YOUR BODY DOESN’T NEED TO BE ‘CLEANSED'
or flushed, or rid of toxins.
Yet, mainstream advertising does an excellent job at making us believe that our digestive systems are like dirty pipes in need of ‘cleansing’- or that the best way to quick start a weight loss program is by (essentially) starving our way through a week long juice cleanse.
This is wrong on so many levels, but lets start with what toxins are.
What are toxins?
Toxins are any substance that has harmful effects on the body. These can be external things like:
- heavy metal exposure
- air/water pollution
- drugs/food additives
Or internal sources like:
- bacterial overgrowth
- cellular/metabolic wastes
- poorly digested foods
It is important to note that any substance in excess can create toxic elements in the body. The good news is, our bodies are fully equipped to detoxify themselves through various systems:
The Cardiovascular system:
- The blood links every organ in the body and helps to purify detoxification sites like the liver and immune system
The Lymphatic system:
- Lymph is a vital fluid that flows through the lymph nodes where bacteria, viruses and organic material are filtered out
- The lymph system acts a a pre-filter before toxins are shuttled through the liver
- The movement of the lymph is propelled by the skeletal muscles which is why exercise is critical to lymphatic health
The Digestive system:
- The gastrointestinal tract detoxifies poorly digested, fermented foods
- Filters food and intestinal bacteria
- Eliminates toxins and other unusable substances from the body
- The intestines provide a barrier to stop foreign molecules from entering the blood stream
- The good bacteria in the intestines help detoxify substances
- The liver is the body’s master site for cleaning and purifying the blood that nourishes the entire body
- The liver has over 500 functions to filter toxins from the blood and neutralize toxins in preparation for elimination (it breaks down pharmaceutical drugs also)
- Neutralized toxins are then excreted as feces
- Toxins that are bound and ready for elimination are excreted through the feces or through the kidneys as urine
- Primary role: filter the blood to remove cellular wastes
- Sweat glands act like a second kidney and are another avenue of elimination
- Sweating is an effective therapy to remove toxins from the body
The Respiratory System:
- The lungs eliminate waste products like carbon dioxide
- Respiratory rate is a major mechanism of pH control
Basically, the human body is amazing and has plenty of built-in detoxification mechanisms.
Having said all of that, we live in an increasingly toxic world. Everything from pesticides sprayed on our produce, to endocrine disrupters in our beauty products can read havoc on our organs of detoxification if we continue to expose ourselves day after day.
Here are a few quick tips to assist your bodies' natural detoxification systems (without the need for expensive green powders or juice cleanses ;) )
- Choose organic whenever possible
- Avoid chemical perfumes
- Look for non-toxic beauty products (make sure to read labels) including shampoos, lotions, makeup
- Avoid man made fats like canola, cottonseed, soybean, vegetable, partially-hydrogenated, etc.
- Make sure your digestion is working properly. Specific amino acids are imperative to proper functioning of detox pathways in the liver
- Manage blood sugar. blood sugar imbalance place undue stress on the liver, and chronically high blood sugar create a buildup of free radicals which inhibit the body’s ability to detoxify properly
- Hydrate properly! This keeps the fluids in the body moving properly, allowing for proper excretion of toxins in urine, and feces. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water per day (increase if consuming diuretics).
- Dry brushing
- Sweat therapy (i.e saunas)
- Castor oil packs
- Relax, enjoy your life, and try not to stress about whether you are detoxifying or not :)
One final note about detoxification:
Many people are drawn to ‘detoxes’ and ‘cleanses’ because they want to lose weight, they feel sluggish, or they want to kickstart a healthier lifestyle. If this is the case, it is so important to work with a practitioner who can make sure that all of the natural detoxification pathways are open and working properly before doing any type of detox protocol (i.e colonics, fasting, gallbladder flush, etc). If you try to ‘detox’ via a 30-day cleanse, fast, etc. but do not have proper digestive function, for example, the cellular waste products that are released in the body will not be properly excreted through the digestive tract. This can overburden the system and cause more harm than good.
Finally, please beware of any product that claims to ‘rid the toxins’ from your body, or ‘cleanse your digestive system’. These are marketing ploys from people who want your money, not your wellbeing.
The best thing you can do to support your body's natural detoxification processes is *shocker* eat a real-food based, nutrient dense diet.
Jumpstart your journey to eating real food by joining my free course: Real Food S.O.S below!
Also, move your body, sweat, and avoid things like alcohol, cigarettes, pesticides, etc.
Seriously. It’s definitely not as sexy as a beautifully marketed ‘detox plan’ but IT WORKS (<—pun intended, hehe) :D
If you really want a detox that works, here is my advice: detox from processed foods, detox from stress, detox from saying "yes" to things you hate, detox from pushing your body to the extremes.