Detoxification should be an essential part of everyone’s health plan. While our bodies do have built in mechanisms to neutralize and eliminate toxins, our systems are unable to keep up to the overload of toxins we are ingesting from our environment in our food, air and water. Toxins, when they build up in our body, cause damage to our tissues and serve as an obstacle for the body to function optimally.
Unable to effectively deal with the toxic overload, toxins accumulate in the liver and tissues of the body, spill off into our blood stream and are sequestered and stored in our fat tissue (which includes our brain and breast tissue). When they circulate in our body they act as free radicals, cause oxidative stress and make it difficult for our organs and systems to function properly. Organ and system dysfunction contributes to many of the health issues that are common in our culture today and this makes it difficult for our body to heal itself when challenges arise.
I recommend that my patients do a detox of some kind soon after we start working together. There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, it allows me to understand what portion of an individuals health issues are due to more superficial causes such as toxic overload. Secondly, it removes some of the toxic burden and makes everything else I do with my patients more effective. Often, I find that simply doing a detox can give the body the kick-start it needs to heal.
Detoxification techniques come in a variety of “shapes and sizes”. There are smoothie detoxes, fasting detoxes, herbal detoxes, homeopathic detoxes, nutrient detoxes, and detoxes using liquids such as teas and soups. Depending on the patient and their health history, I will recommend something simple to start and as the patient becomes more experienced with detoxing, will recommend something deeper and more challenging for them.
Detoxes can vary in length from 1 day to 1 month or longer depending on the individual. For patients who have never done a detox before usually 5-12 days is enough. Some people prefer to do a slower, longer detox over 30 days. While others incorporate a day of detoxification every week.
Every detox program should incorporate diet changes as well. From simple changes such as cutting out sugar or coffee to a full elimination/hypoallergenic diet, there are many options. Some people will also incorporate fasting into their detox protocol. I usually only suggest this for people after they have some experience detoxing.
One of the issues that happens during a detox is that people try to do too much the first time they detox and they end up getting sick. It’s important not to overdo it, especially the first time, as your body has lots of accumulated toxins and will need to release and eliminate them slowly and safely. This is why it’s a good idea to consult a Naturopathic Doctor before you do a detox for this first time. They can help to determine your overall toxic burden and design a personalized program that fits your needs so that you don’t overdo it and get sick.
Also, it is essential that your body is eliminating toxins as they are being released. The body typically eliminates toxins in 2 phases. In phase I toxins are transformed into “intermediary metabolites” which are then passed through phase II to be neutralized and eliminated. If the body isn’t able to detoxify and eliminate effectively these substances can cause damage to the body. It’s important to ensure that your bowels are functioning well throughout the program. As long as you are eliminating daily it’s not a major concern. Drinking at least 2 litres of water and herbal teas every day should ensure that you eliminate effectively and stay hydrated.
In addition to following a detox protocol on a regular basis (I recommend 2-4 times a year) there are lots of ways to support your body’s daily effort to detoxify. Here is a list of 10 suggestions to support daily detoxification and reduce the accumulation of systemic toxins:
- Reduce your exposure by choosing less toxic foods and products.
- Drink water with lemon every morning.
- Take chlorophyll and spirulina.
- Include foods to support the detoxification pathways of the body: cruciferous vegetables, lemon, leafy greens, beets, artichokes, radish, garlic, onions, berries, green tea, and whole grain foods.
- Dry skin brushing.
- Nasal lavage.
- Reduce stress.
- Sleep for at least 8 hours every night.
- Breath deeply.
- Think positively.
The final important guideline to effective detoxification is replenishing the good bacteria in your gut. Probiotics like acidophilus and bifidus are essential to proper bowel function and elimination of toxins. Once you finish cleansing your system, taking a probiotic will ensure better digestive function and support healthy detoxification in your body on an ongoing basis.
Incorporating regular detoxification practices into your health plan will ensure that you have energy and vitality to feel great and live your best life possible.
Join us for our next 4 Weeks to Detoxify Your Life on January 8th!