You hear the term “detox” sprinkled all over lifestyle and health ads, but most people aren’t exactly sure what it means to detox, other than to somehow clean your body of toxins. So how does a natural detox work and what toxins are getting cleaned out?
“Whether we like it or not – and most of the time we are actually unaware of it – our body is constantly exposed to environmental pollutants, food additives, heavy metal toxins, pesticides, and more. These toxins and pollutants that stay in our body will make us feel lethargic, sluggish, and sometimes can cause allergies. Detox is a process to assist eliminating these toxins from our body, so we can feel more energized and lighter from inside out, “ says Tania Ho, founder and director of Museflower Retreat & Spa, Chiang Rai’s first vegetarian holistic wellness retreat, located in northern Thailand.
A natural detox program typically involves avoiding certain foods such as red meat, wheat, alcohol, dairy, sugar, and processed food and focusing instead on nourishing, energizing foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, fermented foods and water. This takes the workload off the organs that normally detoxify the body – the liver, kidneys, and bowel, and give them a break. If you’ve been drinking beer every night for the past twenty years, think of what kind of stress that puts on your liver. It sounds difficult and requires discipline, which is why it’s easier to go away on a retreat to do a professionally supervised program where you can focus and get the best out of the process. It’s also easier to stay on the detox program when you go away on a retreat and you remove yourself from the temptations of your everyday food routine. Doing a detox helps us understand our food habits and how we can be in control of our body and food intake.
Doing a detox program has wonderful benefits for the body. After a detox, people feel lighter, more energized, can think more clearly, and feel more vitality. Other noticeable results are a clearer complexion, better digestion, and even more balanced moods
Detox programs can last for varying lengths of time depending on the level of detox. The average program lasts a week as the body needs time to adjust to the changes. After all, clearing your system does take more than a day to be really effective. People who have never done it before, or don’t have time, can start on a 3-day program.
Some people may think of detox as a way to lose weight, but there’s more to it than that. “Losing weight may be a side effect that comes with detox, but detoxing is not about losing weight,” says Tania. “Sometimes we lose weight naturally from detoxing but it’s mostly ‘water’ weight. When we return to normal diet, most of the time the weight will return.”
Often, one of the best consequences of doing a detox program is that it changes your habits and kick starts you to healthier food choices.
“The key to a detox program is how to maintain it afterwards,” says Tania. “Be mindful of what type of food we eat and our lifestyle. For example, try to avoid fried food or MSG. Have plenty of fruits and vegetables and purchase organic and local produce as much as possible. MSG and food additives are easily present in many ready-made sauces and food products, so make sure to read the food labels before purchasing.
Another key point is to connect and stay tuned to your body. Sometimes our body does crave for meat or something sweet, so refrain from judging yourself. It’s important to balance and enjoy and appreciate the food we eat, be grateful rather than feeling guilty and staying too strict in a certain type of diet. Food and eating are supposed to be fun.”
Spa therapies are also a natural way to detox the body and support any detox programs. You’ll see the word detox in many spa treatment descriptions. How can a spa treatment detox the body? Steam rooms and saunas help sweat the toxins out of the body. Massage helps stimulate the blood circulation and the body’s own natural detoxification processes. Lymphatic draining massage, such as Swedish massage, helps the lymphatic system work better to eliminate the toxins and wastes in the body.
“It’s important to drink plenty of water afterwards to help flush the toxins out of the body because without water there is no way for the toxins to exit the body,” says Tania.
The ingredients used in spa therapies can also detoxify the body. Green clay, used in a body wrap or facial, helps draw out impurities from the skin and also helps stimulate the lymphatic system, relieves fluid retention, and decongests areas where there is cellulite.
Detox can be a mental and emotional process as well. Detoxing the body of harmful pollutants and chemicals is the first step in improving your health. But detox is not just limited to the physical body. Just like chemicals, negative thoughts and emotions can have harmful and powerful effects on our health. Habits and behaviors are often formed by our beliefs, and some of these beliefs actually limit us, such as “I’m too old,” “I don’t have the right education,” “I’m not good enough,” or “I could never do that.” Once we are able to clear and transform these limiting beliefs into positive beliefs, it then creates a space for new thoughts and habits that enable us to maximize our potential and tap into more energy.
“One message about detox I’d like to bring out is this,” says Tania. “There are a lot of programs out there that are focused on detoxing on the physical level, which is important, but often times it’s when we detox on the mental and emotional level that has lasting changes and effects – because when we are able to transform our limiting beliefs and truly love ourselves, we then will love our body and will not go back to unhealthy habits.
I definitely think that holistic detox is the way to go – we need to focus on the complete circle of emotional, mental, and energetic levels as well. So that’s why at Museflower Retreat & Spa I want to offer more than the typical juicing or fasting detox retreat. There are plenty of detox centers that do that. I want to offer something more unique, that caters to the mind and emotional level as well. This in turn helps clear up emotional blocks and allows us to live to our full potential. In future we will have ongoing holistic detox retreats.”
And finally, cautions Tania, certain conditions are not suitable for undertaking a detox. Those who need to take regular medication for certain health conditions should seek for their doctor’s advice before deciding to join a detox retreat. Also pregnant women and young children are not suitable to go on a detox program.
For more information on detox programs and special offers available at Museflower Retreat & Spa in Chiang Rai, Thailand, click here.
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