Every few years, the beauty and wellness industry picks a foe. About a decade ago, free radicals were the enemy, so antioxidants were huge in skincare and food—remember the acai berry’s surge in popularity? After that, we had to avoid acidic foods like the plague and drink and bathe with alkaline water. How many restaurants started serving lemon water after that?
This time around, toxins are in the hot seat, and this is apparent especially in the ubiquity of cold-pressed juice delivery services. While we’re not the type to knock on juice cleanses, we totally get that they’re not for everybody. (Also, don’t we all cower in fear of the angry, hungry woman—and occasional man—on a cleanse?)
Fortunately, there are many ways to eliminate toxins from your body without setting aside an entire week to go on a liquid diet. The ancient practice of Ayurveda, a system of Hindu alternative medicine, focuses on easy, holistic health practices that you can easily fit into your everyday life.
Granted, they’re not the easiest habits to adapt to (have you ever tried oil-pulling?). But once you give them a shot, we’re pretty sure they’ll be fixtures in your morning routine.
Push yourself to oil-pull
Ayurvedic doctors believe that saliva traps toxins within their oil particles. By taking a tablespoon of oil (coconut, olive, and almond oil are popular choices), and swishing it in your mouth for 20 minutes, you pull the toxins from your saliva because like attracts like. It’s best to do this in the morning because while you sleep, the bacteria in your mouth proliferates due to dehydration.
Twenty minutes seems like a long time, but you can do it while you shower. Once you hit the 20-minute mark, spit out the oil (which contains toxins and mucous) and brush your teeth. Reported benefits include whiter teeth, cavity and gingivitis prevention, better breath, stronger teeth and gums, improved sleep and sinus issues, and in some cases, alleviated headaches.
Get better results when you scrape the dried saliva coating your tongue in the morning (we know, gross) before oil-pulling.
Down an apple cider vinegar drink
If you guys haven’t jumped on the apple cider vinegar bandwagon, we strongly encourage you to do so. Like coconut oil, it has myriad uses, though its pungent, acidic scent may throw some people off.
That ACV is acidic because it’s a vinegar is a misconception. The reality is that has an alkaline effect on the body when you drink it. Like drinking lemon water, ACV is a strong immunity booster. It also breaks down mucous and phlegm, while promoting digestion and neutralizing toxins. Because it contains potassium, it reduces the effects of allergies and the common cold. It can alleviate hyperacidity, as well.
Drink it first thing in the morning. In a cup of warm water, mix a tablespoon of honey with up to three tablespoons of raw, unfiltered ACV. Topically, you can mix it with water to use as a facial toner (it helps with acne, boils, and pustules), create a hair rinse (to treat dandruff and make hair shinier), and even make a mist for your dogs (it keeps fleas and ticks away).
Make a habit of dry brushing
Dry brushing, like tongue scraping, is one of the lesser-known Ayurvedic techniques to rid your body of toxins. It stimulates the skin, enhances lymphatic drainage, and also encourages blood circulation. Some women have even experienced a reduction in the appearance of cellulite with daily practice.
This invigorating habit is best done before taking a shower or before you exercise. The standard rule of thumb is to brush towards the heart using short, firm strokes. Start from the soles of your feet, and work your way up to your legs, back, stomach, and arms. Leave out areas with broken skin, along with your face, chest, and heart.
Sweat it out
Of all the ways to detox in this piece, this one is the most effortless—and for some, the most unpleasant, especially at the wrong place and time. While perspiration is one of the most effective ways to eliminate toxins from the body, if you don’t wipe your sweat and just allow it to dry, your skin just reabsorbs them. Sweat can eliminate harmful toxins and chemicals, like phthalates, Bisphenol A (known as BPA, a harmful chemical used in plastics), and heavy metals, like arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury.
Instead, dedicate an hour every day to sweat everything out: enroll in Bikram yoga, push yourself in spin class, heck, join the Titas of Manila in Zumba! At the very least, make the most of your country club membership by baking in the sauna.
You don’t have to practice all of these habits every day to experience the benefits. Detoxifying your body doesn’t have to be a strictly scheduled regimen—just a little effort a few minutes a day whenever you can fit it in will go a long way towards change.
Art by Dorothy Guya