‘Detox’ has become a relatively common term these days, with a lot of the hype being directly attributable to celebrities. Over the past two decades, the word ‘detox’ has taken on a much broader meaning, other than its traditional reference to withdrawing from drug and alcohol use. We now regard it as a process of removal of everyday toxins.
It has been proposed that the skyrocketing rates of infertility, certain cancers, and precocious puberty is connected with exposure to environmental toxins, present in everything from plastic baby bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides. Furthermore, some toxins are thought to play a role in metabolic disturbances, such as insulin resistance, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes.
The five organs that orchestrate good clearance of toxins include the gut, kidney, skin, liver, and lungs. Here are three essential steps to put your body on the path to detox:
Essential Steps To Detox Your Body
1. Go with your gut
It’s best to begin any type of cleansing program by first ensuring that the digestive tract is healthy, so that you can excrete toxins without difficulty. Constipation would logically lead to a toxin buildup — the longer it takes for the body to eliminate wastes, the greater the possibility that they will be reabsorbed into the systemic circulation. One food-based ingredient that keeps the gastrointestinal tract clean is fiber. It not only “traps” toxins within, but also assists in stimulating bowel movement, so that toxins are promptly eliminated. Good sources of fiber include legumes, non-starchy vegetables, beans, fruit, seeds, nuts, and flaxseed meal.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to not only rid the lungs of stagnant air and contaminants, but it also aids digestion. When we breathe in deeply, the diaphragm moves downwards, gently massaging the intestines, and when we exhale, we create space in the gut area, allowing waste to move through. Deep, belly breathing creates relaxation and peace of mind, keeping you in the present moment.
2. Flow with fluid
If we aren’t excreting toxins in our stools, they could end up in our urine and sweat, which is why drinking adequate water is imperative for healthy detoxification. Fiber works best with fluid, and being properly hydrated allows toxins to move in and out of cells freely. Monitoring your fluid intake by the color of your urine is one method to assess your hydration status — if it is dark to medium yellow, you probably need more water. Please note that certain vitamins, such as the B vitamins, may also darken urine, creating the perception that you need more water. A general guideline for fluid intake is just a little over 2 litres a day, for a person weighing 70kgs. In addition to water, you can also consume fresh fruit juices to boost your fluid intake. This is important in detox as it aids perspiration, but don’t forget to rehydrate after you sweat.
3. Liven the liver
The liver is the classic “hub” of metabolic detoxification and is the primary organ in detoxification. There are two phases by which toxins are cleared by the liver — the first phase makes toxins more water soluble and the second phase packages them up, so they can be excreted from the body. It is important that phase II enzymes are working efficiently because the phase I compounds can often be more chemically toxic to the body, as compared to their initial state. One of the basic requirements for these enzymes is protein, which is why a juice or water fast may impede effective liver detox. High-quality, hypoallergenic protein such as rice protein, with added amino acids, is one example of a protein source that can provide the raw materials to get toxins packaged for their exit from the body. There are other substances in the diet (and/or dietary supplements) that can help streamline the processing of toxins through the liver, with some of my favorites being green tea, curry, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and sprouts.
Epigallocatechingallate, otherwise known as EGCG, found in green tea, can assist with boosting phase II enzymes, as well as providing antioxidant protection against phase I metabolites. Another powerful substance for liver detox is curcumin, the active compound of turmeric. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory substance that balances phase I and phase II activities.
In retrospect, detox is an essential process for most individuals today, due to the increased toxic burden we carry. Whether you eat foods for daily detox or undergo a targeted, more intensive program with a healthcare professional, make sure to approach it in a holistic manner.