Q: What’s the deal with detox?

I am not in love with the detoxification fads that have happened over the past decade.  I do think detoxification programs are absolutely necessary (I explain more about that later) but also feel that it has been over-marketed, over-inflated and over-promoted to the point that it can actually at best confuse and at worse harm the body.

Before I get into all of that more let’s go through some basics:

  • I do think that all of us are being exposed to more toxins through the foods we eat, the water we drink, through the things we put on our skin and the air we breathe.
  • Despite all the hype, it is unclear as to what actually happens when we get exposed to these toxins.  Each body reacts different and we really don’t know the individual impact because there is so much variability due to genetics and metabolic differences.
  • I do think that toxins are impacting each of our body systems in different yet harmful ways, the most at risk being the immune system, digestive system, endocrine system, nervous system and reproductive system
  • I do think many of the non-specific and unexplained symptoms that I see in practice like headaches, allergies, brain fog, joint pain, infertility, fatigue, weight gain just to name are linked to suboptimal detoxification and elimination pathways through the body
  • I think that certain conventional diagnostic markers like increased WBC, inflammatory markers, liver enzymes, disrupted glucose levels, thyroid imbalances, reproductive hormones are linked to detoxification and elimination overload and the impact that is having on the body systems.

I am in agreement about detoxification requirements for optimal health but NOT jiving with the current message about detox. So how should you approach it:

It is a 3 part process:

1) Avoidance -in what you drink, breathe, put on your skin, negative energy etc..

2) Elimination pathways and Gut health – this is SO important and so often missed, people, jump on the detox band way without first and/or including support for the organs of elimination.  This can be harmful.  Those toxins are stored in your bones, fat, muscles and although creating some undesirable symptoms and perhaps setting you up for risk down the road, they are safe.  When you implement liver support without ensuring that your kidney, colon, skin, lungs and mindset is clear then you can create more harm than good.

3) Detoxification of your liver through both phase one and phase two, these are completely different parts of the process and need to be addressed individually based on your needs.

We have a tendency to overcomplicate these things, I know I do but it to but let’s keep this super simple because it can be and still be very effective.  There are three things I am thinking about when it comes to detox. Is it safe? It is going to be effective? Is it sustainable?

It is NOT safe to pick up a 3-day juice cleanse and go for it, if you are diabetic, pregnant, on medications, have a history of eating disorders…and that is just the very top of my head reasons why you shouldn’t do it without support.

But let’s say, you are heading into spring and want to feel lighter, more energized and move some stagnant energy after a long hard winter.  You are healthy and you have recently been to see your MD or ND and have normal blood markers and no diagnosed disease.  Then what is the safest and most effective way to proceed?

It really depends on your lifestyle and what you can access. I will tell you detoxification is not a lifestyle, it is a therapeutic approach that you want to treat as such.  Working with a qualified medical advisor is key. Looking at what your body is in most need of based on your health history, blood markers, urine markers and physical exam to ensure an effective and safe program is necessary. Moving in and out of the detox strategically is also something is crucial to the safety and success of detoxification.

There are a few things that you can do daily to support your body and often less is more with this process. You can pick one from each category and rotate every few months and this will be impactful.

1) Avoidance:

  • getting an air filter
  • avoiding the use of plastics (especially the microwave)
  • shifting to natural cleaning products
  • avoiding negative people

2) Elimination:

  • 1 tbsp of ground flax, chia or hemp seed daily
  • 500 ml of room temperature water
  • dry brushing
  • hot and cold showers

3) Detoxification:

  • Include 2 cups of crucifer family vegetables daily
  • Include whole grains like brown rice and gluten-free oatmeal in 1-2 meals
  • Include 1 cup of colourful fruits with vitamin C
  • Include 1 tbsp of garlic

Finally, I think it is very important that you spend some time pondering why you want to detox and what you are hoping to get out of it. This will help you stay on path and motivated when it gets difficult!