Give your body the kick-start to healthy function with a natural detoxification program.
Detoxification is one of the first steps to take if you are serious about feeling great! Committing to a detox shows that you have taken control of your lifestyle habits, and that you realize you are the only one that can change them. The allure of the quickfix is gone and you stand ready to change your life—not only feel good, but look good, too! Your body’s detoxification systems need to function at their top levels so they can break down chemical toxins and fat, and increase energy. Every once in a while, it is beneficial to hit the reset button and give your body the detox boost it needs. Keep in mind that detoxification programs simply help to “clear” the liver, kidneys, skin, and bowels—our body’s main organs of detoxification.
Many people find that detoxification eliminates symptoms of bloating, indigestion, allergies, sinus problems, and many other discomforts. Another added bonus is natural weight control, along with increased energy, an elevated mental/emotional state, and a renewed sense of self-awareness andself-control.
To be sure you are detoxing in a safe and effective way, follow these five detoxification tips:
- Recognize the problem
- Go organic
- Eat soup and salad
- Colon cleansing with bentonite
- Herbs and amino acids to the rescue
Recognize The Problem
As our environment and food become increasingly saturated with pollutants and chemicals, the body’s mechanisms for eliminating toxins may be challenged by the chemical deluge. The Environmental Working Group supports studies that document the increasing burden toxic substances have on our bodies. Substances like Bisphenol A (or BPA, a chemical used in many plastics), PBT’s (persistent bioaccumulative toxins mainly used to create pesticides), and other pesticides in human tissue are included in the studies.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tested thousands of people for pollutants and found more than 212 toxic substance residues, which were reported in the CDC’s Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, released December 2009.In addition, poor food choices, digestive difficulties, and stress increase the toxic load in your body.
This constant circulation of toxins takes a toll on your immune system, which is working overtime to get rid of those chemicals and keep you healthy. All organs involved in detoxi?cation—the intestines, liver, lymphatic system, kidneys, skin, connective tissue, and respiratory system—can become overloaded quickly. By choosing the right detox method, you can support these organs and help them to remove toxins from the body without depriving yourself of much-needed nutrients. But with the recent onslaught of detox commercials and products out there, where do you start?
First, pick a specific amount of time you can commit to your program. A 10-day regimen is a good choice, as many people are able to follow a healthy eating and lifestyle program for this amount of time, without feeling overwhelmed.
Second, take a look at what you are eating. While it is always preferable to avoid junk foods, fried foods, and processed foods, it is absolutely necessary to stick to these restrictions while on adetox. Processed, fried, greasy, and sugary foods will only serve as brick walls. Many of those foods carry complex substances that are difficult for the body to digest and may contain the very toxins we are trying to expell.
Another food you must avoid is wheat. Wheat products are hard for your body to digest, and may become a toxin in your bloodstream if not processed correctly. The same goes with milk and dairy. These will increase your body’s mucus production and may include environmental chemicals and hormones.
Stock up on healthy foods and snacks before beginning your detox—think whole, organic foods. Choosing organic foods while practicing a detoxification program supports your body’s ability to eliminate toxins by not introducing any new ones. Much of our conventional grocery store produce is covered in pesticides, fungicides, and petroleum-based horticulture oils—many of which cannot be metabolized by our bodies and end up accumulating in our fat cells, intensifying our toxic load.
Eat Soup and Salad
While on your detox, keep a container or lunchbox around to take your food with you to work or on the road. For the duration of the 10 days, eat six to eight times per day— you should never be hungry.
Vegetable soup is a staple you should eat every day while detoxing. Make a large pot of the Detoxifying Vegetable Soup on page 33 before starting your detox program, and be sure to eat this soup two or three times per day. All of the ingredients have important detoxification properties, but especially the cabbage. It is is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as the amino acid glutamine,which has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage also contains indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, which has been studied for its anti-tumor effects. Cabbage and kale are high insulforaphane, which has been scientifically studied for its amazing array of health supportive properties, including anticancer, antidiabetic, and antimicrobial activity. This super-substance can also be found in brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, collard greens, and broccoli. If you want to throw a twist to the recipe, feel free to add all of these into the pot!
In addition to the soup, eat at least one large salad every day, and all the steamed vegetables you want. If you feel you absolutely cannot give up animal products, include 2-ounce portions of pre-cooked organic chicken and turkey once or twice per day. Two servings of organic fruit per day is also a great addition.
For snacks, go get some organic, unflavored rice cakes and spread some organic almond butter on top. Another great snack is a whole avocado, cut up and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Colon Cleansing with Bentonite
Bentonite is a kind of clay that was first discovered in ancient cretaceous rock formations in Wyoming. This clay was ground into a fine powder, mixed with water, and used as a cleansing drink by indigenous cultures for thousands of years. Physicians in the United States regularly recommended bentonite as a cleansing drink until the 1940s, when pharmaceutical drugs took over as the medical treatment of choice.
Natural health care practitioners, who regularly include detoxification as one of the most important cornerstones to health, often recommend the use of bentonite as part of the protocol. Follow the product instructions for the Bentonite that you choose. Sonne’s #7 Detoxificant (32 oz., $20, sonnes.com) and Starwest Botanicals’ Bentonite Clay (1 lb, $10, starwest-botanicals.com) are great choices.
Be sure to follow the instructions carefully, since there are always possible adverse effects that can occur, such as headaches, gas, bloating, rashes, and indigestion when starting a detoxification program. If these occur, continue on the eating plan and stop the supplements for a day. Then begin using them again in small amounts, and increase each day until you are using the recommended dosage on the package.
Herbs and Amino Acids to the Rescue
Specific nutrients recognized for their ability to support the detoxification actions of the liver, kidney, bladder, colon, and skin include: milk thistle, dandelion, burdock, barberry, and parasite protectors such as black walnut, and tonics like heart-healthy hawthorn, foti, and ashwaganda.
Look for amino acids that up-regulate the liver in terms of its ability to break down toxic compounds, including glycine, glutamine, methionine and N-Acetyl-Cysteine. When you read the ingredients on a fiber blend, look for chia and flax, since these seeds act as a cleansing bulking agent (the substances that help you pass a bowel movement), as well as providing healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom Salt has a long history of use as a gentle laxative, and helps to swiftly cleanse the colon.
When you choose a detoxification product, read the label carefully. It’s best to choose a product that does not contain fillers and preservatives such as potassium benzoate, since this substance can release benzene when it comes in contact with antioxidants such as Vitamin C. Nature’s Answer Tru-Cleanse (3-part kit, $28, naturesanswer.com) would be agood choice.
Commit to 10 days of healthy eating, happy thinking, and a detoxification protocol—the Results will make you smile— and you may never want to go back to your old unhealthy habits again!
About the Author
Ellen Kahmi PHD, RN, AHN-BC, AHG