Over the last few years, the word detox has become a sort of buzzword with juice cleanses, detox teas, health retreats and spa cuisine becoming all the rage. Detoxes are designed to rid the body of toxins and harmful chemicals such as those found in processed foods, and also serve to reset the body after a period of excess and indulgence. What most detox plans do, in particular those that promote consuming nothing but juices for 3-5 days do, is lead to the body consuming a very restricted number of calories, no fat, minimal protein and negligible carbohydrates.
While regular ‘detoxers’ will report a reduction in their weight or bloating, improved skin, better sleep and a general feeling of lightness and well-being after completing a cleanse or a detox, and there is definitely some argument in favour of rebooting your system in this way, the question arises as to whether undertaking a detox while on your period is beneficial, or on the contrary can be harmful to your body.
During your period, your body loses iron through blood loss and generally requires a few extra calories to keep your energy levels up, and so going on a juice fast or surviving on a bowl of soup for a few days may not seem like the wisest idea. That doesn’t mean you can’t take some steps to make your body healthier during that time of the month, and a less rigid, more holistic version of a detox may well be a viable option. Particularly if you have just come out of a few weeks of unhealthy eating or general excess, or even if you’re just feeling a little less than your best self.
Here are some ways to safely detox in a healthy way, even during your period, without risking exhaustion, fatigue, or a lack of nourishment for your body at a time when it needs a little extra TLC.
Choose herbal teas. Caffeine-free or low-caffeine teas such as ginger, dandelion root or parsley are all good options for a light, healthy detox during your menstrual cycle. Consume these teas twice a day, ideally before breakfast and before dinner so that they can aid your digestive system to easily digest your meals and assist in liver and kidney functions as well. These teas should be had in addition to a balanced, nutritious diet and should not act as meal replacements during your period. These teas may also help reduce some of the unpleasant effects of menstruation such as cramps, irregular bowel movements and insomnia.
Another great way to detox while you are menstruation so that you do not place any added strain on your body is to stay hydrated. Drinking water is the very best way to flush out unwanted and harmful toxins from your body, improve the functioning of internal organs, hydrate the skin and do a whole host of other beneficial things, so make sure to drink at least 2 litres of water during your period in order to cleanse your body in the simplest, most natural way.
Kick the processed food habit! This is one thing to do, not just when you’re detoxing. Processed and packaged foods contain unhealthy quantities of salt, artificial colours, chemical and preservatives, each of which is harmful to the body when consumed in large quantities. Salt, and many of the other additives in these foods cause the body to retain water, leading to bloating and a feeling of heaviness and uneasiness. Some women may also notice their face becoming red or puffy and their skin taking on a dull tone. If you’re trying to detox, specially during your period, processed food should be the first thing you give up. Stick to a healthy diet of fresh, wholesome food and your body will thank you for it.
Last, but by no means least, meditate. By this, I don’t mean take to the mountains and channel your inner yogini, but instead, set aside a few moments every day where you disconnect from the world around you. Yes, that means no phone or social media! For anywhere between 3-10 minutes every day, spend time with yourself. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. An easy way to start this practice is simply to count your breaths as you inhale and exhale. This method helps prevent your mind from wandering in every other direction, and before you know it, three minutes is up. Meditation and breathing may seem like an unconventional detox technique, but the value in the practice has been proved time and again. By focusing solely on your breath and taking deeper breaths than normal, your body lets go of all the unhealthy clutter that fills your mind and your thoughts. A healthy mind is the first step towards a healthy body and vice versa, so this one is a must try for your next detox. An added bonus for using this technique while on your period, the added oxygen you receive by inhaling deeper than normal helps alleviate painful cramps too.
So, detoxing on your period is far from a forbidden practice, and many expound the benefits in helping ease the symptoms of menstruations. However, stay away from extreme cleanses, juice fasts or traditional fasting during this time and be mindful to nourish your body and cater to its needs instead.