract from French oak wood that supports the liver's detoxification function. "The liver removes toxins from the bloodstream, breaks down alcohol and drugs, and processes nutrients to be absorbed in the body," says Dr. Pescatore. "So it's crucial to optimize liver health for any detox program." These are the antioxidant-rich foods you should be eating now.