Supporting the Body's Natural Detox Processes
The word 'detox' runs rampant around this time of year. Especially after the holidays, many New Years' resolutions are centered around weight loss, eating healthier, or a significant detox. There are many wild detox claims out there: long juice fasts, hours in the sauna, eating obscure diets. But unfortunately, these are often short-lived and leave you feeling worse than you did before you started.
Fortunately for us, we can detox on our own, without any fancy equipment or wild diet. Each body is equipped with organ systems that are made to detox our body every day. It is essential to support these systems to continue to help the body function smoothly.
We are exposed to toxins daily, such as pesticides, pollution, home cleaning products, air fresheners, skin care products, fabric softeners, etc. In addition to daily toxin exposures, our body is continuously making waste as well. This waste comes from cellular processes naturally occurring throughout the body, such as lactic acid or waste products from gut microbes.
The body does an excellent job of naturally detoxing you every day. Since the external world is filled with toxins and the inner world also creates toxins, it is essential to support your body's detoxification systems.
The Body's Detox Organs
No 1. Liver:
The liver, being one of the largest organs in the body, is your first line of defense against the toxins we face. The liver is a filtration system for the entire body. Every substance that comes into the body goes through the liver first, and all toxins are removed and converted into harmless metabolites. Essentially the liver works by changing the chemical nature of a toxin into a less harmful version.
How to support the liver:
Minimize or avoid alcohol
Eat Cruciferous Vegetables: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Cabbage
Be Aware of the Amount of over the counter medications you are consuming regularly. They can have a negative effect on the liver. Only consume if necessary.
Liver Supporting Herbs: Milk Thistle and Dandelion Root. Teas is the safest form.
No 2. Kidney
After the body breaks down the food, the waste products go into the blood, making their way to the kidneys. The waste products consist of urea and creatinine, but many other substances still need to be filtered. The kidneys are efficient at filtering the waste products from the blood and returning vitamins, minerals, and other vital substances into circulation. The waste products are converted into urine and then excreted from the body. Without the kidneys, the toxins would be pushed back into the bloodstream, causing other negative health issues. Water is essential to the health of the kidneys.
How to support the kidneys?
Drink enough clean, filtered water
Avoid smoking and minimize/avoid drinking alcohol
Kidney Supporting Herbs: Parsley, Ginger, Marshmallow root
**Please note: If you have kidney disease, please check with your doctor before altering your water intake or taking supplements.
No 3. Lungs
The lungs remove toxic gasses and airborne chemicals that we come in contact with every day. For example, when alcohol is processed and broken down in the liver, the end product is acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is what you smell on the breath of someone who is drunk or has drunk alcohol recently. If this gas is not removed from the blood by the lungs, it can be lethal. Gas anesthetics are also removed from the body by the lungs.
How to best support the lungs?
In-home air filter: Air filters are great for ensuring you are consuming clean air year-round, especially during the fire season. Check out this article for how to choose an air filter for you!
Cardiovascular Exercise: This is anything that gets your heart rate up! Walking, jogging, dancing, jumping, or even some vigorous household chores. These exercises work out the lungs, improving and maintaining proper lung function`.
Lung Supporting Herbs: Nettle, Mullein Leaf, Marshmallow Leaf
No 4. Skin:
The skin is the body's largest organ. It acts as a barrier between your inner body and the outer world. The skin prevents bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, and other harmful chemical toxins from entering the body. The skin's main job is to act as a barrier and preventing toxins from getting in.
How to best support the skin?
Drink Clean Water
Lower the amount of processed sugar consumed
Cut out dairy: Dairy products are known to aggravate skin issues.
Dry Skin Brushing: an Ayurvedic technique that includes using a dry skin brush to gently brush the skin before bed or after a shower. Dry brushing stimulates lymph flow and removes dead skin cells.
Skin Supporting Herbs: Gotu Kola, Milk Thistle, Turmeric, and Nettle
No 5. Gastrointestinal (GI) System:
The GI system plays a very integral role in ridding the body of toxins. Toxins ingested while eating are then broken down and excreted from the body. Another way the digestive system protects us from toxins is through diarrhea and vomiting. In the case of food poisoning, the body becomes very ill in an attempt to get rid of the toxic substance as quickly as possible.
How to support the digestive system?
Probiotics: help to balance the bacteria in the gut.
Daily Bowel Movements: Having regular BM's are extremely important as feces is how many of the bodily waste and toxins leave the body. To keep regular bowel movements, make sure you eat a balanced diet, including enough fiber and water. Please review the Bristol stool chart as reference for normal bowel movements.
GI Supporting Herbs: Ginger, Turmeric, Fennel
Methods that Apply to All Systems
Eat less processed foods.
Eating whole foods over processed versions will help support the body. Providing the body with necessary nutrients allows for proper functioning. Each cell in the body is powered by what you consume. If the consumption is high in sugar, chemicals, and sodium, the body will not function as efficiently as if the diet consisted of fresh and organic fruits, vegetables, and protein.
Drink half your body weight in ounces of water
The human body is 60% water. Water is the medium that helps distribute nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Water also allows the body to absorb these vitamins and minerals. Lastly, water helps to flush out the toxins and waste found in the body. So it is safe to say, proper hydration is essential. One general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces. For example, if one weighs 160 pounds, that would mean she/he should drink around 80 ounces of water each day.
Sleep plays an integral role in both your physical and mental health. Physically, rest is a time when the body repairs and rebuilds itself. Mentally, sleep is essential for the proper functioning of the brain. Lack of sleep can result in difficulty with focus, problem-solving, and decision making.
When the body is under stress, every organ system is also under stress. When every organ is under stress, the systems will not function properly, leading to unpleasant physical symptoms. So managing your stress levels are significant to the mental and physical health of the body. Methods such as meditation, yoga, or journaling are great ways to help manage daily life stress.