As always, Skin Inc. magazine recommends that skin care professionals obtain the proper training before offering any new treatments in their skin care facility.
What comes to mind when you think you of detoxing? Most likely, it may be something along the lines of deprivation, hunger and a liquid-only diet. You may wonder how long the benefits of a detox will actually last, and if it the rewards are even worth it. With so many detox programs out there, clients considering starting a program may be overwhelmed about picking the best one for them. The good news is that detoxes do not always have to be difficult and confusing, and eating solid foods can still be involved.
There are many benefits to detoxing when done correctly. It is a great way to reset a sluggish digestive system; clean the liver, colon, intestines and kidneys; and boost the immune system. When overloaded by toxins, the body is not able to successfully filter out impurities. Systems becomes overrun and blocked, which can create discomfort, sickness, disease, skin problems, allergies and other major health issues.
The body is introduced to numerous toxins on a daily basis. There are preservatives, chemicals and pesticides in foods; pollutants in the air; and chemicals in various products used daily. Participating in a detox plan can eliminate some of these toxins from the body so it can work more efficiently. Although the body functions to eliminate waste and toxins already, sometimes it needs help when it has become overly congested.
Weight loss. During a detox, stored toxins are being released from the body and cells, helping your body to rid itself of unwanted weight.1,2 More importantly, the body is able to better absorb nutrients when it is functioning at an optimal level. Introducing nutritious foods is valuable to your weight and the health of your body overall.
Mood. Detoxing also can increase energy, alertness, and improve your outlook and attitude. When the body becomes bogged down, it may lack the ability to function at its best. This could cause lethargy, headaches, weakness, moodiness and depression. It may also result in the inability to think clearly, sleep well or handle stress, which can affect your clients’ careers, relationships, productivity and overall happiness.
Skin. When the organs and systems become congested and compromised, it is not surprising that the skin becomes affected, as well. The foods a client eats and the environment play a big role in the health of skin. What clients put in their bodies will not only affect them on the inside, but the outside, too—if they are eating nutritious foods, it will be evident by the health of their skin.3
Guiding your clients’ detox
If a client mentions any concerns, such as sluggishness, depression, compromised digestion, skin irritations, acne, headaches or other health issues, they may benefit from a detox. There are many detox programs out there, some that cost a lot of money and others that are difficult to follow. There is no need to choose an expensive, fancy detox program in order for your clients to get the results they desire, nor do they need to follow an all-liquid program to benefit. There are many whole foods that will aid in detoxing and cleansing, without leaving your clients feeling deprived.
A safe, effective detox can be easy to follow, but before starting any type of fitness or diet program, your clients should consult with their physician; especially if they are pregnant or nursing, or have cancer or other chronic diseases. Provide the client’s physician with an outline of the detox process you are proposing. After your clients have their physician’s go-ahead, instruct them to do the following for at least one week.
Eat whole foods; mostly fruits and vegetables. Load up on lots of raw, organic fruits and vegetables. Eating organic is important all the time, but even more so during a cleanse. If you are trying to clear the system of toxins, it would be counteractive to eat produce treated with pesticides and chemicals. Raw vegetables are preferable, due to the loss of nutrients when cooked. Eat at least two meals a day that contain raw vegetables, and be cautious to not overcook vegetables when you do prepare them.
Fruits are a great source of antioxidants and phytochemicals, fiber, potassium, vitamin C, folate and so much more. They protect against degenerative diseases and can help enhance skin radiance. Eating fruits every day will also help in hydration, which is crucial for the skin. Choose a variety of fruits to benefit from all they have to offer.
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, have an especially positive effect on the skin, because they are full of vitamin C, potassium and citric acid.
- Apples help prevent cell and tissue damage, and contain collagen, elastin and pectin.
- Pomegranates and berries are packed with antioxidants, contain vitamin A and beta carotene, and fight free radicals.
The stomach can more easily process all of the nutrients, fiber and simple sugars contained in fruit when it is empty. When fruit is eaten right after a meal, it stays in the stomach too long, along with other foods, and may rot and ferment. Fruit should be eaten roughly one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal, unless the meal was heavy—in that case, wait a bit longer. An easy way to get the most out of fruit is to eat it first thing in the morning or in between meals as a snack. Just make sure to leave enough time before you eat anything else.
Vegetables are packed with many important nutrients, including potassium, fiber, vitamins and folate. Cruciferous vegetables contain unique sulfur compounds that help detoxify the liver. These vegetables include kale, collard greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage. Some of the most beneficial vegetables are leafy green vegetables. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, which protect cells from damage. They have vitamins A, C, E and K; calcium; magnesium; iron; and potassium; and are a great source of fiber and protein. Fiber is valuable in cleaning out the system and keeping bowel movements regular. Vegetables with lots of fiber include kale, spinach, collards, chards, broccoli and other green leafy vegetables. Try to eat a variety of vegetables to reap a wide variety of healing benefits.
An easy way to eat large amounts of raw fruits and vegetables to receive the most out of their detoxing powers is by adding smoothies to a client’s regimen. You can also add fresh juices to your daily routine, as long as they are not full of added sugar and preservatives. For detoxing, stick to green juices to avoid excess sugar. Only add one or two green juices a day, along with your whole raw fruits and vegetables. Keeping plenty of fiber in your diet is important to help move things along in regard to the digestive system.
Although your client’s detox diet should consist mostly of fruits and vegetables, you can also add other whole foods to supplement, including beans, lentils and peas; nuts and seeds; whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa; and avocados. Stay away from white flour in pastas, breads and white rice. Consume these foods sparingly during your detox in order to avoid adding too much fat to your diet while detoxing, even if they are great sources of nutrients. When not on a detox, eating a whole foods plant-based diet every day can also keep the body detoxing on a regular basis, keeping it from accumulating toxins, which can lead to disease and other ailments.
Eliminate meat and dairy. The body may not need as much protein as you think. Protein takes longer to digest in the system, meaning undigested food could remain in the intestinal tract. Eating too much protein can also result in stress of the organs, leading to dysfunction and adrenal fatigue.4 Also, many animals are treated with antibiotics and chemicals, and are raised in unnatural living and eating conditions. When clients are not detoxing and decide to eat animal protein, advise them to choose grass-fed and certified-organic meats. While detoxing, they should stay away from animal protein completely. They may feel weak at first, but it is because the body is working hard to deplete all of the toxins that have built up over time. If following the detox, clients continue to eat a whole-foods and plant-based diet, they will probably notice how much more energy they have and how much better their skin looks.
Dairy is another category that is portrayed as a must-have food. Dairy also contains hormones and growth factors, which have been linked to acne.5,6 There are alternatives, such as almond milk and coconut milk. Soy is an allergen, and can be difficult to digest for some, so soy milk may not be the best alternative for all clients.
Eliminate processed foods, sodas, refined sugars, alcohol, smoking and coffee. Processed foods contain so many different chemicals and ingredients that the body does not even recognize. If you read a label and cannot pronounce the ingredients, chances are you should not be eating it. Stick to homemade foods, mostly plant-based.
There are refined sugars in processed foods. You will also find them in sodas, sports drinks, snack foods, cereals and even baby formula. When consumed on a regular basis, refined sugars can cause obesity, which can lead to diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and other serious medical conditions. Sugar also raises insulin levels. This depresses the immune system, inhibiting the release of growth hormones. It also prohibits the absorption of vitamin C into the cells, which is important for the body’s health, but also skin’s appearance. Consuming sugar on a regular basis can affect the body in a multitude of ways, including instingating changes in the structure of collagen; the development of wrinkles and premature aging; interference with calcium, magnesium and protein absorption; increased fat in the liver; headaches and migraines; eczema; depression and anxiety; learning disorders; hyperactivity; and reduction of the ability to defend against bacterial infection, free radicals and oxidative stress.7 And that was the short list.
Coffee-drinking is a difficult habit to break, but you will experience health benefits by at least cutting back and altering the way it is prepared. Coffee can dehydrate you, so be sure to drink water alongside it, and before your first cup. Also, refrain from adding milk, sugar or any type of fake creamer, which are full of chemicals. Another alternative is to drink green tea. It still contains caffeine, but is also full of antioxidants.
Alcohol dehydrates and, in order to have radiant skin, clients must stay hydrated. If dehydrated, the skin will be depleted of the important nutrients that the body and skin need to feel and look its best. Alcohol can also worsen existing skin conditions by dilating facial blood vessels. A drink here and there is fine, but stay clear of alcohol completely while detoxing. Always hydrate during and after drinking alcohol to help avoid the negative effects it has on the body and skin.
Smoking cigarettes not only causes illness in the body, it also takes a dramatic toll on the skin. Smoking deprives skin of nutrients and oxygen. It also causes droopy, loose skin and uneven coloring, and destroys collagen and elastin, which give skin elasticity and strength. Advise clients to cut back as much as possible during detox, and work toward quitting completely before they cause more permanent damage.
Exercise on a daily basis. Along with its other numerous benefits, exercising can help remove toxins from the body. It moves along circulatory and lymphatic systems, accelerating the detoxification process and moving nutrients to all areas of the body. Exercise also helps expel waste more quickly, and aids in eliminating stress, increasing circulation, improving strength and endurance, decreasing the risk of disease, lowering cholesterol and preventing bone loss.
Take time to detox your mind. Stress can have many different effects on the body, such as headaches, digestive issues, lack of energy and sleep, and elevated blood pressure. It is not enough to just cleanse the body. Stress always finds a way to affect the body, including the skin. When clients are stressed, their bodies release cortisol, which breaks down the collagen in the skin. Suggest that they practice deep breathing techniques, sleep more, take yoga classes, meditate or do anything else that may help them wind down. When the mind is rejuvenated, the body is, as well.
Drink lots of water to hydrate the body and skin. Water helps remove toxins; cleans out the kidneys; aids in regular bowel movements, muscle performance and weight loss; hydrates the skin; helps with energy levels and fatigue; prevents cramping; and prevents and relieves headaches. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially when exercising. If clients feel thirsty, chances are that they are already dehydrated. A good indicator that enough water is being consumed is if urine is mostly clear. Drinking enough water is very important in detoxing the body and flushing out toxins. Another great trick is to drink warm water and lemon first thing in the morning, which helps jumpstart your digestive process, and aids in cleansing the liver, balancing pH levels and boosting the immune system. The lemon water is alkalizing and helps to rid toxins from the blood to help keep skin blemish-free.
After clients complete the detox program, they should stick to a whole-foods and plant-based diet. The body will become more efficient at detoxing on a regular basis, and the benefits of healthy eating will be seen and felt. After the body detoxes from the toxins and congestion, cravings for unhealthy foods may begin to disappear, and your clients will love the way they feel and look.
- TC Campbell, TM Campbell, The China Study, BenBella Books, Dallas, TX, 58, 308, 358, 203–224 (2006)
(All accessed August 22, 2013)
Kathy Xydis has a passion for living a healthy, active lifestyle and helping others reach their health and personal life goals. She graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and became certified as a holistic health coach. She is also board-certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and is a member of the International Association of Health Coaches.