Believe it or not, we are living in a pretty toxic world these days!
Yep, sounds confronting doesn’t it?!
But DON’T panic! Instead come with me on a little journey….
I’m going to take you down the “Who, What, Where, Why and When” path of the Detox business (just not in that exact order ha ha).
What is Detox?
Detoxification or cleansing (a much friendlier word for it) is a completely natural, built-in healing mechanism of everyone’s body system. How well this built-in cleansing system operates and how efficient it is can vary from person to person, so it’s important to investigate exactly what’s going on with each individual system before you get started.
There’s a series of major organs involved in the detox process including;
The lungs, liver, kidneys, skin, digestive system, lymphatic system and basically every cell in the human body!
These organs and cells are all designed to constantly gather toxins that enter the body’s system from the external and internal world and filter them, allowing for the safe removal of these toxins so that our body can function at its optimal health.
Detox helps to cleanse and purify the body system allowing for its optimal function, it aids in rest and recovery, balancing the natural processes of the body by supporting the natural detox pathways and helps to take the environmental burden off the body.
Why should you Detox?
When the body produces signs and symptoms like illness, disease or discomfort it is a way that the body communicates its needs with us. When the body is under pressure Detox is a way of alleviating some of these signs and symptoms. We are constantly exposed to potential toxins through experiences like stress, we may need to take medications, live in polluted cities or use chemicals on our skin, on our food or in the home.
Medications can help to support the body but can also load the body’s detox pathways as they are broken down.
Stress produces stress hormones in our body and these hormones need to be processed and regulated through the liver system and have an impact on all areas of the body, which are sometimes helpful, and sometimes not so helpful, especially when they are out of balance.
Some of the positive outcomes of doing a supported Detox are;
- Reduce inflammation
- Help with weight loss or weight management
- Regulate blood sugar and moods
- Help our major organs to function better
- Healthy, glowing skin
- Support better digestive function
- Healthy reproductive function
- Reduce allergies, hay fever and sinusitis
It’s interesting when you look at common health complaints like hay fever, allergies and sinusitis, which are conditions of the immune system when it is out of regulation. This imbalance creates extra pressure on the body system by driving inflammation markers to increase, which causes stress and aggravation. This extra pressure takes its toll over time and uses a lot of extra nutrients and energy. It can also make us more susceptible to display more unwanted and annoying signs and symptoms.
Let’s look at the role of one of the major organs of detoxification, the Liver a bit closer.
The liver works hard to keep our body in optimal balance and I often refer to the liver as being “the filter of the swimming pool of the body”. Just like a swimming pool filter, the liver can get clogged up and struggle to function at its optimum (especially after a storm = liver loaders).
We call agents that clog the liver “liver loaders” and just like the storm that clogs the swimming pool filter, we have storms in life that can clog our liver filter. I’m sure you might already have a clue on what some of these liver loaders are…
Yep that’s right – alcohol, caffeine and processed and refined sugar & foods are the main external liver loaders. Some people call me a spoil sport when I tell them this, especially if they are relying on these “liver loading” substances to get them by every day! Now I’m NOT talking about never being able to enjoy some of these liver loader’s, some of the time. It’s simply a matter of bringing your awareness to just how many and how frequently these “liver loaders” are entering your system, as they can start to slow down your natural detox pathways over time, particularly if they are over indulged in or if you never give yourself a rest from them day in and day out.
So in essence the idea of a detox or cleanse is to give yourself a rest from the day to day “liver loader’s” that sometimes unconsciously creep into our everyday routines and become a bit of a crutch to help us cope in the world.
What else loads the liver?
There are many things that put pressure on the day to day functioning of the body system and they all need to be excreted daily so that our body can continue to live in good health.
Some of these loads include;
- Environmental pollutants like herbicides and pesticides that are sprayed on our fruit and veggies.
- Car fumes and industrial wastes like mining sites, chemicals like paints, solvents, glues, plastics that we wrap our food in, chemicals that we layer on our body in the name of fashion and beauty.
- Cigarette smoke, drugs both recreational and medicinal, chemicals added to our drinking water, heavy metals found in amalgam fillings and the deep-sea fish that we consume like tuna and salmon.
- Stress! Stress hormones create a cascade of hormone production in our body and these hormones trigger other responses such as inflammation, metabolic waste and a host of other issues. The liver’s job is to filter hormones from the body system and regulate their production, which helps to mediate the level of inflammation and metabolic waste produced. This can be a difficult task if the liver is already full and working hard.
When should you detox?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a healing art form that has been practised around the world for over 2000 years, spring is the time of the year where the liver and the gallbladder are most active and as the liver is considered one of the major organs involved in the detox process, this could make the spring time a supportive time to help give the body a bit of a helping hand!
The time of day the energy of the body is working on one of our major detox organs –the liver- is between about 1am and 3am. I’m often checking in with my clients to see if they are waking up at this time and use it as an indication to assess how well their natural liver detox pathways are functioning.
Who should Detox?
Not everyone should attempt giving extra support to their natural Detox process. There are Contraindications (meaning times when it is not safe) to Detox. Some of the Contraindications around Detox include;
- Pregnancy and breast feeding
- Type 1 diabetes or insulin dependence
- Advanced stage cancer or any disease that needs close monitoring
- If you are losing weight rapidly
- Taking certain medications like blood thinners, anticonvulsants, certain heart medications.
- Adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue.
How long is a Detox?
There’s no set rule to the length of time an individual can Detox for, that is an important decision that needs to be assessed on an individual basis and discussed with your health care practitioner (naturopath’s are really good at this!) before you get started.
There are however some general guidelines, which can range anywhere from 1-3 days up to 1-3 weeks. Some specific Detox programs can even be supported for up to 6 weeks where indicated.
How do you Detox?
Unfortunately, there is NO blanket statement to this question, as everyone is completely individual on a biochemical level and therefore will have different needs to the next person. In saying that there are a few “rule of thumbs” to consider with a supported Detox program.
- Reducing the workload of the digestive system is one of them. Decreasing the amount of food you normally eat throughout the day can be helpful. For example, you might try a protein smoothie in the morning, have your larger main meal for lunch and try a light snack or another protein smoothie for dinner.
- Choose healthy snack options during the day and have no more than 2x pieces of fruit per day. Try a handful of raw, activated nuts and seeds instead.
- Use whole, clean foods that are non-reactive to your body system. Use organically grown or spray free where possible.
- Choose clean, pure liquids like filtered water, avoid sparkling or mineral water as it can be acidic to some systems.
- Avoid processed sugar, dairy, soy, gluten and eggs as these food group can be agitating to many people’s digestive system and are often over consumed.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, processed and refined (packet) foods.
- Get good rest and try to average 8 hrs sleep per night, try to get into bed by 930pm each night.
- Include stress management techniques like-meditation, deep breathing, stretching, yoga or gentle exercise as these are gentle and opening, which helps to activate the detox pathways.
- Indulge in some good Sun medicine (see my blog for more)
- Speak to your health care practitioner about extra nutrients and support if needed.
- Think positive thoughts and be grateful daily. Avoid stressful people and situations
- Spend time in nature recharging your vitality and calming your nervous system
Where should you Detox?
You can pretty much Detox where every you want; there’s no formal setting require. However, if you find yourself easily distracted or are particularly lacking in self-discipline then you may consider going to Detox retreat, where you can be fully supported with the Detox process.
A great resource to help you get a bit more “Hip” on the supported Detox scene is a book called “Clean” by Dr Alejandro Junger. Please note that before you consider a supported Detox, it is essential that you see your health care practitioner so that they can assess whether a supported Detox is safe for you. Naturopath’s are highly skilled at supporting the Detox process, so if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Much love and may your body be “cleansed” with good health