People seem to be talking about detoxing everywhere. There are detox plans in magazines, online and on television. Every second celebrity seems to endorse some sort of Detox program. Even at the chemist you can buy different detox kits.
While most of the above are worthless there are some great legitimate ways to help your bodies detoxification processes.
So what are the best legitimate ways to actually improve detoxification?
Don't worry i'll get to that, first though do you even know what the term detox means and what you are trying to do when you do it?
By definition detoxification simply means...
1) The process of removing toxic substances. Or more specifically
2) Medical treatment of an alcoholic or drug addict involving abstention from drink or drugs until the bloodstream is free of toxins.
The focus of this article will be on the first point, removing toxic substances from the body. (A toxin is any chemical compound whether man made or natural that we don't want to accumulate in the body and want to eliminate)
Our body does this everyday mainly via our liver through processes called phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification. But the kidneys, skin, small intestine and colon remove toxins via various pathways as well. Check out this image below that shows what reactions take place and the nutrients that are required for phase 1 and 2 detox.
So this is where a few people will pipe up and say "we don't need to detox because our body does it fine on its own."
Yes our body has sound detoxification processes, that run all the time but every human being should be supporting their detox pathways so they can eliminate toxins more efficiently. Also the amount of toxins we are exposed to in the present day is many times what it was just a few hundred years ago. Lets look at some stats to show you what I mean.
Currently we import and manufacture around 75,000 different chemicals every year. Even with careful handling millions of tons of chemicals find their way into the air, water system and landfill. Dozens of chemicals you don't even know you've been exposed to are in your body.
Just in pesticides there is 4.5kg used for every single person every year which is sprayed on the land and stays in the environment.
So you might be thinking "ok there's lots of chemicals out there but that doesn't mean I have any in my system." Well ya kinda do. You've had industrial chemicals present in your system since before you were born.
In 2004 the Environmental working group did a study where they analysed the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies. This is the blood that is essentially feeding the baby throughout its time in the womb. They found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of each baby! You can check out the study here
In total there were 287 different chemicals found. There would actually be a lot more but many chemicals don't even have methods of detection yet so they can't be tested for.
Of the 287 that were found though we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.
Just think about that for a second. Before a child has even had its first breath of air it has been exposed to hundreds of toxic chemicals through the mothers blood.
To say that the body doesn't need help in detoxification is plain bullshit.
So now you know what detoxification is and are aware of the abundant amount of chemicals in our environment, what can you do?
The first thing is reducing your exposure to toxins as much as possible. If you get home and the kitchen tap is on and the pipe is blocked so water is overflowing all over the floor, what would you do first? Unblock the sink or turn off the tap?
Obviously turn off the tap.
Its the same with your body. Before you worry about trying to eliminate more toxins you want to reduce your exposure as much as you can first. You do this with simple things like
- Drinking filtered water
- Buying organic meat and produce where ever possible
- If you drink a lot of alcohol drink less or stop
- Not drinking out of plastic drink bottles or heating food in plastic containers.
- Switching all your personal care products to less harmful alternatives - Think soaps, shampoos, moisturisers, deodorants, makeup. Most standard commercial products have unwanted chemicals in them. You can see whats in the products you use, how dangerous they are and how they affect you at www.ewg.org/skindeep/
- Same with cleaning products, laundry powders and washing liquids. Better options are vinegar, bi carb soda, lemon juice, natural oils with cleaning properties.
- If you use those plug in air fresheners in your home or car get rid of them. They contain phalates which not only reduce testosterone but are believed to contribute to breast and prostate cancer.
- If you have amalgam fillings containing mercury consider getting them removed by a biological dentist. They are slowly releasing mercury into your system. There are whole books written on this subject so do your research. Do not just ask your local dentist to do it! If the removal process is done wrong you can end up swallowing a bunch or mercury.
- Not having your home so tightly ventilated keep some windows open and let fresh air in.
- If you get new furniture, carpet or appliances like TV's, or paint the inside of your house. Let them air out. That new furniture/carpet/paint smell is stuff you don't want to be breathing in.
- Don't use non stick pans, as the teflon coating ends up in the food. Use an iron skillet or ceramic pan and cook with butter or oil. In the umbilical cord study I mentioned above every single test had perflurochemicals present. Which are stain and grease proofing chemicals used in carpets, furniture and non stick cookware.
This is just scratching the surface if you want more info on toxins in the home check out breathsafe.org
I know all this sounds extreme but why bother trying to eliminate more toxins or chemicals if you keep taking in large amounts every day.
After your doing the above then you can worry about trying to eliminate some of the stuff that has built up during your life. In this post I'm just going to highlight simple things that anyone can do to help their bodies detoxification process along that will actually make a difference.
I will not be detailing any advanced detox protocols because
- Any detox protocol is highly individualised and depends on your biochemical makeup and toxins you have present.
- If you get it wrong it can make you sick
- You should be guided by someone who knows what they are doing and understands what's going on
Now thats out of the way heres what you can do to increase your detoxification
- Drink more water. Pretty obvious. Water is the universal solvent, our liver makes toxins soluble in water so you need to be drinking enough to be peeing regularly to get rid of them.
- Eat more veggies preferably organic. Fiber from veggies is important for gut health and to help pull through toxins so they don't get re-absorbed into the body and you excrete them.
- Related to the above you should be doing number two's regularly. If your pooping once every three days this isn't ideal and you won't be eliminating what you should. Going once a day is what you want to aim for.
- Eat enough protein, specifically animal protein. Remember that phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification I mentioned? Well both phases particularly phase 2 require different amino acids and amino acids come from protein. Your liver cannot perform properly without amino acids. Also you need all the essential amino acids (EAA's). Animal protein has all EAA's and nearly all plant proteins don't.
- Get a wide variety of nutrients from quality whole foods.. The liver also needs vitamins and minerals for phase 1 and 2 detoxification so eating whole quality foods and taking supplements where needed to make sure the required nutrients are available.
- Dont overdo the caffeine. Caffeine speeds up phase 1 detox to the point where phase 2 might not be able to keep up. This means toxic compounds go back into circulation before they hit phase 2 where they are prepared for elimination.
- Try a regular infrared sauna. This could be a whole article in itself. But basically infrared saunas eliminate toxins much more than regular saunas. They are great because most of the toxins are excreted via sweat so your system doesn't have to deal with all the released substances then excrete them. These made a huge difference to my life and I have one at home. Just make sure you start at a low temperature and don't go for too long, Start at around 15 minutes and build up. If you have it too high and go for too long you can dump too many toxins in your system to handle and feel sick. (some toxins still find their way into the blood which can cause this)
- Take supplements that support detoxification. Diet can only do so much and with a world full of chemicals that your body has to deal with as well as a food supply that is not as good as it used to be supplements are pretty much always required. I'll highlight some supplements which are beneficial below.
Again supplements are something that is individual so these are the basics and anything more specialised depends on the person and requires consultation with a health professional. Also I'm not going to include doses because it depends on too many factors.
Whey protein - If you struggle to get in enough protein daily adding some whey protein is a great option. It is the best source of protein and amino acids for increasing glutathione which is the bodies strongest antioxidant and is heavily involved in the bodies detoxification process. In fact every single cell in the body contains glutathione.
Probiotics - Gut health is very important and if you are over run by bad bacteria they are creating toxic byproducts that your body then has to deal with.
N-Acetyl Cysteine - Great supplement for increasing glutathione
B vitamin complex with methylfolate - Vitamins B2, B3, B6, B9, and B12 are involved in phase 1 detoxification so a good complex will cover those. Methyl Folate is the active form of folate or B9. Due to a genetic variance of a gene called MTHFR up to 40% of the population has a degree of difficulty converting folic acid (the type found in most b vitamin supplements and fortified foods) in to the usable form methyl folate. If you can't convert folic acid you need methyl folate and taking folic acid can actually cause you problems.
Magnesium - Very common deficiency, not just involved in metabolic processes of detoxification but low levels implicated with poor heart and artery health and blood sugar management.
Vitamin D - Very common deficiency and involved in detoxification processes.
DIM - An extract from broccoli that enhances the breakdown and elimination of metabolites in the oestrogen pathways
Calcium D glucarate - Inhibits beta-glucuronidase a bacterial enzyme found in the intestines that can break the bond that attaches the glucuronic acid to the toxin. So by inhibiting beta-glucuronidase the toxin can't re-enter into circulation and is excreted.
Fiber - Fiber is a great toxin absorbing substance and makes you poop more which many people don't do enough.
Milk Thistle - One of the most well known liver protection herbs. Looks after the liver by protecting against glutathione depletion and helps protect liver cells from damage.
A quality greens power - A good greens powder will provide a good broad antioxidant punch without overdoing individual antioxidants such as vitamin C or E. It will also provide phytochemicals and flavonoids found in vegetables that you won't find in a pill.
Like I said these are the basics most people will benefit from and will make a big difference in your ability to detoxify. After looking at the reducing exposure to toxins and increasing your ability to detoxify then you can look at doing more advanced detoxification protocols specific to that person and what they need.
Things like Chelation therapy or using chelating supplements to remove heavy metals. Or nutritional cleanses or periods of fasting from normal food while taking certain supplements and vegetables only.
Most people when they think of detoxing think its a great idea to go and jump into a fast or a cleanse or try and remove heavy metals after buying a supplement or chelating agent online. Don't do that! It could actually make things worse.
Hopefully after reading this you have a better understanding of what detoxification is and some simple safe things you can do to improve your ability to detoxify. To summarise
- Detoxification is complicated so don't do stupid shit.
- We all have a chemical or toxic burden and are exposed to multiple chemicals daily
- First reduce your exposure to toxicity as much as possible by following the steps I outlined
- Increase your ability to detoxify by following the second list of steps I outlined above and consider some of the basic supplements that can support the detoxification process.
If you feel like you need something more advanced contact someone who can guide you so you don't mess your self up. Here at Cosnett Training Systems we can discuss this sort of thing. But this isn't a sales pitch; there are many good naturopaths, functional medicine doctors and the like who can guide you in the right direction.