A Clean Start!
Who should detoxify? The answer is….everyone! Whether you are a healthy individual looking to optimize your health, an athlete, a couple planning to conceive, an individual dealing with menopause/andropause or if you are someone struggling with a chronic disease, detoxification is a critical step in achieving optimal health. A detoxification program aimed at reducing the body burden of chemicals may help to slow or reverse the disease process1. More energy, better focus, fat loss, hormone balancing and improved digestion are also some of the potential outcomes of detoxifying your body which allows for improved daily functioning and overall better health.
Here are some strategies to incorporate into your detoxification plan. You may choose to do one, several or all of the suggestions discussed below. The key here is, the more detoxification strategies you utilize, the greater the cleansing effect on your body and the better you will feel.
The most critical part of any detoxification protocol is diet. Individuals should aim to consume an anti-inflammatory diet for 1-4 weeks, depending on the extent of detoxification required. An anti-inflammatory diet consists of eating lots of fruits and vegetables (preferably organic), whole grains, plant-based proteins including beans/legumes and include sources of healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts/seeds. Most importantly, avoid coffee, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, red meat, eggs, wheat/gluten and dairy, as these foods tend to be pro-inflammatory and increase acidity in the body. At the same time, make sure you are drinking adequate amounts of water!
The liver performs many vital functions in the body. It is the main organ responsible for metabolism and detoxification. It works hard daily to filter the blood and rid the body of harmful substances. During a detox, it is important to support the liver to aid in the detoxification process. Botanicals have been used for centuries to support liver function and one of the best known liver herbs is milk thistle. The active constituent in milk thistle is silymarin, which is an antioxidant that helps prevent the depletion of glutathione2. Glutathione plays a key role in alleviating oxidative stress. Other herbs and nutrients that support the liver include dandelion root, licorice root and holy basil.
Intravenous therapy (IV) is gaining popularity in the treatment of many different conditions. It is also an important adjunct to any detoxification protocol. One of the main benefits of IV therapy, is that it provides a high dose of vitamins, minerals and amino acids (if required) directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, high levels of nutrients are available to all the cells and tissues in the body supporting optimal function. As detoxification is an energy-intensive process, IV therapy provides additional support to liver enzymes. Specifically, vitamin C has been shown to enhance hepatic detoxification pathways1. IV therapy is also a great way to rehydrate the body.
The infrared sauna is a treatment that raises the body’s core temperature to induce sweating. The heat increases metabolism and blood circulation, causing the body to sweat and eliminate toxins. Aside from detoxification, other benefits of the infrared sauna include balancing cortisol levels (your stress hormone) and causing relaxation, weight loss and muscle and joint pain reduction. If you have not used a infrared sauna before, remember to start out slow and gradually increase your time. Start with 5-10 minutes and gradually increase to 15-30 min, once your body gets accustomed to the heat.
Fasting can also be another method to help detoxify the body. There are many different types of fasting including intermittent fasting, juice fasting and other longer forms of fasting. Since digestion is a very energy-intensive process, one of the main benefits of fasting is that by giving your digestive system a break, your body can now focus its efforts on the repair and regeneration of tissues. This break for your digestive system, also allows your liver, kidneys and other organs of elimination to work more efficiently. When practiced appropriately, some of the benefits of fasting include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, promotes healthy bowel function, increased metabolism and enhanced immune function3. If you are new to fasting, remember to start slowly. Try fasting for one day a week and monitor how you feel and note any symptoms of detoxification (i.e fatigue, headaches, change in digestive symptoms, etc). Over time, these symptoms will clear up and you may find yourself with more energy and greater clarity of thought! Be sure to consult with your naturopathic physician before beginning any type of fast, if you have a serious medical condition.
If you are looking for some support with your detoxification plan, consult a naturopathic physician for further guidance.
To your best health.
Gaby A. (2011) Nutritional Medicine.
Vargas-Mendoza N. Hepatoprotective effect of silymarin. World Journal of Hepatology. 2014;6(3):144.
Pizzorno, J. E., & Murray, M. T. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine.