At the beginning of January, many Americans began to curse the gallons of egg nog and pounds of Christmas cookies they consumed over the holidays and vowed to turn over a new leaf in the new year while getting a jump on bikini season. For some, that meant embarking on a juice detox as a way to quickly clear out the sludge. Juicing works by giving the digestive system a break, since there’s no food being consumed. But their often extreme nature makes liquid cleanses notoriously difficult to stick with and, in some cases, dangerous.
That doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to safely and effectively rid your system of toxins and fruit cake, though. Follow these tips to make detoxing an ongoing—and juice-free—process.
Sip some herbal tea
“Not only do they offer a healthy alternative to regular tea and coffee, but herbal teas can assist with detoxifying your system,” says nutritionist and healthy aging expert Paula Simpson. Simpson advises her clients to incorporate herbs like lemongrass, ginger, dandelion, horsetail and milk thistle into their brews. They all contain properties said to support a healthy liver, which is one of the organs in responsible for the body’s natural detoxifying process.
Skip the Sweets
By now, you’ve no doubt heard about the dangers of sugar—and they’re all true. In addition to its highly addictive nature, when consumed in large quantities, sugar can also increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and excess body fat. Oh, and it feeds cancer cells, too.
“There is a physiological reason why we crave sugar, and it is on the tip of tongue your tongue – literally,” says celebrity chef and holistic nutritionist Mareya Ibrahim, “The taste for sugar is the strongest sensation because the receptors for sweet are on the tip of your tongue.”
Ibrahim’s advice for feeding your need for sweet without overindulging is to grab a piece of fruit, have a small piece of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate or experiment with one of the many substitutes on the market, including coconut sugar, monk fruit extract and stevia.
“There are two types of toxins—the tangible ones and the intangible ones,” says Lauren Imparato, founder and CEO of the New York-based I.AM.YOU. yoga studio and lifestyle brand. “Tangible toxins come in various forms, all related to what we physically put into our body. Western society obsesses over these toxins, which generally result in people doing painful fasts and juice cleanses. Intangible toxins come in the form of emotions—anger, stress, worry, grief, sadness, and extreme excitement, primarily. So when someone is juice fasting to get clean but stressed or angry because of the challenge and logistics of it all, life, or really just because they are starving, they are actually adding a plethora of toxins to their body and not advancing in any ‘cleansed’ direction at all.”
Meditation, yoga, forgiveness, a nice long walk. Employ whatever you enjoy to move you to a calmer, less toxic state.
Remember those little pH strips from chemistry class that you used to test how acidic or alkaline a substance is? Well, as it turns out, that same type of test is critical to your own health.
“Steer clear of acid-forming foods if you’re looking to detox,” says Ana Goldseker, Director of Nutrition for Nava Health and Vitality Centers. “When there is a lot of acid-forming food in your diet, it can lead to many different forms of inflammation, including arthritis, acne, fatigue, bloated feeling, weight gain and more. Instead, look for foods that have high pH levels, meaning they are more alkaline. The more alkaline a food is, the more detoxifying it is for the body.”
Taste alone won’t help you determine whether a food is acidic or alkaline—which is why a cupcake that doesn’t taste sour or acidic can still wreak havoc in your body. Click here for more help.
Get professional help
Sometimes, individual efforts to detox and hit the reset button are less than effective—particularly when you’re starting with a very toxic system. In those cases, seeking a professional for more targeted approaches may be the answer.
Procedures like colon hydrotherapy (in which warm water is flushed into the colon to clear out impacted waste) and ionic foot baths are available at many chiropractic offices and wellness clinics and can help you get well on your way to lightening your toxic load.
And if you just have to juice…
Have some fat. Even without going on all-out juice detox, incorporating them into a regular diet can be a great way to give the digestive system an occasional rest while also loading up on nutrients in a more concentrated form. The problem, says Sara Vance, a clinical nutritionist based in San Diego, is that healthy fats are needed to absorb many of the nutrients in juices.
Her suggestion? “If you do like juice cleanses, have a small handful of almonds with your juice, or pop a tablespoon of chia seeds or a teaspoon or two of coconut oil into it. Not only will that improve the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins, it will also lower the glycemic response so you will get less of a rush and a crash, and it will keep you satisfied for longer.”