Did you know our body has its own processes that do an amazing job of detoxifying itself daily? Our liver, kidneys, lungs, intestines and skin all play major roles in our detox pathways. This internal detox system works optimally when you eat a healthy nourishing diet and exercise regularly.
Our detox system gets overwhelmed when we overload it with too many stressors. These may include environmental toxins, stress, lack of sleep, excess alcohol or caffeine, processed foods with preservatives and additives. This may stop it from functioning optimally. Along with a healthy diet and exercise, there are a number of things we can do to naturally boost our detox pathways:
1.Dry Skin Brushing
Our skin is the largest organ in the body and removes 15-20% of our waste.
Dry skin brushing is an excellent way to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, stimulate the circulation and lymphatic system, invigorate the hormonal glands, helps strengthen the immune system and aid digestion.
How to: Using a long-handled natural hair brush, exfoliate your entire body (dry) before jumping in the shower. Use circular strokes and try to brush towards the heart for better circulation and lymphatic clearance. Finish with a warm shower to cleanse your skin and pores and rinse off dead skin cells.
Saunas have amazing detox benefits. The heat from the sauna penetrates your skin and stimulates the subcutaneous fat (fat in tissues under the skin and in muscles) to release more toxins. Your body then heats up and sweats out some of the toxins. Sweating also helps to cleanse the skin, opens pores and improves circulation. Saunas can help with cell rejuvenation as your increase in core temperature aids cellular function and helps fight off infections. Having a sauna can improve your mood by relaxing you and reducing cortisol levels.
How to: Be sure to hydrate well before and after a sauna to help flush out toxins that would have entered your bloodstream and lymph system, and avoiding eating within an hour either side of your bath.
Our liver is one of the most important detox organs in the body as it helps eliminate toxins and metabolic waste. The liver converts waste to water-soluble compounds for elimination, or produces bile to carry fat-soluble wastes to eliminate through our bowels. Liver massaging can help to wake up the organ and stimulate the detox process.
How to: Lie down on your back and relax your abdomen. Place the pads of four fingers of your right hand over your liver. Your liver is located directly below the diaphragm in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. Press slightly in and massage using gentle circular motions for 5 mins.
4.Epsom Salt Bath
Taking a detox bath not only boosts our health and wellbeing but also strengthens our immune system and prevents disease. Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate which helps flush out toxins, reduce inflammation, relieve muscle pain and cramps, helps prevent headaches and migraines, eases stress and improves sleep and concentration. Magnesium is required in the body by over 500 reactions and processes for efficient functioning including muscle and nerve function.
How to: Run a nice hot bath and add 2 cups of Epsom salts and 5-10 drops of essential oils (optional). Add ½ cup of baking soda to help neutralize chemicals in the water, as well as increase mineral absorption. Immerse yourself, relax and enjoy for at least 20 minutes. Ensure to hydrate yourself before and after taking a detox bath to help flush out toxins, and avoiding eating within an hour either side of your bath.
Yoga not only leaves you feeling cleansed, revitalized and energized, but twisting and inversion poses in yoga are incredibly beneficial for detox and digestion. Regardless of whether you practice yoga or not, you can try these yoga poses at home anytime to enjoy the benefits:
1.Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana). This pose improves the health of the spine and stimulates the liver, spleen and digestive system to allow efficient detoxification pathways. It also tones the abs, legs and buttocks.
How to: Stand tall on a mat and bring your feet together (or slightly apart if you find it hard to balance). Bend your knees and drop your buttocks back and down as if you were about to sit in a chair. Keep your knees aligned, tracking slightly over your toes, and your spine straight. Bring your hands together at your heart center, twist from your waist and bring one elbow over the opposite knee. Press your hands firmly together and brace your core for balance. Keep your chest open and heart directing up towards the sky. Stay for 5 breaths then switch to the other side.
2.Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana). Twisting poses stimulate the vagus nerve that switches on our parasympathetic nervous system, controlling repair and digestion. Twisting poses improve digestion and encourages elimination of wastes. A great pose to if you’re feeling bloated and sluggish.
How to: Begin seated on your mat with your legs straight out in front on you. Bend your right knee and cross your right foot over your left leg, planting in firm on the floor on the outside of your left knee. Place your right hand down on the floor beside your body. Reach your left arm out in front of you, gently twist from your waist, and cross your left elbow over your outer right knee or thigh (your bent leg). Gaze behind your right shoulder and breathe for 5 breaths before releasing. Switch around to the other side and do the same.
3.Shoulder Stand Pose (Sarvangasana). This pose is for more advanced/experience yogi’s as you need to be careful and gentle with your neck and spine placement. Inverted poses help drain lymph fluid in the legs and upper body towards the heart to be oxygenated and cleansed. Inversion poses must be avoided during pregnancy or menses.
How to: Start by lying flat on the floor. Draw your legs back over your head coming into plow pose and your arms flat on the floor. Bend at your elbows, bring your hands to your lower spine for support. Lift and extend your legs straight up in the air, drawing your belly button into your spine for core control, and your chin tucked gently towards your chest. Look towards your toes and avoid moving your head. Your shoulders should be pressed firmly into the floor. To finish, gently lower back into plow pose first, then return your legs back to the floor.
Images courtesy of Pocket Yoga