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We are exposed to a wide range of toxins daily and those of us living in urban areas even more so. These range from heavy metals like mercury, leading to exogenous hormones in meat, fish, and dairy, to industrial plasticizers and more. A growing number of scientists are pointing at the potential link between exposure levels and the rising prevalence of neurobehavioral, reproductive and musculoskeletal diseases.
In light of the evidence, it’s essential to use detoxification practices to boost your body’s processing and immunity. It’s also important to remember that toxicity can build in any area of our life – physical or emotional. Our thoughts, minds, and bodies are all connected and for effective treatment of our whole selves, we have to address all three. Science on mind-body medicine shows that our emotions exert a distinct influence on our physical bodies and vice versa – a view that Chinese medicine and Ayurveda have long held. So, without further ado, here are five easy ways to detox your body and mind.
Eight 8 oz glasses of water a day is a good baseline minimum, but your optimum water intake varies from day to day depending on what you’re doing and even the season. Water eliminates toxins from your body by flushing out your organs, and most importantly your kidneys, which are responsible for purifying your blood. The better hydrated you are, the better your organs can function. Start your day with a big glass of water first thing in the morning, as soon as you’re out of bed. Not only will it kick start your metabolism, it will also rinse out any toxin build up from the night before. Toss in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or a squeeze of lemon for an extra vitamin or probiotic boost depending on what you need that day. If you go for apple cider vinegar, get some that includes the “mother”, which just means it still includes the colony of beneficial bacteria.
#2 Dry brush
Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic detox practice that stimulates lymphatic production and boosts your immune system. Your skin is a powerful detoxication organ. Dry brushing clears away dead skin cells and unblocks pores. Your lymphatic system collects and transports waste to the blood so that more effective it is, the better your body is at processing toxins. This is also a great self-care practice to incorporate into your day, holding a space for you to connect to your body and mind, so you are better able to give to others. All it takes is 5 minutes before you hop in the shower, massaging bottom to top. For an added detox, use a tongue scraper. The film that coats our tongues is actually bacteria build up from metabolic waste, and scraping it off rids your body of built-up toxins and bad breath.
A proven practice for dealing with our emotions is channeling them through some sort of outlet and this is what journaling is all about. The simple act of putting a pen to paper and physically putting your thoughts down pulls them out of your mind to help you re-organize and make new connections. Benefits of journaling include reducing stress; managing anxiety; coping with depression; recognizing patterns through day to day reflection; and observing how you relate to your thoughts and feelings. Not sure how to get started? Try the Morning Pages method. Morning Pages are three pages of stream of consciousness writing, written by hand first thing in the morning. There is no right or wrong way to do it: it’s simply about noting anything and everything that comes into your head – for your eyes only. All you need is a notebook and a good pen.
#4 Get outside
Something about being in close proximity to the natural rhythms and cycles of nature calms and grounds us. It’s something humans have gravitated to for thousands of years but as society shifts and we grow increasingly consumed by technology, we can forget this simple medicine. Studies have proven the wide array of benefits being in nature can have on our mental and physical health: just five minutes of activity in natural areas improves self-esteem and mood; people living in close proximity to green spaces have shown reduced levels of anxiety and depression and spending time in nature decreased symptoms of dementia in Alzheimer’s patients. And those are just a few. Go for a solo walk or grab your friends for a hike – whatever you choose, when you get outside, breathe deep and enjoy the fresh air.
Whether you hit the gym, roll out your yoga mat, (here are some detoxifying poses), slip on your running shoes or head to tai chi, movement is an essential component of detoxification. Getting active boosts your blood flow and burns fat which can store unwanted toxins and waste build up. Pair your exercise with a breathing practice. There are a variety of breathing techniques designed to boost airflow to the body, increasing the release of carbon dioxide and boosting oxygen intake to purify your blood.
Whether you do one or all of these things, try to do whatever you choose mindfully. Notice how your body and mind feels before and after and tweak your practices to suit whatever benefits you most.