In this BodyTalk 4 Life newsletter, I explore the topic of toxins stored in the body. The importance of detoxification is undeniable. However, in the process of trying to detoxify, we usually make many mistakes. As a result, instead of feeling better after a detox, we are left more depleted than ever. Read on to find out how to avoid the most common mistakes during a detox.
I also give you four Golden Rules to live by. You can use them to flush existing toxins out of your system and prevent future toxic build up in your body. You can also apply the very same rules to any other area in your life. They are universal, easy to remember and not that difficult to follow.
Detoxification and cleansing: Avoid common mistakes and make the most out of your detox!
Toxins are an inevitable bi-product as a result of a number of metabolic activities in the body. Even if you eat super-organic food and live in the forest, your body will still make toxins. If the quality of your food is questionable, if you drink alcohol and coffee, if you smoke or do drugs, if you live in a polluted area, if you often take medications and supplements, and if you are stressed, then the toxicity in your body will be even higher.
A lot of people recognize the need to detoxify the body and undertake actions accordingly. Too often, however, these actions are too drastic and do more harm than good. Below are some common mistakes to avoid while doing a detox:
Mistake No 1: Drinking too much (cold) water
Drinking plenty of water is considered beneficial for flushing toxins. However, if the water is cold it actually slows the lymphatic drainage. Slow lymphatic drainage, in turn, compromises the process of detoxification as most of the toxins are supposed to get flushed through the lymphatic system. Cold water can also lead to constipation, and if you don’t empty your bowel you certainly can’t get rid of some of the toxins either. To make matters worse, cold water disrupts the digestion. In fact whatever the temperature of your beverages, if you drink too much fluids (especially too close to meals), you will make less digestive enzymes and your digestion will become compromised. As a result, you can expect a lot of fermentation in the gut which leads to even more toxicity.
Water is best drunk at room temperature (or slightly warm in winter) and never during your meals. Sipping on hot water (with some optional lemon) throughout the day is an excellent way to melt toxins. Drinking lemon, ginger and honey mixed in warm water first thing in the morning is also great for detoxification. Add ½ tsp of fenugreek powder to this mixture to stimulate lymphatic drainage and burn excess fat.
Mistake No 2: Eating too much fruit
Fruit is beneficial as it contains fiber and promotes regular bowels. In addition, fruit has antioxidants which can further assist the process of detoxification. However, too much fructose (the sugar found in fruit) can be very harmful for the liver and is therefore a bad recipe for detoxification.
Moreover, when fruit combines with any other food in the gut, it quickly leads to fermentation and therefore raises the toxicity levels. You should especially avoid combining fruit with dairy products (e.g. yogurt, cheese, etc). Note that tomatoes are also fruit!
Ideally, fruit should only be eaten in moderation, on its own, and always between meals. Allow at least 30 minutes before and 2-4 hours after a meal.
Mistake No 3: Raw foods – to eat or not to eat?
Raw foods are great if you have strong digestion. But if your gut is weak (especially if you have IBS), raw foods can be a killer. Your body has to cook all the raw food you are ingesting before it can be assimilated. If your digestive system is depleted, raw food will only weaken it even more. In order for your body to be able to detoxify, you have to eat foods that are light and easy to assimilate. For many this means only cooked food. Yes, some vitamins are easily lost in the cooking process but the same process makes most minerals more available than they are in the raw food.
If you are unwilling to give up your salads, eat them at lunch rather than dinner. Add some lemon and black pepper to your salad mixtures to make them easier to digest and assimilate.
Mistake No 4: The Lemon Master Cleanse and colonic irrigations
Your gut has somewhere between 1.5kg and 4.5kg of bacteria. Some of these bacteria are harmful and create toxicity (e.g. Candida). However, believe it or not, some of those little buggers are not simply good for you; they actually account for up to 75% of the function of your immune system! Without the good guys in the gut, the bad ones will overtake easily and the level of toxicity will rise accordingly. Along with helping your immune system and your digestive system, the good bacteria also help you make vitamin B and K.
Now, anyone who has done the Master Lemon Cleanse has also experienced the notorious salt water flushes administered each morning for many days in a row. It is a process considered beneficial for cleansing as it literary rips your gut out by causing it to flush its contents thoroughly through forceful (and often painful) contractions. I’ve done it myself, so I am talking from experience. If you opt for such flushes you are wiping out the good bacteria together with the bad. Colonic irrigations can have a similar effect, though they act mainly on the large intestine and spare the small intestines.
After any drastic form of purgation, it takes tons of high quality probiotics over a long period of time to restore the gut flora. A high quality probiotic is one that has billions (not millions) of bacteria per capsule and has been stored properly so the bacteria are actually active. After purgation, you should also adopt a strict diet regime for several days where you eat only light, cooked food. The gut is very depleted after purgation, so eating normal food can be equivalent to addition salt to your wounds. Given the risks, those drastic cleanses are best avoided in my opinion.
Mistake No 5: Post-detox regime
By far the most serious and the priciest mistake is often made straight after the active phase of a detox. Very few people have the patience, the knowledge and the self-discipline to introduce normal foods gradually. Not many realize that eating McDonald’s straight after you have been on a strict detox regime will make you sicker than you were before you started the detox.
If you know you can’t maintain self-discipline to break out of a detox gradually, don’t even bother with the detox. Adopt a more gradual and common sense approach instead. Change your eating habits slowly over time and look at it as an investment project in yourself. Cut out take-aways and processed food. Cut down on the refined carbs, sugar, coffee and alcohol. Increase your exercise. Try to obtain as much nutrients from your food as possible and cut down your supplements. Long term this will be far more beneficial for you than doing a 10 day diet and then going straight back to your usual rubbish.
Four golden rules to live by
Although I have put this in the context of detoxing and cleansing, the rules below are actually applicable to any area of your life.
Rule No 1: One size does not fit all!
Only because someone got great results by doing a liver cleanse doesn’t mean that you will get the same results by doing the same thing. Your cleansing regime should be tailored by an expert to suit your individual needs. For best results, consult an Auyrvedic doctor. Auyrveda is the traditional medicine of India. Its basic premise is that toxins and unhealthy gut are at the core of most diseases. Auyrveda adopts a highly individualized approach to detoxifying the body. I have personally had very postivie experience from following Ayurveda and recommend it as a safe and highly beneficial modality when it comes to prescribing personalized diets and cleansing regimes.
Rule No 2: “Ordinary things, consistently done, lead to extraordinary results!” (quote by Keith Cunningham)
Giving up coffee during a 10-day detox diet may or may not make a difference in the bigger picture. What will make a difference is giving it up consistently on most days for the rest of your life. Remember – you don’t get fat between Christmas and New Years, you get fat between New Years and Christmas! The things that make a difference are the ones we do consistently over a long period of time, not the ones we do once in a blue moon.
Rule No 3: Everything in moderation!
If you have crap food – have it in moderation, don’t binge on it. If you are going to detox – do it also in moderation, don’t become obsessive about it. You have to allow your mind to stay flexible. If you follow too many rules all the time (even if they appear to be “good” rules), your mind will become rigid and inflexible. And guess what! Your body will also become rigid and inflexible as a result.
Rule No4: Mind over matter!
In my BodyTalk practice I often times have to tap out Toxic Thoughts as the primary cause of toxicity in my clients. These can be thoughts directed at self-harm and self-criticism. Or they can be various emotions directed at other people. Every thought your brain registers creates a corresponding chemical. Some chemicals are good, others are toxic. Hatred, vengeance, jealousy, resentment and feeling not good enough are among the most toxic states that show up in my clinical practice. They are like acid and can actually “eat you up”. That’s why I often say that feeding any of those states is like drinking the poison and waiting for someone else to die.
Understand that no amount of dieting and purging will ever be enough to detoxify your body unless you cleanse your mind. You become what you think. That is why you should pay attention to your thoughts. Daily meditation can be helpful. Doing BodyTalk can also be extremely helpful in identifying and neutralizing toxic substances, both on the mental as well as the physical level.