July 10th, 2012 by Digestive Detective
You see them line the shelves of natural food stores and pharmacies: detox and cleanse kits. Boxes that often combine pills and powders citing benefits such as "cleansing your system" or "detoxifying your body". Many ask the question: Are these products safe & effective? What is truly the best way to detoxify the body?
Detoxification occurs all the time in our bodies - it is one of the essential roles of the liver. The liver processes and detoxifies substances including chemicals, foreign pathogens such as bacteria & parasites, nutritional compounds and even excess hormones in the body. The challenge comes when the liver becomes overburdened by toxic load and loses its capacity to efficiently detoxify. When this occurs, providing support to detoxification pathways can be beneficial.
The first step in applying any health methodology is to identify the goal: WHY do you want to detox? While detoxification may be all the rage among Hollywood celebrities, you may not want that as your motivation to detoxify the body.It is also not something that should be done as a weight loss remedy. Can you lose weight as a result of a detox? Possibly; but that should not be the primary reason for detoxification. If you know you have been exposed to toxic elements or have gone years with poor dietary and lifestyle habits, then detoxifying the body in a safe and appropriate way can be helpful. Check out the following symptoms to see if your body is sending you the signals that you need to detox:
Signs of Toxic Overload that a Detox can Improve
- Aches and pains
- Belly fat (hard to lose)
- Skin problems
- Food cravings (especially for ‘fake foods’)
- Low energy
- Bad breath
- Irritability, mood swings
First Things First
“The best way to detoxify is to stop putting toxic things into the body and depend upon its own mechanisms.” – Andrew Weil, MD
I love this quote from Dr. Weil and it is so true - the first place to start if you are thinking about a "detox" is to stop putting things into your body that gunk up the works to begin with! Attempting to detox with supplements and that cleanse kit from the store while still eating processed food is like putting premium gas in your vehicle but pouring the cheapest, old, reused oil into the vehicle - it just doesn't make sense. Here are a few things to do first:
- Eliminate processed foods. Begin incorporating more organic food into your diet. Organic foods won't contain the chemical pesticides, antibiotics and hormones of those found in conventionally-manufactured/grown foods.
- Swap soda for H2O. Drink LOTS of water aiming for half your bodyweight in oz. per day to stay hydrated and promote detoxification. TIP - Add some fresh lemon to your water for an added detox boost.
- Avoid caustic chemical cleaners. Opt for natural cleaners that use natural surfactants.
- Avoid chemical-laden hygiene products. Avoid products that contain parabens, sodium-lauryl-sulfates and phthalatates. These products operate as xenoestrogens - foreign estrogens to the body that the liver has to work to excrete/detoxify.
Now that we've reviewed what to get rid of, let's see look at what you can add to aid in detoxification:
- Exercise. Once you have eliminated external toxins, you can promote internal detoxification through exercise. Any form of exercise will promote sweat glands to help in detoxification as well as the movement of lymph. One form of exercise that can be extremely beneficial is rebounding. Rebounding is as simple as using a trampoline, pogo stick or other fun fitness toy to move in a bouncing fashion (jump rope works well too). The Airzone 38-Inch Mini Band Trampoline is a good product that is less than $40.
- Drink Green Tea with SGS. Sulforaphane Glucosinolate (SGS) is a powerful antioxidant found in broccoli sprouts that has been shown to work on phase 2 detoxification enzymes that inactivate free radicals. I personally drink 2 cups of Brassica Tea - Green Tea With SGS - Green Tea 16 Bags each morning.
- SMART Supplementation. While supplementing is a great way to promote detoxification, most of the products on the shelves are nothing more than high-fiber packets. To truly effect phase 1 & phase 2 detoxification pathways, supplement wisely with products that support liver function and those detox pathways. Silymarin or milk thistle extract; alpha lipoic acid; n-acetylcysteine all support phase II detox, which converts the free radicals that are produced in phase I detox into less harmful substances. In addition, amino acids such as taurine, glycine, and methionine, also promote phase II detox pathways and healthy cell metabolism. One product that contains some of these compounds and that aids in excess estrogen clearance for detoxification is DIM-Detox-60-Vegetable-Capsules-by-Pure-Encapsulations.
Try some of these simple forms of detoxification that are bound to be less aggressive and more gentle to your system than the often intense effects of the "cleanse" kits that you find in the store. Comment below and share your experience/questions on detoxification.
Exercise 3 x week on a rebounder or using a jump rope for 10-15 minutes total.
Track your water intake and drink HALF your bodyweight in H2O daily.
Eat at least 1 meal each day of exclusively organic food focusing on leafy greens & cruciferous veggies.
Make bone broth & enjoy 1 cup 2-3 x day. Bone broth contains glycine - the amino acid that aids the liver.
Drink 1-2 cups of green tea with SGS each morning.