Starting a detox routine – what you need to know

January is the time many of us make resolutions and consider ways to improve our health and our lives.

A ‘Detox’ regime is a common way in which people choose to begin the year. Even with mostly healthy lifestyles, our bodies can gradually accumulate toxins, before we have even begun to take into consideration the various indulgences we (or many of us) choose, knowing we will make our livers work a little harder! Our exposure to toxins is endless, from pesticides, antibiotics, chemicals and toxic metals in foods, to products we apply to our skin, to plastics, radiation, environmental toxins…the list goes on. As toxins have been associated with numerous health conditions, from cancers to neurological disorders, so it makes sense to minimise opportunities for toxins to accumulate in our tissues. Hence it is important to take a pro-active role in regular detoxification practices. For some people this involves going to a health retreat, an ideal way to detox, rest and prepare for the year ahead.

The documentary film, Super Juice Me (Jason Vale) explores the consequences of the combination of toxicity and deficiency in an experiment involving eight people with a combined total of 28 diagnosed diseases, all on a myriad of medications. Impressively, over a period of a month, all subjects significantly reduced their symptomatology by reducing their toxic load, nourishing their bodies with nutrient dense smoothies and incorporating exercise. It is particularly poignant to juxtapose these outcomes against another well known documentary, Super Size Me (Morgan Spurlock), an experiment over a similar time frame involving just one person, who ate fast food exclusively. This experiment needed to be aborted before completion due to a severe deterioration in the health of the subject. These sample sizes may be small, but nevertheless, these experiments, together with other anecdotal evidence, does give weight to the argument that what we consume does significantly impact our health. On our blog we emphasise the importance of choosing organic where possible to reduce ingestion of pesticides, antibiotics and toxic metals. According to research by Dr Joseph Pizzorno, there is another important impact of pesticide consumption, being the disruption of hormone receptors, in particular in relation to insulin, thereby having an important role in the increased incidence of diabetes. Dr Pizzorno’s research suggests that people in the top 10% of toxic exposure have a 20 fold increase risk for diabetes.

Other sources of toxicity are endogenous. That is, byproducts from normal metabolism. Oxidation processes, free radicals and stress all add to the toxic load. This can be made worse by extended periods of stress or overload, where our sleep may be impacted, further impairing the body’s natural detoxification processes that should occur during sleep. Our organs of elimination assist us in preventing toxic accumulation. These are liver, kidneys, bowels, respiratory system, lymphatic system and the skin. Ironically, the largest organ of the body, the skin, is often further burdened by the application of a plethora of chemicals (contained in our skin and hair care products) on a daily basis.

If going to a health retreat is not practical or affordable, it is important that any home detox programme is done under the guidance a qualified health practitioner. Too often we hear of people purchasing a ‘do it yourself detox product’, only to become very ill. The detoxification systems in our bodies are complex and individual biochemistry means we respond differently. Sometimes the ‘detox’ product may not be much more than a laxative, which, when used incorrectly can disrupt the body’s electrolyte balance. Detoxification is a process which requires guidance, supervision and should be individually tailored, especially if you haven’t done something like that before. There are also ways in which we can incorporate detox rituals into regular life, by supporting the organs and systems of elimination:

Dietary considerations:

  1. Increase fibre – Fibre is extremely important in ensuring colon health, as are nutrients to encourage healthy bowel flora. This is fundamental to health and detoxification. This is so important that an entire blog post will be dedicated to this topic in the coming weeks.
  2. Increase water intake and try to drink filtered as much as possible (minimum 1 – 2 litres per day, depending on exercise, heat etc)
  3. Reduce sugar intake (sugar is a toxin to the body in quantities often consumed)
  4. Include herbal teas (avoiding laxative teas). We love organic Skinny Fox Detox for their purity and philosophy, as well as delicious taste
  5. Include green tea (green tea is extremely high in antioxidants which help reduce free radicals, however it does contain caffeine, so best drunk in the morning. We like to further augment these properties by adding a small amount of organic Matcha Maiden green tea powder, which we also add to smoothies and a number of our other recipes.
  6. Eat nutrient dense, antioxidant foods, preferably organic, to promote vitality, assist with detoxification as well as provide raw materials for the body to make it’s own powerful anti-oxidants (for example, glutathione and superoxide dismutase). A superfood post will also follow shortly.

Lifestyle considerations:

  1. Choose organic skin care products. Remember that our skin does absorb substances applied to it. The most obvious example of this is nicotine or hormone patches
  2. Stimulate circulation and the lymphatic system by
    • ensuring regular exercise
    • practicing deliberate breathing
    • dry skin brushing
    • massage
  3. Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) baths – 2 cups of Epsom salts in a bath, together with a couple of drops of relaxing and aromatic essential oils is not only relaxing, helping to reduce stress and tired muscles, but also helps to draw out toxins while also replenishing magnesium stores in the body. These are not the same as regular bath salts
  4. Use a body scrub to exfoliate and invigorate skin. We really like scrubs containing coffee and coconut oil, such as ‘You Make Me Coco’ by Skinny Fox.

Here’s hoping your 2015 has less toxins and more health, success and happiness!

– Jennifer