Detox: Doing It Right
In this day and age there is no running away from toxins. The “detox” craze in recent years and the variety of programs and products developed can be overwhelming, making it hard to know where to begin. When it comes to the process of detoxification it is important to understand some basic principles. Our body is constantly detoxifying, since it is a natural metabolic process whereby the kidneys, intestines, and particularly the liver dispose of toxic byproducts. Over time however, the function of these organs can deteriorate as a result of poor lifestyle, nutritional habits, stress, lack of exercise, illness, and many other factors. Therefore, when considering a detox, two aspects of this process must be considered: reduction of the toxic load and providing support to the organs of elimination (such as the kidneys and bowels).
Diet is a critical part of this equation. To reduce toxic load, commit to a 2–3-week period where you limit or preferably eliminate major allergens from the body, including gluten, dairy, red meat, coffee, and limit sugar intake. These foods put extra burden on the system and tend to be inflammatory in nature due to high amounts of food additives, pesticides, exogenous hormones and antibiotics. Taking a break from their consumption will allow the body to clear out “backed up” organs and promote the healing of the gut. Increasing water intake to 1.5-2 liters per day is also an essential part to flushing toxin out. Starting the day with a glass of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon is actually a great way to reduce acidity in the body and get the liver going. In addition, regular exercise, stress management, and sufficient sleep are an integral part of any self-care program.
The next step is offering support to the body during this process. Add detoxifying herbs such as Milk Thistle, Dandelion, and Licorice Root to your 2–3-week program (either as a tincture or tea). Aloe Vera Juice can also be consumed to encourage bowel movement and cleanse the intestines. Some of my favorite detox products include the Wild Rose 12-day Herbal D-Tox. Not only does it come with enclosed dietary recommendations, but the herbal formulas provided address the liver, bile production, support the urinary system, bowel function, and cleanse the blood for an all-encompassing detox. The 30-day homeopathic Detox-Kit by Heel is another great option. It addresses all key organs with additional focus on the lymphatic system, which is a major component of the body’s immune system. Liver Care by Himalaya is also an excellent formula when additional liver support is needed.
If you are new to the realm of detoxification it is important to note that there are some side effects that should be expected in the first several days. Headaches, fatigue, changes to bowel movements and possible exacerbation of symptoms are not uncommon as toxins are being flushed out of your system. However, after the first or second week expect to feel an increase in energy, improved metabolism, and a greater sense of well-being as the body begins to work more efficiently and is more resilient. Overall, detoxification is not about deprivation but rather about nourishing your body in its inherent ability to cleanse, eliminate the unneeded, and supporting it through all the wondrous things that it does!
Inna Vendrov is a Naturopathic Doctor medicine who studied at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.