Ask the Doctor: Is There a Proper Time and Way to Detox?

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Elizabeth Trattner, AP, DOM, has been practicing Chinese and Integrative medicine in Miami since 1991, specializing in women’s health, weight management, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and environmental illnesses. In her new Ask the Doctor series, American Spa readers submit their questions to the doctor for her expert opinion.

"Dear Dr. Trattner, when is the best time to detox, and what is the best way to do one?"

Detoxing and cleansing continue to be trendy but are not always performed in a healthy manner and mindset. Many do not realize there is a right time and place to partake in a detox regimen. A detox program should vary depending on the year and season. I personally believe summer time is the best season for a detox. During the summer time, many fruits and vegetables are fresh and in season. Additionally, traditional detoxification foods are cooling in nature, so they work perfectly with the hot temperature outside supporting our internal thermodynamics. During the summer, many people take time off, allowing ample time for reflection and selfcare.  Here are a few helpful tips to remember when embarking on your next detox.

Cleanses and Detoxes

Detoxing is more than a simple juice cleanse, and I implore you to find the right fit for you. Try eliminating sugar, packaged, and refined foods, and eat fresh seasonal foods with small amounts of protein and carbohydrates in the form of grass fed animal products and whole grains. Removing gluten, dairy, and sweets from your diet is another great start. If eliminating food is not the way you want to go, there are digital detoxes, sweating detoxes, detoxes from busy life, and even detoxing your home. 

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Let Your Body Sweat

Sweating is a great detox for your body. The skin is the largest eliminative organ in the body and sweating has been used for thousands of years to release toxins from the body. Sauna and steam are also effective tools for both detoxing and mind-body awareness. Just make sure to rehydrate after taking a steam or a sweat. 

Be Mindful When Eating: The Act and The Food Itself

Another trick I encourage you to try is putting down your phone and turning off your television while eating. This mindful act while eating helps you identify when you are full, and moreover, how good the food really is.  Don’t take photos of food, instead sit down and enjoy the experience. Also, try eating locally sourced food. Summer is a great time to visit a farmer’s market or even a farm where you can find fresh and organic food that is better for your body, and it will connect you to where your food came from. We have to understand where our food comes from, and having this awareness is vital to our health. This consciousness leads to less waste, a greater concern for our environment, and the improvement of our diet.  

Clean Up Your Products 

Although foods are critical to our health, do not forget the effects our beauty products have. Chemicals and toxins found in our environment can wreak havoc on our bodies, ultimately leading to autoimmune disorders. Swapping out your traditional beauty products and cleaning products is a great reset and often provides us with a sense of accomplishment during a summer detox. More importantly, it will provide positive health effects long after your detox program.

Detox, Don’t Deplete

Many people often fall below their minimum caloric intake during a detox, causing their bodies to go into starvation mode. Make sure you are consuming an appropriate amount of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Although you might lose a few pounds, they will come back if you don’t eat enough! Remember, if you are on a juice detox, add nut milks, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats like avocados which provide protein and fats. I often find it beneficial to add red and green vegetables and fruits. Beneficial vegetables like kale, broccoli, beets, spinach, asparagus, and green beans are all great at aiding the body in detoxifying. The fiber found in fruits and veggies is one of the best ways to stay full, lighten your digestive load and in turn lose weight. Drinking matcha is another healthful way to help lose weight. More often than not, I see weight come right back after a juice cleanse ends.

Plan A Getaway

When completing a detox, I highly recommend you take time off. It can be a weekend or even a week. Vacations are a great time for a detox, allowing you the time to turn inward and reflect. I recommend spas where you can find all the necessary ingredients for a healthy detox program, including a quiet retreat, nature walks, light exercise, and healthy meals. Or try renting a small beach or lake home, or mountain sanctuary where you can relax in nature; being in nature is beneficial in many ways. Sometimes all you need is a “staycation” permitting a small change of routine. During your getaway, minimize contact with your cellphone, laptop computer, and television. This leads to increased attention and focus needed during a detox. A comprehensive break refreshes your body, mind, and soul and provides a more powerful and meaningful experience. 

Take It Easy and Don’t Overdo It

Remember, a detox is supposed to give your body a break. Make sure to get plenty of rest, light exercise, and stay hydrated. Honor your body, since detoxes can have a profound experience if you honor the time to give yourself a break from food and the busy world around you. Many people become stronger and more clear-headed after an effective detox.

Have a question you'd like to see answered on Dr. Trattner's next Ask the Doctor post? Email your inquiries to [email protected], or connect with American Spa on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.

 

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