Food Freedom Friday Edition 119 - Why Detox
What’s With All This Detox Talk?
A common question I often get asked is whether someone should do a ‘cleanse or ‘detox?
(Especially after 2+ months of holiday indulgences or summer vacations.)
Whether it be a juice fast or 3-day spa retreat, the idea of doing something, anything, to get back to a ‘blank slate’ is incredibly appealing - whether one is struggling with health issues or have just gained a few unwanted pounds.
The real question is do you really need to cleanse or detox your body?
The answer is, as usual, it depends. It also depends on HOW you choose to go about this process.
Something to understand is that your body does have the mechanisms and the ability to clean itself
This is something the pretty promotional package perfectly set up to sell you the 12-day juice fast cleanse might not have told you: your body actually cleans and detoxifies itself (no juice needed).
All of your organs are involved in the cleansing and detoxifying process, but there are some that are especially important:
Your liver is one of your largest organs (it weighs about 2 pounds!) and is the most important organ for detoxifying and cleansing your body. The liver has many important functions: it regulates blood composition, filters toxins out of the blood, processes the nutrients in the food you eat, and manufactures cholesterol and other important enzymes and proteins.
Your kidneys work day in and day out to filter your blood and produce urine. This process helps keep your blood composition stable and electrolyte levels balanced.
The Lymphatic System
Your lymphatic system is a series of tubes that drains lymph fluid and circulates it through the bloodstream. The lymphatic system serves several purposes. It also drains interstitial fluid and transports white blood cells, among other roles.
The world you and I live in is pretty dirty and full of nasty toxins
In a perfect world, our body’s natural detox processes would be completely adequate.
Unfortunately, we live in a very polluted world where most of us are exposed to hundreds of chemicals and toxins every day. These include but are not limited to:
· Conventional produce and factory farmed meats
· Prescription drugs
· Processed foods
· Air and water pollution
This list does not even touch on ion the additional burden chronic stress places on all of us.
So, even though your body is created to detoxify itself, because the world is so polluted and full of toxins, your natural detox systems are often over-taxed and cannot perform their duties perfectly. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help support our body to remove these toxins or at least lower your toxic load.
How To Support Your Body’s Detoxification
Reduce Exposure To Pollutants
This one is the most obvious, but also the most important. While it is impossible to completely eliminate pollutants and toxins from your life, there are easy steps you can take to reduce your exposure.
You don’t need to be perfect (trying to will only drive you crazy!). Start by swapping out the things you use the most or can most easily change. These are some of the real things I do, and encourage my clients to do to limit exposure to pollutants:
1. Replace conventional meat with grass-fed, grass-finished, organic meat from local farmers. Look for pastured pork and chicken and eggs from free-run chickens while avoiding the ‘gold standard’ of grain fed anything (including YOU).
2. Choose local, organic produce. If you can’t go 100% organic, focus on foods from the EWG’s Dirty Dozen.
3. Swap out your most-used cosmetics for natural versions.
4. Replace harsh cleaning products in your home for homemade solutions with vinegar, essential oils or probiotic cleansers.
5. Pay attention to the air quality in your city. Do your best to avoid exercising outdoors when the air quality is poor.
6. Get a water filter for your countertop, shower, or whole house.
7. Get a high-quality indoor air filter.
Changing what you put in your body is most important, but helping your body get waste out is the next best way to support detox.
Sweating is one way your body detoxes. When your toxic load is too large for your kidneys and liver to handle alone, getting a good sweat can help. Studies have demonstrated that arsenic, lead and other heavy metals can be excreted through sweat.
If you have access, sitting in a sauna is one of the best ways to work up a sweat. If you don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t get sweaty - a hard workout (if you can tolerate it), a hot yoga class (if you are comfortable in the heat) a walk in the sun, or even a hot bath can all be effective ways to get sweaty, too.
If you’re getting sweaty, be certain you’re also re-hydrating properly. This means drinking lots of clean , filtered water and adding a high quality sea salt or Himalayan salt to your diet (a pinch or 2 in a glass of water works wonderfully for electrolyte replenishment, no sugary, artificially colored drinks needed!)
If you’re not pooping regularly, you’re not detoxing properly. no matter how clean your diet or lifestyle might be. If poop is backing up, you are at increased risk for toxic megacolon, diverticulitis, impacted colon, and anal fissures. Plus, it means toxins and waste are literally just sitting in your body.
So, what is ‘regular?’ You should be going at LEAST once per day (up to after every meal is normal, too). When you do go, it should be quick and effortless and you should have a #4 on the Bristol Stool chart every time.
If you’re not there yet, here are a few recommendations:
Get a Squatty Potty to put your body in the right alignment for easy evacuation (this really works!). Another option is a stepping stool placed under the feet to raise the knees above the hips when eliminating.
· Make some dietary changes
· Avoid habit-forming laxatives (even natural ones)
· Incorporate pre- and probiotics into your daily routine
· Consider a nutritional supplement to support gut integrity and detoxification
Step Away From The Juice
It’s not as flashy as a detox kit or juice fast, but these are the real ways you can support your body in detoxing.
Pair these techniques with a healthy, customized-for-you diet and you are well on your way to supporting your body’s natural detoxification processes every day. If you are still feeling symptomatic, a medically guided detoxification regimen with both nutrition and supplement support may be necessary. If you would like to explore this option further, contact me, let’s talk.