Feeling foggy and tired all day? Cardiologist Alejandro Junger, M.D., says an overtaxed detox system may be to blame. The good news: Six simple steps can restore your vitality — fast!
Despite trying our best to make healthy choices, some days it feels like the universe is working against us. And according to Alejandro Junger, M.D., author of Clean 7, that may not be far off. “We are constantly bombarded by toxins, which enter our body through our food, water and air.” As a result, he says, “The body can’t keep up with the constant detoxification that’s necessary for optimal health.”
Fortunately, it’s possible to fight toxicity, and it’s easier than you’d think, Dr. Junger assures: “We all can learn how to support our detox organs to live truly healthy, vibrant lives.” Read on for the simple strategies that will power up the body’s self-cleaning systems to effortlessly shed pounds and restore energy.
Soak beans and grains.
“Ideally, up to 60 percent of toxins are detoxified in the gut before they reach the bloodstream and cause damage,” explains Dr. Junger. “And soaking grains, nuts, legumes and seeds activates beneficial enzymes that support the detoxification process during digestion.” To get the perks, soak dry beans, grains and raw nuts in filtered water overnight or soak flax and chia seeds for 10 minutes. Drain, then enjoy.
Try a mini-fast.
“The body’s detoxification processes slow down while we’re digesting,” Dr. Junger explains. And because it takes the body eight hours to fully digest a meal, he recommends fasting (drinking only herbal tea and water) for at least 12 hours each day—say, from 8 PM to 8 AM. “This gives the detox systems time to catch up with the necessary work of processing the toxic overload.”
Count your breaths.
“Toxicity is not just caused by the chemicals you are exposed to but also by your emotions,” Dr. Junger says. He advocates meditating for seven minutes daily, which curbs stress hormone output by 32 percent to banish toxic emotions. To do: Sit in a chair and focus on your breath and body. Breathe deeply and slowly, letting thoughts flow without focusing specifically on any one.
Switch up your shower.
Changing your shower temperature from hot to cold stimulates detoxification. “As the largest organ, the skin contains miles of small blood vessels,” says Dr. Junger. “Switching from hot to cold water pumps more blood than the heart does, which helps move toxins to the liver for processing.” To do: Turn the water as hot as you can handle for a minute, then as cold as you can handle for a minute; repeat as time allows.
Try the detox herb.
“Holy basil is the mother herb for detox,” says Dr. Junger. Taking a supplement or sipping holy basil tea daily replenishes levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that repairs damaged liver cells and stimulates the organ’s detox processes in as little as seven days. It also boosts levels of an enzyme that flushes toxins in the GI tract. To get the benefits, take 600 mg. with breakfast and dinner and/or drink the tea throughout the day.
Create a sleep cave.
“The body’s most important repair work, including detoxification, happens during sleep,” says Dr. Junger. To make the most of this time, he advises keeping your bedroom as dark as possible. The reason? According to a study at Harvard Medical School, exposure to light while you’re sleeping suppresses the production of sleep-inducing hormones by more than 50 percent, which interrupts deep sleep and detoxification.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.