Juice cleanses may be a raging fad, but they're not the be all and end all of detox programs. In fact, many people are finding that juice cleanses make them feel the opposite of well because the regimen lacks fiber and sufficient calories. Moreover, juice cleanses are often outrageously expensive, costing upwards of $30 a day. For a cheaper and arguably healthier way to cleanse your body, change up your diet and introduce detoxifying activities into your daily routine.
10 Low-Cost Alternatives to a Juice Cleanse
The point of cleansing is to flush your body and give it a chance to rest and find its natural balance. Our bodies work hard to eliminate toxins that we consume in the form of dyes, preservatives, and additives that often are found in packaged foods. Check the labels before buying and shun products that contain chemicals. You'll be giving your liver and blood a chance to relax and rejuvenate.
Keeping the body hydrated is one of the simplest and most important things you can do for overall health. Our bodies are made up mostly of water molecules so it's no surprise that we need to stay well hydrated. Two ways the body eliminates water-based waste and toxins are through urine and sweat, and drinking water helps replenish the good fluids that have been lost. Eliminating solid waste requires sufficient water, as well. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to detox quickly, efficiently, and without sabotaging your health.
Regardless whether you choose to include meat in your regular diet, cutting it out temporarily might be good for you. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a vegetarian diet lowers the risk of heart disease. Many meats are high in cholesterol, which builds up fatty deposits in arteries, constricting blood flow and thus the oxygen your body needs. Forcing yourself to get protein from other sources, including nuts, legumes, vegetables, and dairy, takes the pressure off the heart and circulatory system while kicking up your fiber and calcium intake. Moreover, meat is often the most expensive part of a meal, so eating less means saving more.
Skin is the largest organ in the human body and often neglected during detox routines. Sometimes referred to as the third kidney, skin plays a large role in ridding the body of toxins. An easy way to help the skin detox and renew is by dry brushing. You can use a regular natural bristle hair brush or a special skin brush that costs as little as $5. (Be sure the bristles are soft and full enough for comfort.) Dry brushing before bathing removes the old toxin-carrying cells and encourages the growth of new cells.
Raw fruits and vegetables contain a load of fiber (helps eliminate waste) and easily absorbed vitamins, minerals, and protein (together, all boost energy), and none of the toxins or chemicals that a cleanse is meant to avoid. Aim to incorporate five servings of raw produce into your daily diet. Raw fruits and vegetables are also high in water, so they fill you up faster, which reduces caloric intake, and help keep you hydrated. Schedule a cleanse in the warmer months and you'll have access to plenty of fresh produce at bargain prices.
Waste builds up in our digestive tracts (i.e., the intestines) over time. As tiny particles cling to the sides, the intestines become an increasingly narrow pathway for elimination. Livestrong suggests periodically using an all-natural fiber supplement, such as psyllium husk, to clean out your system. Psyllium husk is available as a powder (about 40 cents an ounce) and in gelcap (about $8/200 capsules) form. It's a very gentle natural supplement, and some find just one teaspoon or three gelcaps is sufficient; others double or triple the dose. Start small and gradually increase as needed.
In addition to the impressive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of ginger, The Alternative Daily website notes that this superfood is an impressive detox aid. At a cost of about 50 cents an ounce, ginger also is one of the cheapest edible and medicinal plants. Among its many functions, ginger helps boost blood flow and speed digestion, both of which are essential to ridding the body of toxins. Ginger, together with a high fiber diet, will thoroughly clean out your digestive tract. Consuming ginger raw or in tea form (check your favorite herbal tea purveyor or mix raw ginger with hot water) are the most effective ways to get the spicy detox power into your body.
Getting the blood pumping and working up a sweat is a good way to eliminate potentially harmful toxins. Many toxins are stored in fat cells, then released into the body and finally eliminated when you work out; others are purged through sweat. Deep stretches or strength training can also help release toxin buildup by bringing more oxygen to the muscles and improving circulation. Depending on your daily caloric intake, design a workout that combines at least 30 minutes of cardio and strength training and work up a good sweat. There are many no-cost ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
Delicious as sugar is, it's not such a treat for your body. Just some nefarious effects cited by Rodale News: sugar encourages organs to retain fat, is addictive, and negatively affects the brain's pleasure receptors. There's really no place for conventional sugar in a healthy diet, and going off sugar every now and then is a gift to your body. Substitute agave, which is lower on the glycemic index and sweeter, meaning you need less for the same sugar high. You may go through sugar withdrawal for a few days, but the effects will subside and you'll experience increased energy and overall body performance.
While a fun and delicious indulgence, alcohol compromises the immune system and makes the body's internal organs work harder to eliminate toxins. A moderate amount of alcohol can be healthy for most adults, especially in the form of red wine, which is rich in antioxidants and resveratrol (a plant compound). Still, it's a good idea to give your system a break several times a year. Many alcoholic beverages are high in calories and sugar, and giving them up for a week or so may help you shed a few pounds. Alcohol also is one of the more expensive habits, so a little self-discipline will be a boon to your budget.
Naturally fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi contain many types of probiotics, which promote healthy digestion and a strong immune system. Our bodies are home to thousands of bacteria, some very helpful and essential to proper bodily functioning. Fermented foods are rich in these bacteria, which also help regulate the balance of bacteria in the body. Probiotics are alive when we ingest them, so you may notice a burst of energy when consuming fermented foods. Stick to locally made vegetable-based products for the best prices because transporting these life-filled foods requires temperature-controlled cargo space that adds cost to the consumer.