Detoxification of the body is practised by many cultures from around the world with India’s Ayurvedic Diet being one of the popular choices. Detoxification is about resting, cleaning and nourishing the body from the inside out. By eliminating toxins and then feeding your body with healthy nutrients, detoxifying can help protect you from disease and provide you with the capability to optimise your health.
Spices are a key player in the cleansing process
A new year usually means time to detoxify your body after a festive season of drinking and indulging in rich foods for many. But detoxifying your body should not be limited to the start of a new year, you can detoxify your body any time and following a sensible detox programme can help you feel a better you.
Interestingly, the the British Liver Trust advises those planning to go cold turkey, after a season of heavy alcohol consumption and over-eating to detox throughout the year rather than just the first month of the year. The trust says abstaining from alcohol a few days every week throughout the year, rather than just one month, can provide more real health benefits.
Detoxification basically means ‘cleaning the blood’ in your body. This is mainly done by removing impurities from the blood in the liver, where toxins are processed for elimination. The body also eliminates toxins through the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph and skin.
Detoxifying your body does promote health benefits but it needs dedication to ensure you get the results you want to achieve. There are many approaches to detoxification and which works best depends on you and how you follow the programme.
One approach is the Ayurvedic Detox diet. This has been developed by the Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians. They look at two types of foods groups – ama producing foods and ama reducing foods. Where ama is the product of incomplete digestion; it represents sticky toxic matter that can clog the channels of your body that carry nutrients to the cells and waste out of the body. Since cleansing is done to clear ama out of the body, you’ll want to stay away from foods that build more ama in the body.
The aims when following the Ayurvedic Detox diet is to avoid the intake of ama producing foods and eat more ama reducing foods.
Ama producing foods include dairy products such as hard cheeses, deep fried foods, raw foods of any kind, yeasted breads, biscuits, crackers, fermented foods, heavy desserts and foods containing refined sugar and honey. From the Ayurvedic perspective, lifeless foods such as processed, packaged, canned and frozen foods all create ama because your body finds them hard to digest.
Other foods to avoid are non-organic foods, foods grown with chemicals, pesticides and chemical fertilisers, genetically modified foods, and foods with chemical additives which introduce toxins into your body and confuse the natural “intelligence” of your digestive system.
Foods which reduce ama include mainly vegetarian foods that are light, warm, cooked and easy to digest. For example, freshly made wholemeal roti, light soups and dhals, organic vegetables cooked with spices, and freshly made grains such as quinoa are ideal. Mung bean dhal is a popular choice which is one dish that is easy to digest.
Juicy sweet fruits such as pomegranates, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries, blackberries, pineapples, cherries, mangoes and papayas are excellent cleansers; lots of cooked leafy greens and brussels sprouts and cabbage are also good for detoxifying. Grains such as quinoa, barley, bulgur wheat, amaranth and small helpings of rice are highly recommended.
Spices such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, paprika, fennel, black pepper, cloves and fenugreek help open up the channels of the body and support the flushing of toxins via the skin, urinary tract, colon and liver. Spices are a key player in the cleansing process so add them to food where possible.
An excellent beverage is the popular drink of lassi, which is made by combining fresh yoghurt with water and laced with digestion-boosting spices. It is good for you if either drunk early morning or at lunchtime, prior to food. You can also add spices to fresh fruit juice made from any of the fruits good for detoxification.
Above all, water is a major means of detoxifying your body, especially, hot or warm water. Drinking warm water helps flush toxins out of the body through the urine. To increase the healing benefits from the water you drink, you can add lemon and any of the the detoxifying spices to the warm water. Up to or more than eight glasses are a minimum when detoxifying your body.
Ayurvedic healers recommend customising your diet all year-round to address your imbalances. Therefore, making it a habit to regularly detoxify your body is better for you in the long term.
As well as the Ayurvedic Detox diet, let’s look at other tips to help you detox your body.
Toxic beverages – eliminate alcohol and coffee from your daily routine as these can be very toxic for your body and impact your detoxification.
Stop or reduce smoking – getting rid of nicotine in your body will highly aid the detoxification process. So, eliminate cigarettes, sheesha, cigars, beedis and joints from your everyday usage when detoxifying.
Increase Fibre intake – eating lots of fibre will definitely help your detox. Plenty of brown rice and organically-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Beetroots, radishes, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli and seaweed are excellent detoxifying foods.
Clean your liver – especially, if you are a heavy drinker or have been binge drinking, you can cleanse and protect your liver by taking herbs such as dandelion root, burdock and milk thistle, and drinking green tea.
Increase Vitamin C – to help the body produce glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins, foods or supplements high in vitamin C are a important for your detox. Including citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemons and limes.
Breathing exercises – introduce regular breathing sessions into your lifestyle, where you breathe deeply to allow oxygen to circulate more completely through your system.
Hydrotherapy – showers at different temperatures can aid your detoxification. By taking a very hot shower for five minutes, allowing the water to run on your back and then following it with cold water for 30 seconds, three times in one session is an effective method of hydroptherapy.
Sauna or Steam – regular use of a steam room or a sauna is an excellent way of eliminating wastes in your body through perspiration.
Remove skin toxins – dry-brush your skin or try detox foot spas/foot baths to remove toxins through your pores. You can use special brushes to help you with this.
Exercise – regular perspiration through exercise is very helpful for detoxifying. Skipping for one hour a day is a great means of breaking a sweat. Yoga for at least one hour every day is also helpful.
There are many detoxification programmes and detox recipes, which will vary to suit your individual needs. Many programs follow a 7-day programme because it takes the body some time to clean the blood, which is an important aspect of detoxifying your body. Some programmes will include fasting on liquids, followed by a carefully-planned detox diet to allow the digestive system to rest.
The aim of any programme will be to rest your organs through fasting; stimulate the liver to drive toxins from the body; promote the elimination through your intestines, kidneys and skin; improve the circulation of your blood; and refuel your body with healthy nutrients.
Therefore, if you are looking at ‘cleansing your body’ from toxins accumulated through poor diet, over indulgence in alcohol or you simply want to regularly detox your body, select a programme that you can complete within your lifestyle. It is better to detox properly than to just ‘try it’ which will have very little or no impact at all on your body.
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