Written by Marta Ustyanich

So it’s a brand a new year and like many fit-minded optimists, you want to give your body a fresh start. You want to kick off your healthiest year ever by rebooting your digestive system, flushing out toxins, boosting your metabolism, and maybe shedding a couple of pounds. Hey, don’t we all?

But before you fork over your hard-earned dough (and we mean upwards of hundreds of dollars) for an expensive cleanse or detox program, consider this: your body is already equipped with natural detoxification pathways—a complex system of organs and processes, each with their own unique role. Your liver, kidneys, and intestines do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to metabolizing, filtering, and eliminating harmful by-products and waste in your system. Proper blood and lymph circulation also play a vital role, as well as our lungs and skin. Together, these systems help keep the body in perfect health when nourished and supported with the right lifestyle choices. Pretty amazeballs, right?

Here, we’ve compiled a list of expert-recommended, research supported strategies for optimizing your metabolism, digestion, and elimination for a longer, healthier life. The best part? You can implement them starting today, without forking over a dime.

This one’s a no-brainer. We’re talking about sugar, white bread, cookies, alcohol, or any packaged foods. Limit these items and fill your plate with whole foods like fruits and veggies, protein from mostly plant and some high-quality animal sources, whole grains, and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive and coconut oils, and sustainably sourced fish.
Our bodies are 70 percent water, so needless to say, getting the eight to 10 recommended glasses per day to stay hydrated and flush water-soluble waste through your urine is never a bad idea.
We might get a lot of flack for this one since getting enough highly bioavailable animal protein is a cornerstone of a muscle-building diet, but research is increasingly extolling the benefits of plant-based diets for a long and healthy life. Does that mean you should never eat meat or fish? Of course not, but if you want to live longer (not to mention ease the environmental burden on our planet), science shows that mostly plant-based is the way to go.
More and more research is pointing to the importance of our intestinal environment for our overall health. Incorporating fermented foods that are rich in pre- and probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kombucha, and Greek yogurt, can boost your gut-healthy bacteria and balance gut flora.
Supporting your GI tract, one of your body’s main elimination pathways, is critical for ridding it of waste. Fiber can’t be digested by your body, so it acts as a natural scrubber for your GI tract and nourishes your gut-healthy bacteria. Both soluble fiber (found in fruits, veggies, beans, and lentils) and insoluble fiber (from whole grains) work together to efficiently eliminate waste.
“Simply eating when we’re hungry and stopping when we’re full is huge,” says Ryan Andrews, MS, MA, RD. Pocket your phone or hit pause on your Netflix to bring awareness and mindfulness to your meals. Slowing down and chewing thoroughly will help you tune in to your body’s signals while stimulating digestion.
“When we’re sweating and our temperature is increased, our metabolism increases,” explains Marnie Luck, ND, which can help torch fat cells and release fat-soluble toxins. Moving your body also helps stimulate blood circulation and your lymphatic system, both of which play a vital role in detoxification.
Don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to supplementation. Although both Andrews and Luck agree they have tremendous benefit when individualized and targeted, if you don’t need them, “It’s just another burden the body has to deal with,” says Andrews. “I wouldn’t recommend grabbing any type of supplement without understanding why you’re taking it,” adds Luck. “There’s no one supplement that would be good for everybody.”
Digestion is a taxing process that demands your body’s full attention. “When you’re giving yourself a break from digestion, even if it’s just 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, your body has a chance to focus on other things such as repair and recovery,” explains Andrews.
“I believe one of the most important aspects of detoxing is getting rid of all the chatter in our heads so that we can live more presently and enjoy life,” says Luck. This can help us tap into our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion. “When we’re able to slip into that relaxed state, we inherently digest better.” We also sleep better, so our body is able to heal and restore more effectively.
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