Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from our body by neutralizing or transforming them so they can be eliminated. Detoxification involves dietary and lifestyle changes that include the reduced intake of toxins and improved elimination. Normally our body creates toxins on a biochemical and cellular level. If these substances/molecules/toxins are not eliminated, they can cause irritation or inflammation in the cells and tissues, blocking normal function. This is when symptoms start to occur. Our body is well equipped to handle a certain level of toxins. Toxicity occurs when we take in more than we can eliminate. The effects that toxins have on our body depend on the dosage, frequency, or potency of the toxin. For example, a toxin may produce an immediate effect to a certain drug or pesticide, but more commonly, the negative effects are long term, for example long time asbestos exposure leading to lung cancer.
A Toxin is any substance that creates irritating and/or harmful effects in the body, undermining our health or stressing our biochemical and organ functions. We acquire toxins all the time from our environment either by ingesting them, breathing them in, or through direct physical contact. Microbes such as intestinal bacteria, foreign bacteria, yeasts and parasites all release metabolic waste products and are examples of toxins that our body must handle.
OUR GOAL is to enhance the elimination of toxins and to prevent their build up by assisting our body in detoxification day to day.
Our General Detoxification Systems
Respiratory– lungs, bronchial tubes, throat, nose, and sinuses
Mucous is the body’s way of trapping invaders.
Gastrointestinal– liver, gallbladder, colon and entire GI tract
The liver helps transform many toxic substances into harmless agents. It releases waste through the gallbladder and into the intestines, where it is eliminated. The liver is the main filter that neutralizes our toxic environment.
Urinary– kidneys, bladder, and urethra
The kidneys help make toxins water soluble and allow for excretion through the urine.
Skin– sweat, sebaceous glands and tears
Our body eliminates toxins through sweating. The skin helps to excrete fat-soluble toxins such as the pesticide DDT and heavy metals such as lead.
Lymphatic– lymphatic channels and nodes
Swollen lymph nodes can indicate excess toxin build up.
Repair and Enhance Detoxification
Here’s how to repair and enhance detoxification:
Increase your intake of fiber.
Increase slowly and aim for 25 to 50 grams of fiber daily. Ground flaxseeds are an excellent source. Use these stool guidelines to adjust your fiber intake for the desired results:
- Frequently: at least one and up to three formed movements a day (fewer than one a day is considered constipation and increases your risk for cancer).
- Texture: bulky, soft, and easy to pass
- Tendency to float (indicating a high-fiber content).
- Medium to light brown in colour
Increase your intake of clean, filtered water
Water intake needs to be at least 64 ounces per day (8 cups). This bare minimum intake represents the amount of water lost by an average-sized person in a single day. Your daily intake of water should equal ½ your body weight (lbs) in ounces. Ex. a 160 lb person needs 80 ounces of water. Make sure to meet the following guideline.
- Normal urine output should be two to three liters a day (admittedly, few of us actually measure)
- Urine should be mostly clear or with only a slight tinge of yellow (although for those taking vitamins, riboflavin – vitamin B2 – causes bright yellow urine).
- Urine should have only a slight to mild odour (unless you eat asparagus, which can impart a pungent odour in people who have a common variation in liver detoxification enzymes).
Sweat on a regular basis
We recommend exercise for at least thirty minutes four days per week to a level that causes sweating. In addition to exercise, boost your skin’s detoxification capability by using a steam bath or sauna an additional two to three times weekly. YOGA is an excellent method to detoxify.
Increase your intake of foods that boost the liver’s detoxification capabilities
These foods provide the liver with the nutrients it needs to process and detoxify unwanted chemicals.
- Increase your consumption of Seasonal, Local and Organic Foods
- Eat at least one cup of cruciferous vegetables daily (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, bok choy).
- Include as much garlic as possible in your diet – or take it as a supplement.
- Eat high-quality sulfur-containing proteins: garlic and onions.
- Try fresh vegetable juices, including carrot, celery, beet, parsley, and ginger.
- Season food with rosemary, which contains carnosol, a potent booster of detoxification enzymes.
- Eat organic grapes, berries, and citrus fruits, which contain helpful bio-flavonoids.
- Try dandelion greens, which help liver detoxification, improve the flow of bile, and increase urine flow.
- Add cilantro to meals; it can help remove heavy metals. Add dark green leafy vegetables, which contain chlorophyll, a helpful detoxifier.
- Get curcuminoids from spices such as turmeric.
- Try herbal detoxification teas containing mixtures of burdock root, dandelion root, ginger root, licorice root, sarsaparilla root, cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, and other herbs.
See your Naturopathic Doctor for a customized protocol