Spring cleaning the body: 5 steps to optimize detoxification

It is officially spring even if it feels like winter outside.  One of the things that most people start paying attention to this time around is spring cleaning.  Cleaning out the closets, the house, the garden are all springtime activities.

Detoxification is the process by which our body cleans itself.  It is a natural process performed by all living beings to remove toxins from their bodies.  It is constantly happening in our body 24/7 just like other processes such as digestion and respiration.  The toxins can either enter our bodies from outside such as chemicals in the air, food or water or they are produced inside our bodies as a result of metabolic reactions.  In either case, they need to be removed or they would harm our bodies in the long run.  The main organ responsible for this is the LIVER.  It takes the toxins out of the blood, processes them for removal and then sends them off to the intestines via the bile to be removed through our stools.  Some toxins are sent to the kidneys for removal.  So a well-functioning liver along with kidneys and intestines are key to removing toxins from our body.

Our bodies are amazing and they do a wonderful job of removing toxins from our body and keeping us healthy. However, you would all agree when I say that our environment has changed and we are exposed to a lot more toxins than ever before.  Along with that, our diets have changed over time. A typical North American diet does not contain the nutrients that are required for the liver to carry out its detoxification processes or the fiber needed for the intestines to carry out elimination of toxins efficiently.

The result then is that the detoxification process is not happening everyday in our body at an optimal level which then leads to the body storing the toxins or worse yet the toxins circulate in the body through the blood longer than normal, causing harm to our cells.

There is no need for you to run off to a health food store to get one of the many advertised detox kits.  All you need to do is pay extra attention to what you put into your body and you will enhance the process that is already happening in your body as we speak.  Here are 5 steps you need to optimize your body’s detoxification pathways so it can do its own spring cleaning.

  1. Take the load off the liver.  This means you decrease the amount of chemicals that are going into the body that the liver will need to remove. Give the liver a break so it can catch up on things that it hasn’t been able to do ie remove stored toxins.  Examples of things you should cut down on are pesticides, additives,  artificial flavourings and colours, artificial sweeteners,  cigarettes and alcohol.
  2. Take the load off the digestive system so the body can focus on detoxification rather than digestion. Eat more of easy to digest foods such as fruits and vegetables.  Avoid meat and fried foods during the detox phase as they are hard to digest.  Avoid processed & refined foods and stick to whole foods.
  3. Support the liver by providing it with the nutrients it needs to carry out detoxification reactions. Some examples of liver friendly foods are dark berries, kale, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, lemon, dandelions, collard greens and green tea.
  4. Support the intestines by providing it with soluble fiber needed to eliminate toxins. Adults need 25-35grams per day.  Soluble fiber can be found in abundance in whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits.
  5. Support elimination of toxins through the kidneys by drinking a lot of water. To determine how much water you need, add a zero to your weight in lbs and that is how many ml’s of water you should have in a day.  For ex. a 130 lb person would need at least 1300 mls (or 1.3L) of water (approx 5 cups a day)

Remember that the detoxification regimen can be part of your normal routine.  You can start off with implementing the above suggestions 1 day a week and then work up as you get more comfortable.  Slow but consistent detoxification is a good way to go.