If You Lead A Clean Lifestyle, Do You Really Need To Detox?
By Yulli Agnes, MD, MBiomed (AAM)
Detoxing has become a more mainstream with all the hype from celebrities and health gurus, but there’s still plenty of confusion about what it is and whether or not it’s really necessary.
Most people associate it with fasting, drinking green juices and weight loss. But is detoxing necessary if we lead an all over clean lifestyle? And can we do it without starving or making drastic lifestyle changes?
The answer is yes—to both.
It is true that our bodies are built to naturally eliminate toxins. The problem, however, is that the effects of modern lifestyle, even if we try to limit our exposure as much as possible, our bodies take in toxins every day from things like poor dietary choices, contaminants in our food and water, medications, pollutants in the environment, products we put on our skin; and our stressful and sedentary lifestyle does not make it easier for our body to keep our detox system working in balance.
A buildup of these toxins can compromise the body’s ability to effectively detox the way it’s supposed to, and lead to physical and mental ailments such as chronic fatigue, weight gain, headaches, insomnia, food and chemical sensitivities, digestive issues, hormonal imbalance and many more.
Our bodies built-in system to ward off these nasty toxins involved the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, blood, skin, lungs, and colon; all work together every day to flush these things out—and for the majority of us these organs & systems often need help.
Here is some tips and tools to support your detoxification pathways so your body can do what it is designed to do naturally: thrive.
1) Eat clean & whole foods
Our food has drifted further from its natural state and is treated with pesticides and other additives. Look for organic options to avoid ingesting pesticides, fertilizers and xenoestrogens – avoid processed food and aim for food that’s as close to its natural state as possible to avoid food additives and toxins from food packaging. Eating clean & whole foods will help limit your body from toxins exposure and supporting your body’s natural processes so it doesn’t have to work so hard.
2) Hydrate properly
Water is, quite literally, the river on which our good health flows. Simply put, water helps the body to flushes toxins out using the urinary and digestive system, as well as through sweating and perspiration. Water has many functions that keeps our body systems working properly and in harmony – it carries nutrients to our cells, aids digestion by forming stomach secretions, keeps our moisture-rich organs (our skin, eyes, mouth, and nose) functioning well, lubricates and cushions our joints, regulates our body temperature and our metabolism. If you want your liver to perform at its highest potential in processing toxins, water is essential.
While the liver is responsible for the majority of our detoxification — the skin plays important role in our detoxification system. First, as protective layer, the skin act as shield & filters toxins that came into contact from our self-care products (soaps, detergents, cosmetics, etc.) and environmental toxins (air and water pollutions, etc.). Secondly, the skin eliminates toxins through sweating which supports proper immune function and helps prevent diseases related to toxic overload. Sweating can be done with Epsom salt baths, steam, traditional or infrared sauna and exercise -- and the additional benefits from this practices is they help the body to relax and create a good environment for the body to recover and heal.
4) Move your body
Moving the body creates the conditions for the body to breathe, stretch, circulate and sweat. The goal here is to get both blood and lymph circulation flowing, which helps to transport toxins to be processed by the liver then out of the body. Exercise also helps the digestive system works more regularly and improve lungs function.
Sleep is deeply interconnected with our health in a myriad of ways. The liver, our main detox organ, is most active during deep sleep and the glymphatic system, the waste-removal system of the brain, only works when we're sleeping. If you're not sleeping properly, you'll build up more toxins, which will cause dysfunction in your detox system. Also, sleep is the time when the body produce growth hormone, which is responsible for cell regeneration, repair and renewal.
6) Think elegantly
Our thought, often times, is our own biggest enemy. The ego mind will lie and convince you that those negative thoughts are real. Our brain is designed to remember negative experiences as a mechanism of survival. When the brain perceived a “threat”, regardless whether it is real or not, it will activate our stress-response system and the body will produce cortisol, our survival hormone. Normally, once the threat disappeared, the body will relax and cortisol level is down. But when we constantly having negative thoughts, the body will keep producing cortisol, and the effect of prolonged cortisol exposure to our organs & body systems is catabolic and will lead to many dysfunctions. This is how our thoughts based on fear, worry, disappointment and doubt, affects our physical health.
How do we defend ourselves from this? Be mindful of your thoughts. Know the negative thoughts will appear, and recognize that they are not real. Remind yourself of this constantly. The habit of gratitude for all things no matter how small is, and thinking positively is equally important, as they will help the body to activate the relaxation response system and help counteract the negative effects of cortisol.
7) Dry brush
Dry brushing increases the circulation in your skin, encourages new cell renewal by helping to shed dead skin cells, improves vascular blood circulation, encourages lymphatic drainage and more. That's a lot of good stuff for something as easy and simple as this self-care act.
8) Extra help
Sometimes our organs and body systems need some extra help. Depends on our individual need, lifestyle and health status, taking herbs and nutraceuticals periodically can be extremely valuable. Herbs that commonly used to support our detox system include milk thistle, dandelion root, turmeric, shilajit, burdock root, barberry and many more.
Remember, our health and well-being depends on how well our organs and body systems working together in harmony, that’s include how well our body removes and purges toxins.