Detoxing 101: A roadmap to whole body detox and natural self-care - PART II

A step-by-step, general guide to kick starting your holistic wellness journey

DETOX

Manasa S Rao

5/30/20238 min read

In part I of the detox series, we dove into the meaning and importance of detoxing. Understanding the two "brains" or control centers of our bodies gives us a unique insight into how they work together. Focusing on gut and brain detox and nourishment has been studied to effect overall health, even preventing illnesses before they can start. It is never too late to start your holistic journey!

Our mind is a powerful tool and our success in any avenue of life is girded by spiritual and mental strength. Part of detoxing from old habits and mindsets is setting yourself up for success with a clean and organized slate:

  • Start every day in the Word, meditating on and speaking out loud scriptures pertaining to health, food, healing, discipline and self-control. There is power of life and death in the tongue, and we cannot live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God.

  • Identify and write down your "whys" of changing your lifestyle. Did you decide to take back control of your health so you can run with your children or grandchildren? Is it due to a health scare or illness you are facing? A history of cancer or diabetes in your family you want to avoid? Or perhaps you are dedicated to being as lively and energetic as you can be, knowing your body is a temple for the Lord.

  • Keep yourself motivated in ways you know will work, such as going through a detox with a friend, exercising with a spouse. Track your progress through apps, checkups at the doctors, sharing progress on social media, journaling or anything else that will empower you to stay consistent.

  • Find inspirational audiobooks and podcasts to listen to throughout your day. Listen to the narrated Bible and worship music as you exercise. Read books that will guide you in health and discipline.

  • Dedicate yourself to avoiding mindless scrolling on social media or youtube. Stop following pages with more 'entertaining' and distracting content and identify what will align with your new values. However, be sure to stay away from confusing and contradicting health advice.

  • As you partner with God, shift your vision to one of victory rather than defeat and begin to surround yourself with an environment of well-being and discipline, you will be priming your heart and mind toward lasting health and healing.

  • From here, you can research and create your own roadmap and action steps to follow long term.

A detox and realigning of the mind is more than half the battle won. Through prayer, petition and faith in God's promises we "circle" our desire for healing and holistic health with the confidence that you are in the will of God as well.

Part II: The gut detox

Partnering with God, you can trust that His power and strength will be made perfect anytime you feel weak, sick or like giving up. So, it's time for you to do your part: use the wisdom He gives you to change your lifestyle. As mentioned earlier, much of our illnesses stem from our gut, whether it is through toxic load and inability to effectively eliminate them or the lack of essential nourishment needed for self-healing.

Feedback mechanisms, mutation repairs, construction of new materials, programmed cell death (apoptosis), stem cells to replace old cells, autophagy, phagocytosis, lysosomes, primary and secondary immunity, mitosis for wound healing, memory cells, toxin elimination sites such as in adipose tissue and much more give us just a slight glimpse into the staggering fail-safes built into every cell, organ and tissue of our body. In fact, restoration and renewal are what our bodies do best. This is why what we take in as fuel is so important. A balance needs to be struck: the better the quality of fuel, the less "maintenance work" is needed. The constitution of the food we eat is even more more important than how much we exercise or even sleep. Getting the required vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, phytonutrients and fiber from our food supports the efficacy of metabolic pathways, construction and repair of cells, signaling and communication, hormone balance and so much more. Healthy bodies are made in the kitchen.

cells
cells
microbiome
microbiome

The gastrointestinal tract plays host to 30 to 40 trillion bacteria - around the same number as there are cells making up our entire body. Though this may not be the 10 fold outnumbering as previously assumed, it is still significant enough to influence us in health and disease. Our gut is highly susceptible and vulnerable, subject to the food and drink that passes through it everyday. The processes of digestion, absorption and elimination rely heavily on these "good" bacteria. However, colonies of helpful bacteria can quickly be wiped out or be replaced with other bacteria which do more harm than good. Use of antibiotics which may not have distinguished between harmful and beneficial bacteria are one of the usual suspects. We also see alcohol, inactivity, bad diets coupled with a lack of pre- and probiotics, poor sleep, stress and imbalances in vitamins and minerals affecting gut microbiome. Restoring the health of our gut lining to counteract these affects begins with detoxing through:

a. Fasting furious

Ok, you don't have to furiously fast :P but depending on where you are in your health journey, intermittent fasting is perhaps one of the most powerful and effective ways to routinely detox your body. Fasting is an age old practice, sometimes a religious observance, that should be stressed upon just as much as diets.

There are many misconceptions regarding fasting. Here is what fasting is vs what it is not:

  • It is a form of discipline that involves abstaining from something for a set period of time. It is not about starving yourself or just an "easier" way of reducing the amount of calories you take in a day.

  • It is similar to a cleanse but typically lasts longer and allows the body to rest and reset. Fasting gives our cells some time to stop focusing on digesting and processing the food we eat, and instead expending the same energy into burning up old fuel already stored up (especially glucose, glycogen and fat), strengthen immune defenses, "sweep away" old and damaged cells to make room for new growth and even identify any issues that may have escaped notice and try fixing them.

  • It can be done for a short or longer period of time - such as having an early dinner and nothing else till you wake up - though longer tends to be better. It is not suggested in certain cases, such as pregnancy so please get multiple opinions. Make sure to stay hydrated, with plenty of electrolytes while fasting. Exercising can continue, but may need to start at a lower intensity before gradually building back up.

  • It is mentioned many times in scripture as a "when" and not an "if", meaning that we are meant to fast. In fact, fasting is required for spiritual fortitude just as much as physical and mental strength, due to the self-control and intentionality needed to be successful. It is not intended to weaken you.

b. Adsorb those toxins

With the amount of pesticides, chemicals and even toxins in our water and environment, our bodies are being damaged at a faster rate than our healing can kick in. Activated charcoal, along with bentonite clay, fulvic acid (found in high quantities in the supplement Shilajit) and several ayurvedic, herbal medicines can be used to naturally remove heavy metals and sooth any inflammation caused by their accumulation. Find quality supplements, charcoal sticks to add to your water bottles, toothpastes, epsom bath salts and even cosmetics with these components as active ingredients. Ensure correct use and that it does not interfere with your current medications. Coupled with at least 2 bowel movements a day, these can help speed up your recovery and gradually decrease toxic load.

c. Neutralize and disarm with food

Neutralizing and disarming toxins and free radicals so they are no longer harmful is another effective detox strategy. Free radicals, though naturally formed through metabolism, can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time even leading to DNA mutations and cancers. They are also increased to dangerous levels through exposure to smoke, UV radiations and stress. To bind and eliminate them, we can add antioxidants to our daily diet. Fruits such as berries, apples, plums, leafy greens, pecans, beans and many herbs and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, matcha, ginger and chili powder are powerful antioxidants. Common plants and extracts found in liver detox supplements include dandelion, milk thistle, burdock, Cilantro leaves, while not always added to diets due to their distinct flavor, is one of the best detox herbs, binding heavy metals and free radicals.

c. Sweat and light

Another powerful way to pull out unwanted toxins from the body is to sweat them out. Implement exercise a few times a week and get a good sweat going. Ensure that you are using a clean deodorant which does not include pore-clogging chemicals like aluminum. Even replacing your usual deodorants with lemon rubbed on your pits a couple of times a day works like a charm to deodorize while you detox. Spend at least 10- 15 mins, 3x a week in a sauna (if you can't tolerate the heat for so long, stay as long as possible and see if you can work your way up to 10 mins. Stay hydrated!). For glowing, healthy skin use a steamer at home as part of your face care routine.

Invest in a high quality red light box. Red light has been studied to speed up muscle and tissue repair, slow aging, undo cell damage, detox and even repair the kidney.

Speaking of light, take the time to spend at least 20 mins every morning in direct sunshine. To best get vitamin D in the absence of harmful UV rays, begin exposure earlier in the day and slowly adapt to more intensity around noon. The darker your skin is, the longer you will have to stay in the sun for optimal levels, It is important to remember that our bones, muscles, teeth, hair and skin and even immune systems get weaker with vit D deficiency. Gradually begin making the shift away from use of sunscreens, sunscreens and hiding out from the sun as your health begins to improve.

d. Caffeine and sugar

Caffeine can be a bit controversial when it comes to elimination it from your diet and, truth be told, I never have been able to do so. However, I encourage you to take an account of how much you are drinking and how it makes you feel. Are you jittery? Unable to function (think clearly or feel alert) without coffee? Do you find yourself craving it even at night? Does it upset your stomach or give you brain fog shortly after? It could be a matter of limiting the amount of caffeine, or the quality of it. As we continue our holistic journey, we will discuss how to improve the nutritional value of our coffee or make healthier changes. To begin, try out a short term fast, such as the Daniel fast or just have a cup less than usual for a week to 10 days and gauge how you feel. Replace that morning coffee by starting your day with a digestive aid such as, such as a warm glass of water with a squeeze of lemon and pinch or two of cayenne pepper on an empty stomach (*see above note about cayenne pepper).

Do the same for sodas, teas with high caffeine content, fruit juices, smoothies you add sugar to and just your added sugar as a whole. Consciously decide to add a spoon less of sugar to each drink or to food such as baked goodies, switch to honey, date syrup or a healthier alternative such as coconut sugar.

There are so many more ways to detox right at home! Start with this framework and you can start small before building up to frequent or longer detoxes. See part III for how long and examples on how to go about detoxing your body. I hope that as time goes on, you won't have to do drastic detoxes but that your lifestyle, diet and activity will naturally support your body's healing and innate detox. :)

a couple of lemons sitting on top of a cutting board
a couple of lemons sitting on top of a cutting board
woman sitting in bathtub with white and yellow daisy flowers
woman sitting in bathtub with white and yellow daisy flowers