Detox. What a seemingly dreaded word for those who have never been through one. What is it? Why do I need it? Will it cause more harm than good? Are you going to take away all of my food? I’ve heard it all! I am here to set the record straight on what it is, that when done correctly will benefit you and that I believe in eating real food while detoxing! I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “you are what you eat,” but I prefer to believe in the idea that you are what you eat, drink, breathe, put on your skin and what you don’t excrete, to put it so eloquently. That may seem like an aggressive approach to you, but think about this for a second; every day you are eating, drinking, breathing, and using body products that wind up circulating in the body and the potential for you to store toxins like heavy metals, pesticides and other unwanted chemicals in your body fat is fairly high.
Research suggests that the root of many health concerns may be associated with chronic exposure to toxins within one’s environment. You may be thinking to yourself- doesn’t my body detox on it’s own? The answer is yes, to some degree, but when you aren’t consuming enough vitamins, mineral and phytonutrients or if you add excessive toxins into the mix, your body may not be ridding those toxins so efficiently. Many toxins behave like fat molecules and store themselves in your body fat, rather than being excreted through urine and sweat. Sometimes we need a hand to help with the conversion process that allows us to eliminate toxins out of the body through the blood, urine and sweat. This is when a detox protocol may be recommended to you by a functional medicine nutritionist or a health care practitioner if he/she feels your health problems may have a connection to your body’s inability to properly detox these harmful toxins.
The detoxification process is highly reliant on your nutrition status. Specific foods can be unfavorable to the process and some foods can really aid in detoxing. Foods to support detoxification are found within a diet high in vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. Specific foods that aid in the process are green tea, turmeric, soy, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage), red grapes, Spanish peanuts, watercress, pomegranate, and hops.
Another significant aspect of an effective detox protocol is supplementation. Not only to provide you with the necessary protein and nutrients along the way but to aid in the detoxification process, help protect the liver and decrease inflammation. So what supplements do the trick?
- Milk thistle to protect the liver
- B Vitamins for liver support
- Fish Oil to reduce inflammation
- Glutathione and Vitamin C for antioxidant support
- Choline and Inositol derived from cruciferous vegetables to up-regulate the process
There are so many detox programs out there, so do your research and consult with an informed professional on what program and supplements are right for you. So how do you know if you need to follow a detox program? Some symptoms to be aware of are sensitivities to fragrances, odors, certain medications, alcohol, caffeine, cigarette smoke, foods, unexplained skin rashes, brain fog, unexplained muscle pain and tingling in hands and feet. If you are wondering if a detox program is the right health decision for you, reach out to your health care practitioner to find out more!
Written By : Katie Morra, MS, RD, CDN