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Today’s Daily Tip: Place items in the areas of your home where you’ll use them, to increase the chances that you’ll follow through.
We live in a world full of toxins. From air pollution to food contaminants, our bodies are constantly inundated with harmful pollutants. Add to that intolerances to certain foods and chances are, you need to detoxify your body so that it can begin to heal itself.
Cleansing/detoxifying is beneficial for many reasons and is often used to:
- Balance body PH
- Lose weight
- Jump-start healing
- Stop cravings
- Increase energy
- Relieve allergies
In Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Dr. Haas recommends cleansing and detoxifying especially for healing and preparing for change. If you’re planning on getting pregnant, try cleansing to:
Increase chances of conception
Pregnancy makes a lot of demands on your body – you need more sleep, more nutrients, more self-care in general. Cleansing your body and switching to a healthier lifestyle beforehand gives you one less thing to think about when you do get pregnant.
It also increases your chances of conception because you’ve removed any foods that might be damaging your gut, allowed your body time to heal and balance your hormones and put your body in the optimum state for getting pregnant.
One reason for hormone imbalance can be toxins. According to Dr. Travis Deuson, Medical Director of BodyLogicMD of Encino, even if you’re hormone levels are adequate, your body may not be using them properly because toxins are blocking the pathways.
One key way to balance your hormones is to lower your exposure to toxins. But what about toxins that are already in your body? Cleansing can flush them out, enabling your body to begin healing and get back in balance.
Rule out food intolerances
Part of cleansing before pregnancy may be to rule out food intolerances. Common intolerances include problems with gluten, corn, soy, eggs and dairy.
These foods cause inflammation in your digestive system, leading to a whole host of symptoms: break outs, headaches, infertility, stomach aches, hormone imbalances, sinus infections and rashes. Use the time before pregnancy to discover (and stop eating) whatever foods you may not be able to tolerate.
Deal with future cravings
Pregnancy cravings can be … interesting. And intense. In my pregnancies, I was Dairy Queen’s greatest customer, ate ridiculous amounts of fried foods and sweets and cried if I couldn’t get my pork noodle soup. Pregnancy made my food addictions even worse.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s a good time to beat those addictions and find nourishing alternatives. Had I known then what I know now, I would have made some coconut milk ice cream, baked up my favorite gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and rolled up some yummy garden-fresh spring rolls instead. And I could have spared my brother those evening phone calls begging him to bring me Chinese food while my husband was at work.
So just how do you cleanse and detoxify your body? There are a lot of different methods – some safe, some not so much.
If you Google “cleanse”, you’ll get lots of results for boxed cleansing programs. Most are quite expensive and contain herbs or supplements designed to thoroughly cleanse your colon. While detoxifying your body should improve elimination, you probably don’t want to spend the whole time in the bathroom.
Fortunately, there are other options that focus on nourishing your body and removing toxins to give you a more effective cleanse and set you up with healthy habits for the future. The following three are ones I’ve used with good results.
I know I’m not the only one who watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and immediately did a juice fast. Fasting is a common way to detoxify. Rather than going sans food or any type of nourishment, with a juice fast, you get all of the vitamins and minerals of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables readily absorbed into your body.
For a juice fast, you need a good juicer and lots of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Because the only nourishment you’re getting is from juice, you will be consuming it more frequently – every couple of hours. You can also supplement a juice fast with nourishing bone broth.
In Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Dr. Haas says that this type of cleanse helps eliminate waste and old or dead cells. Restoring and building new tissue is easier because of the easily accessible nutrients from the juices.
Juice fasting is not something to be done long-term – Haas’s own cleansing program is 10 days long. He advises working out the details with your healthcare provider. However, doing a juice fast for at least 3 days will help remove toxins from your body and prepare your body to build itself back up, especially with a shift to a healthier lifestyle.
Image by Casey Serin
Another way to cleanse/detoxify is through an elimination diet, one in which you eliminate several types of food that could cause intolerances/inflammation in your body for a certain period of time.
Programs, like the Whole 30 challenge, recommend removing foods like: grains, dairy, soy, sugar and white potatoes for at least 30 days to help your body begin healing from damage caused by certain food. The focus is on consuming nourishing fruits and vegetables, grass-fed/pasture-raised/free-range organic meats, nuts and seeds and plenty of water. After 30 days (or longer) you add foods in, one at a time, to see how your body reacts.
This kind of approach can take 1 to 7 days for you to feel the positive effects of doing so. If you have any concerns about how you’re body will react (ie, you have a chronic condition) check with a healthcare provider who is knowledgable about health and nutrition.
Overall Lifestyle Change
Of course, there are more subtle ways to cleanse your body, too. You can focus on removing/adding things gradually, like making one change a week.
Focus on eating more fruits and veggies, drinking more water, getting more sleep, finding healthier meat and dairy sources and exercising – but not all at once. (Tomorrow I’ll be sharing several tips on cleansing your body through changing your lifestyle that aren’t quite as “drastic”).
Now, there are a few things you should know before you start cleansing your body. And before you do that, I want you to be sure that you’re body can handle a cleanse. In other words, will it be safe for you to only drink juice or stop eating grains for a short period of time or do you have a condition that a cleanse needs to be modified for? Use your best judgement here and consult with your healthcare provider if you need to.
That said, here are common results people report from a cleanse.
What to expect from a cleanse
Withdrawal symptoms: This is the least fun part. While you’re body is detoxifying, you’ll probably goes through withdrawals – from sugar, coffee or all those refined carbs. Keep going. It will end. The headaches will go away and you’ll feel better soon.
Need more rest: Sleep is a vital part of health that’s often overlooked. While you’re cleansing, be sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and try to take a few 15-minute rest breaks throughout the day.
Need even more water: While you’re flushing toxins out, be sure you’re getting plenty of water. If you don’t, the toxins won’t be adequately flushed and, as in my case, your skin will pay for it. Hello acne.
Increased energy: One of the best side-effects of nourishing your body and eliminating toxins is energy! Many report waking up easily and having way more energy throughout the day.
Clearing up of previous symptoms: After a week or so, you’ll notice symptoms going away. My gluten-induced rash was almost gone after the first week of an elimination diet.
Consider this your pre-pregnancy cleansing primer. Tomorrow, I’ll be discussing simple, effective tips for incorporating cleansing into your everyday life so you can create healthy habits for the future.
Have you done a cleanse before? How did it impact your health?
Trying to get pregnant? Get our pre-conception plan -- including the diet tips and key supplements you need for a healthy pregnancy!