We are in the midst of major renovations at the moment, and this post was inspired by a conversation with my Mom about toxicity. When she expressed concern about all of the painting I was doing this week, I assured her that we were using the lowest VOC (volatile organic compound) paint I could find (Benjamin Moore Natura). Our conversation gave me pause, however. I try as much as possible to reduce our toxic load by consuming organic food, and using completely non-toxic body care and cleaning products that I have either made myself or sourced from a company I trust.
As I mentioned above our paint selection is the lowest toxicity that I have been able to find, and we are using eco-friendly products for our renovation wherever possible. That being said, while our personal choices are non-toxic, I fully recognize that we are still exposed to toxins on a daily basis - heavy perfume worn by people in the elevator, commercial cleaning products and air fresheners in public restrooms, gasoline fumes at the gas station, etc. I feel that detoxification practices are essential, given that zero toxicity is not an option.
When I say detoxification, I am not talking about seasonal or juice cleanses. Yes, these kinds of cleanses can be very beneficial - but they are not recommended, nor are they practical over long sustained periods of time. I have several gentle detox rituals that I like to incorporate on a regular basis, to reduce the toxic load my body is accumulating through day to day exposure. In an ideal world I would do all of these daily, however life being what it is (a wild and crazy adventure!) I tend to find that I am able to include some of these rituals daily, and all of them over the course of a week.
Daily Detox Rituals
Warm water with lemon:
I start my day with a 16oz cup of warm water, with the juice of half of an organic lemon (freshly squeezed, no green bottle shortcuts!) Adding lemon to my water first thing in the morning helps to create an alkaline balance in my body; while lemons are acidic in taste, they have an alkaline effect in your body. I often add a pinch of cinnamon (great for regulating blood sugar) or cayenne (wonderful for promoting blood circulation). Dr Axe has a fantastic blog post outlining the many benefits of lemon water here. I should add that drinking lots of water period, even without the added benefits of lemon juice or spices, helps with your natural detoxification process and is an excellent idea!
Sole water consists of large chunks of Himalayan sea salt placed in a glass jar and covered in filtered water. The salt saturates the water, creating a VERY strong brine that can be added to a large glass of water (my preferred ratio is 1 tsp per 16 oz of water). Sole water is wonderful first thing in the morning as it helps restore electrolytes and detoxify the body through helping to flush out heavy metals. Salt of Life is a wonderful Vancouver based company that carries rock crystals and smaller granules for either cooking or bathing. I am a big fan of the company after having the opportunity to chat with one of the owners on several occasions. I like to make my own electrolyte drink first thing in the morning by adding fresh squeezed lemon, a teaspoon of sole solution and a bit of sweetener to my mug (maple syrup, coconut nectar or honey are my favourite choices!)
I found out about dry brushing thanks to Meghan Telpner and Nadine Artemis. It is a wonderful technique that assists with lymphatic drainage, blood circulation and the reduction of cellulite. Dry brushing involves the use of a bristle brush to lightly brush (go figure!) your entire body, working in small circles or strokes upwards, in the direction of your heart. Dry brushing works really well just before getting into a bath or shower. I love to add a few drops of Living Libation's Lymph Tonic to my dry brushing ritual, I find the blend of essential oils to be very uplifting and energizing, and feel good about the fact that this particular blend aids in detoxifying my lymphatic system! My favourite dry brush is the Body & Breast Brush, also by Living Libations; my skin is very sensitive and I find it is not overly abrasive. Nadine Artemis has a wonderful video on dry brushing here, if you would like a visual reference.
I found out about tongue scraping thanks to some reading I did on Ayurvedic medicine. We are told to brush our teeth twice a day, however not a lot of attention is given to clearing debris off your tongue. A stainless steel or copper scraper is a wonderful way to keep your tongue clean, and can easily be incorporated into your tooth care ritual, as it takes only a few seconds to complete. My favourite tongue scraper is by Dr Tung; Upaya Naturals carries this model, along with a copper option here.
Oil pulling is another Ayurvedic practice that I use on a regular basis. Traditionally this is done with sesame oil, although coconut oil is another wonderful option. I find the solid texture of coconut oil challenging, so I prefer to melt it over low heat and then use it at room temperature. Or I use it in the summer, when coconut oil is liquid anyway. Coconut oil is promoted as a natural tooth whitener, although both types of oil help to eliminate bacteria in your mouth. You will notice after swishing the oil in your mouth for 5-20 minutes that it has turned milky in colour, this means that it is working and is a good sign! Be careful not to swallow any of the oil prior to disposing of it in your toilet or garbage can. Food Matters TV has a wonderful overview of the many benefits of oil pulling here.
Green Leafy Vegetables:
Popeye had a good thing going on - upping your intake of green leafy vegetables is very beneficial in maintaining a healthy acid/alkaline balance in your body, and to assist in the process of detoxification. There are so many different greens available at farmer's markets, and they can be consumed in a variety of different ways. I love adding them to my smoothies, sautéing them in a bit of olive oil and garlic, making up kale chips or finely chopping whatever greens I have in the fridge and adding them to pretty much everything I make. Soups, stews, pasta sauce - they all work beautifully with the addition of a bit of green leafy goodness! Dried wheatgrass powder is another excellent option to add to smoothies for a detoxification boost.
Another practice that I feel is incredibly beneficial when it comes to detoxification is using a rebounder. Otherwise known as a mini trampoline, a rebounder is beneficial for lymphatic health, helping to circulate toxins out of the body through gentle bouncing movements. There are tons of video sequences available on YouTube, if you would like something choreographed, however a gentle bounce for 10-20 minutes a day provides sufficient benefit without needing to bring out your inner gymnast. As an added bonus, the rebounder is a fabulous way to bring down excess kid energy during the witching hour, otherwise known as 3-5 pm every day! We parted with our rebounder when we left St John's, but it is currently on my wish list as rebounding is a quick and easy, not to mention highly beneficial practice.
What are your favourite detoxification rituals? Are any of these techniques new to you, and if so are you going to give them a try?