The Whole Body Cleanse:
How to Purify and Detox Your Body From Head to Toe
BY DEANNA MINICH, Ph.D.
regularly detoxing your body is essential for radiant, lifelong health and youthfulness into old age. the whole body detox cleansing program is a complete guide to the foods, diet and lifestyle habits which lead to happiness, longevity and health.
What You Need to Know About Body Detoxification and Cleansing
The practice of body detoxification has long been cultivated in medical and spiritual traditions. Ancient civilizations used bloodletting or leeches to remove the toxic “humours” in the body, whether they originated from blood, bile, or phlegm. The ancient Indian medical system known as Ayurveda included a practice of cleansing known as panchakarma, which used sweating, herbs, oils, and massage for body purification. In spiritual traditions, fasting, sweat lodges, and giving up certain foods or eating at certain times have been implemented as part of the belief systems.
In the 21st century, body detoxification has taken on many meanings, from alcohol and drug detox to purging the body of environmental contaminants like heavy metals, plastics, phthalates, and pesticides. There are many modalities proposed to help facilitate the release of these toxins in the body, including nutrition.
The Toxic Environment We Live In
It has been estimated that there are over 80,000 chemicals presently used in the United States. Some of them have not yet been extensively tested for their effects on human health. Research shows that humans even come into the world with a toxic load. Up to 232 toxic chemicals have been found in the umbilical cord blood of ten babies. These findings constitute evidence that infants are exposed to a host of dangerous substances while still in utero.
Aging only compounds the body’s toxic load—scientists estimate that we all carry within our bodies over 700 contaminants. Medical literature continues to support the growing association between exposure to popularized toxins such as heavy metals (e.g., mercury, arsenic, lead), exogenous hormones (e.g., recombinant bovine growth hormone and synthetic estrogens), and industrial plasticizers (e.g., bisphenol A) and the rising incidence of neurobehavioral, reproductive, and musculoskeletal diseases—everything from attention deficit disorder to autism to infertility to fibromyalgia. Some toxins are thought to play a role in metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, which is why these disrupting substances are even referred to as “obesogens.”
When it comes to a well-rounded body detoxification program, we must consider not just the physical removal of toxins, but also the emotional aspects that we may need to release and cleanse. Toxicity can build in many areas of life—from social networks, to stress, to the quantity and quality of sleep. Research continues to support the idea that “…humans are simultaneously biological and cultural beings, which means that physical and ideational networks are enfolded in and unfold from one another.” This means we need to cleanse the spirit and mind as well as our bodies.
Of course, as knowledge about toxins grows, it becomes essential to assess our exposure. However, the point is not to become overwhelmed by fear of toxic exposure, but to take control of our health by finding safe ways to keep our body vital and capable of optimally processing, cleansing and excreting environmental toxins.
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The Whole Body Detoxification Program
I developed the Whole Body Detox program based on my study of diet, nutrition and carotenoids (the compounds that give foods their color), and ancient healing arts including traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. This new approach to body detoxification addresses the body, mind, and spirit as a whole. Remove a toxic food from your diet, and you might also free yourself from depression, anxiety, or helplessness. Tear down the barriers to your sense of purpose and connectedness, and you might also revitalize your immune system and restore your optimism.
The opposite is also true. Hold on to a toxic belief, and the healthiest diet in the world might not free you from troublesome symptoms. A raging hunger for meaning or community might keep you dissatisfied and on edge even when your body is fully nourished. Every one of us is a complex biochemical structure in which every factor affects every other factor in an endless synergistic loop. Sometimes this synergy works against us: Negative thoughts can impair our health; poor health can breed negative thoughts.
Cleansing and Detoxifying The Seven Bodily Systems of Health
The foundation of the Whole Body Detox Program is the seven systems of health, which encompass your entire being, both physical and emotional. My notion of the seven systems is informed by science and inspired by the combined healing traditions of medicine, spirituality, and yoga. Each system is based in an endocrine gland, moving from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head, and each one represents a nexus of anatomy, physical function, and biochemistry as well as a group of emotions, thoughts, and life issues. It’s a very sophisticated and elegant way of integrating body, mind, and emotions.
Using the seven systems approach gives me and my clients a powerful set of tools to identify toxic barriers that need to be cleansed from the body, mind and spirit and come up with solutions. If I know that you’re having trouble with immune function—say, you’re frequently coming down with colds and flu—that suggests you might have some bodily toxins in your first system of health. You might need to eat more red foods or up your intake of protein and/or minerals. You also might need to consider your sense of personal boundaries—refusing to take on other people’s problems or not allowing loved ones to blame you for their own shortcomings. You may need to consider how to improve your relationship with your “tribe,” the people who give you your primary sense of identity.
eating the proper foods on your cleansing diet is important to nourish and detox the body properly. natural, organic foods have amazing healing properties when eaten in their unprocessed state.
Likewise, if you tell me you feel “ungrounded” or you “just can’t settle down to anything” or you frequently feel anxious and unsafe, I might also diagnose first system issues, which I might also address with a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual approaches. Using these seven systems allows me to get more specific than just “body,” “mind,” and “spirit.”
System 1: The Root
Mind-Body Systems Detoxified, Cleansed and Rejuvenated: Adrenal glands, immune system, DNA, bones, skin, survival, community
The root part of us represents our most basic sense of safety and survival. As psychologist Abraham Maslow taught us, if we don’t meet our survival needs or feel safe, it’s difficult to even think about anything else: we are constantly on edge until we feel rooted. So the Whole Body Cleansing Program starts by addressing your root, emphasizing the core elements of survival and identity, including family and community.
The root system also speaks to our basic identity as a physical person. If we’re going to be fully present in our body, we need to feel rooted, grounded, and safe. Our adrenal glands kick into action whenever we feel threatened, releasing stress hormones at the least sign of danger. At the same time, our immune system keeps our inner boundaries secure. DNA and genetic expression—all the essential biochemistry that creates our core identity (and that is inherited from our family and community)—is also part of the root. Finally, the root includes the anatomical structures that define our body and keep us planted firmly on the earth: bones, feet, joints, legs, muscles, skin, and rectum. All of these spirit, mind and body systems need to be cleansed and balanced in some way.
Red is the color of the root system. For example, red foods, such as red bell peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes, are detoxifying foods rich in the vitamin C our bodies need to manufacture and balance stress hormones. Red blood cells feed on root foods’ iron, copper, and calcium. Proteins of all types, including animal protein like red meat and vegetable protein such as black beans, assist in stabilizing our bodies’ energy by helping us to balance our blood sugar and by supplying the necessary iron for the red blood cells to carry oxygen, which helps to cleanse the body.
When you detox your root, you focus on eliminating unhealthy foods that stress your adrenal glands and immune system while eating the protein, minerals, and red foods that support all core issues of your root. It is also important to consider your relationship to family, community, and tribe. The following are tips for naturally detoxifying and cleansing this system of your body with foods and lifestyle changes.
Support Your Root Detoxification and Cleansing While You Eat
To provide immediate detoxification support for your body and root system, here are a few quick tips on how to cultivate rootedness while you eat:
+ Eat on the floor rather than in a chair.
+ Eat with your hands or use wooden or ceramic utensils rather than silverware.
+ Eat in nature, outside on a sunny day.
+ Eat barefoot, with your legs uncrossed.
+ Follow your instincts on food choices.
+ If you are having trouble making healthy choices, ask your body what it needs in that moment.
+ Do a simple guided imagery exercise to get rooted in your body before preparing or eating food.
Detoxing Your Root: What to Choose
+ Clean, lean, natural proteins to support your adrenal glands and immune system and are generally detoxifying and cleansing foods.
+ Organically grown red fruits and vegetables, such as beets, cherries, apples, pomegranates.
+ Body awareness to balance your stress response and keep yourself in the moment.
+ Community—contact with people who reinforce the identity you have chosen.
Detoxing Your Root: Foods and Other Things to Avoid For Body Cleansing
+ Toxins that stress your immune system, such as heavy metals, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), artificial dyes, and foods with additives or preservatives.
+ Foods that cause your immune system to be reactive—take a temporary break from dairy, gluten, eggs, and soy.
+ Situations in which you often feel you have to defend yourself.
+ Situations that stress your adrenals, such as when you do too much, say yes when you’d rather say no, or lose your sense of healthy boundaries.
+ Negative attitudes and limited beliefs about safety, survival, and money also need to be detoxed as well, for example:
– If I don’t have a lot of money, I’ll never get anywhere.
– It’s a man’s world—a woman might as well give up before she starts.
– There’s no room in this world for someone like me.
System 2: The Flow
Mind-Body Systems Detoxified, Cleansed and Rejuvenated: Ovaries/testes, reproduction, fertility, urinary system, colon, partnerships, creativity
Moving up from the root, we address the second system of full-spectrum health that needs detoxifying and cleansing, the flow. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has shown in his landmark book, Flow, being in the flow is crucial for creativity, whether we’re talking about art, scientific discovery, or innovative ways to solve problems. When we enter this space, we become capable of sustaining a profound relationship with our work, colleagues, friends, and intimate partners.
Accordingly, the flow system centers on the parts of the body that enable us to create new life—our ovaries (for women), testes (for men), and entire reproductive system—as well as our ability to produce new cells. Meanwhile, our kidneys and bladder literally govern the body’s water fluxes, helping to balance our consumption of liquids and regulating our hydration. When we are in the flow, it means taking in and letting go with ease. The large intestine is also part of this system, since it allows us to pull out the water we need from the waste products we eliminate.
The flow also includes the still or turbulent waters to creativity, emotions, and relationships. I’ve had more than one client who found herself able to become pregnant after releasing blocked emotions in a relationship or making more room for creativity in her life! The following are tips for naturally detoxifying and cleansing this system of your body with foods and lifestyle changes.
Support Your Flow Detoxification and Cleansing While You Eat
Here are a few quick tips to help your body detox flow. Use any that appeal to you and keep the rest in reserve for a day when you’d like to get things moving:
+ Drink enough water so your hunger and thirst signals are not mixed. Sip fluids throughout the day. This helps cleanse toxins from your body.
+ Drink some warm water seasoned with cooling herbs like fennel and mint.
+ Pay attention to how you feel when you eat. If you’re blocking your feelings, ignoring your food, or eating while stressed, you’ll lose the flow of hunger and fullness, making you vulnerable to emotional eating.
+ Give your inner child time to create a meal, playing with the experience, making full use of colors and textures, and experiencing your emotions about cooking and sharing food.
+ Sip some coconut water, eat some young coconut meat, or take a spoonful of coconut butter to satisfy hunger urges.
+ Create some playful, colorful water by adding slices of lemon, lime, strawberry, cucumber and fresh mint leaves or drink some orange-infused water.
+ Eat high-water orange fruits, like melon, papaya, and mango.
+ Make a meal of an “avocado taco”: cut the avocado into two halves, pry out the pit, and with each half, squish the meat up from the skin. Mmmm, healthy, filling fats and a delicious taste!
+ Choose an orange-yellow yam over a white baked potato.
+ Drink smoothies containing carrot, mango, tangerine, and/or orange juice instead of soft drinks.
+ Add turmeric powder (a powerful natural detox food) to smoothies, a vegetable stir-fry, or hamburger meat patties.
+ Enjoy an apricot, cantaloupe slice, clementine, kumquat, orange, tangerine, nectarine, or peach as a snack. Fruit cleanses toxins from your body.
+ Prepare puréed carrots, butternut squash, and/or pumpkin.
+ Make a tropical fruit smoothie containing frozen, cubed mango, papaya, and orange in a base of coconut milk and topped with ground cardamom and cinnamon.
Orange is the color of the flow. Orange detox foods, like carrots and sweet potatoes, get their color from carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, which are associated with hormone levels and ovulation. Maybe that’s why I’ve noticed that a lack of orange-colored, carotenoid-rich foods seems to be linked to infertility. Other types of orange foods, such as citrus fruits, contain bioflavonoids that keep our blood vessels open, preventing the stagnation of varicose veins and allowing our blood to flow, which cleanses toxins from the body naturally. Finally, both carotenoids and bioflavonoids help to prevent cancer, keeping our bodies from engaging in unhealthy types of growth and reproduction.
When you detox your bodily flow system, you will focus on staying hydrated, removing the toxic substances that disrupt your reproductive hormones, supporting your flow with healthy fats, and rekindling your creativity. You will also look at ways to keep your emotions flowing.
Detoxing Your Flow: What to Choose
+ Healthy fats and oils, such as extra-virgin olive oil, sesame oil, flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, fish oil, and wild-caught fish.
+ Nuts and seeds as a source of protein, rotated frequently to avoid triggering intolerance and sensitivity.
+ Orange foods, such as carrots, mangos, melons, orange bell peppers, oranges, tangerines, sweet potatoes, and yams.
+ Tropical fruits, such as banana, coconut, fig, kiwi, mango, orange, papaya, and pineapple are hydrating, cleansing and detoxifying for the body.
+ Purified water.
+ Emotional “flow,” nurturing your full emotional range without feeling emotionally out of control.
+ Creativity, expressing yourself in your own way.
+ Sensuality and sexuality, allowing your sexual, sensual side to emerge and “flow” freely.
Detoxing Your Flow: Foods and Other Things to Avoid For Body Cleansing
+ Impure water floods your body with toxins.
+ Water and foods in plastic containers.
+ Excessive amounts of animal fats, such as fatty meats, butter, and cheese.
+ Unhealthy fats, such as trans fats.
+ Storing emotions within rather than expressing them creatively and freely.
+ Repressing or denying creative expression.
System 3: The Fire
Mind-Body Systems Detoxified, Cleansed and Rejuvenated: Digestive system, blood sugar, work–life balance, energy production
Moving further up the body, we reach the glands and organs associated with the third system of health: the fire. Our pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, and stomach all burn the food we ingest, transmuting it into the energy we need to survive, just as a fire burns fuel to produce life-giving warmth. Accordingly, nutrient absorption, biotransformation, blood sugar balance, and digestion belong to this system of health. In order to keep everything balanced we must engage theses systems and organs in regular body detoxification habits.
The fire system ignites our drive to work, achieve, and compete. A healthy fire is full of energy, power, and confidence. An overactive fire might lack work–life balance, losing the joy of accomplishment in the burning need to do more and more and more. An underactive fire might feel simply “burnt out.” My research and clinical experience have shown that this system of health tends to be out of alignment for just about everyone, with nearly 80% of my clients and students showing some imbalance in this system and are in need of bodily cleansing and detoxification here. An imbalanced fire is truly the bane of our busy, burnt-out modern lives!
Just as a fire must burn in balance—neither starved for fuel nor choked by too much green wood—our bodies need balance: the right types of naturally detoxify food to keep our blood sugar stable; the right amounts of rest and stimulation to keep our energy stable. Likewise, we must all find the balance in our lives, between situations in which we “go with the flow” and situations in which we take charge, assert ourselves, and blaze forth with our goals, projects, and achievements.
Many of the glands and organs associated with the fire are located in and around the solar plexus—the area at the pit of the stomach—so I find it interesting that when we talk about someone who has a lot of energy and drive, we say that he or she has “fire in the belly.” When our energy is depleted, we’re “burnt out” or “fried to a crisp,” possibly because we’ve been “burning the candle at both ends.” We can also be “fired” from a job. These common expressions speak to our intuitive recognition of this third system of health, and to the way both our bodies and our life issues are components of the same system. The following are tips for naturally detoxifying and cleansing this system of your body with foods and lifestyle changes.
Support Your Fire Detoxification and Cleansing While You Eat
It’s not just what we eat, but how we eat that adds to our health. Since this is the system that can most easily go out of balance, the following tips will help you maintain your own internal Zen mode even if the outer world seems chaotic and frenzied:
Breathe into your center. Before your first bite of food, take a deep breath into your solar plexus. Engaging your relaxation response will help you better digest your food. I find deep breathing easiest when I am sitting comfortably in a chair with my spine erect, my shoulders back, and my hands in my lap. Then I take three or four deep breaths to center myself into my inner power before beginning to eat. Breathing is a powerful way to naturally cleans and detox the body.
Get in touch with your hunger gauge. Often we lose sight of our innate sense of physical hunger and our bodies’ physical cues to eat. The demands of a busy life may lead us to forget to eat, or to undereat or overeat without realizing it. Staying in touch with your internal eating rhythms—and eating regularly—helps you keep your internal power rather than giving it over to irregular eating times and under- or overeating. Sometimes this takes a bit of retraining! Many of us “think” our way into hunger, or assess it intellectually, rather than connecting to the power of our digestive system as the ultimate gauge. Try rating your hunger before and after eating to tap into how well you are maintaining your fuel reserves. If you find yourself “stuffed” after a meal, you may have inundated your energy input, placing an additional burden on your digestive system to process and your body to detox. Aim for about 80% fullness, or a point at which you are not stuffed, but also no longer hungry. Aim for the level at which you are able to take a light walk after eating.
Know your fuel. Eating is meant to energize you rather than deplete your reserves. Some special detoxifying and cleansing foods give you the punch of power you need, while others seem to drain you of your power. Do you find yourself eating foods that you know might “run you down”? When you do, you risk unbalancing your fire. Sugar is one such food, and added sugars are ubiquitous in the food supply, even in unexpected places such as salad dressings, ketchups, and sauces. Although they provide an initial burst of energy, in the long run, they will rob you of your energy through the roller coaster of blood sugar spikes and crashes. Stay on an even keel by balancing your sugar intake with dietary fiber and avoid artificial sweeteners, which can set you up for additional cravings and metabolic imbalance.
Schedule regular eating times. Many of my clients find it helpful to create a regular eating schedule of small meals four to six times a day. This might be a good way to retrain yourself to get in touch with your eating rhythm: research has shown that eating more frequent meals throughout the day (compared to a few large meals) helps us to maintain our blood sugar, and, therefore, provides more energy. However, your eating balance needs to be personalized to your needs: you might need to nibble and graze, or you might need a few large meals. Listen to your body to detox this system in flow with your own unique rhythms and needs.
Yellow is the fire’s color, and it’s also the color of quick-burning refined carbohydrates. The diet that has become increasingly common in the modern world tends to include far too many of these high-energy, yellow foods, which perhaps is part of the fuel for an overactive fire. A more balanced fire is fueled by slow-burning, low-glycemic, high-fiber carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains and legumes, which are great, natural cleansing foods. The fire also requires a whole team of B vitamins, such as thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12), all of which are crucial for generating a healthy metabolism and extracting energy from our foods.
Detoxing your body’s fire system has you loading up on high-fiber carbohydrates and fiery yellow foods, such as ginger and turmeric. You’ll also look at how to create your own personal version of work–life balance and harness the “fire in your belly”—your ambition, energy, and drive.
Detoxing Your Fire: What to Choose
+ Complex carbohydrates.
+ Soluble fibers.
+ Yellow foods, such as yellow vegetables, whole grains, ginger, lemon, legumes.
+ Foods that give you sustained energy over time.
+ Work–life balance.
+ A healthy separation from work.
Detoxing Your Fire: Foods and Other Things to Avoid For Body Cleansing
+ Processed, highly refined carbohydrates.
+ Fast and convenient foods.
+ Foods that are tough to digest and assimilate.
+ Foods that create excessive bloating, discomfort, distention, or gas.
+ Eating more at one time than you can digest.
+ Foods high in sugar or those that unbalance your blood sugar.
+ Artificial sweeteners of all types.
+ Overcooked foods high in AGEs.
+ Situations where you feel like you are giving more energy than you are receiving in return.
+ Feeling that you have to “do it all,” so you end up feeling depleted.
+ Focusing more on the goal than on the journey.
+ Workaholism—feeling so obsessed with work you can never let it go.
+ Perfectionism—focusing on trying to get every detail perfect rather than seeing the big picture.
System 4: The Love
Mind-Body Systems Detoxified, Cleansed and Rejuvenated: Thymus, heart, blood vessels, lungs, compassion, expansiveness, service
Moving up from the belly and into the chest, we arrive at the love, the fourth system of health, which resides in the kingdom of the heart and lungs. Here we open up to compassion and service as well as expansion, in the way that love in all its forms makes us feel larger and more generous. The love system can also expand through an embrace, an apology, a feeling of gratitude, or the simple, comforting touch of a loved one’s hand. Central to this fourth system is the thymus, the organ that governs our adaptive immune system. Also central is the magnificent heart, which is far more than just a pump. Science suggests that it is also a neuroendocrine gland, affecting hormone balance as well as blood flow. Clearly an important body system to detox and cleanse.
Just as love and compassion enable us to respond to a wide variety of threats, so do the thymus and heart help the body distinguish between various challenges. Meanwhile, the blood vessels, lungs, and lymphatic system serve us by spreading nourishment and oxygen throughout the body (which helps us detox and cleanse waste from the body), while the lymph carries toxins away. You might see the love organs as providing compassion and self-care to our entire being while helping us overcome the obstacles to growth and healing.
One of the challenges of love is to make sure that we are giving it to ourselves. Many of my clients find that their love has become imbalanced, always expanding out to children, parents, friends, spouses, and perhaps even clients or colleagues, but rarely directed inward toward themselves. Forgiveness—of both ourselves and others—is an example of a way to balance the love system. The Western tradition associates love with the heart while Traditional Chinese Medicine views the lungs as the seat of grief. Indeed, when the love is out of balance, it often manifests as overwhelming grief—“heartbreak” that refuses to heal. Too much pain can also cause us to shut down our hearts, closing off our urge toward compassion, service, and love. The following are tips for naturally detoxifying and cleansing this system of your body with foods and lifestyle changes.
Support Your Love Detoxification and Cleansing While You Eat
As we have seen, there are so many ways in which plant foods add to the quality of your health and help you naturally cleanse toxins from your body with diet. Here are some quick tips on how to expand your love into your everyday meals:
Before starting to eat, take a couple of seconds to move from your busy head into your beautiful heart. You can easily do this by thinking of a time when you felt loved. Let your heart go to that feeling of being filled with love. Imagine that this feeling infuses your food. Sit in that loving space for 20 to 30 seconds. Sending love into your food can help cleanse the body of toxins.
Have a heart image visible in your space. Eat from heart-shaped bowls, and put heart stickers on your refrigerator, blender, kitchen cabinets, and drinking containers, to keep the spirit of love alive in the places where you cook and eat.
Give thanks for your meals. Express gratitude to the person who prepared it (even if it’s yourself, which is one step closer to self-love!) and to the animals and plants that gave their lives so you would be nourished. Research suggests that gratitude has lasting health effects. Think of how it might help you to appreciate the meal and even digest it better.
Share meals with others whom you love. Eating is the ultimate unifying experience—we all need to eat as human beings, so what better way to “feel the love” than to eat together.
Sing while preparing food. invite the element of air to honor your lungs, which work so closely with your heart to oxygenate the blood and ultimately help to cleanse the body of toxins.
Green is the color of the love. The color green represents healing and nourishment, so it’s no wonder that green foods are “heart-healthy.” All green foods contain chlorophyll, which acts as an antioxidant and blood purifier, promoting robust circulation. Green detox foods include spirulina, chlorella, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale. These detoxifying foods are amazing for cleansing your body of toxins.
Detoxing your body’s love system focuses on green leafy vegetables and expansive aerobic movement, which allows your cardio-pulmonary system to function at its best. You will also consider how to expand your sense of compassion, gratitude, generosity, and self-love.
Detoxing Your Love: What to Choose
+ Cool, leafy, raw greens that can soothe and open the heart with vasodilators, agents that promote the expansion of blood vessels and bodily detoxification.
+ Taking good care of yourself.
+ Giving yourself time to love yourself, through “me time” or other healing practices.
+ Breathing deeply. It helps to purify the body of toxins and cleanse the blood.
+ Being in nature, especially the forest (“forest bathing”).
Detoxing Your Love: Foods and Other Things to Avoid For Body Cleansing
+ Foods that clog the arteries: meat and poultry, which contain too much toxic animal fat.
+ Foods that cause vasoconstriction or high blood pressure: excessively salty foods.
+ Foods that cause breathing difficulties due to an allergic reaction.
+ Life events or situations that cause high blood pressure.
+ People-pleasing behavior.
+ Being the martyr or feeling that you have to rescue people.
System 5: The Truth
Mind-Body Systems Detoxified, Cleansed and Rejuvenated: Thyroid gland, throat, mouth, ears, nose, speaking, choice, authenticity
From the heart, we go up to the throat area, where both the voice box (larynx) and the thyroid gland are located. Now we are in the fifth system of health, which I call the truth.
The truth includes an array of sensory organs that provide us with inputs to integrate: ears, nose, throat, and mouth. We need to take in information and choose what to do with it—decide what’s true and what isn’t, make authentic decisions, and truthfully express our responses. Listening and speaking are therefore part of the truth.
Smelling and chewing are also integral to this system, along with the thyroid gland, which helps us metabolize the food we take in and find the body’s authentic rhythms, and, ideally, its healthiest weight. The truth also guides the image you present to the world—your sense of who you are. Words like “authenticity,” “choice,” and “voice” are all part of the truth—“voice” in both the physical sense of speaking and the metaphoric sense of your unique self-expression. If you can tell the world your truest thoughts—if you can share your most genuine and authentic self—you have taken a powerful step to support your truth system. The following are tips for naturally detoxifying and cleansing this system of your body with foods and lifestyle changes.
Support Your Truth Detoxification and Cleansing While You Eat
Go slow, with slow-food restaurants, slow eating, and especially slow chewing. Eating too quickly can pack on the pounds. Research has associated fast eating (more bites per minute) with greater body weight and reduced ability to cleanse any incoming toxins.
Put your awareness fully into eating so you get the most from the experience and don’t feel like overeating. Studies show that cultivating a daily practice of mindfulness can help to reduce stress, binge eating, and emotional eating.
Choose truthfully. Check out every choice about food that you are presented with and make sure it resonates with your inner truth.
Become aware of the truth of your portion sizes. Do you remember that phrase “The eyes are bigger than the stomach”? Cup your hands together so you can get a sense of how big your stomach is, then use your innate awareness to stop eating when you’ve genuinely had enough. And watch out for those large portions, which cause us to eat 16% to 26% more than we would have normally which can impede the body’s ability to detoxify.
Expand your range of choices: look wider and broader, explore and discover, be adventurous. Shake up your food routine and try some foods you might not normally eat: perhaps Indian, Middle Eastern, European, or Ethiopian. Each food has different detoxifying properties and new foods from exotic cultures can give your body needed cleansing nutrients.
Keep a food log to identify food ruts—habits that restrict your self-expression through food.
Allow yourself to be free of dieting. Research shows that the more we feel restrained in our eating, the more likely we are to feel anxious, depressed, or unsettled. This often leads to eating comfort foods which can be counterproductive when detoxing your body.
Many of my clients struggle to face their personal truths and express them to the world. People who feel their metabolism “won’t let them” lose weight are often afraid to speak their truth. Maybe they’ve been told all their lives to shut up, to be polite, or to lower their voice, literally or metaphorically. Maybe they don’t believe they have anything important to say. But I’m struck how finding the voice to speak your own truth can be a powerful, liberating force for thyroid function and the creation of a healthy metabolism, especially when you are also supporting your thyroid gland with the right foods and supplements. Speaking your truth is a powerful ‘detox food’, if you know what I mean.
Aquamarine is the color of truth. When you detox your body’s truth system, you’ll consume delicious detox foods like sea vegetables and lubricate your throat with healthy fruits, soups, sauces, and juices. You’ll bring more awareness to your daily habits so you can begin to make the choices that serve you best.
Detoxing Your Truth: What to Choose
+ Iodine-rich sea vegetables to support your thyroid and supply you with needed minerals. These foods are powerful detoxifiers and rejuvenate and cleanse the body.
+ Soups, sauces, and juices that will lubricate your throat, as well as fruits that contain a lot of water: melons, grapes, tropical fruits, peaches, and plums. These hydrate the body during the detoxification process.
+ A wide variety of tastes, which will make your tongue and taste buds sing!
+ Humming, singing, or chanting to discover the true contours of your authentic voice.
+ Greater awareness of your daily habits, including your food choices, schedule, and tasks, in order to make the choices that truly serve your body, your spirit, and your purpose.
Detoxing Your Truth: Foods and Other Things to Avoid For Body Cleansing
+ Environmental and food-based toxins that impair thyroid function, such as those that have chlorine, bromine, and fluorine (chemicals frequently used as pesticides, preservatives, and flame retardants).
+ Gulping foods down, making them difficult to swallow and, ultimately, to digest.
+ Silencing your truth by not speaking up when you feel the need to.
+ Speaking in a truthful but cruel, insensitive, or uncompassionate way.
+ Gossiping, lying, swearing, threatening, exaggerating, or becoming cold and unresponsive.
System 6: The Insight
Mind-Body Systems Detoxified, Cleansed and Rejuvenated: Pituitary gland, brain, neurons/neurotransmitters, sleep, mood, thoughts, intuition
The sixth system of health—the insight—includes your pituitary gland, which some consider the “master gland.” The pituitary is like a busy train station, constantly receiving and transmitting signals throughout the entire brain and body. This central hub of your physiology and psychology is well recognized in ancient traditions of healing as a pivot point for meditation.
The pituitary is also sometimes called the inner eye, as it maintains surveillance over a wide range of activity throughout your entire biochemistry. Your physical eyes belong to this system too. In other words, both outer and inner sight are part of the insight system. Similarly, the insight includes all your neurons, neurotransmitters, and brain cells, which process and interpret what you see, perceiving metaphorical and abstract truths as well as literal, physical ones. Clearly and important body system to detoxify and cleanse.
Mood, thoughts, and sleep are all part of this system of health, as are visualization, imagination, reflection, and intuition. If you’ve ever felt that a bad night’s sleep, a foggy brain, or a depressed mood was keeping you from seeing things clearly, you’ve experienced how crucial this system can be. And if you’ve ever felt that your vision cleared after a good night’s sleep, a nourishing meal, or a comforting talk with a friend, you know the potential of detoxing the body’s insight system and seeing truly once more.
When I treat clients whose insight needs a Whole Body Detox, I marvel at the deep, intimate relationship between body, thought, and emotion. You simply can’t think clearly when you’re getting the wrong foods, and you’re all too likely to be depressed, anxious, or overly emotional as well. It basically stalls your body’s detox and cleansing processes. Likewise, when you see the world clearly, you have the passion and energy to commit to your health, because you understand better what your body needs.
Indigo is the color of the insight, so we support this system of health with blue and purple detox foods: blueberries, blackberries, purple kale, purple asparagus, purple cauliflower, and purple grapes. Berries and grapes in particular are good sources of resveratrol, the powerhouse antioxidant that helps protect your brain and nerves and also massively cleanse and detox the body. Blue and purple foods also promote neuronal plasticity, which is the scientific way of saying that they improve your brain’s ability to create new pathways, improving your cognition, learning, and memory. The following are tips for naturally detoxifying and cleansing this system of your body with foods and lifestyle changes.
Support Your Insight Detoxification and Cleansing While You Eat
Use your eyes. See the colors of the food you purchase and the food you eat. Give yourself an eyeful before you begin to fill your belly.
Eat intuitively. The hunches you have about what you need might be wiser than any nutritionist and often supply the exact diet foods and nutrients you need to detoxify your body properly.
Stay out of ruts. Habits are the enemy of insight and intuition; when you go on autopilot, you aren’t really paying attention. Notice your body’s signals and let them guide your choice of food.
Meditate before a meal. It helps you clear the mental clutter and come into a place of peace.
Notice your mood. See which foods change how you feel—whether they bring you calm, joy, or focus or make you more depressed, anxious, aggressive, wired, or foggy.
Detoxing your body’s insight system involves loading up on blue and purple detox foods, keeping a dream journal, and learning to listen carefully to that “still small voice” within. You will support both your brain matter and the workings of your mind.
Detoxing Your Insight: What to Choose
+ Blue-purple berries, which reduce inflammation in the brain and help to cleanse the body through diet.
+ Spices like turmeric and curry, which protect the brain from damage.
+ Deep, quality sleep, which fuels your dreaming and restores and heals your body.
+ Respect for your intuition through attending to your feelings, mood changes, and dreams.
+ A journaling practice to capture the wisdom of your inner world.
Detoxing Your Insight: Foods and Other Things to Avoid For Body Cleansing
+ Foods that disrupt sleep, especially excessive alcohol, caffeine, and processed sugar.
+ Foods that impair cognition, such as too much processed sugar or high-glycemic-index foods.
+ Too many stimulants, whether in your food or in your life.
+ A busy mind cluttered with too many thoughts.
System 7: The spirit
Mind-Body Systems Detoxified, Cleansed and Rejuvenated: Pineal gland, electromagnetic fields, circadian rhythms, connection, purpose, meaning
Finally, we come to the seventh system of health that needs detoxifying and cleansing, the spirit, which includes some of the biggest issues we ever wrestle with: connection, purpose, and—for want of a better term—what we might call soul. This system enables us to experience that we are both microcosm and macrocosm, both individual beings and indistinguishable from the whole, both individual drops of water and participants in one big ocean. The spirit is where you connect to meaning in your life, your life’s calling, and the values, beliefs, and activities that most profoundly embody what you consider important.
Grounding the spirit in the body is the pineal gland—a receiver within our brain that distinguishes between light and dark, day and night, sunlight and moonlight. If your circadian rhythms are off—if you can’t get into a regular sleep pattern, if you can’t make an easy transition between seasons, if you can’t function optimally while doing shift work, or if you feel lost and disconnected—your seventh system needs a Whole Body Detox.
This is the system in the body that regulates your vitality and your ability to age gracefully. When you feel you are declining in health faster than most or you are aging too fast, it’s often your seventh system—governing your “life force”—that could use some support. You might need more time in the sunlight, some nutrients to help your cells remain vital and detox properly, or perhaps a different room in which to sleep. You might even be feeling drained because you don’t know your life’s purpose—you don’t have a reason to get up in the morning. A sure sign of a “toxic” seventh system is feeling out of touch with the significance of events and commitments that get you through the day. The following are tips for naturally detoxifying and cleansing this system of your body with foods and lifestyle changes.
Support Your Spirit Detoxification and Cleansing While You Eat
Invite your spirit to the table. Take a few moments to meditate, to feel gratitude, or to think about the purpose of this meal (to replenish your body, prepare you for a challenging task, share time with loved ones). These may seem unrelated to detoxing your body but studies show that they are just as important for cleansing your body as foods.
See the cosmos in your plate. Your food began as a seed, planted in a field, tended by a caring farmer and workers, bathed in sunlight and moonlight, and visited by a multitude of insects. The seed transformed into a vegetable, which was eventually picked by someone’s loving hand and then transported to a store or farmers’ market. Someone chose the vegetable and then prepared it—perhaps you or someone at the restaurant where you’re eating. Savor the interrelationships that come along with the food.
Get some exposure to the sun (indirectly or directly). The healing power of the sun is immense; it radiates and provides nourishment to all life. Before eating, allow your plateful of food to bask in the sun for a couple of minutes so it becomes invigorated with the high photonic energy of solar radiance. If you, too, bathe in the sun, even for a short time, you’ll boost your body’s production of vitamin D. The sun is a major detoxification facilitator in the body.
Breathe deeply. Oxygen is the main component your body uses to access the energy in the glucose molecule, and every cell in your body depends upon glucose. Moreover, breathing into the low belly rather than shallowly helps to clear the body of toxins while delivering the raw material to burn food for energy. As you breathe, imagine yourself harnessing all the energy within the food.
Experience love. The more we consume it, the more it grows, enabling others to be fed. The more love we are able to receive, the more we feed both the spirit and the body. Enjoy love in all its many facets: love of the self, of others, of nature, of the planet, of whatever you perceive as larger than yourself.
Cleanse your environment. Allow yourself to notice the people, situations, places, tasks, and events that are toxic for you and your body—that create barriers to your total health and fulfillment. Then do whatever you can to remove or avoid these environmental toxins—this helps your body create space for cleansing and detoxifying.
White foods help cleanse and detoxify the body and clarify the seventh system. When you think of the color white, you might think of purity or clarity. This system holds within it the high path of enlightened, good clean living. Sometimes it’s not as much about what we eat as the manner in which we eat, at what time we eat, and whether we eat too much. That’s why one element of the spirit is abstinence of food through a variety of fasting approaches. This majorly helps to detox the body and cleanse toxins.
Now, let’s be clear: “White foods” doesn’t mean processed foods full of white flour or white sugar. When it comes to the spirit, this refers to foods that embody the ultimate healing properties for multiple organs: ripe pears (especially good for moistening the lungs), cauliflower (cleansing for the liver), coconut products (an accessible energy source for the intestines), onions and garlic (cleansing for the blood and liver), cabbage (cleansing for the liver and, when fermented, excellent for the gut), and white beans (high in fiber). These are all powerfully detoxing foods that help cleanse the body deeply.
The spirit detox focuses on naturally white foods, healing light, and journaling about your life’s purpose. You will also have the opportunity to reflect on the “miracles” in your life—the tiny bits of awe that keep you feeling the juice of what it means to be alive.
Detoxing Your Spirit: What to Choose
+ Rest and rejuvenation for a wired nervous system.
+ A sense of awe regarding something larger than yourself: nature, the human family, the cosmos, or whatever moves you.
+ Regular cleansing practices.
+ Bright white light in your living space.
+ Peaceful contemplation and reflection on your life’s calling or your path.
+ Quality time in nature: in a forest, on a beach, in the mountains, in the desert.
Detoxing Your Spirit: Foods and Other Things to Avoid For Body Cleansing
+ Disruptive electromagnetic fields.
+ Activities that change subtle nerve function, such as too much use of your computer or cell phone.
+ Overeating or forgetting to eat. This can definitely hamper your body’s ability to detox.
+ Disruptions in your sleep–wake cycle.
+ Anything that causes physical pain.
+ Situations that make you chronically nervous.
Whole Body Detox For Life: The Next Steps to Lifelong Health and Vitality
Detoxing your body does not need to be about deprivation or bland diet foods. Instead, infuse your plate with a rainbow of colorful, nourishing grains, fruits, vegetables, and spices. Connect to the earth, your tribe, and your community. Examine your relationships and emotional state, and welcome self-love and compassion. Embrace color in all aspects of your life!
This piece on body cleansing and detoxification is based off of Deanna’s book Whole Detox, which dives deeper into each of the Seven Systems of Health and provides a comprehensive guide to completing a 21-day detox. Deanna offers a community detox program twice per year, in March and October. To join the upcoming program, visit whole-detox.com
About The Author
Deanna Minich, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized health expert with more than 20 years of experience in nutrition, mind-body health and functional medicine. Dr. Minich holds master’s and doctorate degrees in nutrition and has lectured extensively throughout the world on health topics, teaching patients and professionals about nutrition. She is a Fellow of the New American College of Nutrition, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. Her passion is bringing forth a whole-self approach to nourishment and bridging the gaps between science, soul and art in medicine. Visit her website: deannaminich.com