After overindulging it’s time to get out of hibernation mode and clean out your home, workspace and your body! Detoxification is a process that happens in our bodies every single minute of every day. We accumulate toxins from our environment, the food we eat and through chemical reactions occurring within your body.
So if your body detoxifies every day then why do we need to do a detox program? The answer is that the body was never built to deal with this huge influx of toxins, leading to increased build up in the tissues and subsequent dis-ease. Add this to the fact that our diets are less than optimal and you have the recipe for a toxic concoction brewing right within your very tissues.
Sound scary? Not to fear as there are lots of things that you can do to naturally enhance your detoxification pathways and rid your body of these excess toxins. It is beneficial to undertake a specific detoxification program at least twice per year (depending on the amount of retoxing) to get your body squeaky clean again.
There are dozens of types of detox’s available, with some incorporating just a few dietary changes and other being more complex, involving supplements to help to enhance the process. It is important to look at what your body needs specifically, rather than doing a ‘detox kit’ or something along those lines.
Our naturopaths can develop a tailored detoxification routine for your specific needs, including herbal medicines which help to improve the function of the detoxification organs; the liver, kidneys, bowel and skin. Here’s how your detoxification organs work:
The liver is one of the most important detoxification organs, having the job of breaking down toxic substances and releasing for excretion via the bowels and kidneys. The function of the liver can be easily compromised by drinking alcohol, taking drugs and even eating lots of artificial food additives such as MSG, artificial sweeteners, food colouring and preservatives. An absolute must in any good detox must be to avoid drinking alcohol and soft drinks, which hinder the livers performance. Coffee should also be avoided for best results.
The kidneys filter around 1 litre of blood every minute, passing it through small tubes which act to filter out impurities and excrete urine. The kidneys job in detoxification is not possible with adequate water intake. It goes without saying that any good detoxification routine should include lots of pure, filtered water to help to flush wastes out of the system. During a detox program you should aim to be drinking at least 2 litres of water every day, more if exercising or sweating. Saunas are a good inclusion in a detoxification routine as the skin acts like a basic kidney, so sweating helps to detoxify the body.
The bowel is the third major detoxification organ. Without adequate bowel function excreted toxins will get reabsorbed into your system. This means that it is absolutely essential that constipation is treated before undertaking any detoxification program. Constipation is passing a bowel movement any less frequently than once per day, every single day. Constipation can usually be easily treated by a Brisbane Natural Health naturopath or acupuncturist. To encourage bowel movement during detoxification eat lots of fibrous foods, such as fruit, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains. Like the kidneys adequate water is needed for good bowel health.
The lymphatic system
Also worth mentioning when looking at detoxification is the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that carry a clear fluid throughout the body, helping to eliminate wastes from the tissues. Your lymphatic system is pumped along only by movement of your muscles. This means that exercise is very important. Massage can also help to stimulate lymphatic flow, as can drinking lots of water.
The skin is the largest organ in your body and has an essential role in detoxification. The skin acts like a rudimentary kidney – helping to cleanse your blood and excrete toxins through your sweat pores. It is important while you are detoxing to try and sweat regularly – exercise and saunas are both effective ways to do this. Avoiding antiperspirants is also important because they block the natural excretion of sweat and toxins.
This is a detoxification program that almost anyone can do. It will help to enhance liver, kidney and bowel function and aims to reduce the toxic load in the diet. For those with health conditions or digestive issues, seeing a naturopath and getting a tailored plan is recommended.
- Start your day with the freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon in a glass of warm water. This helps to stimulate your liver and digestion and lemons are very detoxifying. Rinse your mouth out with a little fresh water afterwards.
- Avoid alcohol, coffee and all soft drinks to help out your liver. Soda water and lemon or lime is a good substitute.
- Drink at least 2 litres of purified water every day. If you don’t
- Avoid plastics, especially water bottles, food storage and heating in plastics. Plastic contains toxins which accumulate and imbalance your hormones. Use stainless steel water bottles, glass or ceramic for storage.
- Eat organic wherever possible. This is especially important for eggs, dairy, chicken, soft fruit and vegetables. Try to find a farmers market or get delivery if you can.
- Eat only wholegrain unprocessed products. This means no white rice, pasta, cereals, cakes, biscuits or commercial breads. Good whole grain options are brown rice, quinoa, oats, wholegrain sourdough bread (like sol breads). Wholegrain means made from the whole grain, and does not include multigrain and wholemeal products, which are usually white flour based with grains or fibre added in.
- Eat lots of green leafies every day, This includes spinach, silver beet, kale, rocket and dark lettuces. Green leafy vegetables have amazing detoxifying properties being rich in vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll.
- Exercise at least 3 times a week for 40 minutes. Try to work up a sweat to aid detoxification, and don’t wear deodorant (unless natural) or antiperspirants that are laden with chemicals!
- Have a large fresh vegetable juice at least once a day. Good choices include celery, beetroot, carrot, ginger, cucumber, spinach and cabbage. Add a small amount of fruit to improve taste if needed.
- Avoid sugar. This includes added sugars in foods so beware! Other names for sugar to look out for on an ingredient list are glucose, sucrose, maltose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice. Get your sweet kick out of natural fruits and vegetables, or perhaps some natural organic yoghurt and honey.
- Eat lots of legumes – chickpeas, beans, lentils. They are a good source of protein and are high in soluble and insoluble fibre.
- Snack on raw nuts and seeds every day, especially brazil nuts (maximum 4 a day), almonds, walnuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds.
- Take a look at your cosmetics, hair and skin are that you use every day. Are they laden with chemicals? The average woman uses over 450 different chemicals on her skin every day. Many of these have been indetified as causing health probelms. Switch to 100% natural skin care ranges that are free from all toxins and based on herbs and antioxidants. Visit our Healthy Living Store for some great options.
- Avoid sources of BPA like plastic water bottles, food containers and canned food. More about BPA here.
The Naturopathic Detox
Doing the above will help to cleanse your body, but pairing these actions with some good quality herbal medicine and nutritional support. To support your detox our naturopaths can prescribe herbs and nutrients that help to enhance liver function, up-regulate detoxification processes and support your bowel and kidney function. Often when detoxifying the first place to start is the gut, so often our naturopaths will start with a gut cleansing protocol and follow with liver support after this is completed.
Detoxifying for as little as 2 weeks can be helpful but most of our patients need a little longer than this to make more profound changes – perhaps 4-6 weeks. The benefit of seeing a naturopath is that they can assess your whole health and look at healing your whole body as well as detoxifying. This can mitigate any detox reactions such as headaches or fatigue that can happen if you release toxins without the proper preparation.