In nature, spring is a time for rebirth and renewal. As humans, we’re affected by the earth’s seasonal changes, and spring is no exception. In fact, this season of new beginnings is a great time for your body’s own renewal by way of a detoxification.
The term “detox” has become quite the buzzword lately, especially with leading functional medicine practitioners like Dr. Mark Hyman advocating regular cleanses. The problem is that many people don’t understand what a cleanse or detox involves. In short, it’s a complex biochemical process in which our cells remove poisonous waste in an effort to keep us healthy. It happens every day, but due to the constant onslaught of toxins from both endogenous (originating from within) and exogenous (originating from the environment) sources, our detox pathways eventually become overwhelmed. In today’s society, we are constantly exposed to toxins from food, air, environmental pollution, household and industrial chemicals, self-care products, medications, and even our body’s own metabolic processes.
There are various organs involved in detoxification, including the liver, colon, kidneys, skin, lungs and lymphatic system, but the liver is the primary organ that gets bogged down from a toxic overload. We can give our liver a rest and allow it to mobilize stored toxins by doing a thorough detox several times a year. Not only will it rid the body of toxins, it will also jumpstart metabolism, increase energy levels, improve overall health, and shed excess weight.
A detoxification protocol should be part of any integrative nutrition approach. There are many detoxes out there – some reputable, some not – but here are some general guidelines to keep in mind to support your body’s detoxification pathways:
- Eliminate toxic substances from the body. This includes alcohol, caffeine, sugar, “fast” or processed foods, and hydrogenated or trans fats. Fast food and trans fats are best avoided at all costs, but giving your body a break from alcohol, caffeine and sugar for a week enables the liver to break down other toxic substances that are stored in your body.
- Eat a clean diet that will support all phases of detoxification. This includes plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, especially the cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts, plus lean protein sources like chicken, turkey and fish. It’s also beneficial to avoid hard-to-digest or potentially allergenic foods like gluten, dairy, soy and eggs.
- Enhance elimination (think sweating and regular bowel movements). Drink plenty of water – half your weight (in pounds) in ounces of water – eat high fiber foods, and move or exercise daily. Sauna therapy is also a great way to sweat out all those toxins, just be sure to rinse off in a cool shower afterwards.
- Employ stress relieving activities. Stress can be toxic to the body. Activities like yoga, meditation, or simply deep breathing help relax the mind and body, and release extra carbon dioxide via the lungs. Getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep is also critical for rebuilding and restoring your cells and tissues.
There are additional ways to enhance detoxification, such as taking supportive herbs and supplements, but those should be given under the supervision of your nutritionist or holistic health care practitioner. If you’d like to discuss a more comprehensive detoxification protocol, contact me to schedule an appointment!
In the meantime, try one of my detox supporting recipes (links below) to enhance your internal cleanse!