We all need a little reset every now and then. Whether we’ve overindulged during the holidays, found ourselves producing more negative energy than positive, or just accumulated a few bad habits due to our stressful lifestyle, dedicating our bodies and minds to a cleanse is a good way to restore balance and wellness.
Most of us don’t work outdoors or expend a ton of energy at our everyday jobs. As a culture, we have grown away from hearty work, outdoor living, and seasonal foods in lieu of indoor jobs, over-stuffed schedules, and more snacks and prepackaged foods.
Many natural living enthusiasts believe all of these factors contribute to an increase in our intake of toxins. Toxins are compounds that can be organic in nature or created synthetically. These compounds are usually accumulated through our foods or by exposure to our environment. They can collect in our bodies and lead to illness and disease.REF#2795
Even though our bodies are really good at self cleasning, many believe that one of the best ways to eliminate the accumulation of toxins is through periodic cleansing. Cleansing, or purifying, is a practice used for thousands of years by cultures around the world.
We’ll give you several tips to stick with your cleanse, information on cleansing herbs that have detoxifying properties, and tell you how to use herbal supplements during your cleanse.
First, let’s talk about how to know you’re ready for a detox.
When Should You Cleanse?
January is an obvious month for cleansing and detoxifying the body, mind, and even the home. Post-holiday season, practically everyone can benefit from eliminating the overindulgences of the previous end-of-year parties. Beginning a cleanse in January may also mean you have a support team, as many others will likely be ready to cleanse at the onset of a new year.
Spring is another season when cleansing is popular. Whether you plan to practice a little self-care before summer or are looking to do more of a spring cleaning cleanse, the start of the spring season represents new life and new beginnings.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) advises against beginning a cleanse during cold winter months. During these months, preparing the body for cold juices and raw vegetables that are synonymous with cleansing can be hard. If you do decide to cleanse during the winter, you’ll want to stock up on slow-simmered bone broth, seasonal vegetables rich in fiber, and whole grains.
Another viable option for self-love during winter months is the kitchari cleanse, which is a cleanse that involves eating a simple and tasty Ayurvedic dish of lentils or other legumes, rice, and detox herbs. You may also want to drink hot herbal tea to stay hydrated and warm while you cleanse.
Make Well-Being Your Motivation
Although some people use cleanses to kick-start a weight loss program, they aren’t intended for this purpose. Cleanses are like hitting a reset button or restoring your body to factory default settings.
The goal of a cleanse is to restore your body and mind to homeostasis or balance. This involves balance in bodily systems like immunity, digestion, gut health, stress management, and metabolism.
Once you are focused on your goals and have a plan of action, you can begin your cleanse.
How To Stay Focused on Your Cleanse
Cleanses are short-term for a reason — they can be hard to stick to and usually involve depriving yourself of a certain amount of calories or certain types of foods.
Practically no one likes the idea of depriving themselves of the foods they love, much less feeling hungry, but remember that the ultimate goal is to support our body to function easily. Here are six tips to help you stick to your cleansing goals.
1. Use Powerful Herbs To Support Digestion
Digestion can become sluggish, especially if we have routinely over-indulged. Poor digestion can be a sign of imbalance in the gut or simply a sign you aren’t consuming foods that help support healthy digestion.
Herbal solutions that can help promote digestion include Oregano Leaf, Peppermint, and Black Walnut.REF#2796 Gaia Herbs offers a blend of these herbs in our Microbiome Cleanse, which can help support digestion during changes in your routine, such as a cleanse.
You can also help support digestion by cutting out excess dietary fat and limiting salt and added sugars, which can cause you to retain water.
2. Support Your Liver
The liver is the organ tasked with filtering toxins from your body, so it makes sense that supporting your liver is vital, especially during a cleanse. Many people like to target the liver during a cleanse by using herbs that can naturally help support liver function.
Dandelion, Milk Thistle, Turmeric, and Burdock are all herbs that have been traditionally used for liver cleansing and tonification. You can find them in our Liver Cleanse supplement, which contains powerful antioxidants that can help support detoxification. Dandelion, in particular, is thought to help support both liver and gallbladder function.REF#2797
3. Go Gradually
Disclaimer: Cleanses can be challenging. Easing into them is one of the best ways to stay successful.
Instead of cutting out massive amounts of calories or foods, begin to eliminate them one by one. For instance, if your goal is to eliminate alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and heavy foods like meats and dairy, pick one and cut it out for a week before adding in another.
This can help your cleanse become more sustainable, and you’ll enjoy more success. Another good tip that successful cleansers have? Easing out of the cleanse. If you go on a 30-day cleanse and immediately begin adding heavy foods back into your diet, you could cause a serious disruption in digestion, immunity, and even your body’s stress response.
4. Use Sacred Herbs
You don’t have to practice a cleanse that involves detoxing your body from certain foods. If you already stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine, you may be looking for a more spiritual cleanse.
Native Americans have relied on the sacred herbs of White Sage, Cedar, Sweetgrass, and Tobacco to cleanse the spirit and mind and even remove evil spirits from spaces like homes.REF#2798 Some cultures use other herbs like palo santo, frankincense, and mugwort for their cleansing properties
For these types of cleanses, you’ll usually focus on practices and techniques like smudging, smoke cleansing, and diffusing essential oils. These cleanses typically involve using a dried herb bundle to cleanse the vibes of a room or situation. You can purchase a smudge stick from your local herbalist or practitioner, or DIY your own.
5. Grab a Friend
It’s easier with two. When you feel like you don’t have motivation, you can encourage one another. Find a friend or loved one who will commit to your cleanse and find strength in the support you have from one another. There is incredible strength in numbers, even when the number is simply “two.”
6. Plan Your Days
A sure way to lose a mental or physical battle while on a cleanse is by not being prepared. Your cleanse may require you to make a meal plan, dedicate a schedule for gym time, or have healthy groceries on hand so you don’t choose something unhealthy. Whatever it is, being prepared and having the items you need on hand can keep you successful and help you avoid cleanse-related pitfalls.
How Else Can You Support Your Cleanse?
During a cleanse, it’s important to focus on total wellness. Anytime you are restricting your caloric intake or eliminating certain foods, there is a chance you could miss out on nutrients or interfere with your body’s natural balance.
Here are a few ways you can ensure you are practicing good self-care along with your cleansing routine:
- Begin the day by drinking a glass of warm water with fresh lemon or lime juice. Aim for 20 ounces of water before you intake any food.
- Always eat the recommended amount of calories and nutrients for your age, height, and weight. Never eat below 1200 calories for adult women and 1500 for adult men.
- Lightly dry brush your entire body before bathing in the morning. Brush in the direction toward your heart to support lymphatic and blood flow.
- Drink water throughout the day (eight to 10 glasses).
- Engage in at least 20 minutes of light exercise daily. Consider Bikram yoga, which can be a great complement to your detox.
- Chew solid food until thoroughly liquefied before swallowing.
- Maintain a balanced routine of rest and activity.
- Try to get a healthy amount of sleep, between seven to nine hours per night. Take a nap if the day allows.
Additional Ideas for Dietary Cleanses
If you’d like to begin a dietary cleanse but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few ideas. Consider removing one item from this list per week or simply reducing your intake. At the same time, add an item from the second list.
Foods to Avoid
Removing these foods can help you eliminate toxins and support a healthy cleanse:
- Products containing refined sugars
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and ice cream
- Soda and juice that is not 100 percent fruit or vegetable
- Bread and other refined baked goods
- Fried foods
- Red meats
- Shellfish and high mercury fish such as swordfish
- Soy (except fermented soy foods)
- Excessive caffeine
If you have trouble supporting energy levels without caffeine, try adding Maca to your mix. Maca is an adaptogenic herb that can help naturally support energy levels.REF#2799
Foods to Add
When you remove a food, try to replace it with a substitute from this list:
- Lightly steamed vegetables and vegetable soups
- Mixed green salads
- Fresh vegetable and fruit juices
- Whole grains (like brown rice, millet, oats, amaranth, quinoa)
- Garlic, onions, and ginger
- Legumes (beans), such as lentils
- Fresh broiled fish such as wild salmon and sardines (which are high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury)
- Fresh fruits in season
- Sea vegetables
- Herbal tea (especially Green Tea)
You may find it difficult to make these swaps, but once you begin to feel the benefits of your cleanse, you’ll likely want to make more of them.
Keep It Clean
A cleanse is a powerful way to reset your body and mind and elevate your wellness. It can be a challenge, but you can do it.
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