Natural detox

Give your body the cleansing it needs

By Deb Dittner

detoxWhen you hear the words detox or cleanse, what do you think?

For many, fear rings out with thoughts of nothing but water, or juices, or smoothies, or living in the bathroom for days on end, or starving yourself for weight loss.

So what does it really mean?

First, detox and cleanse can be used interchangeably. By definition, a detox is a process by which the body gets rid of poisonous substances. To cleanse is defined as removing dirt, or making something clean. Basically, a food-based detox is an opportunity to remove known toxins and “bad foods” from your diet for a pre-determined amount of time.

Limit your exposure as much as possible to toxins that your body takes in daily from the foods you eat, the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the products you put on your skin.

Toxins build up, leading to physical and mental issues such as chronic fatigue, insomnia, headaches, sensitivities to chemicals and foods, and even disease.

Fortunately, your body has a built-in system that works together to flush out these toxins. That system consists of your liver, lungs, kidneys, blood, skin, lymphatic system, and colon.  Still, many of you need a little extra help.

Sadly, there are more toxins in our environment. Your home or apartment that you just moved into was painted, causing you to wake up with a headache. You just bought a new car that has that “new car smell”. The hair products and body wash contain fragrance. Makeup has a petroleum base or numerous dyes to get the color you want in a lipstick.

The cleaning products you use to clean your home also contain toxins. You try to purchase organics and minimize your exposure, but many items may still be treated with pesticides, herbicides and other additives.

All of these products contain chemicals that can cause unwanted symptoms or side effects.

If your lifestyle is mostly clean, your need to detox-cleanse may be minimal. If this is the case, you may want to consider simply maintaining your healthy lifestyle. But if you’re experiencing weight gain or loss, insomnia, or other symptoms, you may need the help of a detox-cleanse to flush the toxins from your system to get you back on track.

Eating whole nutrient-dense foods is best when it comes to nourishing your body, mind and spirit. Avoid processed or refined foods. Your nutrition should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans (black, garbanzo, kidney), and grains (quinoa, millet, buckwheat).

When possible, choose organic to avoid ingesting pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or other additives. Eating clean is one of the best ways possible to rid your body of toxins so it doesn’t have to work as hard.

Juice cleanses can also rid your body of toxins while adding wonderful nutrients from fruits and veggies. Juicing removes the fiber from the produce, giving the digestive system a rest.

With juicing, you may need to add psyllium supplementation in order to keep the intestinal tract flowing. There are a variety of juice cleanses lasting one day to a month.

Strictly juicing can lead to overall weakness, so it’s best to consult your health care provider for the OK to proceed.

Whether you do a juice cleanse or a five-day whole foods detox, you need to remember that drinking pure filtered water is very important.  Water is necessary for hydration and for moving toxins through and out of the body.

Exercise consisting of a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week where you work up a good sweat will help to eliminate toxins from your body. Before you hop in for your morning shower, consider dry-brushing the skin. It’s quick and effectively stimulates the lymphatic system.

Oil pulling with either coconut or sesame oil while you’re in the shower will also help pull toxins from your body.  Breathing techniques and getting more fresh air into your lungs will also help. Adding plants in all of your rooms can improve the quality of air you breathe.

Adequate sleep consisting of 7-8 hours will allow your body to recover, replenish and repair. Approximately one half hour to a full hour of preparation time before sleep can prepare your body for complete restfulness.

If you decide to partake in a detox-cleanse program like the one I held in the spring and will do again this fall, remember that your body is always at work doing the best possible for you.

Be mindful of the foods you put into your body, your movement, your breathing, your sleep, and every aspect of your day as these steps will support you in the best ways possible for a healthy and long life.

• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at or contact her at 518-596-8565.