To Detox Or Not To Detox

To Detox Or Not To Detox

One of the most common questions I get from my Nutrition clients, is : Should I do a detox? 

I figure I should share my thoughts with everyone, and so I decided to put it into a blog post this week. 

What is Detoxing? 

The removal of toxins from the body. It's normal and it happens in our body every day! Our body is always coming into contact and creating toxins, and so our body can and does detox itself all the time. 

What are Toxins?

Anything the body deems unworthy such as alcohol, caffeine, drugs, excess hormones, pesticide residue or any chemicals. Or extra waste material our body produces.  It's anything the body needs to get rid of. Here are a few kinds and examples. 

  1. External toxins: food additives, drugs, pesticides, etc. coming from our external environment
  2. Internal toxins: hormones or amino acids which are natural byproducts of normal metabolism.

Detoxification is a normal process that allows our body to function without too much backup in our bloodstream.

So, What's The Problem?

Our current lifestyle and diet leads to more toxins in our body, than it is used to, and can handle. When we are stressed, run down, not eating good food and not exercising, then our body struggles to keep up with the detoxification process, and we can end up feeling sluggish and 'toxic'. 

How Do We Detox?

As mentioned, our body can and does detoxify itself on a daily basis. There are a number of systems in the body that must work properly in order for the body to detox successfully. 

  • Liver (main detoxification organ)
  • Small intestine
  • Colon
  • Kidneys and bladder
  • Sweat glands
  • Good bacteria

Why Do We Have Toxins?

If we expose ourselves to more toxins than can be eliminated each day, these toxins are stored in our fat cells. This results in negative, chronic symptoms.

Think about the junk food in vending machine at work, think about the chemicals in the body care products you use, think about the pizza you ordered the other night, the preservatives in that bag of chips. All of those things contribute to our toxic load. And if our body is super healthy, it can deal with a bit of bad. 

However, we as a culture, are leaning towards too much bad stuff, not enough good stuff. 

A “detox” is helpful for the body and organs to clear this old, stored waste and improve overall wellbeing. Think about it as giving your body a break from the junk for a little while, and letting it do it's thing, and get back on track. 

Signs You Need to Detox

So many symptoms could indicate you need to detox, but there could also be other causes for these symptoms. See a doctor if you have been suffering with chronic symptoms with no cause:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • skin issues
  • muscle aches
  • joint pain
  • brain fog
  • PMS
  • hot flashes
  • anxiety or depression
  • insomnia
  • constipation
  • chronic bad breath
  • chemical sensitivities
  • weight gain.

Types of Detoxes:

There are many different kinds of detoxes and you need to pick which is best for you and your health.

I recommend speaking with your doctor, nutrition coach or health care practitioner, because not all detoxes are good for everyone. 

  • Fasting with juice or water- this gives your digestive system a break from food and the need for digestion. These normally last about 3-4 days.
  • Fresh juice, soups and smoothies- loading your body with veggies provides your body more nutrients than the juice and water fast above and includes fibre. 
  • Herbal or homeopathic cleanse for the whole body- these are cleanse kits that allow you to eat food, but also are moving toxins out of your body at the same time. Usually around 10 -14 days. 
  • Colon, liver, kidney or lymph cleanse with a special kit- these are homeopathic and quite easy. You can follow along with the instructions in the kit, and continue to eat. 

Pros of doing a Detox:

Detoxes can help speed along your bodies natural process of getting rid of the back log of junk your body doesn't use. 

It can help with: 

  • weight loss
  • improved energy
  • healthy skin
  • controlling cravings

... just to name a few. 

Cons of doing a Detox:

You must be careful! If you detox too fast, you can feel quite sick. If you have never done a detox before, or you have lots of toxins to get rid of,  releasing them quickly can make you feel pretty bad.

Moving toxins into the blood stream and to the liver can cause liver enzymes to rise making you feel sick, headache, sluggish, nauseous and tired. 

Doing it slowly, or with a health professional is smart to help you navigate these symptoms. 

Planning for a Detox

  1. Consult with a health practitioner to find what is the best option for you, and to make sure you are in good shape to do it. 
  2. Support your body before the detox. Remove processed foods, incorporate more fruits, veggies, drink water and exercise. This itself is a great detox that can be done long term. 
  3. Drinking lots of water during the detox will help to continue to flush toxins out, so focus heavy on the water regardless which detox you choose. 
  4. Be prepared for detox reactions. When toxins move into the blood stream, you can feel sick. This can last around 3 days or longer if someone is really toxic. Make sure you have time at home, days off or a lighter work load to handle this couple day period where you might not feel great. 

Ready to give it a try? 

Related reading:

My Epic 24 Hour Detox

5 Reasons Why You Should Detox

Upcoming webinar: The Power of Detoxing- 7 Steps To More Energy and Faster Weight Loss

Let me know how it goes!

Gaylene Gomez, NNCP, C.H.N.

P.S. If sugar is something you are worrying about quitting, you are not alone. Sign up for this Sugar Free Challenge which is a great way to get started with detoxing.