You may have seen some of the headlines like the Gaurdian’s that I saw making rounds late in 2014 “you can’t detox your body. It’s a myth. So how do you get healthy?” That article is very misleading. You can detox your body and I’m going to explain why and how you can.
We have five channels of elimination in the body that help us get rid of toxins or ‘detox.’ They are: the colon, skin, lymphatic system, urinary system and the lungs. Due to the increasing toxicity of our planet by the massive overuse of chemicals the importance of these channels being open is becoming more and more important.
From the Guardian article:
If toxins did build up in a way your body couldn’t excrete, he says, you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention. “The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak,” he says. “There is no known way – certainly not through detox treatments – to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better.”
I love that part, as they don’t seem to really grasp the issue. Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno put it very well “Toxins can damage the body in an insidious and cumulative way. Once the body’s detoxification system becomes overloaded, toxic metabolites accumulate, and we become progressively more sensitive to other chemicals some of what are not normally toxic.”1
That’s exactly it, as soon as our system is overloaded the toxins continue to accumulate because our channels of elimination aren’t able to work correctly or catch up as fast. Its so very easy to overload our systems in this day and age, as toxins come from all around us, our air, water, food, household products, personal care products and the list goes on. Our current environment is a chemical soup and there is no running away from it.
People are sick or ill from toxic build up in varying degrees, from serious illnesses to low energy, headaches, and impaired concentration.1 If we are not able to get the toxins, metabolic waste and other things that are taxing and slowing our system out then how can our bodies have enough energy to do anything else or heal itself?
Our whole body is made up of cells and if our cells turn on and off different genes depending on their environment. If that environment isn’t healthy then gene expression will be off and can cause lots of issues.2 Therefore, it is essential to keep our body as clear of toxins as possible.
How does detoxification in the body work?
The body is constantly detoxing itself. The liver, our main detox organ, is constantly working to help neutralize toxins by making them water-soluble so we can excrete them. Our liver has a number of different pathways it uses to help make the toxins ready for excretion. Each pathway requires nutrients for them to work effectively. If you don’t have enough nutrients you cannot bind the toxins for excretion. There are many things that interfere with proper liver function and you’ll want to avoid if you are doing a detox such as caffeine, alcohol, medications (talk to your doctor before stopping), cigarette smoke, recreational drugs, high protein diet, steroids, over the counter drugs, birth control pills.3
Why aren’t we able to detox by ourselves?
The issue is that our bodies aren’t as healthy as they need to be and able to complete the job of detoxifying us since we are constantly dumping more toxins on top day after day, after day. We never give the body a chance to catch up. Doing a detox at least once a year is a great idea and the spring is the perfect time. It is a time of renewal and rebirth. People love to do spring cleaning of the home, why shouldn’t we treat our bodies the same way?
How to do a detox?
The first thing you want to do is to limit your toxin exposure as much a possible during this time. You can go the organic juice fast route or go with a more gentle diet 7 day clean diet for your detox.
7 day detox:
For the first three days, I would recommend trying a vegan diet with no grains and meat. Try to consume only organic produce and no processed food throughout the week. This will help to limit the number of toxins going in.
After the first three days you can introduce some meat (not more then once per day) and some grains (not more then once per day). The key here is organic. You want to reduce your exposure to chemicals as much as possible and one week of organic is the best way to make this happen with food. Try to focus your diet on organic fruits and vegetables.
Drink plenty of water, at least 2 liters per day. This will help to flush your system of the toxins your liver is neutralizing. A big warm glass of water with half a lemon squeezed into it, first thing in the morning, is wonderful to help flush your colon and alkaline your system. Make sure you rinse your mouth out after as the acid from the lemon can harm your enamel.
Exercise or walk for 20 minutes every-day. This will help to drain your lymphatic system of cellular debris and toxins.
Taking a fiber supplement can also really help. Fiber helps to bind to toxins and pull them out of the body. First, make sure you aren’t constipated as this can make the problem worse. I like to take psylium husks (avoid Metamucil as it is just powdered junk). Start with ½ a tsp and increase it to a tsp after a couple days if it sits alright with you. If you decide to stick with the fibre longer term, slowly work up to a tablespoon. Freshly ground flax is another great fibre option (same amount as psylium).
Remember you want to avoid processed foods, alcohol, caffeine and sugar as much as you can.
Supporting the liver is also key since it is our detoxification organ. A couple great supplements you can use are:
- Milk Thistle
- Dandelion Root
- Antioxidants (Vitamin C, E, Zinc, Selenium)
Things to remember:
In a detox you are throwing toxins off and expelling them from your body, this may make you feel pretty crummy for a couple days it’s not time to stop as it means it is working!
There is also a possibility you may experience a ‘healing crisis’. What is happening here is your body now has the energy and resources to fight off old toxins and issues lingering in your body so it makes a large push to eliminate a lot of toxins a once. If this happens you may get sick for a day or more. You won’t feel great when this internal battle is happening but your body will certainly feel better after!
As Lauren mentioned in her article, your body wants to be healthy but you just need to give it the tools and support. Detoxification is great support and your body will thank you by feeling better and running smoother.
This is a very rudimentary introduction to detoxification this is by no means comprehensive, if you would like to learn more about detoxification and how to do it feel free to send us an email and we can set up a session to discuss.
Happy spring cleaning!
- Michael Murray The Encylcopedia of Natural Medicine: Third edition.
- Bruce Lipton The Biology of Belief
- Patrick Holford The Optimum Nutrition Bible