Do you associate the term “detoxification” with juicing and expensive supplements or intense, complicated protocols? Books, publications and health authorities proclaiming the benefits of juicing, and labeling on popular detoxification products attempt to convince consumers that one or several cleanse regimens will sufficiently clear the liver and other organ systems of toxins. These claims are created to sell products; but they do not necessarily improve health. In fact, focused detoxification protocols with a defined beginning and end may do more damage than good, to your health.
You may be surprised to learn that the optimal way to boost the natural process of detoxification is with daily dietary and lifestyle changes used every day. One of the most important elements of these changes incorporates high quality proteins for detoxification rather than a radical detoxification “program” with a defined beginning and end. Normal detoxification is a process the body performs daily. Some trendy detoxification recommendations call for removing animal foods and incorporating a plant-based approach. Yet, juice cleanses and other plant-based protocols aren’t as beneficial as they seem and can harm the body. This is because a plant-based detoxification protocol lacks an essential nutritional element for successful detox: nutrients from animal-based protein.
There are some simple ways to assist the body in removing toxins on a daily basis, to eliminate long-term toxin build-up that can cause chronic health issues. Kim Schuette, CN, and Certified GAPS Practitioner recommends gentle, ongoing support of the body’s natural detoxification using a traditional diet of real, organic foods and mindful lifestyle habits. She highlights the importance of supporting the liver, one of the body’s key detoxification organs:
“Detoxification is the physiological removal of metabolic waste and exogenous toxins from the body. It is in fact a process, and not an event.” She describes detoxification as an ongoing function performed by organ systems referred to as emunctories: “Emunctories are organs of elimination; the word has its origin in the Latin emungere which means ‘to cleanse’ and refers to tissues and organs that excrete toxins from the body. These organs include gallbladder and liver (bile excretion), lungs (carbon dioxide), kidneys (urination), colon (defecation), and skin (perspiration). Our sovereign organ for detoxification is the liver.”
The liver metabolizes a majority of substances that enter the body, and works with the kidneys, lungs, colon, and skin to ensure removal of toxins. This powerful organ enables digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, and stores vitamins, minerals and sugars. It also purifies the blood to remove chemicals, excess hormones, bacteria and viruses.
Short-term, intense detoxification can place unnecessary strain on the liver. Some detoxes cause the body to purge as a machine, which could be compared to removing dirty oil from a car and replacing it with clean oil. Sudden and abrupt change can be damaging and cause disruption to our bodies. Slow, gradual changes are easier, and allow adjustment for necessary metabolic changes.
Here are 5 ways to support your liver’s daily detoxification:
1. Choose real, whole foods that are produced naturally.
Real, unprocessed foods food grown or raised without antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, and with organic and sustainable practices are recommended. A good place to start in locating real food is visiting a health food store, farmer’s market, or a local farmer. Read more about the importance of knowing where you source your food: Questions to Ask Your Farmer.
It is highly recommended to consume traditional fats to support liver function and regular detoxification. To metabolize fat, the liver secretes bile, and bile enables our bodies to absorb critical fat-soluble vitamins exclusive to traditional fats. Because our bodies’ detoxification depends on bile production and bile contains cholesterol, consuming enough cholesterol is essential. Fats from grassfed and grass finished animals are considered optimal. Examples of traditional fats include pastured butter, egg yolks from pastured hens, full-fat dairy, liver, bone broth and cod liver oil. These foods contain essential nutrients for liver health including Vitamins A, D, and E.
To further support natural detoxification, eliminating processed, packaged, and refined foods is recommended. This includes food sourced from genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) strongly advises physicians “to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients.”
Here are some examples of how genetically-modified foods can damage health: organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. In human studies, genetically-modified food have been observed to leave behind altered material, with potential to cause long-term issues. For instance, genes inserted into GM soy can move into DNA of bacteria residing inside our bodies. In another example, blood samples from pregnant women and their unborn fetuses have shown residue from the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn.
“Up to 92% of U.S. corn is genetically engineered (GE), as are 94% of soybeans and 94% of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). It has been estimated that upwards of 75% of processed foods on supermarket shelves – from soda to soup, crackers to condiments – contain genetically engineered ingredients.”
2. Include probiotic-filled, fermented foods in your diet
Fermented foods such as carefully prepared sauerkraut, pickles, kefir and yogurt contain probiotics and enzymes which can assist the body in detoxifying chemicals that harm human health. Traditionally prepared fermented dairy foods have been through the process of lacto fermentation, where beneficial bacteria feed on sugars in the food and produce lactic acid. This acid creates an environment where the presence of harmful microorganisms is greatly reduced, thus preserving the food. Food also is rendered ore digestible and nutrient-dense, and increases enzymes, B vitamins, and probiotics.
Source: Sharma N, Handa S, Gupta A. A comprehensive study of different traditional fermented foods/beverages of Himachal Pradesh to evaluate their nutrition impact on health and rich biodiversity of fermenting organisms. Int J Res Appl,Natural Soc Sci. 1 (2013): 1-10.
Some harmful chemicals that have been found stored in the body and are excreted during detoxification include Bisphenol A, an endocrine disruptor found in many plastics, paper money, receipts, pesticides, and heavy metals.
Try drinking beet kvass, a Ukrainian fermented beverage created beets, salt, and water. Beet kvass is considered a highly effective method of detox for the liver and whole body. It contains nutrients including enzymes, minerals and probiotics, and is a potent digestive aid[.
Try this recipe for beet kvass from The Nourishing Gourmet.
For more information on fermenting foods and beverages, read Wardee Harmon’s book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods.
3. Dry brushing
Dry brushing is a traditional health practice that has been used for many years. Skin brushing with a hand-held brush is an optimal method of stimulating circulatory and lymphatic systems, the latter being one of the major detoxification systems in the body.
Toxins and waste can accumulate when the lymphatic system isn’t working optimally. When this happens, our bodies become susceptible to illness and disease. Because the lymphatic system lies just below the skin and our skin is one of the primary systems through which toxins are removed, dry brushing is a helpful way to stimulate this organ for waste removal and detoxification].
Learn more about benefits of dry skin brushing and how to do it from Meghan Telpner.
4. Reduce stress and retire to bed at an earlier hour
Going to bed at an earlier hour can also support optimal detoxification. During the two hours of sleep before midnight, some of the most fundamental processes of purification and rejuvenation in the body occur. The deep sleep we receive before midnight is most beneficial. We don’t receive the same quality of sleep during any other part of our sleep cycle. If we consistently miss out on this deep sleep, unnaturally high levels of stress responses occur in our bodies. This leads to chronic fatigue and susceptibility to disease and inflammation.
Source: Moritz A. The Liver And Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press; 2007.
Reducing stress is another important way to promote our bodies’ ability to detox. Stress causes the use of sympathetic nervous system. When a stress-driven system dominates, resources are concentrated in muscles and “fight or flight” impulses. Stress inhibits our bodies’ renewal systems from functioning optimally, and prevents proper detoxification. The body stores more toxins in fat cells during stress because it lacks the energy to convert and eliminate them].
5. Rebounding or other lymphatic activity
Flow of lymphatic fluid in our lymph system enables the removal of toxins from our cells. A weakened lymphatic system can contribute to chronic disease. Try a rebounder, a smaller device that is similar to a trampoline. This activity can help increase lymphatic circulation in our bodies and encourage toxin removal. The lymphatic system is the “metabolic garbage can of the body”, according to Dave Scrivens, Certified Lymphologist. The lymph system removes toxins including dead and cancerous cells, nitrogenous wastes, infectious viruses, heavy metals, and other material discarded by the cells. When we rebound, this system becomes free-flowing and drains out these harmful substances.
Here’s a description of how rebounding increases lymphatic circulation and moves lymph fluid, improving detoxification: increased G-force because of gravity’s pull. Circulation improvement causes lymph glands to move, which happens while we sweat. The result is strengthening of all cells in the body and increase in production of our white blood cell count. White blood cells are used to fight infections, creating an immunity boost.
Detoxing doesn’t have to involve expensive products, be complicated or stressful. Try consuming real food with focus on traditional fats and lifestyle changes to detox your body daily to benefit your health!
Randy Fath https://unsplash.com/photos/SL95teeYLG4