If you’re feeling sluggish from a busy holiday season, and can barely squeeze into your favorite skinny jeans, I invite you to join me for an easy post-holiday detox to start the New Year off right.
Below, you’ll find my top 5 detox tips to get you started.
Detox Tip #1: Start Green
Have you noticed that green vegetables and fruits are the only recommendation that makes it into every diet book? Spinach, kale, arugula, and chard are rich in indole-3-carbinole, which is a natural detoxifier that controls how you regulate estrogen.
Both men and women are at risk of estrogen pollution (fake estrogens from the environment – more on that in a future class!), and these hard-working greens help to tip the balance in favor of taking out the bad estrogens before they cause symptoms of estrogen dominance – including breast tenderness, cancer, moodiness, and weight gain. Other yummy greenies that upgrade your detox? Avocados, olives, sea vegetables (seaweed), steamed broccoli, lentils, split peas, spirulina, and blue green algae.
Detox Tip #2: Measure Your Colon (+ Upgrade Your Poop Performance)
Did you know that women have 10 more feet of colon than men? Not only do we have more surface area to worry about, we have the Six Flags roller coaster, whereas men have the relatively straightforward horseshoe. It’s no surprise that women have more bloating, irritable bowel, constipation, and general gut woes. I learned all about the voluptuous female gut from my friend and Georgetown professor, Dr. Robynne Chutkan.
You can tell a lot about detoxification from your poop. Take a peek the next time you go. The ideal shape for healthy poop is similar to the letter S. If your poop looks like an S and is a brownish color, it’s a sign your digestive system is working well and that you’re probably eating a healthy, well-balanced and fiber-filled diet. If it’s cracked it can indicate constipation, a sign you probably need to add more fiber to your diet through foods like leafy greens and chia. If it’s light in color, your gallbladder might need some detox help.
Transit time is another important measure of your detoxification. Ideally, it takes 12 to 24 hours for food to proceed from mouth to toilet. Want to test yourself? Try eating red beets and watch your stool for the red color of the beets, which is intense. Record your transit time and track over time. If it takes longer than 24 hours, consider more fiber and/or fermented foods that are rich in healthy bacteria.
Detox Tip #3: Snuggle Your Stress
After working with patients for 20 years, I’ve come to the same conclusion as health psychologist Kelly McGonigal –it’s your beliefs about stress that is potentially harmful, not the stress itself. This was confirmed in the lab of Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn in her research on telomeres, the little caps on chromosomes that measure stress and rapid aging (you want them long and lovely). She found that premenopausal women with the highest perceived stress had the shortest telomeres.
The takeaway? Learn to dance differently with stress and find the small tweaks that allow you to roll with the punches, from laughter to hangin’ with girlfriends, to shoegasms, to wearing a matching fancy pants bra and panties. (FYI – got that last tip from Danielle Laporte! Honor the lineage!)
Detox Tip #4:Sweat It Out
Your skin is your body’s single largest organ for eliminating toxins. Sweating helps to flush the body of harmful substances like alcohol, bad cholesterol and salt. Maximize the detox abilities of your skin by working up a sweat at least three times a week for 20 minutes, ideally through heart-boosting cardiovascular exercise. Exercise is ideal because it confers multiple benefits, not just for detox, such as increasing mood boosting endorphins and improving overall health. If sweat-producing exercise isn’t an option, try a sauna, steam or detox bath to get your body sweating.
Detox Tip #5: Kiss Those Toxins Goodbye
Toxins are found everywhere – not just in your food. Clean house by getting rid of toxic cleaning products and replacing them with environmentally and health friendly ones. Replace toxin-filled lotions, lipsticks, nail polishes and other beauty products with products made without harmful substances like parabens, formaldehyde and synthetic fragrances. And don’t forget about toxic relationships. Unhappy relationships are unhealthy, causing us increased stress. Long-standing stress is the enemy of a healthy, balanced body, so kiss those toxic relationships goodbye.