How to breathe the fresh air again
Furniture, electronic devices, footwear, plastics, fabrics… even today’s processed food …
They’re all in your house, they’re all man-made, and they all break down over time so that their chemicals leach out and get into you.
Going outside doesn’t make it any better. 200 years ago, a full deep breath of morning air would have been pure and clean. Today it’s full of chemicals that our bodies were never exposed to in all the millennia we’ve been on earth.
Mainstream doctors will tell you that your body can take care of these toxins just fine. And of course, the body has many systems to remove toxins – lungs, immune system, skin, kidneys, liver, GI tract. But no one told them about the increased toxic load. They often can’t keep up. In addition, many of these never-before-seen chemicals, heavy metals and fat soluble toxins resist removal, accumulating in joints, organs, breast tissue, the nervous system and other critical areas.
What’s more, researchers are beginning to understand why so many people have a harder time when they’re exposed to toxins: because their detoxification mechanisms may be impaired at the genetic level due to what’s known as a “methylation defect.”
This is a common but largely unrecognized genetic problem in which one of the body’s enzymes is missing. It normally converts some of the B vitamins (especially folic acid and B12) into their activated forms.
These people need to use the “methylated” or already activated forms of these nutrients to bypass the missing enzyme. These nutrients are essential ingredients in the important biochemical process of methylation, for detoxification and other critical functions.
With the right nutrients, foods and other supportive practices including healthy stress relief, we can help optimize the process of methylation and ensure successful functioning of all of our detoxification pathways.
In fact, by cleansing our bodies, we can increase energy, enhance digestion, improve immunity and take an important step towards preventing disease.
When toxins build up in our systems, we get the opposite, and we can feel the effects in a number of ways: allergies, digestive and immune problems, poor sleep, headaches, fatigue, brain fog and more.
It’s easy to ascribe these conditions to stress and over-scheduled lives, and certainly those are factors. But cleansing your body is the easiest and best way to better health.
The first rule of any detox program I use with my patients is to have them stop eating pro-inflammatory man-made foods. Eliminate processed foods, meals in a box or a can – in other words, anything that’s pre-packaged and filled with ingredients that can’t be pronounced.
Alcohol, caffeine, trans-fats, charred meats and sugar are also inflammatory. Try to replace animal protein with high quality plant proteins, such as sprouted legumes/grains, and raw nuts/seeds, as these are much more detoxifying. Drink lots of water: Chronic dehydration makes us sluggish, constipated and impairs the body’s ability to flush out toxins.
Changing our habits may be the most difficult part of any health regimen. But that’s exactly what we have to do during a cleanse: Blaze a new path at the grocery store.
Spring and summer are great times for detoxification because we have better access to a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables. Incorporate brightly colored items, as they are rich in phytonutrients that can reduce inflammation, promote detoxification and support countless functions in the body.
It’s important to buy organic produce to avoid re-introducing pesticides and chemicals into your system.
Green vegetables should top the list. Think celery, cucumber, cilantro, parsley, arugula, spinach, collards, chard or the ubiquitous spring mix in the salad section. Their high chlorophyll and nutrient contents are excellent for cleansing the liver and GI tract.
I also recommend cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage, which are rich in micronutrients. These stand-by super foods support detox with sulfur compounds, and they can get rid of excess xenoestrogens, the chemicals that mimic natural estrogen but have toxic effects.
Many vegetables can provide organ-specific benefits.
- Onions and garlic help cleanse lungs and intestines.
- Artichokes are good for the liver.
- Beets enhance blood flow and support the liver’s blood cleansing function.
- Lemons are good for digestive, lymph, liver and gallbladder health.
- Mushrooms are also excellent for removing toxins from stagnant areas of the body.Mushrooms are rich in unique nutrients and antioxidants, but that’s not even their best trait. Mushrooms have an amazing impact on the immune system. They contain special carbohydrates called beta-glucans that essentially work to “train” immunity to better fight harmful invaders. Stock up on oyster, maitake and shiitake, and look for an organically grown mushroom supplement.
Herbs and other detox foods
Many herbs and spices are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients that boost immunity, aid digestion, and support detoxification. Ginger, turmeric, thyme, fennel, oregano, mint, cinnamon and rosemary are excellent choices.
We also need to support digestive flora, which keep our gastrointestinal system healthy, help fight off infection and support health in numerous ways that are only now being discovered. Yogurt and kefir are great choices, as the fermentation process produces a kinder, gentler type of dairy. I also recommend fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut and kimchee.
Optimize detox at the cellular and genetic levels
Modified citrus pectin (MCP) is also excellent at moving metals and chemicals out of the body. The modification of citrus pectin reduces the size of the pectin molecules so they can enter the bloodstream and grab toxins. MCP is clinically proven to gently remove lead, arsenic and mercury from the circulation, without affecting essential minerals as many other chelation therapies do.
Alginates are important as well. They are derived from brown algae. Alginates, which are not absorbed into the circulation, are also shown in studies to remove heavy metals and radioactive isotopes from the digestive tract.
One of the most vital purposes of detoxification is to support the liver. One of the many jobs of the liver is to remove toxins, but in today’s age, it often gets overloaded.
Fortunately, there are a variety of herbs and nutrients that support liver function, such as gingko, milk thistle, dandelion and many others. I also recommend N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) and alpha-lipoic acid which help remove pesticides and heavy metals.
Detox is about movement. We’re moving toxins out of the body. So naturally, one of the most important ingredients to a healthy detox is exercise; it boosts metabolism and immunity, helping the body’s natural detoxification processes.
Exertion also releases fat-soluble toxins, boosts circulation, lowers stress hormones and increases overall vitality. Walking in nature is ideal.
Use of a sauna, dry brushing your skin, massage therapy, acupuncture, and practices such as mediation and Qigong all support the process of letting go and releasing on all levels.
Take it slow
There is no single recipe for detoxification. Rather, it’s an individualized journey we must adapt to our specific needs.
If you’re attempting a detox for the first time, be gentle with yourself.
It may be challenging at first. Most importantly, take it slow. It took a long time for your body to accumulate toxins, and we can’t expect to clean them out in a weekend.
Going slowly allows the body time to gently remove toxins at a natural pace while still maintaining normal activities, rather than a rapid cleanse program that often results in uncomfortable symptoms. We all have to learn what works best for our unique system, and once we complete that discovery phase, detox can be an exciting, rewarding, life-affirming process.