A new year has arrived, and with it the strong desire to start fresh. But what about our bodies? Do they not deserve a fresh start too? We are inundated every day with chemicals, heavy metals and toxins in our water, food and environment. While we have an innate detoxification system in our bodies to deal with these toxins, we are being exposed at unprecedented rates. These toxins have been shown to accumulate in our system over time, and without adequate elimination through our liver, kidneys and gut, can create a wide variety of symptoms and conditions that reduce our quality of life.
Why Detoxification is Important
Symptoms arise when the total amount of toxins in our body is higher then our capacity to detoxify and eliminate them from our systems. To simplify this, think of our detoxification system as the wipers on your car and snow as the toxins. When there is a light snow fall, the wipers are able to easily remove the snow from the windshield. But if there is a heavy snowfall, there is too much snow for the wipers to shift. In this case, you have to use another means to remove the snow. When there are too many toxins in the body, it is no longer able to remove them without some type of external support, such as a detoxification program.
Symptoms of a heavy toxic burden on the body include but are not limited to allergies, chemical sensitivities, skin rashes, recurrent infections, infertility, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel conditions and insomnia. Heavy toxic load can also lead to a variety of chronic and degenerative diseases including arthritis, chronic migraines and cancer.
The following are suggestions on how to improve and support the detoxification pathways in our body. Through diet, exercise and medically-supervised detoxification programs two to three times per year, we can reduce the toxic burden on our bodies, reduce symptoms and regain a healthy, active and enjoyable life.
Increase in diet:
Conventionally grown foods contain high quantities of petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. These all increase the toxic load in the body, reducing its ability to efficiently and effectively eliminate toxins.
Fruits and Vegetables
7-10 servings daily of fruits and vegetables as they are a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, kale, garlic, onions, beets, spinach and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables should be eaten every day.
Eat high fibre foods like oatmeal, psyllium, fruit, and beans. These foods contain high quantities of B-vitamins which are critical in the detox pathways. Fibre also bind toxins and help eliminate them from the system
Increase healthy protein sources such as beans, nuts, seeds and peas, which contain important vitamins, minerals, fibre and amino acids needed for the body to efficiently detoxify toxic chemicals.
Increase water to at least 2L of clean filtered water every day to improve elimination of water-soluble toxins through the kidneys, liver and gut.
Avoid in diet:
Alcohol and Caffeine
Eliminate alcohol and caffeine consumption, both of which are toxic to the liver and deplete it of necessary detoxification chemicals.
Refined and Processed Foods
Eliminate high sugar snacks, refined carbohydrates and processed foods and replace with high fibre, whole foods (vegetables, fruit and whole grains)
Red Meat and Dairy
Decrease daily intake of meat and dairy which increases the protein load on the kidneys, thus reducing toxin elimination, as well as induce inflammation in the gut, liver and kidneys, reducing their ability to detoxify and eliminate toxins. When eating meat, replace red meats with organic chicken and cold-water ocean fish
Daily exercise increases the metabolism of cells in the body, which increases the removal of cellular waste into the blood. By increasing blood flow in the body, exercise allows for more blood to be filtered by the liver. This increases the amount of toxins the liver is able to remove from the system. Regular exercise also improves digestion and speeds up gut transit time, allowing for more frequent bowel movements, and less risk of reabsorption of toxic chemicals found in feces.
Supplementation and Detoxification Support
Many supplements and products are available to help improve and support the detox pathways of the body. These include vitamin/mineral injections, herbal formulas, beneficial gut bacteria and metabolic detox products. Every person is unique and presents with different symptoms and areas of weakness. While many products are available over the counter in various pharmacies and health food stores, undertaking a detoxification process has the potential to be dangerous, and as such, should not be done without appropriate supervision from a naturopathic doctor or other primary health-care provider.