Natural Detoxification Strategies
We live in a world full of environmental toxins. According to the CDC, more than 400 toxic chemicals have been measured in human samples. With over 80,000 chemicals used regularly by industries, it’s no surprise that our bodies are a sponge for toxins that are in our air, water, oceans and ground! This blog highlights the importance of incorporating detoxification strategies to eliminate and reduce the risk of toxins everywhere. You don’t need to sign up for an extensive fasting program with unpleasant procedures (like colonics) to clean you out. You’ll be pleased to hear that there are more sustainable and gentler ways to get the junk out!
Our body is built to naturally detoxify through 4 major systems:
- Sweat – Our skin is the body’s largest organ and has tremendous surface area for eliminating toxins. If you naturally sweat easily, good for you! Your body is very efficient at reducing toxins via your skin. I remember the aerobics instructor telling me many years ago that I didn’t work out hard enough as she didn’t see me dripping with sweat like the others – I didn’t realize then that not sweating efficiently is BAD for your health! Regular vigorous exercise will stimulate circulation, deep respiration and removal of toxins through the skin. If you have access to a hot sauna, that’s a great add-on to get some serious perspiration in. Did you know that studies have shown that 15-20% of infrared sauna-induced sweat is composed of fat-soluble toxins and heavy metals? If saunas are not an option, try to spend time outdoors (in the summer) to induce sweating, take hot baths, or go to a hot yoga class.
- Pee – Proper hydration allows us to pee the toxins out of our body so it’s important to drink plenty of CLEAN water. Did you know that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Water is critical for flushing out the urinary tract and regulating the gut microbiome. Make sure to drink plenty of clean water – add in some fresh lemon or lime juice to help the body neutralize the free radicals that are generated by the toxins.
- Poop – We should all be going to the bathroom 2-3X a day and eliminating what we eat within 12-24 hours. For most of us, even once daily is an accomplishment but constipation and lack of bowel movements keep the toxins in our bodies which may be reabsorbed (yuck). To improve the trips to the bathroom, start with an anti-inflammatory diet that is rich in fiber (eg: chia and flax seeds) and include fermented foods and probiotics to create the optimal gut environment. To bind toxins in the gastrointestinal tract, try adding activated charcoal in between meals. Activated charcoal acts like an absorbent sponge and can bind up to 100 times its own weight in toxins, parasites, and bad bacteria. I carry activated charcoal with me when traveling – if I’m not sure what I’ve been eating, I take them with my meals (or right after). If you are a fan of sushi like me, it’s a good idea to take them with the meal to bind to any parasites in the raw fish. Here’s one I use:
- Breath – We need to practice deep breathing often to help move toxins out through our respiratory system – short, shallow breathing isn’t effective at moving the junk out. Here’s a detox breathing exercise to try:
5 Foods to Detox Naturally
Chlorella is a freshwater algae that is considered a nutrient-dense superfood as it’s loaded with phytonutrients, amino acids, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorous, biotin, magnesium and B vitamins. One of the main health benefits of chlorella is its amazing ability to help the body detox heavy metals and prevent them from being reabsorbed. Here’s my favorite – USDA certified-organic, cracked-cell-wall chlorella algae tablets. There are less expensive sources out there but I like that this brand has been tested for purity.
Curcumin in Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice containing the active ingredient, curcumin, and is well known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies also suggest that curcumin is effective in promoting optimal detoxification. Turmeric spice only contains about 3% curcumin so you may want to supplement with a curcumin extract to get the full strength benefit. Here are several that have been tested:
Dark leafy greens are one of Nature’s best methods to support natural detoxification, so make this the mainstay of every meal. Leafy greens are full of minerals, vitamins and the necessary fiber which is critical for getting the bowels moving. Greens that are particularly detox-effective include spinach, kale, alfalfa leaf, moringa leaf and parsley. If you are sensitive to oxalates like me, try to avoid excess spinach and kale (or steam or cook gently to reduce the oxalate content) – yes, too much of a good thing is not a good thing!
Broccoli is good for you but if you want to kick up the antioxidant richness, try broccoli sprouts – they contain a compound called sulforaphane that has been shown to protect cells from environmental toxins and also induce cell death of various cancer cells. You can try these sprouts in the produce section of many grocery stores.
Beets are like a bodywash for your liver. Your liver is your detoxifying organ so it needs to be healthy and nourished in order for it to do the proper job of filtering out toxins during the digestive process. Beets are high in antioxidants, nutrients and contain pectin, a natural blood cleanser. So add roasted beets or beet soup to the diet to keep the liver happy. Here’s a simple recipe to try.