How can you enhance the detoxification process? By shifting your diet and lifestyle patterns, as well as providing higher amounts of certain nutrients to your body. In a whole-person approach, we also place emphasis on rewiring your metal processes and what you choose to feed your mind. We present here some strategies to support this holistic approach to detoxification.
The Biology of Detoxification
Every day, the body needs to process and eliminate many kinds of toxins. These can include metabolites from normal cellular functions such as carbon dioxide, lactic acid, urea and hormones (such as estrogen). It can also include exogenous substances that you are exposed to through your food and environment.
What are some exogenous toxins?
Chemicals from cosmetics
Pollution from industry
Different types of metabolites can be eliminated through different routes, such as through the lungs (via respiration), the skin (via sweat), the kidneys, the liver, the colon. One of the ways the body protects itself from toxins is to contain them in the adipose tissue (body fat) where they accumulate inside fat cells. Weight loss and breakdown of fat liberates these toxins and adds them to the burden of toxins to be safely eliminated.
The Liver/Gut Pathway
This pathway is particularly important in detoxification. The liver is the site of Phase I and Phase II detoxification processes, which make toxic substances safe for elimination through the intestines and from the body. Once the liver neutralizes toxins by conjugation, it releases the metabolites into the bile and the gut/colon for elimination. If bowel material is not eliminated from the body in a timely manner, these toxins are reabsorbed into the blood stream and recirculated throughout the body in a process called enterohepatic recycling.
If dysbiosis is present, the bad bacteria is producing an enzyme (beta-glucuronidase) which deconjugates toxins in the intestines, freeing them to be reabsorbed.
Symptoms of overloaded detoxification pathways may include: fatigue, headaches, irritability, skin rashes, digestive problems such as bloating and constipation.
Foundation of a good Detox Protocol
The foundation of well-designed detoxification program includes:
Reduction in the burden of toxins ingested through the diet
Regular exercise to increase circulation of blood and lymph and sweating
The normalization of bowel function to enhance elimination through the liver/gut pathway
Checking with your doctor that the main organs of detoxification are functioning properly via laboratory testing – kidney, liver, gallbladder, lymph nodes, intestines, lungs (you want to rule out any pathologies that might be contraindicated for you to do this detox protocol)
Adequate water intake
Where should I start?
The key principle when starting a Detox protocol is to ensure that the elimination pathways are open – good blood and lymph flow, good digestion and healthy microbiome, good elimination of fecal matter (one normal consistency bowel movement per day – you can check yours by using the Bristol chart here….), good liver and gallbladder function, good kidney function. By doing this, you avoid the unwanted Herxheimer reaction (an inflammatory reaction caused by organisms, bacteria dying off and releasing toxins into the body faster than the body can handle its elimination.)
I have created a 3 Step Detox. De-stress Protocol that gives you the tools you need for detox and that addresses the right order of steps to take to maximize the benefits while limiting the unwanted effects of going through a detox program without guidance. Contact me if you are interested in how you can do this Protocol.
Managing the elimination process via Natural health products
The therapeutic goal is to upregulate Phase II detoxification enzymes by supplying nutrients used in these processes. These might include:
NAC (n-acetylcysteine), found in onions
GSH (glutathione), found in asparagus and avocado
Methyl donors such as betaine (found in wheat bran, spinach, beets), and choline (found in meat, poultry, dairy , fish)
In addition, hepatoprotective (liver protecting) herbs and antioxidants such as milk thistle can help protect liver cells from the damaging effects of phase I intermediaries.
Certain natural health products can enhance the body’s detoxification process. Here are a few options that could work for you. Please check with your doctor for dosage instructions and possible interactions.
Establishing a healthy gut flora is essential for optimal digestion and overall health. Gut microbiome contributes to the breakdown and elimination of metabolites in the digestive system. In lab studies, probiotic supplementation reduced enterohepatic recycling of bile salts and increased cholesterol excretion through the gut.
Used as a gentle laxative and muscle relaxant, magnesium also helps promote regular bowel function and elimination. Magnesium comes in many forms. Be sure to check with your health-provider before taking a magnesium-based laxative.
Add extra fiber to your diet with ground flaxseed or oats. These act like a “mop” to soak up and bind toxins in the gut for elimination.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
A well-researched hepato-protective plant, it contains flavonoids (antioxidants) that have membrane-stabilizing properties and have been shown to help reduce inflammation and regenerate liver cells exposed to toxic damage. Silybum has also chelating effects for certain metals and it has been shown to reduce iron overload.
The precursor for glutathione, NAC is one of the most important antioxidants involved in the phase II conjugation reactions in the liver. It helps protect cells from toxicity caused by environmental pollutants, including pesticides, heavy metals etc. NAC has been well-studied by medical researchers and has an array of potential benefits besides the detoxification discussed here: anti-aging, fertility and PCOS, reduce inflammation, improve immune function.
Taken as a supplement, GSH has demonstrated an ability to reduce liver ALT (alanine aminotransferase) enzyme levels in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL), which is a measure of its ability to stop progression of this disease.
Foods that increase glutathione
Brassica vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, rutabagas, turnip, Brussel sprouts, bok choy, collards)
Berries, greens (polyphenol rich fruits and vegetables)
Various other nutrients can be considered based on individual needs, including whey protein powder (shown to increase GSH level), vitamin B12, folic acid and choline (act as methyl donors to assist methylation reactions).
Chronic stress, worry and anxiety exert a harmful effect on your physical health and reflect a deeper imbalance contrary to human health and flourishing. Detoxification should involve strategies to clear and declutter your mins as well. Here are some strategies:
Social media – impose a “fast” from social media of 1 week per month or for 30 days straight. Or you can do a hard, ½ hour per day limit.
Nature time – this is a MUST. Spending time in nature, whether gardening, hiking, walking, is a forcible break from other stresses, it promotes relaxation and fosters gratitude and appreciation for natural beauty. Nature therapy has been found to mitigate the daily “stress-state’ and “technostress”.
Artistic expression – expression through music, art, dance can help reduce anxiety and help you discover and express new meaning in your life. Timing can vary from 10 minutes daily to once per week. Do not feel forced to do this! Just let yourself explore the possibilities and have fun as you let yourself immerse into the activity.
Avoiding negativity – developing an attitude of gratitude is essential for everyday happiness and getting where you want to be in life. Saying ‘Thank you!” every day for all you have gives you a magical power that increases your natural flow of health to the mind and body and it assists the body in healing faster.
“detoxification should involve strategies to clear and declutter our minds as well”
Avoid processed foods – remove from your diet these: refined sugars, pop, caffeine, alcohol and fast food. Temporary symptoms of sugar withdrawal might include intense cravings, irritability, fatigue. Do consume a balanced protein, fat, carbs diet every day from natural organic sources.
Determine if you have food intolerances or allergies – if they exist, they should be avoided. For example, dairy, gluten. For other people it can be a food they consume on a regular basis and they have no idea that it is a trigger for certain conditions in their body, such as bloating, skin rashes etc.
Fruits and vegetables – aim for 10 servings per day. One serving, for example, equals ½ cup cooked green vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, or 1 cup raw salad greens.
Fiber – 2 tbsp (30ml) per day of extra fiber can be added, for example freshly grounded flaxseed or oats.
Hydration – beverages should include water and herbal teas (green tea, ginger tea, peppermint tea).
Movement – to promote blood and lymphatic circulation, incorporate at least 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise daily. Pick an activity you enjoy (biking, walking, jogging, swimming, climbing, tennis, soccer, hockey, etc) and schedule time in your day to make this happen. It is your appointment that cannot be missed with yourself!
Sleep – good quality sleep is key for healthy body and healthy brain. The brain and other organs regenerate when you sleep. Did you know that the brain has the glymphatic system that clears toxins form the neurons and that this process happens mostly at night as you sleep? Honor your brain and your body by giving it the rest it needs.
Fasting – whether you do it for part of each day, for certain days in a week or for longer periods, studies have found to improve many health markers, including insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, heart disease risk, brain health, obesity. Unlike other dietary plans, there are no elaborate calorie or nutrient lists, no measuring, and no forbidden foods; you simply go longer without eating. There are many misconceptions and myths regarding fasting and also numerous benefits. This will be the topic of another article soon. Make sure you check with your doctor if you are determined to start a longer fast to ensure that you do it correctly and you do not expose yourself to a health risk.
Sauna – beyond pleasure and relaxation, emerging evidence suggests that it has several health benefits: whole body detoxification via sweat, reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, stroke, neurocognitive diseases, optimization of athletic performance, pain reduction, weight loss, improved immune system, skin rejuvenation, improved sleep, stress management.
If you have any further questions, please contact me and let's start a conversation about your health.
The content provided here is for educational and information purposes only. If you have any medical health conditions, please discuss with your health provider if it is safe for you to follow a detoxification program.