College students are prone to periods where they feel sluggish or unmotivated, referred to as the "college blues." Constant stress fosters a reliance on sugar or caffeine-based beverages to keep our energy up. Although it may help with reaching short-term goals, a dependence on caffeine can hurt more in the long-term by introducing toxins to our systems. Our occasional lack of motivation could likely come as the result of those excess toxins in the body. Detox drinks help to flush out toxins to "naturally reduce inflammation, boost energy, support digestion, cleanse the liver and promote healthy skin," according to Dr. Josh Axe. Although drinking plenty of water is the simplest way to cleanse your body of toxins, it can be plain and monotonous. With a few simple yet powerful ingredients, you can make a variety of interesting and effective cleansing beverages.
1. The "Master Cleanse"
Used by celebrities (like Beyoncé) to lose weight fast, the Master Cleanse consists of hot water, maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. The Master Cleanse Diet involves drinking solely that concoction for ten days, with no food. According to research, this method of weight loss only diminishes water weight and lean muscle tissue (instead of actual body fat), which quickly but ineffectively sheds pounds. Although harmful when used in the extreme, The Master Cleanse makes a nice occasional cleanser. The cayenne pepper helps raise metabolism to increase energy and adds some heat to the lemon and maple. "The hot and spicy taste of cayenne pepper comes from capsaicin, a compound found in many hot peppers. Capsaicin is known to boost metabolism, causing the body to produce extra heat and burn more calories for fuel." This beverage is perfect for kickstarting your day if you want a break from coffee or tea.
The lemons are also notable for helping to clear acne. "Lemon juice [has] some acne fighting qualities and can be a cheap way to try and clear your skin. The acid in lemon juice has mild astringent qualities [that] work by constricting the body tissues and pushing the oil out of your skin. Many find that applying an astringent like lemon juice greatly reduces the redness caused by acne. The citric acid of lemon juice also acts as an antiseptic. Since bacteria have a difficult time adjusting to acidic environments, the lemon juice can help reduce the number of bacteria that are living inside or on top of your skin." Lemons also boost immune system function, as per usual with citrus fruits.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar Shots
An apple cider vinegar detox means drinking up to a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water, either before each meal or once in the morning and once at night. It shouldn't be taken on its own due to an intense taste and ability to damage tooth enamel. However, incorporating apple cider vinegar into your daily routine can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and increase heart health. According to Dr. Axe, "[Apple cider vinegar] contains an organic acid called acetic acid, which has shown to improve your metabolism. It also supports digestive function with its enzymes and probiotics, [enabling it to fight] acid reflux naturally. Add apple cider vinegar to detox drinks in order to cleanse your liver and lymphatic system. It helps balance your body’s pH and promotes cardiovascular stimulation."Researchers also note that vinegar may possess physiological effects similar to anti-diabetes medications.
3. Dandelion Tea
An unconventional source of vitamin C, dandelion tea can help reduce internal inflammation and help with mineral absorption. As crazy as it may seem, it’s safe to eat an entire dandelion - "the stem or floret can be eaten raw, boiled or infused into tea." This means that it is ridiculously easy to get your hands on this healthy ingredient. According to Dr. Axe, dandelions "are a great source of vitamin A, potassium, iron, and calcium" and are used for the "treatment of muscle aches." This vitamin-rich plant could be borderline therapeutic for overworked students.
If you're not a fan of tea, no worries! According to Livestrong, "a new "superfood" drink that is getting some buzz is dandelion coffee, an herbal drink made from roasted dandelion root, which is said to taste like coffee but have the health benefits of dandelion tea."
4. Rosemary and Strawberry Detox Water
FruitInfusedWaters.com recommends the combination of strawberry and rosemary to infuse water with a delicious and vitamin-rich duo. Strawberries contain "anti-inflammatory antioxidants... that may lower the risk for chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. The A and C vitamins [that strawberries provide] are especially necessary during the body’s detox process in order to neutralize and eliminate toxins." Strawberries are a nice addition to beverages if you are detoxing for the benefit of your long-term health.
Rosemary has stimulating effects on the mind, as it increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your head to help improve memory. Rosemary is also able to maintain the good bacteria in your body while flushing out the bad. "Rosemary cleanses the blood and helps control the growth of many pathogenic bacteria without killing the good microflora (beneficial bacteria and yeast) in your body — unlike so many antibacterial drugs which kill the good bacteria along with the bad, throwing off the balance of your inner ecosystem."
Watermelon could be incorporated either with or in place of the strawberries for variation and some extra hydration power.
5. Cucumber-Mint Infused Water
A staple summer drink, cucumber water itself is refreshing and easy to make. Cucumbers help decrease bloating and are a good source of vitamin K, which encourages healthy bones. The peel contains vitamin C, which "acts an antioxidant that seeks out and destroys free radicals [or] unstable substances that cause chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease."
Adding mint can sweeten your beverage without adding sugar. It’s perfect for when you're feeling under-the weather because it "invigorates the senses while soothing an upset stomach or indigestion." Recipes also encourage adding some lime for another boost of vitamin C.
Check out Dr. Axe's website for a comprehensive list of the most effective detox ingredients and their benefits. These ingredients can come together in an endless amount of beverage combinations, so try recommendations you see and concoct some of your own. Detox drinks can become a life-altering part of your everyday routine if you stick with them, giving you more energy daily and improving your long-term health.