In light of the New Year, I thought it would be fitting to focus on some detoxification strategies to help you cleanse your body and soul of 2018 so that you can start anew in 2019. When I say “detoxification,” I’m not just referring to detoxifying out all the bad food choices or alcohol you may have consumed around the holidays. I’m talking a whole body systems overhaul. I’m talking about detoxifying out the negative thoughts, fears, and low self worth AS WELL AS the environmental toxins, preservatives from foods, heavy metals, bacteria, yeast, and any other undesirable non-food particle that somehow found its way past your intestinal barrier. The word “detox” to me describes the body’s physiologic process of rendering chemicals, compounds, hormones, and toxicants less harmful. Scientists estimate that the average adult carries within her or his body at least 700 toxins and that a newborn’s body can contain over 200 toxins. This statistic is astonishing.
Now, some “detoxification” protocols tell you that you should drink nothing but juice for three days, feel virtually miserable, and be forced to stay in bed. This is not my philosophy. I believe that our body’s detoxify best when given the right nutrients, in the right amounts, from clean whole foods, under healing environmental circumstances. Metabolic detoxification is an ongoing process, one that depends on multiple organs of the body, a consistent supply of the right nutrients to support the enzymatic pathways that make this process happen, as well as the prioritization of a clean living environment to limit the incoming toxic burden. While proper systems wide detoxification oftentimes will require you to work with a skilled professional, there are some general tips I can help you with to get started. There is no better time than the present to show your body some extra TLC and improve your sense of well being. So lets dive in!
How does the body excrete toxins?
The body rids it self of toxins through our stool, our urine, our sweat, and our hair to name a few. Optimizing these excretory pathways is of the utmost importance in trying to clean up your body’s toxic burden. On average, you should be having one to two, well shaped, fully formed bowel movements per day. If you are averaging less than this, consider consuming more fiber through plant foods such as vegetables and fruits, and consuming more filtered water. If your stool is on the looser side regularly, this could be due to food intolerances, again a lack of fiber, or even a bacterial or fungal infection in your digestive tract. Work with a health practitioner to rectify this situation. If you’re not sweating regularly throughout the week, try exercising more, taking an epsom salt bath, or utilizing a sauna. More on this later!
Food plays a crucial role in all phases of systemic detoxification. The first step in the process is to determine the toxic foods you are consuming as an every day part of your diet. By becoming aware of this and switching over to a clean, whole foods based diet you can substantially reduce your body’s toxic burden. Foods that support the body’s detoxification pathways reduce triggers that activate the immune system, support liver function, reduce toxin load by focusing on clean/organic choices, and reducing chemicals that cause the endocrine system to get thrown out of wack (I’m talking about your hormones here, ladies!). Below are my main tips for minimizing your intake of harmful substances:
Buy organically grown animal products.
Peel off the skin or remove the outer layer of leaves of some lettuce, especially if non-organic.
Remove surface residues of pesticides, wax, and fertilizers with pure castile soap or biodegradable cleanser.
Choose lean meats that are pasture raised.
Choose wild caught fish: specifically, salmon, halibut, cod, or sardines. Any fish higher up on the food chain will have more heavy metals.
Wash produce before preparing it.
Consult the Environmental Working Groups “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists.
Consult the Environmental Working Group website for tips on how to purchase clean personal care and cleaning products.
Avoid foods that contain any food coloring or dyes, or preservatives such as BHT, BHA, benzoate, and sulfites.
Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners such as sucralose or aspartame.
Avoid canned foods, foods in plastic containers or bottles, or any other packing that has BPA in it. Some canned foods in moderation will be okay as long as the can is BPA free lined.
Cook only with glass, stainless steel, or cast iron. Teflon coated pans leach chemicals into your food, and aluminum cooking sheets/pans also leach aluminum into your food. Aluminum has been found in high amounts in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s. DO NOT STORE YOUR FOOD IN PLASTIC! Only store left overs in glass.
Drink only filtered water. My favorite water filter is the BERKEY system. If this is out of your budget, a brita should work just fine, but please do not store the water in the plastic container, move it over to a glass pitcher.
Now, here are the foods you’re going to focus on to provide your body with high quality micronutrients, phytonutrients, and antioxidants:
Protein: Lean, free-range, grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught animal protein or non-GMO organic plant protein. This includes pastured eggs, wild caught fish as mentioned previously, lean grass-fed meats, tempeh, spirulina, tofu, or whey/hemp/pea protein powders.
Legumes: Organic black soybeans, edamame, green peas, bean soups, or dried beans/lentils that have been soaked overnight. Hummus is okay, just ensure that it is made with organic ingredients and olive oil NOT canola oil.
Dairy alternatives (this is a no dairy plan): Coconut kefir, coconut yogurt, or homemade almond/coconut milk.
Nuts/seeds: these are particularly therapeutic! Get unsalted, unsweetened, raw organic nuts without added oils. Bonus points if you sprout them! You can do so by soaking for 6-8 hours depending on the nut/seed. Almonds, brazil nuts (great source of selenium), cashews, chia seeds, flax, coconut, hazelnuts, hemp seems, nut and seed butters, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts.
Fats/Oils: Organic, minimally refined, cold-pressed, non-GMO. Avocado daily! Ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, flaxseed oil (not for cooking), hempseed oil (not for cooking).
Vegetables: YOUR BEST DETOXIFIERS! Eat 7 servings of these bad boys per day. Cruciferous veggies: Arugula, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, radishes. Leafy Greens: bok choy, chard, swiss chard, cilantro, beet greens, collards, dandelion greens, mustard greens, microgreens, parsley, radicchio, endive. Thiols: chives, onion, scallions, shallots, garlic, leeks, daikon radish. Further liver/kidney support: Artichokes, asparagus, beets, celery, sprouts. Starchy vegetables can help to round out a meal: acorn squash, butternut squash, potato, fennel, carrot.
Fruits: Organic Apple, blackberry, blueberry, cherries, purple grapes, grapefruit (consult your health care practitioner if you are taking medication), mandarins, orange, pineapple, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, rhubard, strawberries tangerines.
Gluten free grains: buckwheat groats (delicious cooked in coconut milk with some cinnamon), certified gluten free oats, quinoa, forbidden black rice, millet, amaranth, wild rice.
Drinks, spices, condiments: filtered water with lemon, herbal teas (dandy blend is an awesome choice), curry, dill, ginger, rosemary, turmeric, oregano, thyme. NO ALCOHOL!
Supplementation should always be advised by a health care professional as every one has unique physiology. In general, I recommend everyone take a professional grade, third party tested multi-vitamin to support micronutrient levels. Our soils and foods are depleted of micronutrients from over farming and poor agricultural practices. It is an unfortunate fact of life now. Even organic foods are much more depleted than they used to be. If you aren’t sure which multi to take, check out our online dispensary under our supplements section for our favorite choices. Some additional supplemental detox support includes:
Liposomal Glutathione (this requires you to work with a professional)
All the wholesome food in the world can’t help you detoxify if you live a high stress, toxic lifestyle. For the duration of the month, try to do a daily 10 minute meditation to help you de-stress and relax. Get regular exercise! Try to walk at least 30 minutes a day. Couple this with a yoga class every week (hot yoga is a bonus as it helps you to excrete toxins through sweat more), high intensity interval exercise, or any other form of exercise that makes you sweat! Drink an electrolyte drink while sweating to ensure you don’t deplete your body’s resources. A good electrolyte drink consists of filtered water, a pinch or two of pink sea salt, a squeeze of lemon, and some coconut water.
Try a sauna two days per week for 45 minutes or until you absolutely can’t be in there any longer. Sauna’s are great for helping your body to sweat toxins out. An epsom salt bath weekly can also do the trick!
Make it a goal to detach from electronics as frequently as possible, avoiding them for the first hour of your day, and the last two hours of your day. Believe it or not staring at screens can increase your body’s stress response - not to mention the harmful Electromagnetic Frequencies that can impact your health, but that’s a whole different topic.
Get adequate sleep! Try to sleep for 8 hours every night. If you have trouble falling asleep, stick to a regular bed time of 10PM. Use blue blocker sunglasses if you must use electronics before bed, otherwise avoid them for two hours prior. Try an evening meditation to wind down, read a book, take a warm bath with some lavender oil & epsom salt, or do something that makes you laugh. If you are still struggling to get a decent night sleep, it may be time for you to work with a practitioner that can help determine the underlying reason for this.
Surround yourself with positive people. Positive vibrations from friends and loved ones can help to increase your vibration, thus influencing your mood and the thoughts that run through your head. Positive thoughts lead to happy and positive cells - it’s a biological fact of life! Try to reduce your time spend with toxic people, toxic situations, or anything else that drags down your mood.
Journal regularly! This can help you to better understand your thoughts and emotions in order to intervene with your negative ones to turn them into positive ones. Oh and last but not least, breath in clean air! Invest in an air purifier, such as a LifeAir or a HEPA certified air filter. This investment is a MUST if you live in a big city like I do.
Throughout the month of January, I’ll be sharing some additional detoxification recipes to help you along your journey. Have any questions or comments, e-mail us!
Yours in health,