It’s that time of year again when everyone seems to be making New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, work out more, be nicer to mankind and DETOX!!! I have seen so much on social media, especially the past few days, on the detox bandwagon. I find it all rather alarming. Since when did our bodies become so toxic and dirty?
As the millennial generation began aging into adulthood over the past fifteen years, combined with the prevalence of social media and the need for instant gratification, I have witnessed a spike in the Detox phenomena. Although I think that healthy living is imperative at all times, the recent hype around detoxification today is just plain overkill.
Millennials, people born between the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, make up approximately 25% of the population. This demographic is generally associated with trends, the internet and modernism and they are 2.5 times more likely to be early adapters of technology. In fact, this description is no longer unique to millennials; these traits are common among a range of generations too engaged with technology and less connected with their natural environment.
Technological attachments have their pros and cons, the greatest downside being the inability to ground down and connect on a deep interpersonal level. Many of my patients, not only millennials, have a hard time unplugging from the technological world around them, especially with their phones, Instagram, and Facebook The dependence on social media results in unrealistic expectations of one’s own social life when viewed against the over-glamorization of others’ lives. The race to keep up and post every social moment, rather than just being present and experiencing the moment is doing as much damage to our bodies as poor food choices.
This generation has become fascinated with episodic cures for all ills. Instead of seeking a brief detox regimen involving a juice fast, try incorporating a few prolonged life changes. I think a smarter way to begin a detox is to plan a trip somewhere outdoors with bad cell phone reception or taking all apps off your phone and restoring them after your trip. The practice of taking a break from technology has begun picking up speed in 2010 after Dr. Todd Braver, a neuroscientist and neuropsychologist at Washington University, went into nature with four other colleagues to understand how the brain is over taxed my heavy use of technology. Not so shocking, these scientists found that spending time outside in nature, without cell phones and laptop computers, can refresh the brain and also increase attention and focus.
Another side effect of our connection with technology is that we become completely detached from our food sources. I grew up in farm country in Ohio and I experienced the ability to connect with where my food came from. Most millennials haven’t been to a farm, or seen a cow milked and haven’t experienced the incredible amount of energy and love that goes into growing our food. Having this awareness is vital to our health. It raises our consciousness about the food we eat and how it is grown. This leads to lest wastefulness, a greater concern for the sanctity of our environment, and ultimately improved diet. We buy healthier varieties of food and even begin to experiment and cook more at home instead of relying on fast food.
If you can’t make it to a farm for fresh produce and organic meats, then try and go to a farmers market and talk with the farmer. Find out about what they do and make that connection to where your food comes from. Try and make a meal from what you bought from that market and really consider all the energy it took to get that food into and nourish your body. The upsurge of urban gardens and backyard chicken coops are further evidence of food consciousness springing up all of our cities.
Another way to reset your body is with soaking in salt. I have travelled extensively to some of the saltiest places in this part of the world in both southern Bolivia and Northern Chile into the Salt Flats. These incredible places have salt and other minerals in the ground and your body literally feels energized after being in nature and in the salt; it produces a mentally grounding effect. One of my favorite product lines is Little Moon Essentials. They make organic bath soaks for almost anything that is bothering you. It is a way to bring nature into your bathtub.
Another simple way to detox is to get rid of your televisions. I only have one TV in my home and only use it for weekend movies for the most part. It is rarely on and never in any of the bedrooms of my home. Unfortunately, almost everything is toxic on television, especially the news and reality television. Limiting your TV time to a few hours per week will free your mind and your time to engage in more productive activities like gardening or exercising.
My last point is the word detox, a word that seems to glamourize the fact that we are dirty vessels. Take a moment to think about how we view our bodies, our lives and the world around us compared to our great-grandparents. Their daily lives involved mindful eating and physical activity. They would never have to consider undergoing a detox. Adopting lifestyle choices a little more consistent with our ancestors will continue to improve your health long after your new year’s resolutions crash.