Did you know that your body absorbs the toxins and unwanted organisms from the air, your food, and anything else you are exposed to throughout the day? These toxins and organisms can cause damage to your body’s cells, tissues, and organs. It is vital for the body to remove them before they cause harm. This process is known as detoxification. The majority of the work of detoxification is done by the liver. The blood circulates absorbed toxins through the liver, where there are enzymes waiting to either inactivate them, or break them down so they can be eliminated. The kidneys are then able to filter the broken down toxins from the blood and eliminate them through urine. Some toxins can also be excreted from the blood through sweat.
Since our liver and kidneys work hard to remove toxins from our bodies, it is clear that these organs can become stressed and overworked when we expose ourselves to more toxins every day. These may be found in the air as a result of pollution, in our foods, in skincare products and makeup, in our cleaning and home products, and more. The best way to prevent toxins from being absorbed in your body is to reduce your exposure wherever possible. Be aware of air standards, eat real food and limit unknown ingredients, eliminate harmful chemicals and ingredients in beauty and home products, and quit (or never start) using tobacco products.
The word “detox” has been used by many in the wellness industry to promote a juice cleanse, a complete elimination of sugar/carbohydrates and a restrictive diet. True detox is happening inside of your body every single day. So, instead of restricting yourself or loading up on juice for a week, focus on aiding the body’s natural detoxification process with these five tips.
Support the liver.
Since the liver is the main player in detoxification, it is important to support liver function and health. Foods that negatively affect liver function are alcohol, refined vegetable oils (canola oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, and safflower oil), sugar, artificial ingredients and sweeteners, chemical pesticides and herbicides, and fried foods. Limit these and focus on a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole unrefined grains, lean proteins from quality sources, and healthy unrefined fats. It is also important to move your body throughout the day to maintain proper blood circulation. When you move, the heart pumps blood more efficiently, which brings blood through the liver more efficiently.
When the body is fighting to remove toxins, inflammation can occur. Chronic inflammation can lead to disease, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Choosing anti-inflammatory foods and reducing inflammatory foods can help reduce the inflammation caused by detoxification, and can help build up the immune system. Foods that are thought to be anti-inflammatory include probiotic-rich foods (kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt), dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, antioxidant-rich foods, local raw honey, green tea, coconut oil, omega-3s from salmon and walnuts, turmeric, and apple cider vinegar. Foods that are shown to be inflammatory are sugar, nitrates found in processed meats, saturated fats, large amounts of dairy, refined flour, vegetable oils, trans fats, and artificial additives and sweeteners.
Balance blood sugar levels.
The liver makes sure the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood stays constant. By managing blood sugar levels, the liver will have more energy to use for detoxification. Keep blood sugar levels balanced by avoiding high sugar and starch intake in one meal, and by balancing out small amounts of starch from vegetables and whole grains with healthy fat and fiber. Even large amounts of fruit and fruit juices that can spike blood sugar levels, which is why a juice cleanse may not be the best solution to support detoxification. It is best to consult a registered dietitian nutritionist for guidance on blood sugar control.
Eat your fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables help the body neutralize toxins and free radicals that cause damage. Some fruits and vegetables to focus on for a boost in antioxidants include dark leafy greens, berries, and beets. Fruits and vegetables also contain the vitamins and minerals that the liver and other organs in the body need for optimal health and function.
Support the gut and digestion.
In order to utilize antioxidants to assist the liver and to properly remove toxins, it is vital to support the digestive system, where nutrient absorption occurs. Eat probiotics and prebiotics to feed the good bacteria in the gut that protect the body from harmful organisms, avoid foods that cause gut inflammation and interfere with digestion, drink plenty of water to help eliminate toxins, and reduce stress to avoid unnecessary gut inflammation. If you struggle with digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and cramping, you may benefit from an elimination diet of common allergens like wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, dairy, shellfish, fish, soy, and eggs. You can add each food back slowly to determine your specific triggers for gut distress.
No matter how much exposure you have had to toxins and unwanted organisms in the past, you can start reducing exposure and applying these 5 tips today to support your detoxification process! If you need additional help, consult your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist.
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