In today’s blog Nutrition Nourishment is discussing the detoxification process and natural ways to help assist your body’s detoxing organs do their jobs more efficiently. Detoxing is an individualised approach; it can be small changes to the diet and lifestyle such as giving up smoking and alcohol for a month, or more extreme in the ways of an elimination diet and lifestyle overhaul. It’s important to remember that if chose to do a detoxification program, it must be under guidance of a qualified health professional. This will ensure individual compliance, and help reduce the likeihood of unwanted side effects, while the body is being re-programmed.
Firstly, well take a look at why it is important to detox, and then some diet and lifestyle changes that help aid in the detoxification processes within the body. Below are safety precautions and a list of possible side effects if you do choose to do a full detoxification program, however, even by making some small changes to your diet, such as introducing more fruits and vegetables and increasing water, can help aid detoxification twofold!
Detoxification is a natural metabolic process whereby the environmental and dietary toxins our body is exposed to are chemically changed into less harmful substances, and subsequently excreted from the body. Supporting detoxification is a cornerstone of Naturopathic Medicine, and aims to address dietary and lifestyle factors to reduce the burden placed on your detoxification system, while simultaneously supporting the capacity of your key detoxing organs. The four key therapeutic goals of the detox program are to reduce dietary toxins, improve detox capacity, neutralise free radicals and eliminate waste products. The ultimate goal in detoxification is to follow a protocol that is safe and effective, and enables optimal health.
Our bodies are designed to be able to process and remove toxins through elimination channels including our digestive system, liver and kidneys. Individual variation may alter how toxins are affecting the body’s health. This can be due to:
- Toxin Burden: This represents the level of exposure to various toxins and may include dietary allergens such as gluten, food additives and preservatives. Occupational, environmental or lifestyle related toxins including cigarette smoking, or exposure to hazardous chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, cleaning agents, or some chemicals used within cosmetics can all add to your toxic burden. Toxins can also be created internally as part of normal, healthy metabolic processes or by bacteria in the digestive tract or recirculation of waste from the bowel.
- Toxin resistance: This describes the ability to process and eliminate toxins effectively and refers to the impact they may be having on your health. In the modern world, it is less common for health issues to arise as a result of the additive effects of low-levels exposure to a broad range of dietary and environmental toxins.
The Detox Diet
- Plant-based. Encourages liberal amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits and spices, legumes, nuts and seeds and moderate amounts of whole grains. Organic where possible to reduce carcinogens, pesticide and herbicide exposure.
- Low-saturated Fats: Diets that are high in sat fat have been found to encourage the circulation of components of harmful bacteria from the digestive system into the blood stream, which contributes to toxic burden.
- Whole food: Eliminates refined, processed or packaged foods that tend to be high in various chemicals such as additives, preservatives,and artificial sweeteners/flavours These foods also tend to be high in kjs and low in essential nutrients. High intakes of refined carbohydrates can also negatively impact the balance of digestive flora.
- Eliminate gluten and dairy: Two of the most common allergens that are inflammatory to the body, and increasing production of potentially harmful free radicals.
- Hydration: All the body’s metabolic functions depend on water, including effective detoxification. Consuming 2-3 litres of water daily assists the kidneys to remove wastes through this important eliminatory channel. A good rule of thumb is that if your urine is not a light straw- almost clear in colour, you need to drink more.
- Exercise: Regular exercise is a great way to assist with detoxification, promoting circulation of blood and lymph throughout the body and makes you feel good. This enhances elimination of waste products and the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to organs and muscles. The lymphatic system relies on movement of muscles during exercise to pump internal waste from the body.
- Water: Aim for 2-3 litres/day. Add some interest to your water by adding a little lemon, ginger, mint or berries for a cool treat. Ensure you carry a bottle with you at all times and sip throughout the day.
- Sleep and Rest: the body uses sleep as an opportunity to heal and rejuvenate. 7-9 hours of goof quality sleep each night will complement the detoxification system. Sleeping environment can have an impact on your sleep quality. Ensure your bedroom is dark, well ventilated and set at a comfortable temperature. Keep a regular bedtime, turn off the television and electronic devices 1 hours prior, to allow your body time to wind down and prepare for a restorative nights sleep.
- Stress: It’s impossible to avoid stress in our lives, but we can change how we response to stress. Stress management may mean making a lot of changes, but these changes are positive contributors to detoxification, not to meant general health. Negative energy, emotions and reactions often influence our health more profoundly than we realise. Choosing to be positive and focused represents the opportunity to detoxify your life from negativity. Find positive affirmation or quotes that inspire you to fight off negative thoughts and make healthy food choices, especially when your at the fridge door.
- Dry Skin Brushing: Your skin is a major organs of elimination and as dead skin cells accumulate, then reduce the skin’s ability to detoxify effectively. Before you shower, spend 5-10 minutes with a firm-bristled brush or loofah and scrub the skins of the arms, legs and back quite briskly; brushing in a upwards motion form the wrist to shoulder. Ankle to hip and down the back. Your skin may be slightly red and tingly when you are finished.
Caution in pregnancy. Detoxification programs should never been attempted during pregnancy. If you fall pregnant while doing a detox program, you should stop immediately and contact your support practitioner. If you are planning to conceive, it is however, a good idea for both partners to detoxify before the pregnancy. Eggs and sperm take three to four months to develop, so you should aim to have completed a detox program at least four months prior to conception.
Many prescription medications can be affected by the detoxification process. It is not uncommon to alter dosages of medications during and after detoxification, and all medications should be taken in separate doses from detoxification supplements. If you are on a variety of medications, it’s important to let your practitioner know, so they can provide safe recommendations on how to proceed.
Side effects: Occasionally people may experience adverse symptoms during a detoxification program due to the breakdown of toxins, and increased elimination. Side effects may include nausea, changes to bowel function, headaches and fatigue. Generally these are short-term and will self-limiting. Contact support if there are sever or last more than a few days. Never begin a new exercise routine during a detox, always wait until finished due to these effects. Gentle exercise is recommended.
A detoxification program can help you feel fresher, and healthier after completion. To continue on your path to long-term health and vitality, it’s important to consider adapting some changes to our everyday diet and lifestyle. As noted above. Optimal health is about achieving balance in all areas of your life to stay healthy and active for as long as possible.
And as Always,
Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment.