There is a lot of hype surrounding the word “detox”. It is our job as naturopaths to ensure that you are doing a healthy detox that is right for you. So let’s start with the definition of detoxification which means the process of clearing, neutralizing and/or transforming toxins from the body. Detoxification is a daily, naturally occurring process in our bodies but because of the chemicals in our environment the body cannot keep up with the toxic burden and they build up over time. Toxins can be external such as alcohol, beauty products, pesticides, tobacco, heavy metal, and medications or internal from our normal metabolism that forms toxic by-products that need to be neutralized. We have the ability to eliminate these toxins through the liver, skin, lungs, digestive tract and kidneys.
Many detox protocols contain harsh laxatives that strip the body of essential nutrients that it needs in order to complete the detoxification processes. These products can also leave the body dehydrated and although you may lose weight it is typically water weight. On fasts (unless done properly) the weight loss will typically involve the loss of muscle as this is easier for the body to mobilize for energy than fat. After the detox is finished you end up gaining the weight back and it will be stored in the body as fat.
The detox protocol that we advocate involves supporting our largest and most important detoxifying organs; the skin and liver respectively. This is done by the following methods: diet and lifestyle modifications, supplementation and sweating through exercise or sauna. A hypoallergenic diet is included to help reduce the toxins in the digestive system. The length of the detox is really up to you but we typically recommend at least 2-3 weeks. In the beginning of a detox some people may experience a variety of symptoms like fatigue, headaches, irritability etc., however, these will dissipate within a few days as the body rids itself of all the toxins. After this, most feel an increase in energy and an overall sense of well-being that makes the entire process worth it in the end.
Here are some simple tips to help detox:
· Consume a whole foods, hypo-allergenic diet (eliminate wheat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, soy, corn)
-Include organic fruits and vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, oranges, tangerines, raspberries, blueberries, sprouts, kale, swiss chard, apples, beets
-Include seeds, almonds and legumes
-Include spices like turmeric, garlic and ginger
· Drink 2 litres of water daily
-Add a quarter of a lemon to your water to support the liver
-Consume green tea regularly throughout the day
· Try to consume 5-6 small meals throughout the day to maintain blood sugar levels
· Exercise daily (30 minutes) - any activity that you enjoy!
· Contrast Showers - alternating hot and cold showers help increase circulation and are a simple way to cleanse your body
-Start with 3 minutes of hot water followed by less than 1 minute of cold water and repeat this cycle 3 times at least once per day always finishing with cold
· Dry Skin Brushing
-Using a soft brush or loofah prior to bathing, start at the feet and hands, working your way up, and always stroking towards the heart - helps to clear toxins from the skin
· Castor oil packs over the liver helps to draw out toxins and improve elimination
· Ensure at least 8 hours of sleep per night
· Journaling or Gratitude
-Write about 1 positive experience that you have had over the last 24 hours or each day write down 3 new things that you are thankful for
(Please note: We always recommend consulting with a Naturopathic Doctor or other health care professional before starting any detox protocol.)