A detox is often thrown around as a quick word for fast weight loss results. To be honest, if you would have asked me a few months ago, I would have passionately told you how terrible a detox was for you, especially if you were doing it for weight loss. Really, I had only heard of the ‘Detox in a Box’ type stuff that you see in health food stores or the juice cleanses full of sugars that the media loves to throw at us. I always ignored them. It wasn’t until I spent the last two months doing extensive research on the health benefits of detoxification and experimenting with them on my own body, that I realized when done properly, it is truly something great.
When I say extensive research I am not talking about Google-ing information or learning from hear say. I spent three hours with a holistic doctor studying my own blood on a computer screen; I listened to over ten podcasts of various well known nutritionists and naturopathic MD’s speaking about this process; and I have read two books in the last two months that outline different foods, micronutrients, herbs, and vitamins that flush out the organs and reset the body to assist in this process. Can you read my passion and fascination yet? On top of that I have experimented with detoxing on my own body and absolutely love the results that I feel. I lost cravings, improved my digestion, and became very in touch with my perceived feelings of hunger. Although, I still have years more to learn on this subject, I feel that I can write a pretty educational, and hopefully interesting blog about the importance of assisting your body in its own detoxification process.
I also want to announce to you that I am currently creating and perfecting my own ‘5 Day Real Food Cleanse’ that will assist in detoxifying the body. I will be giving this away to everyone for FREE! Let me be as short and to the point as possible with this amazing information that could really change your life.
What Is Detoxification? Detoxification is what your body does naturally to neutralize, metabolize, and eliminate toxins from your body. The most common toxin list that our body must filter is:
▪ impure water
▪ pesticides or other chemicals used to grow or prepare food
▪ smog or other substances in the air
▪ substances such as artificial sweeteners added to food
Primarily this vital process of detoxification occurs in the liver. The liver sits right below your right rib cage and is the organ that filters everything internally and externally that comes into our body. Internally meaning hormones, stress, and the day-to-day functions of our bodies; and externally meaning the toxins brought into our system by food, air, cosmetics, cleaning products etc. Once any of these toxins enter the bloodstream, that blood goes into the liver to get filtered. The liver must then decide…am I going to metabolize and use this (such as vitamins and minerals), am I going to metabolize and store this (because I don’t know what to do with it at the moment), or am I doing to metabolize and eliminate this? Needless to say, this is a HUGE job for our liver!
Phases of Liver Detoxification: There are two phases of detoxification that occur inside the liver. Learning this might give you an insight on if your own liver is functioning properly.
Phase 1: This phase is the process of toxins entering into the liver. Our bodies will either immediately neutralize these toxins coming in (meaning putting them in a form that we can get rid of), or send them on to phase 2. When the liver is “sluggish,” Phase 1 of the detoxification cycle may not be processing toxins at a normal and necessary speed. This causes toxins to accumulate in the bloodstream. If the hormone estrogen, for example, is not dismantled during Phase 1, the buildup can reach potentially harmful levels. Premenstrual tension, unwanted fat deposits, PCOS, can be an expression of this. Many factors can cause Phase 1 to become sluggish. A big cause is a large consumption of sugar and hydrogenated fats, processed foods, the use of medications, and frequent exposure to cosmetic chemicals can also hinder Phase 1 detoxification. Find some key symptoms of a slower Phase 1 below.
Sluggish Phase One Symptoms: Caffeine intolerance, perfume (or smell) intolerance, hypersensitive to emotions, hypersensitive to medications, hypersensitive to alcohol, horrible premenstrual syndrome, acne, irritability and anger, weight gain
Phase 2: Once the body breaks down the toxins through Phase 1, we ideally want them to go into phase 2 where they are now water-soluble. This means the body can eliminate them through our bowels, urine, skin, breasts etc. What can happen though, is Phase 2 can again be sluggish and the body will start to build up the toxins in the bloodstream, making them more harmful to the body then they even began with. This is where free radicals are formed. These bad guys have free reign to start munching away at perfectly healthy cells, tissues, and organs in the body. This right here is one of the leading causes of cancer, disease, and inflammation in the body! See symptoms of a sluggish Phase 2 below.
Sluggish Phase 2 Symptoms: metallic taste in the mouth, frequent headaches, nausea, upper right abdominal pain, intolerance to fatty foods, itchy skin, unexplained flu like symptoms, chronic fatigue, agitation, fluctuating moods, light headedness, impaired memory and difficulty concentrating.
If all is running smoothly, the liver will neutralize the toxins at a normal rate and you will excrete them. There are many cases of an overactive phase 1 and slow phase 2 and vice versa. Let’s see what we can do to improve and assist the overall function of our liver.
What is a proper detox? What a proper detox will do is assist in facilitating the livers movement of toxins through the system by making sure we are metabolizing those toxins properly and flushing them out of the body. So when I am talking about detoxification, it is about improving and optimizing the function of your body’s own detoxification systems.
A proper detox is not a juice cleanse that you get from your local juice store, and is probably not one that focuses on weight loss. Unless constructed by a doctor, there is little science behind these and they are often very dangerous. A proper detox is one that is constructed for your body and your tested problems. If you feel that you have more then a few symptoms listed above, I strongly encourage you to see a naturopathic doctor that can take a deeper look into your body and see exactly what it needs. This is an annoying answer for most but I am all about an individualized approach.
Whether You’re Healthy Or Not… You Need A Detox! Here is where the good information starts. No matter how healthy you are, you probably need to detox. An inflamed liver will always cause disease. This is not my opinion this is a fact. Our environment bombards us with toxins every single day. With every breath of unclean air we breathe, to every bite of non-organic/genetically modified food we put into our mouth, our environment is not conducive to healing. Although it is mostly ignored by our current medical system, the detoxification system is a crucial component of our body’s functioning. Most of the molecules made by our bodies every day, are for getting rid of waste products. We need hundreds of enzymes, vitamins, anti-oxidants and other good stuff to help rid the body of these unwanted waste products and chemicals. We sometimes need to assemble these molecules to help take the good from what we ingest and get rid of the unwanted.
Some signs that you may be in need of a detox:
▪ You suffer from recurrent chronic infections.
▪ Your feel tired and easily fatigued even when you get enough sleep.
▪ The dark circles under your eyes remain even after adequate sleep.
▪ Your skin breaks out regularly for unknown reasons.
▪ You suffer from constipation and gas pains even after eating enough fiber.
▪ You regularly get headaches or migraines that are not related to eyestrain or posture.
▪ You regularly consume alcohol, caffeine, excess sugar, or smoke cigarettes.
▪ You live in the city or work around pesticides or other chemicals.
▪ You regularly take painkillers, prescribed medications, or other drugs.
Detox For Weight-loss: I know that most people want to detox not to clean out their liver, but to lose weight quickly. What you may not realize is that cleaning out your liver could be the answer to your weight loss problems as it affects so many other functions in your body. I do feel that the process of cleaning out the bad stuff and feeding your body with the good, will in turn have a positive effect on your weight. Make sure that the detox process that you choose has a sufficient amount of calories, vitamins, and minerals as you want to come out of it feeling better then when you started. A low calorie shock to your body will set you up for a nice weight-regain if not followed up properly
The detox I did was prescribed by my Holistic doctor and took me two try’s to complete, as I could barely stomach the taste of the shake that I had to chug down 5x a day for three days. Both times, I had the normal symptoms of toxins leaving my body but the second time the un-comfort was cut in half. I felt absolutely amazing and in touch with my body after both instances. I could focus better, I recognized real hunger vs. perceived hunger, and yes I did lose a few pounds. I followed it up with a Cleanse of real foods (my own experiment), and I have been able to maintain a lean and clean diet very easily.
What Can You Do Now? If you do not have access to a Naturopathic Doctor and want to try an alternative, softer, and more enjoyable route for cleaning up the liver and supporting your body’s detoxification process, this is called a cleanse.
A good cleanse is one that decreases the amount of toxins we put into our bodies while at the same time supporting our body’s detoxification and elimination systems with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Because most of you don’t have the time to research this, I am putting it together for you. It is already in its final stages of trials right now! Because the diet has such a strong effect on detoxification enzymes, certain foods can help “regulate” or balance Phase 1 and 2 activity. I am going to list below certain foods and herbs that assist in detoxification.
Substances that Positively affect Phase 1 Detoxification:
▪ Brassica Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage)
▪ Caraway Seeds
▪ Vitamin B, C
▪ Limonene (found in essential oils of lemon, orange and celery)
Substances that Positively affect Phase 2 Detoxification:
▪ Adequate protein intake (eggs, fish, chicken)
▪ Alliums such as onions and scallions
▪ Citrus fruit
▪ Cur cumin
▪ S-adenosyl methionine
▪ Milk thistle
▪ Rosemary and chicory
▪ Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
Eating foods that support the liver can reduce your susceptibility to damage from toxins and to diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cancer. It is a good idea to add these in your diet every once in a while no matter how healthy you are. Remember we are not what we eat, we are what we break down and absorb!