At this time of year I get a lot of questions about cleanses. There are so many detox programs out there, and it can be overwhelming to research the various options. Here are a few quick and dirty tips to help you find the right one.
Understand the different ways the body naturally disposes of toxins.
The body has many different ways to eliminate unwanted substances for you. The pathways include:
- The Liver, which detoxified the blood.
- Your Skin, which excretes "toxins" through sweat.
- The Kidneys, which excrete toxins through urine.
- Your Digestive System, which excretes waste through feces.
Understand the goal of the detox program.
- Is this program removing sources of toxins through my diet?
- Is this program eliminating foods which can cause stress on the detox pathways (such as the liver)? Is the removal of food going to ease the function of the detox pathway?
- Is this program adding foods and nutrients to my diet to support the detox pathways and increase their function?
Know what foods and substances to avoid during a cleanse.
- Preservatives, coloring, and chemicals need to be avoided while you are doing a cleanse.
- Sugar, refined grains, caffeine, alcohol, and trans-fats can decrease liver function.
Know what foods to eat.
Fruits and vegetables (organic if possible) are not as taxing on the liver as other foods. Some can even improve liver function, such as beets, carrots, dandelion greens, and artichokes.
Know what nutrients you need.
Your body needs vitamins, minerals, and protein for optimal functioning. When your detox pathways are working to rid the body of waste, providing the proper nutrients to do the job can make a difference. For instance, fiber can aid in detoxifying the body by binding chemicals, fats, and metals in the gastrointestinal tract to cleanse the body of unwanted substances through feces.
The importance of drinking water.
Drinking plenty of water is essential during a cleanse because many of the pathways, such as sweat, urine, and feces rely on proper hydration to complete their physiological role. For most people the goal is between 2-3 liters a day through the detox process.
If you want to have a more detailed conversation about what detox program is right for you, schedule an appointment today. My approach is to use whole foods, rather than supplements or nutraceuticals. We will go over your health history and have a detailed conversation about the foods that are helpful and which ones to avoid based on your western medical history, the Chinese medicine diagnosis, and your physiological constitution.