Join us for week 2 of our cleansing series with the inspiring folks of S-Life Mag, Sakara Life’s official online magazine!
So you’ve washed the champagne glasses and hung your sexiest cocktail dress back up in the closet. It’s a new year, and after an indulgent — but well-deserved! — holiday season, you’re ready for a fresh start. Along with hitting the gym at least three times a week, making a green smoothie every morning and finally committing to that daily meditation practice you’ve been talking about (yeah, we see you), perhaps you’re feeling like your system could use a healthy round of cleansing to kick things off on a virtuously detoxified note.
Before you jump into extreme measures and sign up for one of those liquid cleanses, let’s talk about the realities of detoxification. First and foremost, your body, an amazingly intelligent, sophisticated and beautiful machine, is designed to cleanse itself, explains Dr. Robin Berzin, MD, founder of Parsley Health and an expert on the subject. “Everything we eat, drink and absorb gets surveyed and ‘filtered’ by our super-star organ, the liver,” she says. “Toxins from the outside world (including medications, pesticides, alcohol and food additives) are broken down by the liver in a 2-phase process, after which they need to be eliminated via the skin, the kidneys or the bowels.”
Sounds simple enough, but what about when toxicity starts in your own body, rather than your outside environment? As Dr. Berzin notes, a toxic state can be caused by the byproducts of day-to-day metabolism, particularly when you’re eating a lot of sugar or refined grains. The resulting free-radical load leads to unhealthy inflammation, and that can be the root cause of all kinds of illnesses. Simply put, “a detox can be about avoiding toxins from the outside world. It can also be about lowering the production of toxins within.”
Regardless of the culprits of your internally toxic state (filet mignon, martinis and chocolate cake perhaps?), you’re probably quite familiar with how it makes you feel. A marathon holiday season can leave you feeling run down all around — think low energy, dull skin, wonky digestion and too-tight jeans. These effects are the physical manifestation of what’s going on inside your body. Chances are you haven’t been paying a whole lot of mind to making sure you’re getting all the vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients your body needs to keep itself in the clear, in favor of overloading (and therefore sabotaging) your body with caffeine, alcohol and heavily processed foods. Digesting these things is a lot of work, and throws your detoxifying system off its game.
Some wellness gurus will tell you that a juice cleanse is just the ticket to give your body a break from processing hard-to-digest food and other various and sundry things. And to a certain extent, we agree — your body is crying out for mercy. But here’s the best news you’ve heard since making those New Year’s resolutions: you can give your body that much-needed respite and eat real, delicious food. Cleansing and chewing are not mutually exclusive. In fact, clean, nutrient-rich food is exactly what your body needs right now.
Dr. Berzin explains that the first phase of naturally occurring detoxification (care of the liver) requires a host of nutrients to function, including Vitamins B, E and C, as well as antioxidants like glutathione and carotenoids. The second phase, she adds, uses amino acids from proteins and sulfur-based chemicals. This entire cast of life-giving nutrients can conveniently be found in a colorful diet that’s rich in whole fruits and vegetables — think berries for antioxidants, greens for Vitamins B, C and E and cruciferous broccoli and cauliflower for sulfur. Additionally, Dr. Berzin notes that eating lots of antioxidant-rich foods (as well as avoiding an excess of refined grains and sugars) helps to cleanse the body of the toxic byproducts of normal metabolism. So you see, it all starts with food. Not only does what you eat begin a domino effect of changes inside your body — both good and bad — but it is also your medicine. Whatever you put your precious body through this holiday season, you can heal the damage with food. And as far as wellness-related New Year’s resolutions go, doesn’t that sound a lot more realistic, a lot more doable and, above all, a lot more loving than the usual routine of crash diets, starvation and self-criticism? We definitely think so.
In the spirit of starting 2016 with a clean — or shall we say, cleansed — slate, this month we’ll be sharing some of our favorite detoxifying tips, as well as cleansing rituals for your body, mind and soul, clean-food recipes and more expert guidance. May this be the year that you’re light, bright and empowered! We’ll raise a glass — or, rather, a fork — to that.
Dr Robin Berzin on Instagram
Parsley Health on Instagram
Photography by Caitlin Mitchell