Detox 101: It Might Not Be What You Think

Today I hope to educate you a bit about the process for removing toxins from your system. Detox 101, if you will.

It’s a complex topic that affects almost every part of your body. Before we dive in, however, let’s answer a key question that’s on everybody’s mind:

What Are You Really Detoxing?

To answer this question, we must first take a look at how the body works. A very complicated process occurs every time you eat something. After chewing your food, you swallow it with your esophagus and the food is deposited into the stomach. The upper muscles of your stomach relax to let the food enter the lower muscles, which mixes food with stomach acid to break it down.

The food passes through your small intestine where it gets broken down into starches, proteins, and carbohydrates. The pancreas and liver then break it down even more.

Your liver has many essential functions. And one is metabolizing proteins and turning proteins into amino acids, which give the body energy. But this process of extraction by the liver cells results in a toxin called ammonia, which the liver cells then convert into urea.

Urea is released into the blood, filtered by the kidneys, then removed from the body.

Whoa! That’s a lot happening inside our bodies every time we take a bite.

Before we begin Detox 101 in earnest, and explore how detoxification can keep all these moving parts running smoothly, let’s review what you’ve read so far:

  • The liver cells break down fats and metabolize proteins, which means they are turned into amino acids that can then be used by the body to produce energy.
  • The liver also helps regulate the level of sugar in your blood (blood glucose) by aiding in the metabolism of carbohydrates.
  • Toxins that enter the body or are created through this process get turned into water-soluble, non-toxins by the liver cells.
  • The liver releases its byproducts into the blood, which get filtered by the kidneys before exiting the body.

Detox: It’s Not What You Think…

Detox 101

When people talk about “detoxing” the body, they are really talking about helping the liver and kidneys function better so they can do a better job of cleansing and regulating the body. But, as we discovered, the liver and kidneys don’t work independently. In fact, they rely on a lot of other organs in the body functioning properly so that they can do their job.

The heart needs to be pumping strongly so blood can circulate through the body. The stomach and intestines need to move food through the body properly so the nutrients can get to the other organs. The gallbladder needs to store bile adequately to help the liver break nutrients down. The list goes on and on.

But they aren’t the only organs involved in fine tuning the body to make it run more smoothly.

That’s what detoxing really is. It’s not so much about “flushing the system” as it is “fine tuning the system.” It’s like fixing up your car. You can flush the oil to get rid of buildup that may be causing the machine to breakdown, but that isn’t all you do. A flush does no good if you don’t replace the bad oil with new oil, clean the filter, and tighten all the loose bolts in the engine.

Detox the RIGHT Way

A proper detox will relieve the body of toxins that may be hurting it, and then replace those toxins with nutrients to make the body run better and more effectively.

Detox diets that involve extended fasting with little to no nutrient replacement have been criticized because they strip the body of chemicals without replacing them with the nutrients it needs.

There are several ways one can go through the cleanse and renourishment, and experts suggest using a combination of these tools to truly detox the body. One without the other doesn’t seem to be effective, at least not long term.

But, before we can learn how to detox the body, we need to learn exactly what toxins our bodies are really up against.

How Are Toxins Affecting You?

According to an article in Time magazine, the U.S. generates or imports 42 billion pounds of industrial chemicals each day. These chemicals can leak into our environment, affecting our air and water supply. They also are used to make everyday products such as plastics, sunscreens, fragrances, and detergents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found traces of 265 chemicals in Americans in an updated study in February 2015, a number that has steadily climbed since the original release of the “Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, 2009.”

A 2005 article in “The Textbook of Functional Medicine” asserted that at least 25 percent of the U.S. population has some degree of heavy metal poisoning, largely from tainted water supplies. Air pollution has been tied to increased cases of asthma and cardiovascular disease.

The Benefits of Detoxing

Detox 101

A lot of benefits have been cited as a result of body detox. Here are a few things you may be able to expect from your detox:

  • Supports the natural everyday cleansing of waste and toxins from the body
  • May help maintain natural energy levels
  • Promotes a feeling of well-being
  • Supports the delicate balance of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract with Bacillus coagulans
  • Supports healthy liver detoxification and function
  • Supports the liver, circulatory, glandular immune systems

Where Do I Start My Detox?

Although fasting diets aren’t recommended for a healthy detox, diet is the first habit affected by detoxing. In order to properly realign your organs, you need to be aware of what you put into your body.

Detox 101

Your detox involves three main steps:

  1. Eliminate as many toxins in your life as possible
  2. Assist the elimination process in your body
  3. Fill your body with the nutrients it needs to run efficiently

Let’s walk through a few ways you can accomplish all of these steps using diet, exercise, and other means of detoxification.

  1. Eliminate as many toxins in your life as possible

The first thing you will do to start your detox is eliminate existing toxins from your life. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Refined sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Processed or prepared foods
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Paint fumes and other air toxins
  • Toxic chemicals, especially those with phthalates, triclosan, and quats

Replace as many products in your home as you can with green products, such as your dish soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent. And make sure your water bottle is BPA free, since hydration will become an important part of the detoxification process.

  1. Assist the elimination process in your body

Diet is going to be an important part of assisting the elimination process. You will need to restrict your diet to foods that help motivate the bowels while providing your body with a good amount of nutrients to help it run more efficiently. These foods include non-starchy fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and lots of water.

The key to mobility in your colon is getting enough fiber. This is why leafy, green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, are important. They contain a good amount of insoluble fiber, which bulks food to help it move through the stomach and intestine. Soluble fiber foods, such as apples and beans, attract water to help slow digestion. These foods work together to eliminate unwanted toxins from your body.  

There are numerous products that can help you in the elimination process while also building up your body. Clean Start by Nature’s Sunshine is a popular detox product that provides comprehensive support during your detox.

You can also aid the process through probiotics, such as Bacillus coagulans, which support gastrointestinal health and healthy detoxification.

Products from Nature’s Sunshine contain high-quality ingredients like:

  • Psyllium hulls
  • Vegetable fiber
  • Potassium citrate
  • Aloe vera whole leaf
  • Stevia leaf extract
  • Carotene extract
  • Bentonite
  • Vitamin A
  • Berberine
  • Vitamin C
  • Dandelion root
  • Milk thistle seed extract

As you eliminate waste from your body, make sure you stay hydrated. The elimination process can leave your body depleted of water, so drinking enough to stay hydrated is important. But also be careful not to over-consume water. Naturopath Vayali recommends drinking half your weight in ounces a day. For example, a 140 pound woman should drink 70 ounces (or 2 liters) of water a day.

Part two of assisting in the elimination process is exercise. “In general exercise helps our lungs [and] kidneys get rid of things that can cause us onset of disease,” says Dr. Matzkin. It also boosts your circulation, which leads to better health by nourishing cells and helping the body eliminate what it no longer needs.

Exercise also promotes sweating. Skin, as our body’s biggest organ, can be a useful tool in detoxing the body. Sweat helps us push unwanted toxins out of our body, so exercise, as well as sweating it out in a sauna, is recommended for detoxification.

Other options for elimination:

  • Massage – Tissues and fat work sort of like a sponge. When pressure is applied, toxins can literally be “squeezed” out from in between the fibers and cells. Those toxins are then released into the circulatory system, so make sure you hydrate after a massage to help eliminate the toxins, and even consider doing an activity that makes you sweat.
  • Reflexology and AcupressureReflexology studies presure points, specifically in the hands, feet, and head, that force a response from different parts of the body. Activating these pressure points through reflexology or acupressure can help aid detoxification.
  1. Fill your body with the nutrients it needs to run efficiently

While the first part of detoxing is about cleansing, the second part is about rebuilding. It’s important to make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs while going through this transition.

Keep in mind that your body is used to consuming a bunch of processed foods, sugar, and other toxins, so it may take a week or two for your body to adjust to new sources of sustenance. Before beginning a detox, you should consult with your physician and make sure your health-care provider supervises any dramatic changes to your daily habits.

To help with hydration while also supporting your detox, try different teas that fill the holes in your detox regimen. For example, essiac tea can help support immunity and aid in blood detoxification, so your body gets a full circle cleanse.

Because detox requires a somewhat strict diet, a whole food, paleo-diet is often recommended, you may need to get certain vitamins and minerals from a supplemental source during your detox. Although a detox can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, you may find that consuming detox-related supplements regularly supports your already healthy digestive and immune system when you aren’t actively detoxing.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that detoxing is not a simple act. For a detox to be effective and provide long-term results, it has to be done carefully, purposefully, and diligently. However, the benefits of a better digestive and immune system, more energy, and reduced free radicals is definitely worth the effort.

If you’re interested in bettering your health, a detox may be just what you’re looking for to get your health on the right track.

Sources:

http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Anatomy/your-digestive-system/Pages/anatomy.aspx

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072577/

http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Anatomy/kidneys-how-they-work/Pages/anatomy.aspx

http://bembu.com/detox-benefits

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002136.htm

http://whole9life.com/2015/01/intro-to-detox/

http://whole9life.com/2015/01/detox-101/

http://www.livescience.com/34845-detox-cleansing-facts-fallacies.html

http://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/detox-diets

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/health/how-to-do-a-healthy-detox

http://www.today.com/health/can-exercise-detox-your-body-its-not-about-sweat-1C7634616

http://elementsmassage.com/spokane-valley/blog/how-does-massage-help-your-body-detox-

http://www.modernreflexology.com/acupressure-points-for-body-detoxification/

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