This is a guest post from Jill Marks, author of Festive Traditions.
The holiday season is a hectic and crazy time of year. Even if you are intentional about keeping it low key, chances are good that you still have a couple of parties or events to attend. While it is obviously important to celebrate the holiday season with the ones you love (as Jesus is the reason for the season), it is also important to keep your body healthy during this busy time of year (is there a worse time to be sick?).
You may not always be able to control the food that is served to you, and it is likely that even the biggest real foodies out there will make some indulgences, so I want to show you an excellent way to flush your body of toxins and keep it as tuned up as possible: detoxification, also known as “detox.”
When I say detox, I don’t mean kicking back at a super-expensive spa where you sit in a sauna for hours at a time and eat lettuce and carrots for days on end. Not quite. Instead I am talking about ways that anyone can gently remove the harmful toxins that are slowing down their bodies to restore their health. All for mere pennies. And from the comfort of your own home!
Why You Should Detox
Detoxification occurs through the liver. The liver is the powerhouse of the body because it performs so many vital functions for the body to work the way God intended. It is the second largest organ in the body (after the skin) and performs more than 500 functions! Obviously, I don’t have space to write about all of them (nor would you want to read such a lengthy post), but I will give you the highlights:
- It produces bile for digestion and absorption of vitamins, proteins, cholesterol, immune factors, and hormones.
- It regulates blood sugar.
- It is vital in blood clotting.
- It is a conversion machine: glucose to glycogen (stored energy), hemoglobin to iron, and dangerous ammonia to urea (i.e., waste).
- It synthesizes, stores, and processes fat.
One of the most important functions that the liver performs (and the one we are going to focus on today) is cleansing the blood. Through first metabolizing and then expelling drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins, the liver detoxifies the blood all day every day (and you don’t even know it!).
Because of all of the functions this amazing organ performs, it makes sense that we want to support it as much as possible and help with the detoxification process after our liver has been under high amounts of stress.
Methods of Detox
These are just a few of the many ways to gently detox and support your liver year round:
This is my favorite way to detox! I try to indulge in a detox bath at least once or twice per month, although it is safe to do this three times per week. Your skin acts like a sponge, soaking up everything it comes in contact with. This can be helpful when wanting to remove nasty environmental toxins as quickly and efficiently as possible, and immersing the body in a warm bath is a very effective way to do it.
Here is a bath mixture that is super easy and economical, and contains only three ingredients:
- 1/2 cup epsom salt (for magnesium and to flush toxins and heavy metals from cells)
- 1 cup baking soda (cleanses, alkalinizes, and is a natural anti-fungal)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (to soothe and soften the skin).
Add the ingredients to a warm bath and soak for 10-20 minutes.
(Note: you may experience lightheadedness and nausea during the bath, as your body is ridding itself of toxins. I found that the first few times I did this I could only stay in the bath for 10 minutes, but I have now gradually built up to the full 20 minutes). You might also want to allow for 15-20 minutes of rest once you get out of the bath tub.
A cup of ginger tea a day would be a great addition to your real food diet. Consumption of ginger tea has been shown to improve blood flow, boost the immune system, and aid in carrying waste out of the body. To make ginger tea, peel and slice approximately one inch of ginger root and boil in two cups of filtered water. Drink warm or cold, and add honey or lemon if the taste is not palatable.
In Modern Alternative Mama‘s (free!) ebook entitled Kombucha, she states, “Kombucha causes the body to detox and it cleanses the liver, which reduces the burden on the body…kombucha helps to make the liver more efficient and increases the efficiency of the body’s natural detoxifying processes.” I drink a minimum of 6 ounces each day, and I increase my intake if I am doing a heavier detox or during times when I am not able to eat 100% real food.
Yoga or Pilates
A great way to release toxins from your body is by sweating it out! Through stretching and compressing the muscles, along with deep breathing, both yoga and pilates use the entire body.I have a yoga video that my sister gifted me last year (much to my dismay-I thought it would be awful! Wrong!). I love being able to stretch my body more and more each time I turn the video on, and it encouraged me to look into the science behind yoga. I found out that doing a “twist” of any sort is particularly beneficial, as it “wrings out” your organs, much like you would wring out a sponge, rag, etc. I like the visual of “wringing out the toxins,” as tough poses are more bearable when you know the benefits!
Who’s excited that massage is on the list? I am! Try this on for size: “Honey, I ate too much junk over the holidays. I need a massage and a bath and then I will be better.” That is a win-win situation right there!
Seriously though, the intense, rhythmic pressures and strokes of massage on the muscles and tissue release toxins (again, think of the “wringing out” idea). Massage also boosts circulation by pumping more oxygenated blood to your heart. An added benefit? Sometimes you can squeeze a little nap in during the massage!
As all of these toxins are being released, they need to be carried away (and out!) by something. In addition to kombucha and ginger tea, drink plenty of water. This may actually be the most important factor on this list, so be sure to drink up!
You may find that you are more tired than usual while engaging in some detox practices. While detoxing helps your body function easier once the toxins are removed, the detox process itself can be exhausting on your body. Be sure to get plenty of sleep at night (aim for 7-8 hours) and schedule time for a 15-20 minute nap if needed.
Of course, the most fundamental way to detox, other than drinking plenty of water, is to eat healthy! As you reduce the amount of unhealthy food you put in your body and increase the amount of health-promoting nutrient-rich food you consume, your body will slowly expel toxins and restore you to good health!
The best way to do this during the holiday season is by avoiding all of the high fructose corn syrup, pesticides, MSG, and other toxins that are abundant in the standard American diet. I recognized this as an issue during the holidays and wanted to provide a cookbook with some great go-to recipes for the real food cook. On November 23 I released Festive Traditions: A Real Food Guide to the Holidays. This cookbook contains 31 recipes that are perfect for all holiday occasions, from big Christmas morning brunches to intimate New Years Eve dinners.
My inspiration for writing this book was memories of the holiday season from when I was a kid – memories of warm drinks around the Christmas tree when we came in from playing in the snow, the sweet tartness of cranberries in cookies and sauces, the smell of a roasted turkey in the oven – as well as the desire to create and incorporate new holiday traditions in my own family. It can make meals for families of three or families of thirty, and is specially tailored to handle picky palates.
If you have the additional challenge of providing food for friends or family with allergies, I think you will find this book very helpful. All of the recipes in this book are free of soy, and many are gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. All recipes are marked with icons clearly depicting their allergens, so you can quickly and easily identify recipes that work for you and your guests!
Are you interested in seeing what recipes are included in Festive Traditions: A Real Food Guide to the Holidays? Check out the table of contents:
Appetizers and Drinks
- Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Spicy Nuts
- Pumpkin Pie Nuts
- Marinated Goat Cheese
- Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms
- Bacon Wrapped Figs
- Coconut Hot Chocolate
- Pastured Eggnog
- Christmas Punch
- Roasted Turkey
- Salmon with Probiotic Dill Sauce
- Chicken and Rice Soup
- Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger Cream
- Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
- Green Bean Casserole
- Cheesy Potatoes
- Autumn Stuffed Squash
- Cranberry Sauce
- Christmas Salad
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- Crock Pot Stuffed Apples
- Chocolate Creme Pie
- Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce
- Traditional Buckeyes
- Gingerbread Muffins
- Potato-Crusted Quiche
- Soaked Oatmeal Pecan Waffles
- Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
- Lemon Poppy Seed Biscuits
Festive Traditions: A Real Food Guide to the Holidays is available for purchase. Buy it HERE!
These recipes are excellent tools to support your detox and help you avoid as many additional toxins as possible. No matter what method you choose, however, be generous to your liver and you will be healthy enough to enjoy the holiday season!
Jill Marks is the editor of Modern Alternative Kitchen. Jill has been on a real food journey for the last 18 months and is passionate about all things food. She is a Jesus-loving, Bible-reading, kombucha-brewing, raw milk–drinking, real food–eating gal. She was born and raised in the Midwest, but is currently living a non-mainstream life in Seattle with her husband Graham and their Boston terrier Java. To learn more about real food, you can find Jill on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!
Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Jill’s book and will earn a commission if you begin here.