Detoxification, what is it and how is it done? Detoxification is the body’s method of expelling unwanted wastes and toxins from the body. The body’s vital organs use several pathways with which to expel toxins. Here they are; liver via blood filtration, kidneys via urine, lungs via breathing, skin via sweating and intestines via the colon (fecal matter) (19).
The term detox is severely overused and misunderstood. Excretion, urination, breathing, and sweating are all merely the mechanisms used to transport wastes and toxins out of the body. The heavy lifting is performed by the organs. There is no one magic food or supplement that will detox your body on its own. Rather, it is a collaborative effort of various strategies that provide the best bet for detox support.
Unfortunately, that means that some trending “detox” remedies like a foot bath won’t actually be effective in helping your body remove toxins built-up in your body. (There is merit in these 3 heavy metal detox remedies, though!)
So with that in mind, here are 7 things you can do to support detoxification.
1. Drink Water
Staying hydrated is the first and simplest way to aid the detox process. Urine, sweat, breath, and even bile from the liver serve as vessels to flush waste from your system. Many people can stay hydrated from drinking when thirsty, but The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommends 11 cups for women and 16 cups of water per day from all sources including food, beverages and pure water (2). Anybody for a round of tall ones?
2. Avoid Refined Flours and Sugars
Maintaining a healthy liver is our focus here. A Healthy liver is an efficient liver, which bodes well for the detox process. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 5% of calories to come from added sugars (3,4) which equate to no more than 25g or 6 teaspoons from all foods and beverages per day. Excessive refined sugar intake has been linked to cancer, heart disease, elevated blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (5). No more lollipops, sorry.
3. Eat Organic
Eating organic reduces the intake of residues left from pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals used in the cultivation of conventional foods (6). Lowering the ingestion of these chemicals eases the burden on our detox organs. We know what you’re thinking. Great advice, but what about the cost? Certain conventional or inorganic foods are less laden with chemicals than others. Use these helpful lists to limit your potential of pesticide and herbicide intake.
Strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes, celery, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes (7).
Sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangos, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit (8).
4. Don’t Just Clean Your Home, Clean the Air
Step up your air purifying game with the assistance of plants. Go above and beyond the conventional methods of dusting, mopping and general cleaning, go for it.
- Absorbs harmful toxins (9), cost-effective, therapeutic, aesthetically pleasing.
- Medicinal Smoke: Studies show that burning certain plants or “SMUDGING” can kill airborne bacteria (10). Try these herbs when smudging, sage, cedar, sweetgrass, lavender, frankincense* and myrrh* (18).
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*Herbs not required to be gifted by wise men.
5. Sweat Sweat Sweat
Skin is the body’s largest organ, utilize it and sweat out those toxins. Studies show that sweating expels heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury (17). Sweat through exercise or traditional soothing heat treatments including Roman baths, aboriginal sweat lodges, Scandinavian spas or a Turkish steam bath (17). Sauna use is generally considered a safe practice, though supervision may be recommended for children, elderly or those with medical conditions. Sauna use should be accompanied by sufficient hydration.
6. Eat More Bacteria, the Good Kind
That’s right, bacteria. Beneficial bacteria indirectly ease the load on our detoxification organs. Bacteria form a healthy microbiome in our gut and act as the first line of defense against toxins, take that chemical compounds.
Benefits of Good Bacteria:
- Reduces absorption of bisphenol A, a known endocrine agitator (11).
- Reduces absorption of pesticides (12).
- Reduces absorption of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, and mercury (13).
- Reduces absorption of perchlorate (14), a potentially harmful chemical used commonly in food packaging.
- Negate genotoxic effects of heterocyclic amines, a cancerous compound formed from cooking meat at high temperatures (15).
Sources of good bacteria include probiotic supplements and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, yogurt, kefir, and tempeh.
7. Think Outside the Veggie Box
Vegetables have been typecast as foods we eat at selective meal times. Be daring and consume vegetables at unorthodox times, like breakfast or as a midnight snack. Try putting greens like spinach, kale, watercress, chard or collards in your morning smoothie. Feeling a little extra adventurous? Make an omelet with pastured eggs. Better yet, add cruciferous vegetables to your diet, they contain sulforaphane which has been shown to help up-regulate the liver’s detox processes (16). Try these cruciferous A-listers, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and arugula.
Watch this short video for additional detox diet tips:
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