Do You Really Need a Detox or Cleanse?
Your body has detoxification and antioxidant systems in place to eliminate toxins and protect your cells from damage. Your cells also know how to keep themselves clean. But your body can’t do it alone. It needs your support to make these things happen efficiently and effectively. Your body can only take so much abuse before it’s own cleansing and detox mechanisms go haywire. Let’s face it. In today’s world, your body faces many challenges on a DAILY BASIS.
For instance, we’re constantly bombarded with toxins. Some that mimic our hormones, which can lead to hormone-related diseases like breast cancer. Some that impact cognitive function, which can lead to memory loss. And some that cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which can curse you with fatigue, excess belly fat, wrinkles, pain, and so much more! What’s also interesting is that some of these toxins are fat-soluble.
Which means they accumulate in your body fat. And may be released when you lose weight. This is one of the reasons why rapid weight loss can be harmful. You must first prepare your body to efficiently handle these toxins. In addition, chronic stress, nutrient deficiencies, and sleep deprivation are commonplace. Which all challenge your body in many ways. You can’t keep overloading your body with toxins and expect your liver to perform optimally forever. Just like you can’t sleep 3 hours a night and expect to be bursting with energy the next day. But not all insults are caused by our modern world.
Some are the result of normal biological processes. For instance, your cells are like little machines. As they go about their business, they generate free radicals. They create waste. And various cellular components get worn out. So if you want to look and feel your best, cleansing is a must. But not in the way you might think. I’m not a fan of fasting for days, juice cleanses, or harsh colon cleanses.
While these may help eliminate toxins and “reset” some of your systems, they’re not practical for most of us. Their restrictive nature makes them hard to follow and finish. Plus, the benefits are only temporary. Once the “cleanse” is over, things go back to the way they were. Enter my “daily cleanse.” Simple practices that give your body the support it needs on a DAILY BASIS to support detoxification, prevent cellular damage and clean up cellular debris. Helping you slim down, age gracefully and live a long, healthy life. So if you want all that, here’s what you need to do – step by step.
STEP 1: REDUCE YOUR TOXIC EXPOSURE
It’s true toxins are everywhere. They’re in the air, water, soil, food, house cleaners, personal care, skin care, and cosmetics to name a few. We can’t avoid them completely. And I don’t recommend living in fear of them either. But I do recommend reducing your exposure whenever possible. To lower your body’s burden and keep your detoxification systems running smoothly. Below are some simple steps that can make a big difference.
Invest in a quality water filter.
Although regulations exist to make sure our water is safe to drink, toxins still slip through the cracks. And since water is part of your daily life (or at least it should be), chronic low-dose exposure can be harmful. Some toxins get stuck in fat while others can get lodged in your brain. Yikes! Once these toxins reach a certain concentration in your body, that’s when you might start to notice symptoms. And the symptoms you experience depend on your age.
For instance, prenatal exposure can affect growth and development. While exposure in your adult years may increase your risk for disease or accelerate brain aging and memory loss. Below are just some of the toxins in our water supply that we must watch out for:
- Disinfectants (i.e., chlorine, chloramine, bromine)
- Bisphenol A (BPA)
Many studies suggest these substances are toxic to the brain. Infertility, cancer, and heart disease have also been associated with water contaminants. Plus, while one chemical might not be too bad on its own, we don’t know what might happen when we’re exposed to a mix of them. So I’d rather you play it safe than be sorry!
Invest in an air filter if you live in the city or near a busy street or highway.
Airborne toxins can be an environmental trigger for many conditions that affect your lungs, skin, brain, heart, eyes, and even your mood. But don’t lock yourself up indoors. Take simple measures, like investing in an air filter, to reduce your exposure instead.
Eat a diet rich in whole foods from nature as opposed to processed and packaged foods.
Because your body isn’t designed to eat crap. Period. Processed junk foods have little to no nutritional value. Eating them in excess leads to nutrient deficiencies. And without certain nutrients, your body can’t detoxify. Plus, processed foods are packed with refined grains and sugars, trans fats, and rancid “vegetable” oils as well as artificial flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners. Literally a toxic soup! And these toxins cause weight gain, inflammation, dull skin, and so much more. It’s like riding the aging train at full speed. It’s also worth mentioning that refined grains and sugars promote high blood sugar and elevated insulin levels. Both toxic to your body when chronic.
For example, they cause oxidative stress and inflammation, which can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So leave the junk on the shelf. Stick with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wild fish, and pasture-raised eggs, meat, and poultry. These whole foods are packed with antioxidants. And a never-ending stream of antioxidants is necessary to prevent cellular damage caused by external and internal toxins.
Opt for organic foods whenever possible to reduce your risk of disease from pesticides.
The harm that can come from pesticides depends a lot on your level of exposure, but also your current health. So while pesticides can be metabolized and excreted by the body, they can also be stored or accumulate in fat. And pesticides have been associated with health issues related to your skin, gastrointestinal tract, hormones, reproduction, brain, and respiratory system. They’ve also been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
If your budget is a concern, refer to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen. It’s a list of produce that contains the highest concentration of pesticides. Strawberries, spinach, and kale made the top of the list this year. So at bare minimum, sticking to organic varieties of these 12 fruits and veggies can help. On the other hand, the EWG also publishes the Clean Fifteen. These foods contain low levels of pesticides and are safest to buy conventionally if necessary. This year’s list includes avocados, sweet corn, and pineapples.
Use safer skin care and household cleaners.
A big problem with skin care and cleaning products is that we’re not always privy to the exact formula. For instance, manufacturers often include “fragrance” in their products. Sounds good, right? Because we all want nice smelling stuff. But here’s the problem. Only a very select group of scientists know exactly what’s in that “fragrance.” And what we’re learning is that many fragrances contain phthalates. Nasty chemicals that mess with your hormones! They can then hinder reproduction as well as growth and development. Studies have even linked them to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
To play it safe, avoid perfumes and products with fragrance. This includes air fresheners. Instead, consider diffusing essential oils to freshen the air in your home. For additional help, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to find safer skin care products and cosmetics as well as their Guide to Healthy Cleaners for the safest cleaning products.
Avoid storing and heating your food in plastic.
And buy pantry staples in glass or in bulk with your own bags whenever possible. Plastic is made from petroleum and a bunch of other chemicals. In fact, it's estimated that over 900 chemicals are associated with the making of plastic. And 63 of them are among some of the most hazardous when it comes to human health. Bisphenol A (a.k.a. BPA) is a common plastic chemical that you may have heard of. And yes, some plastic products are now made without it. But as I’ve just shared, there are plenty of other chemicals to be concerned with.
Like PBT, BHT, BHA, BPS and BPF. You get my point! Some plastic additives are even made with heavy metals, including mercury and lead. These chemicals have been shown to leach into food, beverages, and skin care products. And this is how they get into you. So why risk it? The safest alternatives are glass, stainless steel, and silicone.
Avoid using non-stick and aluminium cookware.
Teflon and other similar non-stick coatings are made with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that release toxic fumes when heated. In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency declared that a particular PFC, known as PFOA, was likely a human carcinogen. As a result, PFOA was replaced with other chemicals. However, the replacements are suspected to have similar effects.
In addition, at certain temperatures and especially when cooking acidic foods, aluminium has been shown to transfer from cookware to food. And while science is still emerging in this area, elevated levels of aluminium in the brain have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Limit your use of alcohol.
This is a no brainer. Alcohol is toxic to your liver. And your liver is a key player in detoxification. Plus, when you’re tipsy, you’re more likely to expose yourself to other toxins. Stick with a glass of wine or one cocktail here and there. And never drink on an empty stomach. It’s also worth mentioning that the use of too many over the counter (OTC) medications can also be toxic. For instance, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are well-known for causing digestive upset and even damaging the lining of your intestines.
STEP 2: STAY HYDRATED
Your body is made up of mostly water. Approximately 60%. And all your cells depend on water to function properly. Plus, as your body neutralizes toxins, it relies on water to flush them out through your urine. Regular bowel movements are also necessary to remove unwanted “junk” from your body. And hydration, fiber, and exercise are three key elements when it comes to keeping things moving. If you’re not a fan of plain water, don’t worry. There are many healthy ways to get enough fluids.
I recommend using filtered water to make coffee, tea, and bone broth. Fruit-infused water is also delicious. When it comes to detoxification, I recommend milk thistle tea specifically. Milk thistle is a plant with potent compounds that work as antioxidants. But these compounds are also believed to prevent toxic build-up in the liver.
STEP 3: DRINK A NUTRIENT-PACKED GREEN SMOOTHIE DAILY
Green smoothies can be a great way to pack a ton of nutrients in one meal. Below are some of my favorite ingredients that taste great and are excellent for cleansing.
- Avocado is an excellent source of fiber and healthy fat. Both help keep you regular. Avocados also contain glutathione as well as vitamin E, which is necessary for glutathione synthesis. So what’s so special about glutathione? Well, it’s your body’s “master” antioxidant. It’s heavily involved in detoxification. It also protects your liver from damage as it filters toxins from your blood.
- Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s packed with B-vitamins and magnesium, which are both necessary for making glutathione. Plus, it contains vitamin C, another potent antioxidant. You see, the detoxification process creates free radicals that can damage your cells if not neutralized quickly. And that’s exactly what antioxidants do.
- Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil contains caprylic acid, which is the precursor to alpha lipoic acid. And alpha lipoic acid helps recycle glutathione as well as acts as a potent antioxidant within your cells to support energy production. If you’re not a fan of MCT oil, coconut oil and full-fat canned coconut milk also contain caprylic acid.
- Collagen protein powder is an excellent source of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. And proteins make up structures within the cell that are responsible for cleaning up cellular debris. They also make up enzymes, which are necessary for all biological reactions. Plus, amino acids are used to help carry toxins out of the body. Especially those found in collagen. Check out my online shop for a variety of collagen powders to make great tasting shakes and smoothies.
- Berries are loaded with antioxidants and fiber. Plus, they’re relatively low in sugar and taste great.
- Almond butter is a healthy source of fat. It’s also high in vitamin E, an antioxidant and a nutrient necessary for glutathione synthesis.
- Superfood powders such as baobab fruit, camu camu, cacao, and acai give smoothies a nutritional boost. Plus, they’re packed with antioxidants to protect your body while it’s cleansing itself.
STEP 4: SUPPLEMENT WITH A QUALITY MULTIVITAMIN
I wish I could say you can get all the nutrients you need from food. But factory farming has depleted our soil of critical nutrients. Which means our food is less nutrient dense than it used to be. Plus, because our bodies are constantly being bombarded with toxins, our nutritional needs are higher than ever. So I recommend a quality multivitamin as an insurance policy, but not in lieu of a healthy diet. Some key nutrients necessary for detoxification include:
- Vitamin A
- B vitamins (i.e., B6, B12, folate)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Most of these nutrients are used to make glutathione or other antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase, metallothionein, and CoQ10. All essential for cleansing the body. Plus, many of the nutrients are antioxidants themselves, such as vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, and zinc.
STEP 5: HEAL YOUR GUT
Sadly, most people today have less than stellar gut health from toxins, stress, and sleepless nights. And when the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, toxins and pathogens can “leak” into your bloodstream instead of pass on through. So healing your gut is a must. Plus, having a healthy army of gut bacteria will also provide protection. Drinking bone broth daily and eating fermented foods are at the top of my list. But guess what? All the other steps in this article will also help heal your gut.
STEP 6: STRESS LESS
It's well-known that stress, especially when chronic, negatively impacts your mind and body. You see, stress releases chemicals (a.k.a. hormones) in your body. And these chemicals can be toxic. Let’s take cortisol for example. Chronically high levels of cortisol have been linked to accelerated aging. It’s inflammatory. It can damage the brain and lead to weight gain, pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and dementia. No, thank you! This study found that patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) had significantly higher levels of cortisol than a control group. Which suggests that chronic stress may even increase your risk of liver disease. Other hormones that are released during stress are catecholamines.
You’ve probably heard of adrenaline. It speeds up your heart rate and raises your blood pressure to protect you from danger. And this would be ok if stress wasn’t chronic. Because eventually a fast heart rate and high blood pressure take a toll on your cardiovascular system. It’s also worth mentioning that stress affects your behavior. You’re more likely to reach for a pint of ice cream or a bottle of wine when stressed. Am I right? So I think it’s pretty clear. Stress is bad.
Find hobbies and practices that help you de-stress. Like meditation, yoga, hiking, journaling, gardening, and psychotherapy. Sometimes a mindset shift can also help. For instance, don’t worry about something before it happens. Because then you’re worrying twice. For more tips on busting stress, check out this article.
STEP 7: MOVE YOUR BODY & SWEAT
Exercise is just as important as eating healthy when it comes to detoxification. It helps keep things moving smoothly through your digestive tract. It also boosts glutathione activity. And this particular study found a combination of aerobic exercise and weight training worked best as opposed to either alone. Exercise also helps you cope with stress. It can improve your mood as well as reduce the negative effects stress has on your body.
Plus, exercise makes you sweat. And toxins can be released through your sweat. Which is why regular sauna use is a common practice used for detoxification. And while not directly related to moving or sweating, dry brushing can also help rid your body of toxins. It exfoliates to remove dead skin. But it also increases circulation to keep your lymphatic system clean. This is essential to keep waste from building up in your tissues as well as prevent infections.
STEP 8: SLEEP MORE
I may have saved sleep for last, but not because it’s the least important. The truth is sleep deprivation is a dangerous form of stress. It raises cortisol, blood glucose, insulin, blood pressure, and your “I’m hungry” hormone, ghrelin. Which means your toxic load increases and you're more likely to overeat. Plus, you’re likely too tired to cook healthy meals. Sleep is also more than just a time to rest. Important stuff goes on when you’re sleeping. It’s when your body repairs and regenerates itself. In fact, this study found that toxic waste in the brain is flushed out during sleep. So get some sleep! If you’re having trouble, these tips will help.
In today’s world, you must protect your body from toxins. And give your body support to keep it clean and happy. But a three-day juice cleanse or fiber overload isn’t going to cut it. Sure, these practices may help flush your digestive system, but they don’t help over the long haul. Your body is exposed to toxins on a DAILY BASIS. But don’t stress about it. Incorporate a “daily cleanse” instead. Follow the steps outlined above, and your body will reward you. You’ll feel amazing and look great too!
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!