The human body is a sophisticated machine. It is self-healing, self-regenerating and even self-detoxing. In a perfect world, your body's natural defenses are all that is necessary.
But we don't live in a perfect world. Air pollution, processed foods, chemical additives and information overload are just a few external threats that our bodies and minds weren't designed to handle.
Over time, these pollutants can quickly build up in our systems, producing a range of negative effects on our physical and mental well-being.
Maybe you or a loved one:
- Is feeling more sluggish than usual
- Gets sick more often than before
- Is moody or quick to anger
Some people even feel depressed when their body’s natural detoxing mechanism starts to slow down.
There are simple steps you can take to delay reaching this point. For example, following a well-balanced diet with plenty of exercise and rest is one of the best ways to keep your body's defenses at peak physical condition. In addition, the benefits of eliminating or reducing intake of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are well documented.
But sometimes, your body needs a little extra help. By hitting the reset button, you can purge yourself of unnatural buildups and speed up the body’s amazing self-detoxing capabilities.
Different Ways to Physically Detox
There are many different ways to naturally detox your body. Massage, exercise and acupuncture (through a licensed practitioner) are renowned for:
- Improving blood circulation
- Removing blockages from your system
- Reducing pain, stress and fatigue
Certain foods are also known for their detoxifying qualities. If you’re not sure where to start, it’s often best to focus on the liver — the body’s primary detoxing organ. Incorporating the following foods into your diet is a simple way to slowly purge your liver of unwanted additives and chemicals:
- Brussels sprouts
For a longer list of liver-cleansing foods, click here.
If you're more interested in general detoxing for the entire body, you can expand your list to include:
Incorporating any of the above should produce measurable benefits over time. But if you're more interested in immediate results, there is no shortage of reputable detox diets out there, ranging from the ancient to the new age.
However, as with any diet, it’s best to set a specific deadline. Most detox programs last anywhere from 24 hours to 30 days. Anything beyond one month no longer qualifies as a “diet.” And you should consult with a licensed medical professional before making any permanent lifestyle changes.
You should also be leery of over-the-counter pills that make grandiose promises about detoxification. Natural is always better. Stick with organic, unprocessed, non-pharmaceutical foods that contain ingredients you can pronounce (without having to consult a dictionary).
Remember that detoxing is more than just a physical purge of your system. It's also a mental process — one that is becoming increasingly important in today's world of information overload.
How to Mentally Detox
It’s been estimated that a single edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average 17th entire lifetime.
It’s difficult to say whether or not this statement is true, however, we are bombarded on a daily basis with:
- News stories
- Violent images
- Texts & emails
- Social media updates
This constant tidal wave of data can be overwhelming and stressful. Fortunately, there are many different ways to quiet the mind and tune out this information overload, including:
- Journaling (or writing in general — especially with pen and paper)
- Meditation (inclusive of prayer, reflection or “quiet” time)
- Hobbies, exercise and any activities that result in flow
You could spend a lifetime searching for the right complement of mind-calming activities. But many find that a simple “media fast” offers immediate and tangible benefits.
For the next week (or even month), commit to reducing the following activities as much as possible:
- Television: Especially violent movies and sensational news.
- Social media: Believe it or not, the world won’t stop turning if you don’t update your Facebook status for a week.
- Smartphones: Use it only for incoming and outgoing calls, and give Candy Crush a rest.
You might also consider installing browser plug-ins that limit access to time- sucking websites. You’d be amazed at how liberating it is to temporarily opt out of all the traffic accidents, Hollywood gossip and trending stories.
Should You Mentally and Physically Detox?
Detoxing is a personal decision. And you shouldn’t feel forced to follow any dietary regimen or media fast if doing so conflicts with your long-term goals.
But if you feel that your mental, physical or emotional health needs a quick boost, there are many benefits to a safe and temporary detox. Start slowly, try out a few of the strategies listed above and see if there’s any improvement. The results might surprise you.