* Detoxing is a natural function of your body to eliminate toxin intake from food and the environment
* Too many toxins can cause health problems and speed the aging process, which shows up on the skin
* Daily detox is better than extreme “cleanses”
* You can aid in this effort by including and excluding certain foods
* Natural detox foods include lemons, broccoli sprouts, turmeric, artichokes, and dark, leafy greens
* Probiotics aid in intestinal balance and detoxification
Like many resolutionaries out there, I am on a clean-eating regimen to kick off the new year. And like everyone else with a resolution – or three – I will be vigilant for a solid two weeks before I slowly start to taper off and end up feeling depressed about my lack of resolve. So rather than subject myself to some overly-ambitious, extreme plan that’s bound to fail, how about taking small steps every day?
I spoke to Paula Simpson, a celebrity beauty nutritionist who also happens to be a biochemist and the co-founder of ZSS Skincare (if there’s anyone who can school us on the topic, it’s her), to find out the truths behind detoxing – which tops the list for most people on a resolution plan. For some, it’s a lifestyle choice but for most of us, it sounds like a crazy hack scheme to live forever while being skinny. Well, the truth falls somewhere in between and Paula has explained detoxing in a way that will enlighten and inspire.
We always hear about detoxing for specific purposes, but what are some ways to effectively detox in a way that would impact our health as a whole?
Our bodies are naturally detoxifying every day. It’s one of the body’s most basic functions: to eliminate and neutralize toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph, and skin. But in our modern lives, our systems are exposed to much more pollution and toxins than ever before—from air, water, and food, as well from as the refined products we eat. Over time, this can put a lot of strain on our organs.
Detoxification, commonly called detox, is a broad term that encompasses many different ways of cleansing the body’s internal systems and organs. The goal is to remove toxic substances from the body and/or assist the eliminative organs that normally perform detoxification functions. This can be implemented by adding certain foods to your diet. Incorporating high fiber, antioxidant-rich, and raw foods is a good start. Juicing can give you an extra kick of nutrients and certain dietary supplements and botanical herbs may help support healthy functioning of the eliminative organs. Proponents of detoxification also believe this therapy clears the skin, improves mental clarity and vitality, aids in weight loss, and slows the aging process.
Is there such a thing as too much detoxing?
Yes. Some detoxes can be very restrictive and nutritionally imbalanced. When done too frequently or for too long, they can have a negative impact on your health.
How is external beauty, specifically the skin, impacted by detoxing from within?
Recent research in dermatology and nutrition has shown a correlation between lifestyle and diet and their impact on the skin. Cited as the “brain-gut-skin axis,” it is noted that stress, a poor diet, and environmental pollutants can negatively influence the health and appearance of our skin.
How long do you need to detox for it to be effective?
It really depends on the type of detox, and it’s more about making lifestyle changes over the long-term versus doing short-term cleanses. Aim to choose healthy detox foods everyday, rather than following restrictive cleanses periodically. Many health experts recommend seasonal nutritional cleanses, which translates to three to four times per year. Depending on the type of detox, they can take from three days to three weeks.
Is there something we can do on a daily basis to minimize toxins in our body?
Yes, with both diet and nutritional supplementation you can help support the health and functioning of the eliminative organs (including the health and appearance of your skin) every day. Above focusing on clean eating and a high-fiber diet, here are some other great detox foods choices:
Lemon: Lemons are a staple of many detox diets, and there is good reason for this. Firstly, lemons are packed with antioxidant vitamin C, which is great for the skin and for fighting damaging free-radicals. Furthermore, the citrus fruit has an alkaline effect on the body, meaning it can help restore the body’s pH balance, benefitting the immune system. I always start my day with fresh lemon squeezed in warm water.
Broccoli Sprouts: Broccoli is part of the powerhouse brassica family of vegetables. It contains important phytochemicals that are released when they’re chopped, chewed, fermented, cooked, or digested. The substances are released, then break down into sulphorophanes, indole-3-carbinol, and D-glucarate, which all have a specific effect on detoxification. Broccoli sprouts can actually provide more benefit than regular broccoli, since they contain 20 times more sulfurophane. Add these to your salads and get creative with them in your meals.
Turmeric: Turmeric is a great detoxifier. Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which gives it its yellow color. Curcumin is used a lot in Ayurvedic medicine to treat liver and digestive disorders. Turmeric has been specifically studied in relation to the positive effect it has on the liver, as well as its anti-inflammatory properties.
Chlorophyll: Enter dark, leafy greens. Kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard: Any dark, leafy green will get the job done. They’re full of detoxing chlorophyll, and when taken into the body, chlorophyll will bind to lingering heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides found in your digestive tract. The digestive tract is your body’s pathway to your bloodstream where these harmful toxins are delivered and deposited into your body’s cells.
Artichokes: Globe artichokes are packed with antioxidants and fiber, and can also help the body digest fatty foods. On top of this, the globe artichoke is renowned for its ability to stimulate and improve the functions of the liver because it contains silymarin, an antioxidant that helps your liver process and neutralize toxins. Artichokes are also a good source of prebiotics (the main food source that flourish healthy microflora). Probiotics are thought to aid in detoxification by preserving the intestinal lining’s protective barrier and preventing harmful bacteria that produce toxins from growing inside the colon.
Fermented Foods and Supplements Rich in Probiotics and Prebiotics:
Sauerkraut, asparagus, kefir, kimchi, and miso are great sources of both prebiotics and probiotics. They help to rebalance and detoxify intestinal microflora that indirectly have a positive effect on several skin conditions. Healthy probiotic bacteria strengthen and balance skin microbiome and barrier function, with certain strains acting as antioxidants in the skin. Prebiotics, such as FOS and Inulin, help to flourish and build the healthy probiotic bacteria in gut microflora.
I like to take a combined pre/probiotic blend supplement daily. My favorite is nutrition-focused skincare system ZSS Clear Skin because it contains botanicals such as turmeric and milk thistle, the antioxidant-rich skin nutrient Zeaxanthin, and a pre/probiotic blend, all in only two capsules per day. It’s easy to incorporate into my lifestyle, and I know I’m getting the right amount of nutrients daily to support the health and appearance of my skin.
ZSS Skincare Method No. 2 (on ZSS for $159)
Nature’s Way Thisilyn Cleanse with Mineral Digestive Sweep Kit (on drugstore.com for $21.99)
Align Probiotic Supplement (on drugstore.com for $28.99)
Florajen 30 Caps (on Amazon for $13.42)
Project Juice Juice Cleanse (at Williams-Sonoma for $74.95)