If your New Year’s resolution was to get healthy—or you’re simply looking for the best ways to detox your body after eating or drinking too much or getting too little sleep—take some tips from a pro athlete. Few things take more of a toll on the body than being an elite athlete and having to push your body to the edge in order to compete at superhuman levels.
As an Olympic swimmer, I get it. I’ve put my body through all kinds of stress over the past 10 years by training, racing and traveling around the world to compete. And that’s why I’ve also spent the last 10 years exploring the best ways to detox my body so that I can stay as healthy and have as much energy as possible. So take a tip from me and practice my seven best detox tips, all of which you can do daily to help rid your body of stress and toxins while revitalizing your energy stores.
Make your shower do double duty for your body.
Hydrotherapy has been used by nearly every culture since the days of the ancient Egyptians to help the body detox and fight fatigue. The good news for modern civilization? It actually works. Simply taking a cold shower can help improve circulation while increasing energy, mental alertness and mood. But what I’ve found to be more effective—and adventurous—is alternating between both cold and hot water. The method improves circulation and energy, but also flushes lactic acid and toxins while helping muscles to relax. Try it: Alternate between hot and cold water for 30 seconds to two minutes each, for a total of 5–10 minutes.
Drink a redder, better juice.
This inflammation-fighting super fruit is full of detoxifying nutrients, including vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. Beet juice has also been shown to stimulate digestion and help break down the food we eat. And there’s a reason why many athletes drink it: Lots of research suggests that beet juice helps improve endurance, thanks in part to its high concentration of healthy nitrates. Try it: Make your own beet juice by using a blender or food processor to puree fresh peeled beets. Adding a squeeze of lemon juice will help keep the beverage fresher for longer. Drink a glass once every morning. Just beware that drinking the juice can turn your urine a pink to red color.
[More from Excelle Sports: Three Easy-to-Make Delicious Snacks from Olympic Water Polo Star Jaime Komer]
Twist sideways to go in the right direction.
Doing deep spinal twists increases blood flow and actually massages your internal organs, helping to improve digestion, limit menstrual problems and kick-start metabolism. I also like to do twists to help warm up my muscles and strengthen my shoulders and back. Try it: Sit on the floor with one foot placed over the opposite knee while keeping your spine long; place your elbow on your knee for support. Twist your shoulders as far as is comfortable to one side, holding for 30–45 seconds before you twist to the opposite side. Repeat three times in both directions.
Brew a different kind of cup to feel better without caffeine.
After traveling all day or indulging in too much food or drink, brew yourself some ginger tea. The spicy drink has been shown to help balance blood sugar, calm the digestive track and alleviate nausea. Ginger root is also an anti-inflammatory and can help relieve congestion. Try it: Mince peeled organic ginger into thin slices, about one-half inch. Add to boiling water and allow to steep for at least 5–10 minutes and up to overnight. Serve with freshly squeezed lemon for added flavor. Drink after meals or before bed.
A spoonful of honey can help your detox go down.
Even if you said you’d give up sugar for the New Year, make an exception for honey. Full of vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron, honey has been used for its health and medicinal benefits for centuries. With anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, honey, even in small amounts, can help build the immune system and prevent illness. It’s also been shown to naturally soothe sore throats and suppress irritating winter coughs that never seem to ever go away. And if you buy local honey, it can help the body build histamines against natural allergens in your area. Try it: Add a small spoonful of locally sourced honey to tea or hot water with lemon and sip at night in lieu of dessert.
[More from Excelle Sports: Six Olympic athletes share their favorite holiday recipes]
Add more spice to your life.
You’ve heard of superfoods? Well, think of cinnamon as the super spice. This aromatic elixir has been shown to help fight inflammation and muscle soreness, thanks to antioxidants and other compounds that boost circulation, aid in digestion and help improve immune function. Cinnamon has also been shown to balance blood sugar after too many cookies or cocktails and can stand in for a sweet treat when you’re trying to stay away from unhealthy foods. Try it: Add fresh cinnamon sticks to hot tea or stir one teaspoon of ground cinnamon into oatmeal, cereal or any hot beverage, including coffee, tea or hot water with lemon.
Chew on the stinking rose.
Yes, your breath might smell, but chewing on a clove of the stinking rose, otherwise known as garlic, can help optimize the health benefits of the plant, one of the oldest cultivated ones on the planet. Full of vitamins, iron and magnesium, garlic has been found to improve metabolism, stimulate digestion and flush out toxins. The bulb also has antibiotic compounds that can help your body to prevent or fight illness. Try it: Chew one fresh, peeled clove garlic everyday. While its medicinal benefits are most effective when consumed raw, you’ll still get a health kick by consuming cooked garlic: Add chopped cloves to soups, sautés, sauces and any other savory foods for more flavor.
Excelle Sports lifestyle content developer Kim Vandenberg is an Olympic bronze medalist, Pan American gold medalist, World Championship silver medalist and three-time U.S. national champion and French national champion in swimming. She’s also a member of Excelle’s Athletes Council.