Liver Cleanse, Juice Detox, Heavy Metal Detox, Colon Cleanse...
Internal cleansing and detoxing the body has been around for many years and the concept of doing a detox has become quite popular in many circles - even more topical than current diet fads themselves, in fact. The claims are that they clean out our systems and rid our bodies of harmful toxins - to lose weight and to promote health. Strategies like fasting, substituting liquids (like juices) for solid foods, the use of herbs or other dietary supplements, or mechanical techniques like saunas or hydrotherapy might be used.
Should I Detox?
Ridding the body of harmful toxins is ALWAYS a good thing. Our bodies are set up to do this naturally - but with exposure to more and more toxins, this may become too much for some, and assistance in the form of Cleansing, Drainage and Detoxification may be needed.
*Please note that some of these protocols need to be done under the supervision of a health/nutrition practitioner or doctor and some you can give a try on your own (more on this below).
Remember - If your body can't remove toxins naturally - if it needs help - you might want to look at why. Do your detox organs need more support? Is your daily toxic load too high? Find the root issue and take steps to fix that!
I just Googled "detox" and "cleanse" and I was overwhelmed by what I found - Whole body cleanse, Colon cleanse detox tea, Weight loss cleanse and detox, Super cleanse, Raw cleanse...the list goes on and on. But what exactly are they all for?
Let's Start at the beginning - What is detoxification?
In our modern world toxins are everywhere. By definition a toxin is a compound that has detrimental effect on cell function or structure – it is a poison that can cause harm to the body. And as I mentioned, they are everywhere. Pesticides, toxic metals, tobacco smoke, disinfectants, phthalates, volatile organic compounds – just to name a few of the 1000s of toxins we are exposed to every day.
Our personal care products are full of them - nail polish, perfume, antiperspirant, moisturizers etc. Our cleaning products are full of them - laundry detergent, cleaning solvents, fabric softener etc. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat - are full of them! Check out my blog about organic eating to get some tips to help reduce this toxic load from our food: One Simple Change - Choose to eat more Organic Foods (restoredvitality.ca)
Oh, and the drugs we take - prescription or over the counter - Advil and Tylenol, Birth Control Pills, Antibiotics, Blood Pressure pills, Cholesterol reducing medications etc. etc. According to WebMD the average person over 65 uses 7 medications per day - 7 MEDICATIONS PER DAY! That is a lot for our liver to process!
And what do we do with all of these toxins?
Our bodies try to get rid of them using these 3 processes:
Cleansing is the elimination of wastes from the body - from our skin, our kidneys, colon and mucus membranes
Drainage targets the connective tissue and everything in between (eg. blood, lymphatic tissue etc.)
Detoxification is the processing of toxins inside the cells - it makes the toxins non-toxic and able to be cleansed out of the body (mainly done in the kidneys and super star detoxifier, our liver)
But what happens when there are too many toxins and these organs become overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of poisons and they can't do their job? Or when our organs are weak and not functioning properly to begin with? What happens when our major detoxifier (the liver) just can’t handle any more?
When we have a toxic liver it sends out warning signals to us in the form of symptoms or illnesses like acne, chronic headaches, inflammation, chronic fatigue, immune diseases, or psoriasis to name a few. And do we listen to these warnings or do we just try to alleviate the pain - as in do we just take an Advil for those headaches – which ironically will just add to the toxic load placed on the liver!
Many people take care of their cars better than their bodies – I bet the same people who would never miss an oil change - would never ignore a warning light from their cars, don't always listen to the warning lights from their bodies.
Do we Need to Detox our Livers?
Our liver is our main detoxification organ and it is incredibly good at this job. So does the average person need to "detox their liver"? Maybe, maybe not. That will depend on many other factors including the current health and load on the liver and is best to discuss with a health/nutrition practitioner or your family doc. But do we need to support our livers and give them all the nutrients they need so they can do their jobs optimally - especially when they are so overwhelmed? Absolutely!
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, then maybe you may need to detoxify your body/liver or correct weaknesses and support this system (taken from the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine):
1. Do you feel that you are not as healthy and vibrant as other people your age?
2. Do you have low energy levels?
3. Do you often have difficulty thinking clearly?
4. Do you often feel blue or depressed?
5. Do you get more than one or two colds a year?
6. Do you suffer from PMS, fibrocystic breast disease or uterine fibroids?
7. Do you have sore achy muscles for no particular reason?
8. Do you have bad breath or stinky stools?
There are so many detox diets and products out there – some with merit and some not. But the important thing to remember is that you need to cleanse your body (open up the doorways and get things moving out) then use drainage remedies and then use a detoxification strategy.
But don’t just jump in to do a true detox first! Why? Well, what do you think will happen if you release all of those nasty toxins from your cells and your elimination pathways aren’t clear? Those toxins will have no way out and will accumulate in your body. You might be worse off than before you did the detox.
Note: Drainage and Detox techniques should ALWAYS be done in conjunction with Cleansing techniques and if this is confusing to you then speak with a natural health and/or nutrition practitioner for some guidance!
Tips for helping the body's natural detoxification process
Decrease exposure to toxins
Eat a diet high in fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds - organic whenever possible
Avoid/limit alcohol and get regular exercise
Take a high potency multi vitamin and mineral supplement
Support liver and protect liver function with herbs and other targeted nutrients
Do a 7 to 10 day clean eating nutritional detox at the beginning of each season
Seasonal Support for you Body
If you want to gently "detoxify" your system and support your detox organs - give your body, especially your liver, a break - a good way to do this is to clean up your eating for a given period of time, drink lots of water, get moving and practice some easy to do intermittent fasting (if this is right for you and you aren't diabetic or have blood sugar issues). I like to do this for 10-14 days at the beginning of each season. This clean eating period will help your body spend less time on digestion and more time on detoxification!
I host a Group Program that focuses on all of these strategies, each season. I provide meal planning ideas, recipes, water and movement goals, support, resources, guidance and more support!
Join our next Group Program: Summer Ready! Beginning in June.
Some things to Consider
Are you looking to detoxify a particular organ (liver detox or kidney detox)? Does your detoxification pathways need to be strengthened? Are you looking to get rid of a particular toxin (metals or drugs)?
Can you do this on your own or do you need a professional for support and guidance?
You might be able to add some more freshly squeezed fruit and veggie juices to your diet or try a clean eating program on your own, but if you are looking to properly support your liver or do a bowel/colon cleanse or metal detox, you are probably best to seek guidance from a trained holistic health/nutrition practitioner or your family doctor.
Some great -at home- ways to cleanse the body and get the toxins moving out are:
- Drink lots of water, clean/filtered
- Epsom salts baths
- Exercise - get that body moving and sweat
- Sauna - more sweat!
- Dry skin brushing - get that lymphatic system moving
- Deep breathing One Simple Change - Just Breathe! (restoredvitality.ca)
- Take a high quality Probiotic Nutrient News - Probiotics (restoredvitality.ca)
- Take a High EPA fish oil to keep the cell membranes fluid! I like this one: