This January, we’re embarking on “12 Days of Cleansing.” Don’t worry, this cleanse is not a 12-day juice fast. Instead, we are saying goodbye to unhealthy habits. We are replacing them with new ways to help cleanse and support your body and bring out your healthiest self. Below are 12 ways you can cleanse your mind, body, and spirit.
Image by Beatrice Murch
Proper hydration not only optimizes digestion, it also works wonders for dry skin in the winter. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. This means if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink about 75 ounces of water per day. If your water intake has been lacking as of late, take a week or two to work up to this amount.
Image by Liz West
As a means of making your water a bit more palatable, try adding fresh lemon or other citrus to your glass. Lemon juice may help support and cleanse your liver, kidneys, and colon, as well as alkalize your body, especially after the last few weeks of holiday eating! Lemon also helps break up mucus and provides a source of live enzymes, vitamin C, potassium, and trace minerals. For best results, use fresh, ripe lemons versus prepared lemon juice.
Image via Amazon
Dry brushing is a great way to stimulate the lymphatic system, which helps detoxify the body by stimulating blood circulation and promoting lymph flow and drainage. It’s also a great exfoliator, as it removes dead skin, unclogs pores, and leaves your skin soft and smooth. To dry brush properly, you’ll need a natural bristle brush (available at most health food stores, Target, Whole Foods, or any pharmacy). The best time to dry brush is before you shower. Start at your feet and work up your entire body in long strokes towards your heart, skipping your face and breasts.
Image by Laura D’Alessandro
Although the benefits of Epsom salt are largely unstudied, Epsom salt baths have been recommended for years for their therapeutic effects on the body. Epsom salt is a dissolvable form of the mineral magnesium sulphate, originating from mineral waters in Epsom, England. Magnesium is a vital nutrient and is often deficient in the diet (especially in those who are chronically stressed out). Sometimes called the original “chill pill,” magnesium has a calming and soothing effect on the body. Combine Epsom salt with a warm bath and you’ve got yourself a natural stress reliever. For best results, place 2 cups of Epsom salt and 1 cup of baking soda in the tub. Run the hottest water you can stand and add 8 drops of essential oil (personally, I love lavender). Soak for 10-20 minutes and allow yourself to sweat. You should feel very relaxed and sleep soundly.
Image by Mitch Altman
Elimination is a key aspect of any cleansing regimen. Adding additional fiber to your diet is vital to support the colon as it eliminates waste and toxins. In addition to fresh vegetables, berries, whole grains, and beans, you can add ground flax and chia seeds to your diet for added bulk. Stir them into smoothies and oatmeal in the morning or mix with water and drink as a supplement before bed.
Image by bertholf
Green juice is a great way to add extra nutrients to your diet, especially if your vegetable intake is lower this time of year. When juicing, I recommend a ratio of 1 fruit for every 3-4 vegetables. This keeps your sugar content low and nutrient level high! Juicing should not be a substitute, but a supplement to an already healthy, high fiber diet. To get started juicing, pick up a copy of my book, Skinny Juices, for 101 healthy juicing recipes supporting detox and weight loss.
Image by peasap
If you’re sleeping 6 hours or less at night, you likely need a sleep hygiene cleanse. Studies show that a lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain, decreased attention, depression, aging skin, and impaired judgment. Yes, impaired judgment includes thinking “6 hours is all I need.” Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night to function optimally; it might just change your life!
Image by Erin Kohlenberg
So simple, yet immensely powerful. Practicing gratitude has a cleansing effect on your health and outlook on life. It can lead to increased happiness, better health, and improved satisfaction. The best thing about adapting an attitude of gratitude is that it can be done anywhere; you can do it while walking the dog, taking a shower, or sitting in traffic. Many people find it best to keep a gratitude journal and record their thoughts first thing in the morning or before going to bed.
Image by Tweetspeak Poetry
I love the ritual of making tea. The process is meditative and satisfying. I also love the health effects from drinking tea. Tea has been shown to increase endurance, reduce the risk of heart attack, protect against some cancers, provide hydration, and even act as a natural sunscreen, protecting your skin against harmful UV rays. Tea is a wonderful addition to your diet and the perfect way to cleanse your body every day from the inside out!
Image by Javier Lastras
Raw food is a natural source of live enzymes, protein, and fiber that aid in the digestion and assimilation of nutrients. I love the idea of going all-raw until dinner or having all-raw days. It’s a great way to add more vegetables, fruit, raw nuts, and seeds to the diet and it gives your body a break from processed foods and animal proteins.
Image by Pen Waggener
Fermented foods are natural healers, helping increase the effectiveness of your digestion and immune system. Give your health a boost by adding a few fermented foods to your meals each day; it’s easier than you think. Enjoy Greek yogurt with fresh berries for breakfast, scoop some kimchi onto your salad at lunch, and roast wild salmon with a miso glaze with dinner.
12. Bone Up
As the weather gets colder and days get shorter, it’s time to start thinking about protecting your bones. No winter cleanse should be without evaluation of your Vitamin D and calcium intake. Studies show that supplementation with Vitamin D3 and calcium during winter months may prevent seasonal bone loss seen in people living in Northern latitudes. Get bone smart by testing your levels and supplementing your intake, if needed. Adding Cal-EZ powder to your oatmeal or morning smoothie is a simple and effective way to supplement your diet and protect against bone loss.