You mostly maintained your healthy eating plan during the holidays, occasionally indulging mindfully but mostly sticking to nutrient-dense whole foods. You scheduled in optimal sleep, exercise, and stress management. Maybe you had a few drinks at your office’s holiday party, and you had a bigger piece of your cousin’s famous pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving because she adamantly insisted.
Overall, though, you did a solid job maintaining health as most of your friends are trying to maintain their resolutions to lose weight. With the New Year here, you’re ready to step things up a few notches. You want to reduce your toxic burden while dialing up your nutrition. Losing a few holiday pounds would make a nice bonus!
Visit many health food stores or flip through your favourite magazine and you’re likely to find various pills, plans, and powder with fancy terms like body cleanse or natural cleanse that promise to do things like support liver health but actually target weight loss.
Let’s be honest: most people do a cleanse to lose weight.
Do You Need a Cleanse?
Critics argue your body naturally detoxifies, so you needn’t resort to cleanses and other tactics to aid the process. They’re partially right — your body can detoxify just fine. However, we live in a dirty world, bombarded with countless environmental pollutants, daily, no matter how hard your body is working to eliminate them on its own. As a toxic threshold is reached, this can overwhelm your liver and create a backup akin to the Los Angeles freeway during rush hour. That’s where implementing a well-designed natural cleanse can help.
After the holidays — when you’re feeling a little sluggish, your jeans aren’t fitting so comfortably, and you’re ready to hit the reset button on your health — is an ideal time to naturally detoxify.
The Best Way to Cleanse Your Body Naturally
The good news is you don’t need expensive juice cleanses or undertake semi-starvation tactics to detoxify. In fact, those drastic measures are bound to backfire. Juice cleanses are often high in the liver-stressing sugar fructose (the last thing you want during a cleanse is to stress your liver!) and contain minimal — if any — of the nutrients you need for detoxification.
During the first few days of a well-designed body cleanse, you might feel groggy, however, you shouldn’t feel hungry or miserable doing a plan. With these five steps, you can get all the benefits of a cleanse that you can sustain for life. You have everything you need here to get the weight loss, liver support, and other results you want.
Step 1: Start with What You Eat
Food should be your foundation of a healthy cleanse. No herbs, powders, or superfoods can replace real food that provides your body with the nutrients it requires to detoxify.
Certain foods can tax your liver. Among the foods you should avoid or minimize during a cleanse include:
- Processed, sugary foods (that often contain other problem ingredients including trans fat and gluten)
- Sugar — especially fructose
- Inflammatory fats including vegetable oils and grain-fed meats
- Stimulants like caffeine (although some people do fine with a little bit of organic coffee)
A well-designed cleanse diet will focus instead on nutrient-dense foods that support the liver’s detoxification pathways. Foods that help cleanse the liver include:
- Clean protein: Many detoxification processes require amino acids, and a shortage of these could impair detoxification. Good choices include organic free-range poultry, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, pasture-raised eggs, and a clean source of plant-based or grass-fed whey protein.
- Healthy fats: Chronic inflammation and toxicity often feed off one another. When you’re inflamed, your body contains more toxins, and vice versa. Include plenty of foods rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids including wild-caught fish, walnuts, and freshly ground flaxseed into your body cleanse plan.
- Sulfur-rich foods: This mineral plays a key role in detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables, garlic, onions, and pasture-raised eggs provide good amounts of sulfur.
- Fibre-rich foods: Among its benefits, dietary fibre can support gut health and bind excess toxins that your body can subsequently excrete. Leafy and cruciferous vegetables, low-sugar fruits like berries and avocado, nuts, and seeds all provide good amounts of fibre to help your body detoxify.
- Green tea: The wide range of benefits in this popular beverage includes liver support.
For a turn-key reset food plan, try our 7-Day Cleanse. This plant-based cleanse features everything you need for a full-body cleanse, including cleanse components, shopping list and recipes, detox practices, and more.
Step 2: Get the Right Nutrients
Foundational supplements including a good multivitamin-mineral and omega-3 fatty acids provide the nutrient bases you might not get in food. When you do a cleanse, you’ll also need therapeutic amounts of specific nutrients to support the liver. You’ll often find these nutrients in a synergistic formula. Consider working with your healthcare provider to implement specific nutrients that cleanse the body of toxins.
Be aware that many commercial cleanse formulas contain low-quality, ineffective, or potentially harmful ingredients. One popular “colon cleanse” product, for instance, simply contains psyllium husk; hardly the sole nutrient support you want during a cleanse.
One nutrient worth discussing is glutathione. Several pathways utilize this master antioxidant that helps detoxify numerous potentially dangerous compounds. Glutathione directly scavenges free radicals and detoxifies reactive compounds including lipid peroxides. This multitasker also recycles other antioxidants including vitamins C and E.
While you should eat foods rich in the nutrients your body needs to build glutathione (such as sulfur-rich cruciferous vegetables), additional nutrient support can optimize levels. Consider grass-fed whey protein or N-acetylcysteine, both of which provide glutathione precursors (including the amino acid cysteine).
Step 3: Cultivate Stellar Lifestyle Strategies
You’ll undermine your effects if you don’t implement the right lifestyle strategies during your whole body cleanse. Among them include:
- Sleep: Getting optimal amounts of solid, uninterrupted sleep is crucial to help your liver and other organs perform optimally. Sleep also helps your brain detoxify via the glymphatic system, which scientists call “a plumbing system” to clean out cellular toxins.
- Stress management: Stress can indirectly impact your body’s toxic burden in more ways than you might imagine. You’re more prone to make poor eating choices, for instance, and abuse alcohol or stimulants. Finding ways to manage stress involves simple, effective strategies such as deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, or yoga that work for you.
- Personal growth: A cleanse can also be a spiritual or emotional process. Toxins accumulate in food and household products, but they also build up in our thoughts, relationships, and habits. Consider potential blocks that might hinder personal growth. Research shows cultivating and practicing gratitude can be immensely healing for wellbeing and overall health.
- Sweat: Your skin creates a barrier for external toxins and houses sweat glands that help eliminate internal toxins. Sweating daily becomes an ideal way to move those toxins out. A good high-intensity workout can create a sweat. So can saunas.
Step 4: Reduce Toxic Exposure
Most of the 80,000 chemicals currently used in America haven’t been adequately tested for their effects on human health. They lurk in cosmetics, cleaners, toys, food, and many things we use every day. Put another way: we all have toxins in our bodies — but in varying degrees. Implementing a natural cleanse can support your liver’s natural detoxification processes, but you simultaneously want to minimize your exposure to these chemicals.
Reducing exposure doesn’t require extreme measures or becoming neurotic. Some simple measures that can minimize your toxic burden include:
- Become more aware of chemicals that lurk in cosmetics and other beauty products. Commercial sunscreens, moisturizers, shampoos, and other products frequently contain problematic ingredients that can add to your toxic burden. The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database provides an excellent source to learn more about these ingredients and make the best choices.
- Buy organic. Among their problems, pesticides in conventional produce can adversely impact children’s cognitive development. Whenever possible, choose organic foods, which could also reduce the risk of allergic disease as well as overweight and obesity. If you can’t afford organic, check out the EWG’s shopper’s guide to determine the most — and least — pesticide ridden foods.
- Choose greener household products. You want a clean home, but you also want a clean body. Many cleaners contain potentially toxic ingredients. One great source is the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which provides over 2,500 products that list specific brands and problematic ingredients. Better yet, learn to make your own household cleaners. You’ll save time and money while reducing your toxic burden.
Step 5: Remember Cleansing is a Long-Term Process
Ideally, you’ll maintain this cleanse plan for several weeks, but the principles you’ll develop can carry into your everyday life. Your cells constantly detoxify. Doing a cleanse diet once a year and then subsequently going back to a less-than-stellar eating and living routine will easily undo your hard work.
While you might consider doing a cleanse after the holidays to lose weight and reduce your toxic burden, detoxification is something to remain mindful about year-round.
A sustainable, effective cleanse requires:
- Eating foods on MaxLiving’s Core or Advanced plans
- Maintaining good sleep and other lifestyle factors
- Getting the right nutrients
- Sustaining a healthy spiritual and social life
- Minimizing potentially toxic beauty, cleaning, and other products
- Working with a chiropractor to complement your healthcare professional and address specific issues