Between the rapid weight loss, through-the-roof energy potential and serious celebrity backing, a mid-winter cleanse can be tempting—especially when picturing a swiftly approaching swimsuit season. But don’t start stocking up on the cayenne pepper just yet. The requirements of some cleanses can be expensive, and perhaps ultimately ineffective for those seeking long-term results and benefits. Most importantly, the intense regimen of some detox programs can potentially bring with them a whole slew of immediate health consequences, from depleted energy levels to mood swings. As with every health consideration, remember that no one option fits all, and that there is no universally perfect cleanse. However, by listening to your body and incorporating the following three practices in moderation, you can expect to see—and feel—big-time health benefits, both now and later.
Hello, Hydration: In addition to flushing out toxins, adequate water intake (approximately eight glasses per day) helps transport nutrients to cells and aids in kidney function. And while a 10-day water cleanse does exist, the potential side effects—from nausea and dizziness, to a weakened immune system and quick weight regain—imply that you’re best off sticking to a more traditional fork and knife approach. For bonus detox effects, squeeze a lemon wedge into your glass—the potassium-rich citrus helps to stimulate liver function. In a hydration rut? Try adding a squeeze of Skinnygirl Liquid Water Enhancer for a quick and simple flavor boost.
Skip the Sugar: Unlike vitamins and minerals, our bodies have no need for sugar—hence its “empty calorie” moniker. In addition to this unsettling idea, the fructose in sugar puts our liver workload into overtime and could carry long-term metabolic consequences. Needless to say, finding ways to eliminate sugar from our diets—from the obvious chocolate chip cookie to the processed and refined culprits like breads and cereals—has significant benefits in the long run. While cutting out sweets cold turkey is likely to prompt some undesirable side effects (think crankiness and mild headaches), a speedy onset of augmented energy and better sleeping patterns are likely to follow. To help curb cravings, try incorporating Skinnygirl Sweetener where you’d normally use sugar—from coffee and tea, to whipped cream, Greek yogurt and fruit.
Eat Your (Raw and Cooked) Vegetables: Vegetables have always been lauded in the health realm for their megadose of vitamins and minerals. While raw food cleanses advocate keeping your legumes away from the stove (i.e. no more than approximately 115 degrees celsius) for maximum nutrient intake, some vegetables maintain or release their biggest health benefits with a little more cooking time. The nutrient powerhouses that do best “au naturel” include broccoli, beets, onions and peppers, while those that can (and should) take the heat include mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and asparagus.