Is a cleanse or liver detox important for your health?
Have you heard your friends or family members talk about “detoxing” or “doing a cleanse” and wonder what this is?
Are you scared of what you have read on the internet about drinking olive oil and lemon juice for a week, starving yourself, or doing coffee enemas? No thank you!
In my clinical practice, I recommend a gentle detox or “spring cleaning” as a way of “resetting” the body back to its original settings, free of sugar, processed foods, and inflammation. We discuss the importance of hydration, exercise, meditation, and time in nature to promote optimal wellness for the body, mind, and spirit. Yes, please!
So why detox?
We are “silently” exposed to toxins in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink EVERY day. Your liver, kidneys, large intestine, lymphatic system, and sweat glands work together to reduce the buildup of these chemicals.
The adult body is found to have over 700 chemicals.
Since WWII, there have been 80,000 new chemicals released into the environment.
We are exposed to chemicals in plastics, beauty products (the average female uses 168 chemicals on her body a day), and waste from factories.
There are over 4 billion pounds of pesticides used annually in the U.S.
Umbilical cord blood of newborns has been found to contain 287 toxic chemicals, of which 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system. One study found that 90% of pregnant mothers and their newborns have high levels of 59 man-made chemicals, including PCBs and OCPs. (source)
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is a widely used and harmful herbicide used on crops and other plants to kill weeds (from 1994 to 2005, the use of glyphosate rose 1500%). It is found on non-organic produce, meat, and in packaged foods. It is believed to be one of the main reasons that America is dealing with obesity. It also destroys the beneficial bacteria in the gut, mimics hormones like estrogen, impairs the function of vitamin D, and compromises your ability to detoxify toxins. (source Samseland Seneff, Entropy 2013, 15, 1416-1463)
What about antibiotics?
The overuse of antibiotics in our food supply destroys the good bacteria in our intestines, leading to a weakened immune system, and allows more toxins to enter our body.
Americans consume about 3 million pounds of antibiotics every year and animals, such as chicken and cattle, consume more than 24 million pounds.
Why is this a concern? Dosing livestock with antibiotics can lead to bacteria that is drug resistant.
What are some of the symptoms of a toxic overload?
Brain fog/lack of focus, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, depression, sore joints and muscles, difficulty sleeping, cravings for unhealthy carbs or sugar, headaches, skin conditions, sinus congestion, hormonal imbalance, and difficulty losing weight.
Want to lose weight? You might need to detox first.
I’ll explain…if we don’t “clean house” first, as we begin a weight loss program, the fat cells will shrink, sending toxins to the liver (toxins are stored in adipose tissue). When the liver gets overwhelmed with these toxins, it will stop burning fat due to toxic overload and the weight will not come off as easily.
Overtime, this “total toxic burden” on the body adds up, overwhelming our natural detoxification system.
So what can you do to decrease your toxic load?
Check out this list from the Environmental Working Group on how you can decrease exposure to toxic chemicals:
- Eat fewer processed foods, which often contain chemical additives.
- Eat organic produce. It’s grown without synthetic pesticides and preservative chemicals.
- Don’t microwave food in plastic containers, use glass or ceramics.
- Run your tap water through a home filter before drinking. Filters can reduce levels of common tap water pollutants.
- Eat fewer meat and high fat dairy products, which contain higher levels of some pollutants.
- Reduce the number of cosmetics and other personal care products you use, which can contain harmful chemicals and can be sold with no safety testing.
- Avoid artificial fragrances.
- Don’t use stain repellants on clothing, bedding or upholstery.
- Reduce the number of household cleaners you use. Try soap and water first.
- Avoid using gasoline-powered yard tools — use manual or electric tools instead.
- Avoid breathing gasoline fumes when you’re filling your car.
- Eat seafood known to be low in PCB and mercury contamination, including wild Alaska salmon and canned salmon. Avoid canned tuna — it contains mercury.
And finally, strengthen the liver detoxification pathways by doing a detox.
Your liver is the primary organ of detoxification. It processes toxins so they can be released into the lymphatic system, kidneys, and blood, and eventually excreted.
There are two phases of liver detoxification, phase I and phase II.
Phase I is the first line of defense against toxins. It involves a group of enzymes called the cytochrome P450 enzymes. These help to neutralize substances like alcohol and caffeine. During phase I, these enzymes convert toxins into less harmful ones.
In Phase II, these toxins are made water-soluble to that they can be excreted from the body. This process is known as conjugation, and requires glutathione, sulphate, and glycine. Glutathione is considered a “master antioxidant,” and can be found in asparagus, avocado, spinach, broccoli, and some supplements. It is the most abundant antioxidant in the body and it can regenerate itself in the liver.