Is it time to Detox Your Body?
We are exposed to a variety of toxins every day through the air we breathe and the food we eat. Even the products we use on our hair, skin, and nails can contain toxins. Bacteria, pesticides, fertilizers, air pollutants, plasticizers, heavy metals, secondhand smoke, and gas fumes are just some of the many toxins we face daily. When our bodies are working optimally, our organs can process these toxins and eliminate them efficiently. We look and feel good.
But what happens when our systems are overloaded with toxins and the elimination process becomes sluggish? Some signs may include fatigue, headaches, brain fog, joint pain, constipation, rashes, eczema, food sensitivities, allergies, weight gain, asthma, nausea, indigestion, gastritis, anxiety, and depression. Over the long term, the build-up of environmental toxins in our body may start to cause symptoms and may even contribute to the development of chronic disease.
What is a Detox?
Detoxification, also known as cleansing, is a way to help keep our main organs of elimination – the kidneys, liver, large intestine, lymphatic system, and sweat glands – running efficiently. Taking purposeful actions that help to remove these built-up toxins supports the body’s natural pathways of elimination.
A Typical Cleansing Routine
“Doing” a cleanse or detox typically means following a short-term dietary plan, alongside increased hydration and some natural supplements that support the body’s processes. Medical research shows variable results as to the measurable effectiveness of detoxification. But talk to anyone who includes detox in their wellness routine, and you will often hear that they feel much healthier after a detox. They report feeling lighter and brighter, some symptoms go away, pain decreases, people sleep better, energy tends to come back, the skin clears up and sometimes weight loss can start to happen. It feels like a fresh start.
Boxed Detox Kits
While there are several “detoxification kits” available in health food stores or online, they have been developed for a mass market, and as such will not suit everyone. Some are mild while others can be on the extreme side. If you take any medications or suffer from any pre-existing conditions, they can even be dangerous. At Mind-Body Integrative Medicine, we advocate a gentle and ongoing lifestyle approach to detoxification, and one that is customized to your body’s specific needs. It is important to work with your healthcare practitioner to make sure that you’re cleansing correctly, keep track of your results and ensure that any supplements you take are of the highest quality and appropriate for you.
The following is a primer on some of the different types of cleanses designed to kick-start a healthier lifestyle and help steer us away from chronic disease. Always discuss any dietary changes, detoxes or cleanses with your healthcare practitioner prior to starting, to ensure it’s right for you.
A digestive detox is a gentle detoxification plan aimed at supporting the body’s main elimination system through specific foods and supplementation. It focuses on reducing potentially inflammatory animal products such as meat and dairy as well as potential intestinal irritants such as gluten and caffeine. Fresh and ideally organic fruits and vegetables are encouraged, as are fermented foods and increased water consumption. Alcohol is avoided as are processed foods, including those high in refined sugars, preservatives, and other additives. Supplementation is encouraged, particularly those that aid digestion and support the liver. Common supplements taken during a digestive detox are probiotics, dandelion, milk thistle, burdock root, digestive enzymes and a fiber supplement that is right for your body.
Juice or Liquid Cleanse
A juice or liquid cleanse approaches detoxification by only consuming juices or liquids for a set amount of time, typically lasting between 3 – 10 days. Fresh juices are pressed from ideally organic vegetables and some fruits, contain no additives or sweeteners, and the pulp is not consumed. Frankly, I do NOT advocate for juice cleanses because they can be too high in sugar. They also have had the body of the food, the fiber removed so one is not consuming the whole food. Caffeine is prohibited as is alcohol. Lemon juice and spices that stimulate the digestive process, and thus detoxification, such as cayenne and ginger are often included in the juices.
The reasoning behind the juice or liquid cleanse is that by only consuming liquids, especially those that are high in enzymes, the body is given a rest from the physical process of breaking down food, while still being fully nourished with micronutrients and natural sugar. I believe there are better ways to achieve these goals. Studies have shown that during the cleanse, an increase in intestinal microbiota associated with weight loss and increased health may occur. However, a liquid cleanse is not safe for everyone and should be supervised.
The paleo cleanse is a high fat, low carb diet based on the premise that our bodies run optimally eating on par with how our ancestors ate during pre-agricultural times, aka during the Paleolithic era dating from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. The reasoning behind the cleanse is the belief that our bodies have not had time to fully adapt to eating dairy and grains, (and of course most have not adapted to eating the processed foods developed over the last century either). By reducing carbohydrates, many report more balanced blood sugar metabolism.
A paleo cleanse focuses on eating high quality pastured, grass fed or wild meats, fish (especially cold-water fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids), nuts & seeds and their oils, as well as unrefined olive, coconut and avocado oils, most vegetables, and some fruit. Foods to avoid during a paleo cleanse are dairy, grains, legumes, refined sugars, salt, and processed foods.
Rather than focusing on detoxification in general, the liver detox focuses on supporting the liver as it is the body’s primary detoxification organ. Organic whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetables, fruits, lean meats, eggs, and fish are encouraged, as are unprocessed oils. Alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and refined sugars are eliminated while water intake (with the addition of lemon juice in the morning glass) is increased.
Specific foods have been researched for their ability to support liver function, and increased consumption of these are encouraged. They include beets, ginger, garlic, turmeric, lemon, lime, apple cider vinegar, carrots, green apples, leafy greens, and walnuts. Herbal teas or supplements containing milk thistle and dandelion root are also used to support the different channels of detoxification in the liver.
How We Can Support Your Detox Goals
Talk to your practitioner about choosing the right detox or cleanse to support your health goals.We can run lab tests to compare results before and after your program and provide you with a structured meal plan to help you succeed. Book an appointment for a Discovery Call and together we can move forward to a healthier future.
You can schedule a time for a Discovery Call at this link: DISCOVERY CALL
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