Many patients have asked me recently about how our wellness
services can help them “detox” in the New Year. Detoxing is a common wellness
practice. In most general terms, it
means removing toxins from the body. The New Year is a good time to detox, for
many reasons: 1) usually we have put a lot of crap into our systems over the
holidays and detoxing allows us to clear that out; 2) New Years symbolically
offers a new beginning, and detoxing allows us to clear the slate, so to speak,
for our next year; and 3) in the deepest winter months, we are in the most yin
(passive, cold) time of the year, when things move the slowest. Detoxing gives
us a pick-me-up during these slow, deep, cold winter months.
However, I would strongly advise being wary of internet detox
programs with obscure diets, high supplementation, or cure-all-claims with the
addition of certain superfoods. If you
are inclined to do one of these more severe cleanses, you should always do so
under the guidance of a nutritionist, physician, or nutritional coach.
There are many ways that you can help your body to
naturally detox during the month of January. My suggestion it to do a “Detox
Lifestyle Overhaul”, which involves making a number of small health choices
that you can then choose to continue or stop, after you see how they serve you
for one month. Here are my suggestions for a January Detox:
- Eat as cleanly as possible. Cut out – for the
month – as much processed foods as you can. Eat a diet of mainly hearty
vegetables, a small amount of complex grains, lean meat and fish, and healthy
fats like those from coconut, avocado, and nuts.
- Cut out common culprits of inflammation and the
stress response in the body: sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy, and coffee. You can
choose to cut out all 5 of these, for the month, or just choose 1 to start
with. Make the promise to yourself to do this for the month of January and then
you can start re-introducing the food (or foods) slowly in February. Your body
may tolerate it just fine, and that is good information for you to have.
However, if you cut out sugar for the month, feel great, and then re-introduce
it in February and feel lousy, it may be time to re-examine whether or not you
want to include sugar in your diet moving forward. Either way, this modified
“elimination diet” can help clear out some of the residual inflammation and
crap in your body from last year, and give you a better start for 2014.
- Drink at least 64 fluid oz of water each day.
Water is a life-giving force, and is at its core clean, cleansing, and pure.
Making sure you get enough water each day is a great way to help flush out your
tissues, remove toxins, bring new life into your cells, and help your inner
tissues be healthier, cleaner, and less weighed down with toxins.
- See a reflexologist. One of the number 1
benefits of reflexology is helping the body to eliminate toxins, to detox.
Getting a few reflexology treatments during the month, while you are eating
more cleanly and drinking enough water, can help move your body along its month-long
- Get regular cupping treatments. Cupping is a
modality used by acupuncturists and practitioners of Traditional Chinese
Medicine. One of its main functions is to remove toxins from the energy
systems, acupuncture meridians, and local tissues. A trained practitioner can
tailor a cupping treatment to your unique condition and presentation to remove
toxins from whichever systems you seem to most readily store them in. At
Stepping Stone Acupuncture & Wellness, we offer cupping treatments as part
of a regular acupuncture treatment (just mention that you want to try cupping
at the start of your treatment), and we also offer cupping-only sessions, to
really focus on the detoxification power of this healing modality.
- Get a massage. Massage helps to move blood and
lymph, which carry important nutrients to our tissues (and toxins OUT of the
tissues). It also can help to remove the lactic acid that builds up in our
muscle tissues, to make us more limber, less stuck, and less toxic.
- Exercise at least 4 days each week. If this
seems like too lofty of a goal, remember, it is just for this month. Then you
can choose whether you’d like to continue with your routine going forward.
Whatever exercise you choose to do, remember that to help you detox, you want to
get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes (to get an aerobic work-out),
and you want to break a sweat. Be sure to replenish your body’s fluid and
electrolyte stores after a hard workout (when you sweat a lot) by drinking
plenty of water, coconut water (nature’s natural Gatorade!), and eating
water-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Pay attention to the toxins you put ON your
body, not just what you put IN your body. Sadly, most of the beauty products
(skin care, hair care, make-up, etc) that we use contain very toxic chemicals
that slowly absorb through our skin and work their way into our bloodstream and
tissues. Additionally, home cleaning products (including dish soap, laundry
detergent, and surface cleaners) contain products that are incredibly toxic to us,
our clothes, and our plates. Try substituting non-toxic alternatives for your
everyday products – you will be amazed that they work just as well. One of our
favorite non-toxic lines is Ava Anderson Non-Toxic.
- Sweat. Sweating is our body’s natural way of
cooling us down, and eliminating toxins from our tissues. Achieving a healthy
sweat is a great way to aid the body in detoxing. You can do this through exercise
or using a clean herbal sauna. (My new favorite is Urban Sweat at Raffa Yoga in Rhode Island). However, notice that I say “healthy sweat” – sweating is NOT
helpful if you do it too much, too often, or feel tired, dehydrated, or
depleted afterwards. Anytime you allow your body to sweat, be sure you
replenish the lost fluids with electrolytes, water, and protein.
As always, it is important to do things to take care of
yourself and keep your body in balance during this detox period. Regular
treatments – or maintenance acupuncture care
– can treat the
underlying imbalances that are causing health issues, and can help you be at
your best as you use these other modalities to effectively detox in a
Happy New Year! May 2014 bring you much health, happiness,
and a sense of peace.