It’s that time of year again. Snow is falling, temperatures are plummeting, windows are beginning to glow with twinkle lights, wreaths are embracing doors and hearths, and many kitchens are beginning to emanate with pumpkin and cinnamon and melted vegan butter.
I’m talking about the holidays.
While Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year bring joy to many, they are also a time of year in which your life explodes and is infringed upon with excess. Even though I’ll be focusing on excess food consumption — more volume, as well as food that we generally don’t consume — excess also refers to social obligations, the workload at your job, and holiday-relate chores that are time-sensitive (just think of all those gifts you haven’t bought yet!). With the oncoming hectic days, it’s a great idea to take moment, take a breath, and prepare your mind and body.
What about integrating easy, daily rituals that will help you handle not only food excess — aids to deal with bloating, digestive discomfort, and energy fallout — but also coping mechanisms for unforeseen stressors?
The holidays are meant for us to take on a bit of excess, so splurge and enjoy yourself, that’s what living is all about. But, if you also want to keep an even keel to your mood and manage the bodily changes that come with this season, here’s a bit of info to help you get through it in one piece.
The Truth About “Detoxing”
Before we launch into detox tips, it’s important to understand what “detox” means.
To begin, take note and applaud your beautiful and adept body in all its natural glory. Why? Because of our natural design, your body is already equipped with all the necessary tools to detox automatically daily.
What am I talking about?
Turns out all this talk about “detoxing” the icky out of your body is a bit of truth and a bit of misunderstanding.
First and foremost, the human body has a liver, a colon, and two kidneys. These organs are incredibly efficient at sorting through everything that goes into the body and pulling out anything that shouldn’t be there. The liver is “your first line of defense against toxins … which acts like a filter in preventing toxic substances contained in foods from passing into your bloodstream.” Next up is your colon. The colon contains lots of “bacteria that produce[s] both healthy and unhealthy chemicals.” What does it do? Well, turns out the colon’s main gig in the body is to “flush out toxic chemicals before they can do you any harm.” Lastly, let’s take a moment to say thanks to our kidneys. These little organs work like clockwork “constantly filtering your blood and getting rid of toxins in the form of urine.”
When we talk about detoxifying the body through actions and diet, we’re simply referring to activity and food that amplify and sustain these three essential detoxifying organs.
Secondly, when people refer to detoxification, they may also be referring to sustaining and maintaining (i.e., the health and routine drainage) of your lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is made up of a “network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.” This complex network transports lymph fluid — a fluid “containing infection-fighting white blood cells” — through the entirety of the body. The lymph is then filtered in lymph nodes, including the “tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus.” By performing certain stretches, staying active, and hydrating, you can boost the health of your lymphatic system, thereby helping your body maintain its natural detoxification.
Your body is already detoxing every day, all day. So, let’s help ourselves out by keeping these organs and systems healthy and happy!
Easy Daily Digestive Detox Rituals to Manage Excess
Alright, we know what happens to our bodies when we take part in the excess of the holidays. Now it’s time to get to that “taking care of yourself” part of the holidays. In general, we all love the hecticness. It means spending more time with loved ones, spreading cheer, and taking time to enjoy life. Somewhere in this mix, try to fit in by taking care of your body too. This is especially true when it comes to tending your digestive health, which can be one of the most disrupted and disruptive health issues. Luckily, there are some super easy techniques to make this happen!
Warm Water and Lemon
Most likely, you’ve heard about starting your day with warm water mixed with fresh lemon, and it was probably dismissed as one of those silly health trends or fads. While I would agree with you on many health trends, this one has some scientific clout. With the excess of inflammation-inducing stressors, you want to focus on foods that will Support your immune system and help fight inflammation.
Warm water with fresh lemon has been shown to not only boost the immune system due to its high levels of citrus-sourced vitamin C but it’s also linked to better digestion. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, it’s thought that the “sour lemon taste helps stimulate your ‘agni’,” referring to a method of jump-starting “the digestive system, allowing you to digest food more easily and helping to prevent the buildup of toxins.”
Staying active is a hugely important part of overall health. It stimulates blood flow to the body, especially the brain, boosts endorphins, builds muscle, burns fat, and maintains flexibility, to name just a few wonderful aspects.
Yet, did you know that exercise also helps to Support your body’s natural detox processes?
Along with staying hydrated, by ” increasing your heart and breathing rate, your body can more effectively flush out unwanted toxins, fats, and waste.” Plus, when you move your body you inherently breathe harder, stretch more, circulate blood, and sweat, all of which help both the kidneys “effectively filter toxins,” but also keep the lymphatic system drained and clear. When it comes to your digestive health, exercise is a key component of a healthy system. Specifically, it’s been found that regular exercise allows the “digestive system [to work] well and more regularly.”
If you’re thinking, “I can’t even find time to cook, how am I going to find time to exercise regularly?” don’t worry! Effective exercise doesn’t have to be an hour-long, sweat-inducing affair. Going for a long walk in the evenings or practicing 15 to 20 minutes of yoga, stretching, or lifting weights in your living room is a great start! It’s all about simply getting your body moving regularly.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
This has already come up in the last two detox tips. Warm water with lemon increases your body’s hydration throughout the day, and hydration in conjunction with exercise boosts your body’s waste dump effectiveness.
So, what’s up with the whole hydration and detox thing?
To begin with, water is necessary outside detoxing your body. It’s been linked to higher energy levels, clearer skin, helps treat nausea, and keeps your digestive tract moving smoothly. When it comes to detox, while all of these aspects play a clear role in keeping your body healthy and, therefore, your detox processes efficient, water also helps remove toxins and amplify the efficacy of nutrients.
How does this work?
Turns out water actually “flushes toxins and waste from the body and transports nutrients to where they are needed.” Clear cut and simple.
What happens when we become dehydrated?
Remember that detox organ, the colon? Without a regular influx of water — acting as a natural lubricant — the “contents of your colon can dry out and get stuck, eventually causing constipation.” Plus, water “softens stool and promotes evacuation of the bowels,” and also helps the kidneys “remove waste products from the blood, eliminate toxic substances … and receive water-soluble toxins from the liver for processing.”
In short, if there’s only one thing you take away from this article, keep yourself hydrated this holiday season! It’ll make a world of difference.
Fiber It Up
Fiber is one of those essential dietary nutrients that seems to be the key to overall health. That’s probably because … well … it is!
Not only has it been found that dietary fiber feeds healthy gut bacteria, thereby boosting the health of your gut microbiome, but it’s also an integral part of a healthy digestive system, while also helping your body detox.
Yeah … dietary fiber is pretty darn important.
When it comes to dietary fiber detoxifying, focus on the liver and the kidneys.
First off, dietary fiber “has been shown to increase the activity of antioxidant and detox enzymes in your liver.” It’s also been shown to play an integral role in “liver metabolism and the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.” Dietary fiber’s ability to boost detox via the kidneys is a little more scientific.
Per AskTheScientists.com, “When you feed your gut microbes dietary fiber, you increase your gut’s ability to contain more nitrogen. In the gut, nitrogen acts as a fertilizer for the microbes. So the microbiome uses more of the nitrogen produced. That keeps too much nitrogen gas from escaping through the portal vein to your detox organs. Reducing your kidneys’ nitrogen burden is important.”
In conjunction, if you don’t have enough “fiber fermenting in your colon [it] allows other substances to undergo fermentation,” some of which, like amino acids, can “produce harmful products that stress your kidneys.”
It’s connected! So, eat the proper amount of fiber to keep your digestive tract healthy and your body detoxifying away all holiday season.
This one may seem obvious, yet, in the hecticness of the holiday season, this is probably the easiest one to forget. Not only does regular attention to breathing —whether that’s through simple deep breaths, a meditative practice, or stretching — help reduce stress levels and ease anxiety, but it’s also an integral part of keeping your body’s detoxing organs healthy.
There are actual methods to specifically breathe for detoxification.
When we breathe, we’re pulling in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. The oxygen is helping “the body absorb vitamins, nutrients, and minerals more efficiently,” as well as “promotes the creation of white blood cells.” Every breath you take fills the lungs with oxygen “that thereafter get transported in your blood throughout other detoxing organs including the lymphatic system, kidneys, colon, and even the uterus for women.” When we exhale, we’re eliminating “part of the body’s waste in the form of carbon dioxide.”
So, no matter how you decide to focus on your breathing, try to take a few minutes every day and simply breathe deeply!
Source: Cranberry Apple Detox Juice
It’s the holidays, so let’s get serious about time management with cooking. Generally, it’s nonexistent as things get on a role. Instead of listing recipes that will take a bulk of your evening creating — in return adding to your stress instead of alleviating it — here are a few super healthy and incredibly detoxifying smoothies. I’ve selected these recipes specifically for their nutrient density, the incorporation of unique detoxifying agents, the fact that they target your digestion, and, of course, their tastiness … just because it’s a detox doesn’t mean it needs to taste like one!
Source: Grapefruit and Greens Smoothie
We’re starting with citrus with this Grapefruit and Greens Smoothie by Danielle Dewar. Leafy greens are well-known to be a healthy choice for your entire body, yet they are also incredibly effective at supporting the health of your liver. On top of that, grapefruit includes components called limonoids, which are “phytonutrient[s] that help to inhibit tumor formation by promoting the body’s natural detoxification system.”
Source: Healing Turmeric Smoothie
This list would sorely be lacking if I didn’t include at least one recipe that uses turmeric. Due to its content of curcumin, turmeric is a well-known aid for helping to reduce inflammation in the body. When thinking about your digestive health, many of the issues with excessive eating and stress stem from inflammation of parts of your digestive tract. Plus, this smoothie doubles up the anty with healthy fat from coconut milk, magnesium, and potassium from the banana, as well as a bit of ginger and ginseng, both of which are also well-known for fighting inflammation and boosting the immune system.
Source: Green Superfood Detox Smoothie
If you’re a traditional smoothie junkie, how about trying this super tasty Green Superfood Detox Smoothie? This smoothie gains its wonderful body-boosting powers due to the greens, which are “vitamin and antioxidant powerhouses” and are also highly alkaline, “which is important when you’re trying to bring your body back to a healthy happy state.” When acid builds up in the body, it can cause “inflammatory, immune, digestive and reproductive issues.”
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Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental well-being, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and prostate cancer, and has many side effects.
For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster App which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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