We officially welcomed Spring last week here in the Northern Hemisphere. And even though most of us are staying home and isolating ourselves amidst the coronavirus pandemic, nature is busy transitioning to Spring.
I love Spring for all the beauty it brings and the longer, warmer days. But I also love that Spring brings with it the energy of change, growth, new beginnings, and new opportunities. We see this play out in nature and, if you’re paying attention, you will also see it play out in yourself.
I’ve been feeling a rebirth of energy and excitement and a readiness to tackle some new projects. I’m also itching to do some “Spring Cleaning“, both inside my home and inside my body.
Benefits of a Seasonal Detox
I’m a big believer in seasonal detoxes. They provide the opportunity to:
Reset your habits & transition to a new season
Boost your detoxification pathways and lower the toxic burden on your body
Regenerate your immune system and boost cellular repair
Reconnect with yourself, both physically and spiritually
A detox also helps to optimize the systems of your body which are responsible for keeping cancer at bay. This seasonal practice can be a powerful piece in your cancer recurrence prevention plan.
I have a personal goal to work through a “Detox” at the transition of each season. It doesn’t always look the same depending on the time of year. At the very least I recommend that everyone set aside at least 1 week every 6 months to move through a detox.
And guess what? The transition to Spring is the perfect time to do this. In this article I will map out exactly how to prepare, execute, and complete a Seasonal Detox; along with a sample day. Are you ready to get started? Let’s dive in!
Ideally you would take some time the week before to help prepare for the Detox. This means planning out your week and getting to the grocery store to buy everything you will need. But it also means reducing your intake of the foods that you will be removing. This will make the actual detox week much easier to commit to.
Here are the foods and beverages you will want to avoid during your “Detox Week”:
All processed & packaged foods
Soda & other sweetened beverages
Processed or commercial meats
Whether or not you have a personal sensitivity to any of these foods, all of these items can be irritating to your system. And although I personally love coffee and enjoy alcohol on occasion and eat gluten and dairy, I also think it’s very helpful to go without sometimes. It helps you re-evaluate your relationship to each item and gives you a chance to make sure that none of those items are causing any problems for you.
This is also the perfect time to take inventory of all your potential exposures to toxic substances. Make a list of everything you can think of and then think through a strategy of how you could start to remove those items or replace them with less toxic options.
Here is a list of some of the more common sources of toxins to consider:
Toxic foods, like the ones listed in my Free Guide: The 4 Most Toxic Foods To Avoid During Cancer Recovery.
Pesticides, GMOs, and food additives (f you haven’t seen it yet the Environmental Working Group released their Dirty Dozen Guide for 2020).
Heavy metals in seafood
Heavy metals and other pollutants in air and water
Chemicals in cosmetics, cleaning products, sunscreen, cookware, or plastics
Medications (prescription or over-the-counter)
And don’t forget about mental and emotional sources of “toxins” too; like toxic relationships or all the negative news we’re exposed to through TV, internet, or social media.
Ideally during your Detox Week, you would remove as many sources of these toxins as possible.
Detox Week Details
During your actual Detox Week you want to do your best to include all of the following goals.
Organic whole foods (nothing processed or refined)
Lots of colorful fruits and veggies
Non-gluten grains and legumes (quinoa, millet, amaranth, wild rice, beans, lentils)
Healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, coconut)
Clean proteins (legumes, nuts, fish, pasture-raised eggs, meats, or poultry)
Liver Supporting Foods (cruciferous veggies, sulfur-rich veggies, milk thistle, ginger, grapefruit, beets, lemon/lime, apple, turmeric, dandelion)
Lots of water, herbal tea, green tea, veggie juices, & broths
Fasting: nightly 12-14 hour fast + a 16-18 hour fast 2-3 times during the week.
Exercise: supports your immune system and keeps your gut moving. It can also help release stress and tension as well as boost detoxification. Make it a goal to get at least 30 minutes of movement every day this week…it doesn’t have to be fancy, walking is great, or even dancing around your house!
Sleep: the hours you sleep are the hours your body can focus on healing and repair, so getting solid sleep each night is essential; aim for at least 8 hours each night this week.
Emotional Detoxing: your mental, emotional, and spiritual burdens can be just as taxing on your body; especially on your immune system. This should not be overlooked and steps should be taken to help off-load some of these burdens. A daily meditation and journaling practice can be incredibly helpful as well as avoiding sources of these mental toxins (toxic people, the nightly news, social media, etc.).
Deep Breathing: not only do breathing exercises help release stress and tension but the lungs are an important detoxification organ and can be enhanced with deep breathing.
Detox Bath: at least a couple times this week (if you have a bathtub) I suggest soaking in an Epsom Salt & Baking Soda Bath to help flush toxins through the skin. An added benefit of the magnesium found in Epsom Salt is it relaxes the muscles and can help improve sleep. DIRECTIONS: for 1 bath add 2 cups Epsom Salts + 2 cups Baking Soda to a hot bath and let dissolve ~5 minutes. You can also add in essential oils if you’d like; lavender, frankincense, etc. Don’t use soap in order to not interfere with the action of the salt and soda.
Supplements: you can add extra Fiber & Probiotics if necessary to keep your colon moving and eliminating, otherwise there’s no need to add in extra supplements during this time. Actually, if you’re used to taking a lot of supplements, you may want to consider taking a break from them during the detox.
Sample Detox Day
Here’s an example of how this could play out over the course of one day.
Upon Waking (~7am)
- 2 cups Morning Tonic (warm water with fresh lemon juice or a mineral-rich broth)
Morning Activity (7-8:30am)
- 10-20 minutes Meditation with deep breathing exercises, journaling, &/or affirmations
- 30-40 minutes Exercise
- Smoothie OR Hot Cereal OR Fresh Veggie Juice
Fluids: 2 cups Green Tea + water
- Nourish Bowl OR Scrambled Turmeric Eggs with Veggies OR Leftovers
Fluids: 2 cups Fresh Veggie Juice + water
Fluids: 2 cups Herbal Tea
Evening Activity (9-10pm)
- 10-20 minutes Meditation with reading, gratitude journaling, hot bath, body scanning, visualization (anything that’s relaxing to help you prepare for sleep)
2 Ways To Elevate Your Detox
Although I recommend allowing at least one complete week for the Detox, the truth is if you’re feeling great, then keep it going. You will gain even more benefit if you extend it to 2 or 3 weeks.
1. Identify Food Sensitivities
You can also use your Detox to help identify any potential food sensitivities. If you’d like to use it for this purpose then I would suggest following the Detox for a full 3 weeks and then gradually bringing each food item back into your diet.
This will give you enough time to lower inflammation & irritation in your body. When you re-introduce the food you will see a more noticeable reaction or change in symptoms.
You can read more about how to move through a food elimination & reintroduction plan here: What If Your Food Is Hurting You.
2. Boost Regeneration With a Longer Fast
I would also suggest considering an extended fast at the end of your detox. From the research on fasting we know that a 3-5 day fast can completely regenerate the immune system, boost cellular repair, and enhance stem cell production. This elevates your detox to a whole new level.
Take it gradual, and if you want to go longer than 24 hours then I suggest reaching out to a provider to make sure this will be safe for you.
Step 1. Add a 24 hour fast at the end of your detox. Consider going from lunch to lunch or dinner to dinner. In my experience this is easier to complete than a breakfast to breakfast.
Step 2. If you’re already used to doing 24 hour fasts, then try a 48 hour fast.
Step 3. If you have experience with 48 hour fasts, then try a 72 hour (or 3 Day) fast.
While you’re fasting, stay focused on your hydration; ideally consuming 8-10 oz every hour you are awake. And allow for more resting and down-time. You can read more about how to move through an extended fast here: The Reality Of An Extended Fast.
Keep The Benefits Going
Once you’ve completed your Detox, use one more week to slowly transition back to a “normal” diet. I put normal in quotes because my guess is your diet & lifestyle will look a bit different after a Detox. There might be some foods you’re missing and anxious to get back in but in general you’ll feel so much better that you’ll want to keep it going for a while, or at least a version of it.
Of course, over time, it’s normal for some less-healthy foods or lifestyle habits to sneak back in. This is why returning to the Detox at least a couple times a year can be a great long-term strategy at helping you get back to your healthy habits.
Don’t underestimate how much healing and repair can happen during your seasonal detox. Giving your body a break from the things that are taxing while flooding it with nutrient-dense foods, fluids, movement, more sleep, and more time for spiritual connection can be transformative.