By Ana Maria Tavares, Managing Director of the Six Senses Destination Spa, Phuket, Thailand
Wellness expert Ana Maria Tavares explains the whys and wherefores of detoxification. You’ll discover how your body balances itself naturally, and 10 ways you can feel healthier without a major diet overhaul.
The essence of detoxification is homeostasis, the body’s natural desire to find its own balance, its own ‘five star’ remedy for the challenges that it experiences – from changes in temperature, lying in the sun, or to drinking too much alcohol.
How do we detox naturally?
Sweating during a workout [to keep cool] or shivering when cold [to keep warm]; vomiting having eaten or drunk something that does not agree with us etc keep the body in balance.
Homeostasis is what creates a stronger body, muscles, bones, cardiovascular system, following a developmental and progressive exercise program – obviously a good thing!
What can a “toxic” lifestyle do to the body?
The savior of the body cannot continue to find the balance when it is being forced the other way. The overindulgent, polluting and stressful lifestyle that many people live exerts a constant and often overwhelming pressure on the body to keep finding its homeostasis.
Over the long term, this pressure can cause heart disease, diabetes or cancer. Even exercise without enough rest, when the body cannot recover, will cause serious problems; this is referred to as overtraining.
How long does a detox take?
That depends on
– how long the body has been allowed to go into dysfunction.
– how much effort is put into the change.
– and whether it will be a long term process (become part of your lifestyle) or simply a program to put the body back into homeostasis until the next detox occasion.
When and how to start?
A detox can start anytime – simply with a breath…
Three or four mindful breaths can calm the nervous system by changing the circulating chemicals and hormones in the body, just as panic or stress [and the associated increase in breathing] can cause the release of adrenaline.
A day of detox would be a good start to adapt the diet, but a few days is better and a fortnight is obviously more fruitful.
The simple answer is [and there are no simple answers in the human body] that 7 to 10 days would be a perfect detox start. Long enough to make a difference and short enough to fit into your life – if only you could fit your life into a detox!
Ana Maria Tavares’ 10 simple ways to detoxify your life
Add elements of these experiences into your lifestyle and find yourself moving closer-and-closer to the homeostasis that your body needs.
1. Breathe – take some breaths and find a mindful place.
2. Meditate – allow your mind to focus on one thing – such as breathing or a sunset or a book – to allow the voices inside your head to stop talking for a while.
3. Exercise – get sweating and release toxins, get the heart pumping and the muscles working and ease out aches and pains – speeds up digestion and metabolism and so much more!
4. Eat well – change your diet by simply taking out saturated fats and processed foods – instead eat fresh vegetables and fruit, healthy grains and unsaturated fats and proteins, such as fish.
The liver responds very well to bitter foods, so incorporate bitter greens in your salads such as; rocket lettuce, endives, watercress, nasturtium leaves and radish.
5. Drink more water – water flushes out the digestive system – drink at least 30ml of water per kilogram of your body weight each day.
Start the day with a glass of warm water and the juice of half a small lemon/lime to kick-start the liver and digestive function; drink this 15 minutes before having breakfast.
6. Skin brushing – by brushing the skin with a soft natural bristle brush toward the heart, you can stimulate the lymphatic drainage system to remove toxins.
7. Jumping up and down – NASA scientists have shown that rebounding, jumping up and down (no spacesuit required!) in a pool, on a trampoline, or with your training shoes on helps lymphatic drainage.
8. Herbal teas – Try the 3 day ‘Dande – detox’, Dandelion root either as tea or herbal liquid assists with liver function and aids liver cell regeneration.
St. Mary’s Thistle (also known as Milk Thistle) is another effective herb to aid liver function and repair, though it’s best taken as a tablet or capsule as very bitter.
Other liver herbs include; Globe artichoke, turmeric and Thai herb Bai-Bua-Bok. Consult with your naturopath to find the herbs best suited for you.
9. Colonic hydrotherapy – clear the colon and allow the body to re-establish proper elimination, and add beneficial bacteria into the stomach. Click here for our road-test at the Six Senses spa.
10. Halt the “baddies” – reduce or stop taking alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants, refined sugars, and saturated fatty foods.