5 things you should know when starting a Detox Program
Digestion is the seed of our health. How we digest food is how we digest life. As Naturopathic Doctors we educate each and every patient about the importance of their digestion and how this one system can affect the well being of the whole. If we are not absorbing our nutrients, the body isn’t receiving the nourishment it needs to not only heal but to live optimally. One of the ways you can assure your digestive system is working for you and not against you is through a detox program specific to your needs.
Detoxification is defined as the process of removing toxic substances and qualities. Throughout the day we are exposed to all sorts of toxins,; these toxins include pesticides and preservatives from foods, cosmetics, mold, hormones from food and water, chemical cleaners etc. Chronic stress due to work, relationships, children, and finances send a cascade of problematic stress hormones that also need to be detoxified.
1. Your body is Constantly Detoxing:
- Imagine for a moment the analogy of your body as a bucket. With chronic exposure to the different forms of toxins your bucket would get so full that it would spill over the rim. The overflowing bucket is your body not being able to handle that toxic load. This would then show up as symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, constipation and diarrhea, bloating and gas, eczema, autoimmune conditions etc. Therefore, the body just like the bucket would need pathways for elimination to decrease the toxic load. These pathways are represented in the body as emunctories. The primary emunctories include the liver, kidneys, Intestines, stomach, pancreas, lymph and Lungs, and the secondary emunctories are the skin and mucous membranes. These pathways of elimination work together to create a nontoxic environment in the body. If any of these are not functioning optimally the body creates symptoms because the bucket is just too full.
2. Your Liver is working harder than it Needs to.
The liver has a Phase I, and Phase II detoxification pathway that helps your body deal with anything from hormones to alcohol. There are critical enzymes involved in detoxification, these are called Cytochrome P450 Enzymes. These enzymes take the toxins and convert them into something even more toxic for the body. In order to neutralize these toxins they have to be conjugated to essential vitamins and minerals to convert them into a less toxic watersoluble form now ready for elimination. If either one of these phases are up or down regulated by either diet or toxicity it will increase the load on the liver not allowing it to do its job. Therefore, the symptoms that may show up in the body will be even more aggressive. With today’s culture of fast paced lifestyles followed by eating for convenience rather than nutrition most individuals lack the proper support the liver actually needs. There are specific nutrients that can help support both of these phases for optimal detoxification. For Phase I-Cruciferous Vegetables, B6 Vitamins, Milk Thistle and Magnesium. For Phase II-Glutathione, Tumeric, B5 Vitamins, and Whey Protein.
3. It’s not just about the Liver!
- There are two other major systems that are not given much attention when it comes to detox, the Kidneys and the Lymphatic System. The Kidneys are now considered to be Phase III Detoxification and is dependent on your body’s pH levels. For proper detoxification the body needs to have an optimal ph level around 7.4. The standard diet however creates more of an acidic environment in our bodies, creating opportunity for toxins and infections that can manifest disease. Foods such as soda, coffee, beef, fried foods, dairy and alcohol contribute to an acidic environment. Where as foods like root vegetables, leafy greens, garlic and lemon create an alkaline environment.
- Your Lymphatic System plays a role in transferring lymph, a clear fluid containing White Blood Cells responsible for ridding the body of toxic waste and other unwanted material. When congested, the Lymphatic System will disrupt both digestion and the respiratory system creating inflammation and mucous formation. In order optimal lymphatic flow your lifestyle must include regular exercise such as yoga, you should eliminate food sensitivities, get lymphatic massages, and learn to go with the flow!
- The bowels tell the entire story! As a Naturopathic Doctor I always ask the question, how often are you having a bowel movement, what is the consistency and color of your stools. This tells me how well your body is detoxifying, what your dietary intake is like and if there are any imbalances in the levels of bacteria in your gut. This will tell us that its time to make a change in your nutrition plan.
“Maintain a positive attitude with promoting Habits for 40 days and you can change your Destiny.” - Yogi Bhajan
- By committing to 40 days you are making a decision to empower yourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. You are making a decision to take charge of your health and become an active part of our healing journey. This helps to get rid of the old patterns and habits and create new ones that will serve you for the rest of your life. These 40 days allow you to assess what it really is that you want for yourself. It is a kick start into being more proactive and committed to a new and healthy you that allows for lasting changes.
- Each of us is unique in how we live, eat, digest, and respond to life. We all may have the same systems within the physical body, but our mental and emotional body is very unique and specific to us. When detoxifying we are working at the physical level, however, the other parts of us are involved as much if not more in this process of healing. We have all had experiences in our lives that have shaped who we are today. Therefore an individualized plan is essential to get you on your right path. Work with your Naturopathc to find the program that is right for you so you can make lasting changes in your health.