Modern-day living comes with abundance, especially in the West. The abundance of food, an abundance of drinkable water… and an abundance of toxins.
In the quest to preserve and make things more convenient, we’ve tipped the scales and introduced a copious amount of unhealthy substances that can wreak havoc on our internal systems.
Detoxing is something that your body does constantly. But in today’s society, the relentless onslaught tends to wear your systems out.
How can you support your normal detoxing pathways in order to optimize the cleansing process? This article shares some helpful insights.
Let’s start with understanding what you’re up against when it comes to detoxing.
What does it mean to detox?
To “detox” means that you’re trying to get rid of toxins. Your body is already doing this all the time, automatically.
Toxins are substances that are harmful to the body. These contaminants can be found in your water, household cleaners, snack foods, and even your environment.
Normally your body takes toxins and processes them through your liver. After they exit the liver, they travel through your lymphatic system, kidneys, and urinary system in order to leave the body.
When the liver gets overwhelmed, toxins get transferred to your fat to be taken care of at a later time. And if you don’t take care of it, eventually the toxins build up, making you vulnerable to several problems including a condition called fatty liver (1).
According to scientists Ron Milo and Ron Sender, your body regenerates about 330 billion cells (2) every day (2). While most of these cells are blood, your body still has to get rid of the debris. This is part of the everyday detoxing process.
Did you know that fevers can also be one way the body detoxes? Fevers increase blood flow and can encourage sweating (3). This helps the body get rid of unwanted waste.
Out with the old, in with the new.
How Your Body Detoxes
If detoxing were a show, your liver would be the main star.
There are actually two phases of detoxing (4) that the liver goes through:
Phase 1: In this phase, a group of enzymes called CYP450 work together to break down hormones such as cholesterol, estrogen, and vitamin D. They also break down toxins and turn them into a less harmful version of themselves, so to speak. This is done through oxidation, reduction, and hydrolysis (when chemicals react with water).
Phase 2: The second phase is called “conjugation”, or joining together. Amino acids like methylation, acetylation, and glutathione are recruited and joined with water-soluble molecules. This combination helps transport toxins out of the liver and into your elimination systems (urine, sweat, etc).
Ways to Help
In a world where you are constantly being bombarded by toxins, your body needs all the help it can get. What can you do to help your body detox efficiently?
There are some foods that you should include and some you should avoid.
- Foods to add in: Foods that are detox friendly (5) include grapefruit, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, beets, artichokes, spinach, and kale. These are due to the high antioxidant and vitamin properties.
- Foods to leave out/avoid: Foods that are not detox friendly (6) are wheat, alcohol, caffeine, sugars, and bad fats (canola, bacon grease, etc.). These foods bring in more of what you’re trying to purge out.
- Hydration: Staying well hydrated is essential for optimal health. You may have heard that your body is made of up to 60% water, but what does that mean, exactly?
It means that your blood vessels, intestines, nervous system, joints, connective tissue, brain, down to the very cell, need adequate water to facilitate chemical processes.
Not all water is created equal, though. Bottled, tap, spring, distilled... how do you choose? For detoxing purposes, avoid tap water due to the chemicals that are added to it. Spring water can be a great choice because of the natural minerals it contains.
It might be tempting to think that simply adding a few foods here and subtracting a few foods there will put you on the path to success.
The truth is there may come a time where an elimination diet is the only way to go. With an elimination diet, you essentially remove or “eliminate” toxin laden foods for a specific amount of time, usually 5-7 days .
This gives the body time to “detox itself” unhindered by the barrage of toxins normally found in most of the shelf foods. What you chose to eliminate is a matter of discussion but in its more severe form eating only organic vegetables and fruits with lots of water should help the body work its wonders without interference.
This is an excellent detox strategy. Why? Because an elimination diet helps give your body a break while it heals itself.
Think about it, if you are continuing to burden your liver with inflammatory or toxic substances, it won’t be able to right the wrongs. Only providing it with liver-friendly foods will be like a breath of fresh air to your body, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Consider undertaking an elimination diet twice a year (every 6 months) to help reset your entire system. Your liver and other organs will thank you.
If you’re unsure how to properly perform an elimination diet, talk with your doctor or certified nutritionist. They can guide you on how and when to remove certain foods, and when to safely re-introduce them (if you do at all).
Some herbs (8) work specifically with the liver to streamline the detoxing process. Some of the best herbs for this are:
- Milk thistle: While research is mixed, the flavonoid Silymarin (7) found in milk thistle has shown strong anti-inflammatory properties that support liver cells in particular.
- Dandelion: This misunderstood plant is packed with vitamins and minerals. Every part of the plant can be used and has been believed to help both the liver and gallbladder.
- Cilantro: The chemical compounds found in cilantro have been observed to bind to toxic metals found in the body. It loosens them up, making them easier to expel. This process is sometimes referred to as chelation.
- Turmeric: A member of the ginger family, this powerful herb has been used in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It helps to stimulate bile production, which aids in the elimination of toxic substances.
- Red Clover: This herb contains lots of isoflavones, which are compounds that have estrogen-like effects on the body. They can help stimulate bile production, as well as flush excess fluids from the body.
While some view sleep as a waste of time, it’s one of the best things you can do for your body.
Sleep helps your body reset itself. Your digestive tract slows down, and your brain has a chance to process information from the day. Research has shown the brain is more effective at removing toxins during the third and fourth stage (9), rather than during hours you’re awake.
Toxins are everywhere in today’s world, and your body is constantly in the process of removing old waste. Sometimes it needs a little help.
Incorporating specific detox-friendly foods, drinking plenty of mineral-rich water, adding herbs, and getting quality sleep can all help your body perform at optimal levels.
Do you feel it’s time for a reset? Let us know!