by Tessa Gurley, MSHS
So, it’s December 27. Two days after Christmas. Two days after that extra serving of apple pie, extra glass of wine, staying up past your bedtime, and two days after the in-laws have (maybe) left. You have five days before New Year’s Eve, meaning you have 5 days until resolution time. This period between holidays always feels oddly like a holding pattern (anyone else?). You could decide to just keep the party going from now until New Year’s, but there could be a much more productive use of your time. #NewYearNewYou is right around the corner, so why not use these awkward five days between holidays as a time to do a quick “pre-tox” before a larger detox at the beginning of the year? Why not start the process of detoxifying from the holidays right now? Set yourself up for success in the new year by trying out these two quick tips that literally everyone can do without changing much, to begin to detox from the holidays AND to give you a better starting point to do a deeper detox come Jan. 1.
First, let’s clarify a couple things about detox. Detoxing can be a pretty serious thing for the body to undertake. It’s not something in which you go buy a kit, go home with no preparation, and do on your own. Before you EVER do a “detox”, you need to assure your detoxification pathways are open. This is a fancy way of saying you need to assure all six of your organs of detox (liver, lymph, kidneys, skin, colon, lungs) are functioning adequately to remove the toxins from your body. The next two tips help prep the body at a foundational level to help it detox more deeply later.
If you’re thinking of undergoing a more serious detox, please be sure to talk to your personal physician or practitioner before beginning.
Tip 1: Re-Mineralize Your Body
“Re–mineralize” is defined as replacing lost minerals in the body. Naturally occurring salts contain electrolytes oryou can search for a specific product made by health-focused companies. There are many brands of unflavored, pure electrolyte powders (my favorites includeRedmond ReLyte unflavored or LMNT Raw).
Why It’s Important
So why is it important? Minerals help your body maintain proper hydration levels, ensure the proper functioning of your immune system. They literally rebuild your muscles and all your tissues, and even help you release energy from food.
Minerals and Detox
Proper detoxification also relies on precise ratios of minerals in the body because minerals are responsible for the enzymatic reactions that will take place. If you’re deficient in minerals, your body won’t be able to upregulate the proper enzymatic reactions to detoxify properly, leaving you with a snow globe of toxins floating through your system.
Detoxing without proper mineralization is like vacuuming with an unsealed vacuum: debris will go everywhere (including your brain…it’s true), despite your good efforts to clean it up. Sounds gross right? It is and it feels terrible. Ask anybody who’s ever experienced an intense Herxheimer reaction. Reactions like these aren’t necessarily signs you’re healing.
Tip 2: Intermittent Fasting
You’ve probably heard of it. You might’ve tried it. You might be scared to try it. Or you’re a huge fan of it. Intermittent fasting is one of the biggest buzzwords in the biohacker world today. So, what is it?
What is Intermittent Fasting (IM)?
Intermittent fasting is essentially when you restrict eating solid food AND drinking drinks that cause a rise in your blood sugar to a narrow window of anywhere from 1-8 hours. Everyone drinks water (and, hopefully, it’s mineralized). Some people may drink unsweetened drinkslike black coffee, tea, unflavored sparkling water, and, of course, “bulletproof” coffee (a mixture of coffee/tea and some kind of added fat like coconut oil, or ghee/heavy cream). NOBODY ought to be eating solid food at the “fasted time”.
Why It Helps You Prep for Detox
1.) It Diverts Attention to Detox
All the intricacies of digestion and absorption require energy. It’s estimated that anywhere from 5 to 15 percentof your total daily energy expenditure goes into these processes. Every time you put something in your mouth, your body undergoes a complete physical change, and its primary focus becomes digesting and assimilating food. By giving your body a good long break from food, you’re giving it a chance to focus its attention on the other body processes that are so vitally important like repair, regeneration, and DETOXIFICATION.
2.) It Improves Liver Health
As you know, your liver is one of the most important organs of detoxification, and chances are it’s feeling some type of way about how you’ve treated it over the holidays. Intermittent fasting has been shown in studies to improve liver markers in people with NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease). One study took 98 patients with NAFLD and put them on a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule for 22-29 days. Patients’ liver enzymes, ALT and AST, were both were significantly lowered during fasting periods, causing the researchers to conclude “Intermittent fasting ledto momentous improvements in ultrasonography, biochemical, and anthropometric parameters of NAFLD,especially in early phases and prediabetics.”
So, tell your liver you apologize for what you put it through and give it a little rest so it can clean you up.
3. It Improves Blood Sugar Regulation
Even though you’re reading Green Living Magazine, that doesn’t mean sugar won’t sneak into your diet from time to time…especially during the holidays. Don’t worry, I’m not here to smack you with a ruler or anything because you eat some sugar. I’m here to gently encourage you to get that balance back.
IM’s Effects on Blood Sugar
So many things depend upon your body’s ability to regulate its blood sugar. Everything from energy levels to immune system functioning to your ability to lose fat depends on your body’s ability to use insulin efficiently.
IM has been shown in countless studies to be one of the most effective tools at balancing blood sugars. One review in the New England Journal of medicine concluded that “Preclinical studies and clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting has broad-spectrum benefits for many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neurologic disorders.”
IM and Detox
IM also improves detoxification. Toxins tend to get stored in the fat in your body. That’s both a good and bad thing. When your body burns fat for fuel, toxins are released. This might sound like a bad thing at first and it CAN be if proper precautions aren’t taken. Burning fat is critical for detox though because if your body doesn’t ever burn its own fat for fuel the toxins literally just sit there in your tissues. Chilling or wreaking on your body. When you teach your body how to burn fat for fuel you’ll burn through some of those toxins and they’ll be excreted from the body via your colon mainly. So, teaching your body to burn fathelps rid your body of the toxins it may have been carrying for years.
NOTE: Make sure if you’re on lower carbohydrate eating plans that you include some kind of chelation agent so that the toxins get mopped up. My favorite is activated charcoal, but there are others.
How to Get Started
Without even changing what you eat, you can simply change WHEN you eat by restricting the hours every day you spend ingesting food. In the times that you’re not eating (a.k.a. the “fasting period”, only drink what I call “permissible liquids” (I offer you a list later in “step 3” of the plan). My first recommendation is to do what’s called a 16/8 plan, or an 18/6 plan – meaning that you’ll fast for 16 hours and eat for eight, or fast for 18 hours and eat for six respectively.
Look at your schedule and find a window of time (6 to 8 hours depending on which window you want to start with). Be certain it is a feasible window you can stick to six days a week. Consistency is the key here. It’s okay to shift the window for one hour each direction if need be. For example, if your window is 12 to 8, it’s OK to shift it to 1 to 9 or 11 to 7 from time to time. Stick to the window as much as possible, though.
*Keep in mind that the time you spend asleep is also counted as “fasted time”.
Eat only 2 to 3 meals in your window and avoid snacking as much as possible (NOTE: a desire and needto snack could signify you’re not getting enough protein or fat at each meal).
THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT: During the fasted period, the only liquids that are permissible are the following:
• Water (ideally with minerals)
• Black coffee
• Unsweetened, herbal, and black teas
• Unsweetened, sparkling water
• Bulletproof coffee (more appropriate for beginners and should be reserved mainly when becoming fat adapted or during times of added stress)
You don’t have to cut out all your bad habits just yet. You can still have those glasses of champagne on New Year’s. These two tips can help you start to create new, healthier habits, and make it easier to stick to the bigger changes when they come. So instead of going cold turkey on January 1, take these next five days to prepare your body and your mind for all the new, beautiful, and exciting things you want to accomplish in 2024.