Cleansing and detoxing have gotten so popular in the past few years with group and online programs promising weight loss, more energy, better sleep and more. There's a good reason why: toxic burden - the accumulation in our bodies of chemical compounds found in our food, air and water.
Detoxifying is naturally part of our daily cycle and is managed by two major organs: the liver and kidneys. These powerhouses filter out the junk and direct it to the exit routes (i.e. the colon and urinary tract). But what happens when we accumulate more toxins than our detoxification and elimination pathways can manage? Well, in some circumstances, toxic burden can result in disease. Most commonly toxins affect the immune, neurologic and endocrine systems resulting in symptoms such as autoimmunity, asthma or allergies, cognitive deficit, mood changes, reproductive dysfunction, changes in libido and glucose dysregulation. With that line-up of fun, you can see why detoxification is so important!
Sometimes it is necessary to take on a deep cleansing protocol, for which I recommend consulting with a practitioner who can tailor a program to your needs and guide you through the process. That said, all of us could benefit from supporting our organs of detoxification on a daily basis. Here are a few detox do's and don'ts:
- Drink lots of water - this is the best way to cleanse the kidneys. Drink a minimum of 3 quarts per day and up to 50% of your body weight in fluid ounces.
- Eat lots of deeply colored vegetables and fruits, like pomegranate, artichokes, leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, red lettuce, etc.) and winter squash. Aim for 7 or more servings every day.
- Avoid foods and drinks that compromise liver detoxification, especially fatty and fried foods, alcohol and caffeine.
- Swap coffee for green tea...and drink a lot of it (4-6 cups per day)!
- Spice up your fare with ginger, garlic, chillies and turmeric.
- Ensure that you are having at least 1 complete bowel movement daily.
- Be active. Get your body moving for at least 20 minutes every day.
- Eat dinner at least 3 hours before you go to bed so that your body can focus on detoxifying instead of digesting while you sleep.
- Sweat! Try doing sauna, vigorous exercise, hot yoga, whatever gets you sweating. Our skin is another major organ of elimination. Just make sure to shower as soon as you are able to afterwards.
- Don't forget, the best way to detox is to not 're-tox'- avoid chemicals as much as you are able to in your air, your water, your food, your cosmetics etc.
Jesse Haas, CNS, LN is a licensed functional nutritionist and certified health coach. She was a founding partner of Wellness Minneapolis and was an active practitioner with the clinic from 2014-2022. To connect with her regarding functional nutrition and health coaching services, please follow this link.