How to cleanse your body the right way.
Lately some people have asked me: “What do you think of this Detox kit I got at the store?” Now usually, this kit has 3 different bottles to help them cleanse. One bottle is often a digestive formula, or a liver formula, which is great in that it supports the primary elimination route from the body.
But the second bottle will be herbal laxatives, which I’m quite opposed to. Herbal laxatives are on the toxic side of the equation, and the last thing detoxing needs is adding another toxin to your body. Herbal laxatives have been considered necessary for some detoxes, especially when people are fasting or having liquid-only cleanses. Those kinds of detoxes have no fibre for the bowels to work on, which makes it difficult to eliminate waste without using a laxative. I tend not to recommend liquid or fasting approaches to detoxing, except under certain circumstances.
The third bottle may be herbal antibiotics, even a parasite cleanse. Don’t do it. You shouldn’t be taking something like that unless you have been diagnosed as having an actual parasite. These routes can also add toxins. Not ideal for a cleanse.
Instead, I tell people to avoid trendy diets, and just keep it simple. Eliminate (or at least reduce) the bad: alcohol, processed foods, fatty foods, sweets, refined carbs and often meat, wheat & dairy. Take steps to bring the healthiest foods and habits into your everyday life, and stick to a healthy vegetarian diet for a cleanse. For great recipes, I recommend the Brendan Brazier Thrive Energy Cookbook, or anything by Oh She Glows. Ultimately a good vegetarian diet is likely one of the only truly healthy diets. (Fact: I do still love a good cheeseburger every now and then, although definitely not during a cleanse).
I also recommend eating small portions. To truly cleanse you need to eat slightly fewer calories than you will burn in a day. That way you can tap into your reserves and eliminate wastes and toxins stored in your body fat and organs. I typically recommend 2-300 calories below your resting metabolic rate so you have enough calories / energy to get through your day without being grumpy or headachy, but low enough to be able to tap into your stored reserves.
To detox, you don’t need a herbal laxative, or a fibre supplement - you just need the good fibre that’s found in plants. In greens, beans, fruits and whole grains. So in your detox, greens should be the biggest pile in your daily diet. And not just any green, but a diversity of greens. Spinach. Arugula. Bitter greens. Kale. Chard. Broccoli. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and my fave - parsley.
Parsley has PQQ - Pyrroloquinoline Quinone - a vitamin-like compound. When it comes to antioxidants, PQQ can do about a thousand more reactions in the body than Vitamin C. So use parsley by the handful. Use it everywhere you can - in salads, soups, tabbouleh, stir fries, wraps or even just something to munch on. It’s nutrient dense, and calorie poor. There are likely more vitamins and minerals in a few bunches of parsley than in a whole bottle of multivitamins - for a fraction of the price. Besides, our bodies can typically use the vitamins and minerals in food better than ones found in a pill. If you want to cleanse, that’s the kind of food you really want to focus on.
It’s not all green, though. Get health giving antioxidants by eating a variety of red, yellow, orange, and blue/purple fruits and veggies too. The antioxidants are in the colourful pigments.
Your cleanse need not be bland or boring. People think junk food is more pleasurable than healthy food. Hogwash! Use fresh herbs, spices and good quality (ideally organic) ingredients to keep it interesting, delicious and healthy. Many spices and herbs like turmeric, garlic, ginger, onions, rosemary and sage have all kinds of health supportive properties.
You also need to support three other routes of elimination; your kidneys and bladder, skin and lungs. To support the kidneys / bladder you need to stay well hydrated. Focus on herbal teas, green tea (made with less-than-boiling water to preserve the healthy benefits and flavour), nourishing broths and soups with good grains, lentils or beans, plus water.
To support detoxification from your skin… sweat. This can be through exercise or saunas. Remember - we want to make detoxing about bringing healthier habits into our lives and most of us could do with a good bit more sweaty exercise to help eliminate wastes and stress. Remember that fight or flight are action verbs! Honour this by blowing off steam with more exercise.
To support detoxing the lungs, try breathing exercises, physical exercise, increasing your respiration rate to clear debris from your lungs, and upgrading or changing furnace filters, dusting your house, and cleaning or replacing older bedding. And if you’re a smoker, you should try to quit! Try mindfulness or meditative breathing techniques and a cup of tea instead of a smoke. I will say one thing non-smokers can learn from smokers is to take a break! Get up from your work, go outside and breath slowly and deeply. This is likely the truly relaxing part of the smoke break - not the cigarette.
I also encourage people that while considering a cleanse, we work on cleansing our minds of negative or worrisome thoughts as well. Do your best during this time to practice positivity in your thinking and communication. We now know from research that positive attitude can be as important for your health as more vegetables and exercise, and it’s free! It costs us nothing to be more positive and mindful, and will likely help us live longer and reduce the severity of things like cancer, heart disease, and parenting teenagers.
So the best way to detox in The Harrington Method? Make healthy changes that can be integrated into the rest of your life. Exercise more, sweat more, breathe deeply, and be positive with yourself and others. Drink more water, herbal tea and soup to flush out the bad stuff.
And make sure to eat a veggie diet full of greens, mixed colours, whole grains, beans, plus plenty of parsley. It'll give you the good fibre you need to clean out the old pipes.