The idea of detoxing is all around us. Every health clinic, health magazine, health blog, and even social media is talking about why you need to detox and cleanse your body. They all tell you different ways to do it too. There are juice cleanses, gall bladder cleanses, fasts, sugar detoxes, bone broth cleanses; how do you know what is right for you with all the detoxes out there?
It is no secret that we live in a world full of toxins. We are in a time now where we are exposed to higher levels of toxins every day. The air we breathe, the chemicals in our foods, the release of chemicals in our homes and workplaces all add to our toxic load. It may not be just one incident of exposure to a toxin, but the daily small exposures that increase your toxic load and lead to many common health consequences. Being aware of the sources of your daily accumulation can allow you to make less toxic choices when it comes to the foods you eat, the personal care items you choose, and the environments in which you live and breathe.
Along with toxic exposure in our environments, homes, and foods, our bodies also create toxins. These toxins are by-products of our metabolism, metabolic waste from the production of energy, excess hormones, metabolic particles from incomplete digestion, infection (yeast, bacteria, viruses, and parasites), and free radicals (damaged cells). So, every day, our bodies have their own toxic load of metabolic waste that must be cleared.
Your Body’s Natural Detoxification Needs Your Help!
Because of so much exposure, it is important for our bodies to break down these toxins and clear them out. Our major detoxification organs, such as the kidneys, liver, lungs, lymph, and skin, have tons of work to do every day.
Your body naturally detoxifies on a daily basis, but to accomplish this it needs the right foods and a variety of nutrients to support the detoxification process. If these nutrients are not available, your body may have a difficult time detoxifying. Also, if you are under constant stress, are eating inflammatory foods, such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, bad fats, are living off stimulants, such as sugar, coffee, and sodas, or have a chronic health condition, then the detoxification process is slowed down and toxins are not effectively eliminated. When this happens, the toxins recirculate and are held in the tissues. Then, as more toxins enter the body, those stored toxins do not get eliminated. Over time, the toxins accumulate, and eventually the cells receive fewer nutrients, the energy factory of the cells (mitochondria) become impaired, and you feel it.
It is obvious that the world we live in just keeps getting more toxic. The question is not if you should do a detox; it’s when and how. Symptoms of toxicity will show up as all sorts of common health issues, so start listening to your body and look for signs. If you are experiencing any one of the following symptoms, it’s a good time for you to start a detox.
Are you experiencing digestive distresses? If you have symptoms like bloating, gas, burping, constipation, or diarrhea, they are not only uncomfortable, but they are a major red flag that things are not functioning correctly. This is one of the most obvious signs that you need a complete diet overhaul. A detox will improve your digestion by giving your gut a break and it will start you on your way to healing a leaky gut.
Do you have sugar cravings or an insatiable sweet tooth? Most people will crave something, but when your cravings are centered on carbohydrates and sweets it’s a sign that things are out of tune. Constant cravings often end up feeding pathogenic bacteria in the gut. When processed foods are a staple in your diet your blood sugar and your hormones are on a roller-coaster ride which increases your cravings even more. A detox will replace those junk foods with nutrient dense whole food sources that will help balance hormones.
Do you feel run down or easily exhausted? We are all too busy for our own good these days but being constantly tired is not normal. It can be an indicator of hormonal imbalance, adrenal fatigue, and thyroid dysfunction. Excess toxin buildup, inflammation, gut and microbiome imbalances, and too much stress can cause a sluggish liver, problems with your adrenals, low thyroid function, and make it hard for you to be in a relaxed state. A detox will encourage proper liver function and boost your energy.
Are you experiencing brain fog, difficulty concentrating or remembering things? A sluggish liver, too many carbohydrates, excess toxins, a leaky gut, too much stress; these all decrease your ability to focus, feel clear, remember details on a regular basis. When your body can’t eliminate toxins efficiently, or fast enough, they build-up and increase inflammation. This inflammation can damage the blood-brain barrier causing a “leaky brain,” and cause brain fog or slow down cognitive function. A detox will help decrease brain inflammation, flush out toxins, and enhance cognitive function.
Are you having difficulty managing stress? Stress causes cravings, decreases digestive function, impairs detox abilities, and contributes to all kinds of health problems. You don’t want to be in a sympathetic state more often than a parasympathetic state, especially when you are eating, digesting, trying to sleep. Stress can act as a trigger for everything from depression, anxiety, and anger to heart problems, blood sugar imbalance, and autoimmune conditions. While a food detox can help increase energy and decrease physical symptoms of stress, detoxing from excess stimuli like Wi-Fi, social media, and blue light can do wonders for your mental state.
Are you struggling to lose extra weight? Once you make the commitment to improve your health, weight loss becomes a side benefit. Many people just focus on losing the weight, but you need to get healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to get healthy! Focusing on healing your gut, increasing metabolic health, decreasing inflammation will help access stored body fat. A detox will help to balance your gut microbiome too. When you don’t have enough good bacteria, bad bacteria take over and leads to inflammation and a slowed metabolism.
Do you have acne, eczema, or other skin issues? Your skin is one of the major detox pathways of your body. Skin troubles are most often a sign of excess toxin buildup and a slowed detoxification system. When you have too many toxins it can overload your liver (your body’s main detoxing organ), creating sluggish detox pathways and resulting in more toxin build-up, which can show up in your skin. Also having a leaky gut and imbalanced microbiome can result in inflammation, which also appears on your skin. Your skin detoxes through sweating, so all of those problems can appear on the surface in the form of acne and other issues.
Do you eat healthy but still not feel healthy? Many of us think that we are eating healthy, and may be doing fairly well, but are still feeling run down and don’t have our spark. Often it’s unknown food sensitivities that are damaging the gut and causing inflammation and toxin build-up. Even the healthiest foods can irritate and cause a flare up. If you have poor gut health your immunity will be weak as well. Doing a detox along with an elimination diet can give your body a break and help you determine exactly which foods cause you problems. A detox can also help flush out toxins that build-up over time and contribute to health troubles.
Are you having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep? Underlying toxin build-up, sluggish liver and gall bladder function, and inflammation can all lead to hormonal issues that worsen circadian rhythms. The foods you eat and when you eat them will significantly affect your sleep. By paying attention to meal timing, reducing excess carbohydrates and processed foods, eliminating toxins and reducing inflammation you can greatly improve your sleep cycle. With a simple detox, you’ll be getting 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep before you know it.
Are you feeling moody, anxious or depressed? Depression and anxiety oftentimes stem from a leaky gut, excessive inflammation, and compromised digestion. Undigested food particles and harmful by-products of pathogenic bacteria can cross the blood-brain barrier, triggering an inflammatory/autoimmune response. This can affect nerve conduction; neurotransmitter signaling and also decrease the production of key “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. A detox can help heal the gut and brain barriers to improve cognitive function, increase your joy and create a sense of calm.
Failure to eliminate toxins efficiently from the body can lead to systemic toxicity, which ultimately results in damage to internal organs or tissues. It also results in a compromised immune system that is unable to effectively fight more serious charges on our health.
Additional Symptoms of Toxicity
Take a close look at the symptoms above and make a note of anything you are experiencing. If you can check more than one, I’d say its time to do something about it. You can even start by encouraging some gentle cleansing every day. And of course, by changing your diet and lifestyle you can make detoxing a part of your whole life.
Daily Detox Tip: What is the best way to start your day to encourage daily detox?
My advice is to have 12-24 ounces of room temperature or warm water each morning when you wake up to get your digestion started. In this glass of water, add any combination of the following options, according to your liking and tolerance:
1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar 1 Tablespoon of lemon or lime juice ¼-1/2 tsp of unrefined sea salt, especially if you experience fatigue or muscle cramping 1-2 drops peppermint essential oil or a few fresh mint leaves 1-2 drops lemon essential oil or some lemon peel
I call this drink my Pure Health Rejuvenator or Morning Gut Primer.
The typical Standard American Breakfast, consisting of juice, coffee, toast with or without cereal, is a sure way to induce cravings and irritability a couple of hours later. Not to mention the lack of nutrients and amount of refined food that will disrupt the body’s natural detox processes.
Some people think that making the switch to freshly squeezed fruit juice, gluten-free toast or multigrain cereal is a step towards greater health, but even with those changes a meal like this will imbalance blood sugar levels, create surges of insulin, disrupt hormones, and slow detox processes for the rest of the day.
Your body is still in its nightly detoxifying mode until 9 or 10 in the morning, so what you eat during this time matters more than most people realize. Ideally, it is best to wait to eat a couple of hours after you wake up, which provides time for a more complete detox process.
Once you feel ready to eat, I recommended starting the day with a breakfast dense in healthy fats, protein, and fiber. This not only allows for the management of blood sugar and insulin output but it also creates consistent energy, fewer cravings, and more fat burning during the rest of the day.
There are tons of recipes and menu plans available online and in books, however, these often include imbalanced macronutrient options, such as just bacon and eggs without any vegetables, eggs with cheese and no fiber source, or low-fat sweetened yogurt or processed cottage cheese as the protein source. While these types of breakfasts may help to keep your blood sugar steady, they are deficient in micronutrients and antioxidants and do not provide good support your immune system and detox processes. Additionally, if you are prone to constipation or sluggish bowels, a breakfast without any fiber may keep you sluggish for the whole day.
Better choices for your first meal of the day, called “breaking your fast”
• Protein from grass-fed, pasture raised animals or plant protein sources • Healthy fats focusing on essential fatty acids balanced for omega-3 and -6 • Fiber from low starch vegetables, seeds, and nuts • Greens for antioxidants and micronutrients • Probiotics- homemade yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables
When you eat meals high in macronutrients, your energy soars and you feel satiated for hours. Following the basic macronutrient guidelines above will help you personalize your breakfast options for the best blood sugar and hormone balance plus this allows for the detox pathways to stay active. The goal is not to be hungry for 5 to 6 hours following your first meal of the day. Try breaking your fast with my Keto Green Smoothie, or Baked Avocados, or No-Oat Oatmeal. These recipes are loaded with micronutrients and antioxidants, are low in carbohydrates, and high enough in protein to leave you feeling well-nourished and balanced all day.
Does just the thought of a detox make you stressed or give you anxiety?
When the idea of detoxing and giving up certain foods makes you worried or anxious, that can be a sign of an unhealthy emotional attachment to food. Some of us use food to soothe or as reward or punishment rather than the healthy fuel your body needs to thrive each day. Doing a real detox program can be a great way to help you determine if your eating habits have emotional roots and to start addressing those habits. Are you ready to take some steps to change your relationship with what and how you eat?