‘Detox’ is quite the buzzword these days. Depending on the context, it can mean a variety of things to any one person – everything from restricted diets to taking laxative supplements. Knowing what detoxification means can help you decide if the claims you hear are fact or fiction.
So what’s the real deal with detoxes? Let’s break it all down…
As an ND, I’ll admit that I recommend “detoxing” to my patients as I think it is one of the best preventative things we can do. However, I always hope to explain exactly what I mean by “detox.”
When I recommend a detox, my goal is to support someone’s natural forms of elimination. Our bodies eliminate through 4 excretion pathways:
Each of these routes of elimination releases different waste products. When doing a detox, it’s important that all these pathways are functioning well and thus eliminating waste as quickly as possible.
In addition to these pathways, our liver is our primary “detox” organ – meaning that it is responsible for breaking down drugs, metabolic waste, and environmental toxins in our body. Supporting the liver’s metabolic function is how I like to best encourage my patients to “detoxify.” Support for this organ can look like a variety of things, but often involves specifically giving nutrients/herbs/vitamins, etc. that work to drive these metabolic processes so that they can occur as quickly as possible.
Because we are constantly exposed to junk (e.g. pollution, plastics, medications, etc.), most people’s livers are working overtime to metabolize and eliminate as fast as possible. Engaging in a detox – taking time to eat well, exercise, and support your liver function – can be a great wellness optimization strategy.
So what could a detox look like?
Diet: Choose high-fiber foods with an emphasis on vegetables. Cut the junk, including sugar and stimulants (like caffeine, salt, and MSG). Ideally, everything should be homemade or as close to homemade as possible.
Fluids: Drink a ton! Minimum 1L/day but ideally 2L+/day. Water is preferred, but herbal teas are great too. No pop, sugary drinks, or anything with artificial colours.
Exercise: Get moving as much as possible. Breaking a sweat is ideal, and if you have access to a sauna it can be a great way to promote sweating.
Support: Consider adding in some support for the liver – there are lots of options. Additionally, doing Live Blood Cell Analysis before and after is a great way to track your results. It can help identify if there are any areas that could use more attention than others (e.g. nutrient deficiencies or hydration issues) or if there may be barriers such as a parasite infection.
Overall, detoxification can be a great way to optimize one’s wellness. Taking time to hit the reset button and focus on healthy diet and lifestyle is just one way we support our patients, inspiring them to feel great.
Dr Chanel Cressman, ND