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Digestion And Detox

  • As I always say , detox isn't a seasonal event—it's a daily affair. A diet filled with satisfying and liver-loving foods like artichokes, avocados, olive oil, and dandelion root tea, daily intake of high-quality supplements, and regular lymph-moving exercise allows your body to flush toxins and recharge on a regular basis.

    However, there are specific detoxes I suggest adding to the mix that are tailored to be in harmony with the season. I love incorporating these rituals for the changing calendar because it provides variety and reminds me to re-evaluate my goals and progress. Here are my top picks for eliminating toxins each season this 2017.

    Winter Detox
    While many of us in the snow regions enjoy the beauty of a fresh blanket of sparkling snow, the body can begin to feel weary and long for warmth. This is why I love a dry heat sauna during this season. I recommend beginning with five minutes and working your way up to 20, two to three times per week.

    Sweat is much more than a body temperature regulator. It helps to detoxify the body of heavy metals and nasty fat-storage toxins. Your skin is your largest external organ and helps to relieve the toxin overload on the liver and kidneys. Most people lose up to a quart of water through plain sweating. But, if you are in a sauna, you'll release that quart of water in just fifteen minutes. This is why sauna therapy is the perfect way to lesson your body's toxic load.

    Sweating is not just a good detox; it's also good for your heart and your body. Blood flow is improved while your heart gets a very gentle workout. Besides cardiovascular benefits, sauna therapy can help musculoskeletal pain, arthritis, chronic fatigue, and depression.

    Home saunas can be spendy, but many local gyms and even hotels have saunas available for use. You'll gain access with a gym membership and they may even offer deals for sauna use only.

    Spring Detox
    After a busy day of deep cleaning, it's a great idea to relax and do a castor oil pack. I recommend these three days on and then three days off every week or every other week.

    The castor oil pack is used to stimulate the liver and gallbladder as well as to draw toxins out of the body. The use of a castor oil pack can result in a normalizing of liver enzymes, a decrease in elevated cholesterol levels, and a greater sense of well-being.

    Plus, they're simple to do! You will need: 100 percent pure, cold-pressed castor oil; wool (not cotton) flannel, and a heating pad.

    To do the treatment, follow these easy steps:

    1. Fold the wool flannel into three or four layers and soak it with castor oil.
    2. Place the soaked flannel in a baking dish and heat it slowly in the oven until it's hot to your touch.
    3. Lie down, gently rub three tablespoons of castor oil on your abdomen, then place the soaked flannel across your abdomen.
    4. Cover the soaked flannel with plastic wrap or a plastic garbage bag.
    5. Finally, cover the soaked flannel and plastic with the heating pad for one hour, and keep it comfortably hot (but not too hot).

    When you finish, wash the oil from your abdomen. You can keep the oil soaked flannel sealed in plastic wrap or place it in a plastic storage bag for further use, since castor oil does not become rancid as quickly as many other oils.

    Summer Detox
    This sunny time of year, filled with lighter, leg-bearing clothing is ideal for dry brushing. A cellulite blaster, it's one of my tried-andtrue favorites. This practice stimulates your lymph flow, increases your circulation, and stimulates your skin's oil-producing glands to give you a confident summer glow.

    How does it fight cellulite? Dry brushing can dramatically reduce its appearance because it stimulates the body to rebuild strong connective tissue, promoting toned skin that we love all year long—but especially during this season.

    It's best done early in the day prior to your morning shower. Do not brush the sensitive skin on your face and avoid any areas that are bruised or irritated. Follow these steps and make sure that with each stroke you are brushing toward the heart. I recommend working this into your schedule every other day.

    1. 1) Use a medium-firm vegetable brush with natural bristles (found in most health food stores) that is as large as your hand and has a long enough handle to reach your back.
    2. 2) Start by opening the primary lymph ducts (just below your collarbone and on the right and left groin areas) with a gentle finger massage. Next, begin to brush the soles of your feet vigorously in a circular motion. The amount of pressure depends on the condition of your skin. Using short upward strokes (toward your heart), slowly move up over your feet and legs. Continue up over your abdomen and over your buttocks to your waist.
    3. 3) Move to the palms of your hands using circular motions, then use short strokes up your hands and arms. Continue brushing down your neck—out to your shoulders and then down your chest and your back.
    4. 4) This can be followed with a coconut oil massage before your shower.

    Do note the importance of cleaning your brush with warm soapy water after each use and then laying it out to air dry.

    Fall Detox
    I am a huge advocate of baths for both detox and relaxation. They can be delightful in the fall as our bodies adjust to the cooling temperatures. Enjoy soaking in an aromatherapy bath this time of year three times per week for about 20 minutes each time.

    For the fall, I suggest:

    1. Cedarwood to fortify and strengthen the lungs and promote improved sleep.
    2. Eucalyptus to relieve sinus pressure caused by inflammation or infection and to clear histamines.
    3. Myrrh to reduce mucus in the intestinal tract and in the lungs.

    Yearly Detoxing
    As a bonus, I also suggest making oil-pulling part of your morning routine all year round. This time-honored Ayurvedic technique pulls toxins from the gums, supporting the health of your entire body and working wonders to remove bacteria and inflammation-causing plaque from the deep pockets of your gums. Plus, many swear by its ability to painlessly whiten teeth!

    Here's what to do:

    1. 1) Put about two teaspoons of oil (such as sesame oil or coconut oil) in your mouth.
    2. 2) Work the oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes, sloshing it from side to side, sucking and pulling it through your teeth. You can spit it out intermittently but make sure you put more oil back in your mouth to continue the process.
    3. 3) Spit it all out (either in the sink or in a jar, if you have a septic tank) and rinse with a large glass of water to remove any oil residues.

    Each season brings exciting new changes and fresh techniques to rid your body of hazardous toxins.

  • Flowers are blooming, farmer's markets are packed with seasonal produce, and the sun is shining. Thanks to Mother Nature at this time of year, you're also able to pack more activity into your days with ease due to extended sunlight hours. This is the perfect time of year for us to unwind and destress from a long hard winter and shortened spring!

    The fiery element that powers this bright time of year sets a tone of energy, vitality and growth. Summer simply is time to thrive—and this active season also lends itself well to detox both physically and emotionally. To bolster the most benefits, you must focus your attention on your heart and your small intestine, two organs that really shine during the summer months.

    The Heart's Connection To Detox
    You may not think of your heart as a detox organ, but it actually plays a very signification role in this process. Your heart works in tandem with your liver, pumping vital nutrients throughout your entire body. With each beat, it completes the critical job of regulating your circulation, allowing the detoxification process to receive these necessary nutrients. Highly active in the summer, this four-chambered muscle—the strongest muscle in your body—provides the energy and messages needed to coordinate your organs to work in harmony.

    To dive deeper into the process, about 3,000 gallons of blood is pumped to your lungs each day where the blood then absorbs oxygen. After returning to the heart, it's pumped throughout the body, allowing it to disperse oxygen and vital nutrients. Incredibly, your heart can keep going seemingly endlessly so long as it has the oxygen it needs. However, if your lungs are impaired and/or your liver is overly stressed, problems with this system surface. In fact, if your liver isn't functioning properly, the blood supply—up to 70 percent of it—can become blocked and thwart the circulation and oxygen fueling process.

    I'd guess it comes as no surprise that smoking and an artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising diet are both quite detrimental to the heart. Another negative factor that's all too common these days is stress. Every time you become tense, the rate and rhythm of your heart are affected, which disturbs the blood and oxygen flow, causing the blood vessels in your wrists and ankles to become constricted. One way you might be able to identify that this is occurring is that your hands and feet feel unnecessarily cold. In time, a lowered supply of oxygen to your heart can produce secondary symptoms that include angina, heart palpitations, irregular beats—and even potentially a heart attack.

    The Breakdown On Homocysteine
    Escalated levels of the potentially toxic amino acid called homocysteine can also make you a likely candidate for cardiovascular disease by damaging blood vessels and contributing to plaque buildup. Having a higher-than-normal amount of homocysteine in your body can actually become so dangerous that studies have found it can equal the danger to your heart that smoking and high cholesterol causes.

    Homocysteine is the metabolic byproduct of a methionine breakdown, an amino acid found in animal protein. In ideal functioning, homocysteine passes through a detoxification process known as methylation, where it is converted to the nontoxic amino acid cysteine. But this process can only operate properly if vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid are readily available. Having low amounts of these critical B vitamins (particularly B12, which is mandatory for the conversion process and the production of folic acid), consuming an overabundance of animal protein (meat, dairy, eggs), and drinking a lot of coffee all can aggravate normal functions and cause homocysteine levels to climb. The result may be frustrating forgetfulness, cloudy thinking, and other Alzheimer's-like symptoms frequently associated with the aging process—regardless of your age. For those with the MTHFR genetic variation, do make sure your B12 and folate are methylated.

    According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, when the "fire" of your heart becomes out of balance due to impaired kidneys— which are a water element—being unable to keep the heart cool, it produces hot flashes, night sweats, and palpitations. You also begin to experience emotions such as feeling uneasy, irritable and restless, and may also experience insomnia and even upsetting nightmares. You might notice that your cheeks are flushed, the tip of your nose is noticeably red and/or any other areas of your skin seem to have a redder pigmentation than usual. Your tongue can also be a gateway into the health of your heart. Analyze the color and texture, keeping in mind that a pink, moist tongue is ideal. Paleness could indicate anemia and if your tongue appears to be coated, that might be a red flag for digestive issues.

    Digestion And Detox
    The vital nutrients that the detoxification process so heavily depend on are made readily available to your body through your 23-foot long small intestine, which links your stomach to your large intestine. With help from enzymes in the pancreas and bile from the liver and gallbladder, the small intestine pulls useful elements—such as glucose, fatty acids, and the muchneed amino acids—from the food you eat. It then digests and absorbs nutrients and ships them off to the bloodstream, where they are carried to the liver. They're then either used or stored in the form of glycogen, which reverts to the original substances (glucose, fatty acids, or amino acids) as needed to nourish the whole system.

    Keeping the small intestine clear is vital for the overall health of the body. If your intestinal lining becomes coated with mucus, nutrient absorption is greatly diminished, and your immune system suffers, resulting in increased likelihood of food allergies and illnesses, as well as fatigue from the rise of white blood cell production. Having an impaired digestive tract causes the loss of essential building blocks, resulting in dull, brittle hair, skin and nails, indigestion, uncomfortable bloating, excess gas, stomach pain, and constipation.

    In fact, your small intestines are the critical stop for digestion and overall good health. To function optimally, your digestive system needs pancreatic enzymes, the enzyme ptyalin—found in saliva—and hydrochloric acid (HCL)—produced in the stomach. HCL plays a critical role in the process and could even be considered one of the most important chemicals in the body. When it's missing, protein can't be broken down properly into amino acids, hindering the maintenance and building of muscles. These non-metabolized proteins begin to decay and enter the bloodstream, resulting in toxic waste making its way through your system, and stress being placed on your lungs, kidneys, skin and bowels. Also, when HCL production is low, the opening to your small intestine doesn't function normally, causing lowered levels of bile and your bowel to slow, resulting in constipation. From there, a domino effect occurs, causing harm to the optimum operation of your pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.

    Keep Your Levels Up
    So, what causes HCL levels to plummet? The two most likely contenders are stress and a poor diet which lead to deficits of iodine, salt, and zinc—the mineral precursors of HCL. Plus, if you're upset, highly stressed or continually on the go, or you tend to drink liquids with your meals, frequently drink carbonated beverages (including mineral waters) and eat your meals in a rush, you may be causing reduced levels of HCL in your body.

    As you can see, these two summer-loving organs are directly connected to the detoxification process and overall functioning of your body. To love these organs, take time to slow down and enjoy the season, being conscious to mindfully reduce your stress levels and not over-schedule yourself. And, as always, nourish yourself with a diet that's full of grass-fed, lean protein or clean vegan protein, organic fruits and veggies, heart-smart fats like olive oil and macadamia nuts, and say "no" to processed and/or fried foods.

    Happy, healthy summer!