How to Detox: The Dos and Don'ts
What is a detox?
Detoxing refers to our body's removal of toxic or unhealthy substances, such as sugar, caffeine, processed foods or alcohol. Ayurveda encourages a life that is regularly supportive of our body’s natural cleansing and detoxification processes. Everyday, our body is going through a complete system cleanse with the help of our liver, lymphatic system, and kidneys. Everything we eat, drink, and are environmentally exposed to on a daily basis must go through our innate detoxification system. When we are living in alignment with the basic ayurvedic principles of healthy cleansing, we rarely need to devote ourselves to any kind of “detox” overhaul. However, if you are feeling the need to give your body a gentle boost, here are some guidelines to stick to, to help you detox your body naturally and safely:
What to DO when you intentionally Detox:
Set a clear intention. What do you hope to achieve, and why are you embarking on this in the first place? If you’re feeling a bit bogged down from the holiday season, are there foods, habits or lifestyle choices you can remove from your routine that you know will support this detox? If so, write them down, and work on removing these each day.
Keep a realistic timeline. There is no quick fix in whole body health and support. Your body has an innate, natural detoxification system that works very well over time. If your aim is to support your digestion, liver health, immune system and elimination pathways, it’s best to work slowly towards your goal. Detoxing can take at least three months.
Consume plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables every day. The more colourful your foods, the more vitamins, minerals, nutrients and - most importantly - antioxidants you’re consuming on a regular basis. These are essential for cellular, cardiovascular and liver health.
Drink enough water every day. Drinks with a high water content can help support your body's natural detoxification process so be sure to drink plenty. Herbal teas are a great way to do this. Water enhances and supports your elimination pathways, notably your kidneys and digestive system which are critical for continued detoxification. Lemon Ginger Manuka Honey tea, Supreme Matcha Green tea, and CCF tea are excellent choices to enjoy everyday.
Prioritize your sleep Your body naturally goes through a thorough detoxification while you’re sleeping, so try to maintain at least 6+ hours each night for quality sleep. Read more: Cleansing for the Doshas
What NOT to do when you detox:
Hop on a 2-3 week quick detox or harsh cleanse. This can be draining on the body and heavily tax your liver, digestion and immune system if done too quickly. Take your time - your body does not appreciate being “jerked around” with intense diets or protocols. Gradual, slow change that supports your natural detox process is much better long term and can help you detox safely.
Continue habits that negate your efforts to support natural detoxification. These habits include excessive consumption of processed sugar, alcohol or processed foods, lack of daily movement or exercise, and lack of quality sleep throughout the week.
Over-exercise. Strenuous exercise is stressful on the body, and over-exercising while committing to a gentle cleanse can put unnecessary strain on your body systems. Continue with your gentle exercises like daily walks, yoga, swimming and stretching to encourage healthy circulation and energy instead.
Begin an unsustainable diet. When you make intentional dietary changes, make sure these are things you can stick to long term for your overall health. If you choose to remove one or two things from your diet - such as sugar, alcohol, processed foods or caffeine, pay close attention to how you’re feeling without these things during your detox, and assess whether you’d really like to add them back in after a few weeks. You may notice your health improve for the better without them!
Rely on multiple supplements in place of whole foods. Not only can this become expensive, but there really is no substitute for real, whole foods in your diet. Along with the fiber and supportive calories food provides, antioxidants, nutrients, and the joy of cooking should still be enjoyed during your detox! Supplements can be helpful if you have a known deficiency, difficulty absorbing certain nutrients or have been recommended by your healthcare provider. Try to keep these minimal during your detox, and enjoy fresh, whole foods as they are available to you.
What makes Ayurveda’s approach to detoxing unique is that rather than promoting one approach to suit all, it recognizes us all as individuals. Understanding your dosha, or mind body types, can be really helpful in working out the best way to detox your body.
Take our Dosha Quiz to learn your dosha!