Every year spring offers us the chance for a new beginning. A time to plant seeds
and see what grows. After a long, dreary and sometimes sluggish winter, spring is a
fabulous time to clean up parts of our lives, and our diets are no exception.
People are always asking me my thoughts on nutritional ‘detoxing’. It certainly is
a term you are hearing more of, and it makes me wonder how many people are using it and selling it as the next weight loss fad.
With popularity come a lot of misconceptions, so I’m here to clear up a few facts for you this spring. *See if you know which of these statements are true and which are true.
#1. You have to go on a detoxification program in order for your body to detoxify.
False. Your body was built to detoxify. Our liver is our master detoxifier, filtering external toxins such as air pollution, food additives, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and industrial toxins; and internal toxins such as the by-products of metabolism. Your body is detoxifying 24/7.
#2. Your liver needs specific nutrients to detoxify properly.
True. There are two phases of detoxification in the liver and each phase needs a handful of different nutrients as co-factors for chemical processes. B vitamins, folic acid, antioxidants, vitamin E, vitamin C, amino acids, selenium and zinc are just a few needed for each pathway.
#3. Since our bodies are detoxifying all the time, we don’t need to do seasonal cleanses.
False. In theory, we shouldn’t need to do anything special, but unfortunately our bodies have never been under such stress as we are in today’s world. Thousands of new chemicals are introduced into our environments, food and beauty products each year. We overburden our liver with these toxins and heavy diets full of processed food. There are numerous studies showing our high levels of toxicity in our blood which means our bodies have more than they can handle. If our bodies cannot detoxify and eliminate effectively, these toxins will re-circulate.
#4. Cleansing involves fasting and starvation.
False. Fasts and starvation diets don’t provide the nutrients and fiber you need to cleanse efficiently. Most people feel ill on a low calorie, nutrient poor diet, while cleansing is supposed to make you feel energized, happy and clear headed. While short term fasting can rest your digestive system, it is not recommended unless you are experienced at cleanses and have a strong disposition with no pre-existing health problems.
Tips for Safe and Effective Cleansing
#1. Start with your diet. Increase your supply of antioxidant and fiber rich fruits and vegetables, including lots of raw vegetables. Remove processed foods and other sources of artificial ingredients and additives, and lighten your load on heavy or hard to digest foods such as red meat.
#2. Clean up your environment. Check your ingredient list on your cleaning products and beauty products you use daily. These chemicals bipass liver detoxification by going directly through your skin into your blood. Are these daily products adding to your toxic load?
#3. Open the ‘doors of elimination’. Your ‘doors of elimination’ need to be open in order to ensure toxins are being removed from your body and not being re-absorbed. Your doors include:
- a. Bowels. Your liver dumps all your wastes into your bowels to be removed from your body. If your bowels aren’t moving properly (1-3 times a day), some of these toxins could be re-absorbed and re-circulate in your body. Ensure you are eating 30-40 grams of fiber a day (combined with lots of water) from plant foods, or take a natural fiber supplement such as psyllium husk to help move things along. This is always important, but especially during a cleanse.
- b. Lungs. Deep breathing and exercise helps remove toxins through your lungs efficiently.
- c. Skin. Being your largest organ, a lot of waste is eliminated through your skin. Sweating daily, skin dry brushing and not clogging your pores with lotions and products will help you detoxify much more thoroughly.
- d. Lymphatic System. Many toxins are stored in your lymphatic fluid which are eventually dumped into your spleen and bowel for removal. Ensure your lymphatic fluid is moving through movement, exercise and massaging the lymph nodes.
- e. Urinary System. Drink lots of pure water until your urine is clear and odourless.
#4. Make a sacrifice. Not in biblical terms, but modern terms. Give up at least one thing you feel may becoming a vice, something that may be making you feel sluggish or you could do without temporarily. Coffee, bread, sugar, alcohol, processed foods and/or red meat are good options.
#5. Support with supplements. Taking a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement along with digestive support supplements such as probiotics and fiber can ensure you are getting the detoxification support nutrients and eliminating properly.
#6. Re-introduce slowly. This is a fantastic and affordable way to test for allergies and sensitivities. Re-introduce any eliminated foods one at a time and watch to see how you feel and react. Take 1-2 days for each suspected food.
Cleansing does not have to be complicated, expensive, or extreme. It is always a good idea to be educated and supported when doing cleanses for the first time. If you have further questions or want to make sure you are doing a cleanse safely and efficiently, seek the guidance of a health professional such as a nutritionist or naturopathic doctor.