As you learned in the last post, detoxification is a complicated and mostly automatic process that our body undergoes in an effort to keep us as healthy as possible in our toxic world. I was educated as an Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. NTPs are trained to go through a three-step process for nutritional detoxification. We won’t sell you on a 21-day juice cleanse, or greens powder, or even “detox” tea. If you want to be healthy for the long haul, slow and steady detoxification is the way to go. This is my strategy for what I like to call everyday detox.
Essential components of everyday detox
1.) Detoxification only occurs when in a parasympathetic state.
A parasympathetic state is the mindful, rest and digest mode. The opposite of on-the-go stress and busy-ness. You must be in “rest and digest” mode for substantial periods of time in order for detoxification to occur. Detox will not be prioritized by the body if there’s always some impending stress. Just think about it: if you’re being chased by a tiger, your body is not going to focus on getting rid of the acetaminophen you took for a headache.
Meditation is a great tool for to get you in this resting state. I use the HeartMath earpiece which helps calm me down. I have the earpiece that plugs right into my phone and encourages slow and steady breathing for 5 or more minutes. That’s a big bonus for me; I’m in nursing school, so I don’t have a lot of time to meditate but this has been a crucial piece of my healing process. Seriously love it!
2. Before undergoing a structured “detox” program, you must address the foundational aspects of your health first. This will allow all elimination pathways to be open.
As we learned last week, the health of our digestive system, lymphatic system, circulatory system, and our hydration status all have a profound impacts on our ability to detoxify. Having a these key foundations on point ensures that detoxification pathways are open. Remember, there are 2 phases of detoxification. If the first part works and the second part does not you can end up even worse than you started.
The 5 Pillars of Health are:
- Proper digestion
- Fatty acid balance
- Blood sugar balance
- Hydration status
- Mineral Balance
All built upon the important foundation of a nutrient dense, whole foods, properly prepared diet.
Be sure to see our upcoming “foundations of health” series for more information!
3. Employ supportive therapies to make your body’s elimination of toxins more efficient.
Choose any of these therapies that resonate with you and add them to your daily routine. You can use more than one at a time or you can rotate through them for more variety. These are some of my favorites. Click for links to more in depth articles on each modality.
- Dry-brushing: Use a boar bristle brush to get your lymphatic system moving, supporting your body's immune and detoxification processes. Unlike our circulatory system, the lymph system does not have a pump, therefore we need to provide the movement ourselves through exercise or other means for proper function. Some people even report more energy when body brushing.
- Oil-pulling: Swish a healthy oil, sesame, coconut or sunflower, in your mouth for up to 20 mins to improve oral health. This is an age old practice with lots of anecdotal support and testemonials. Be sure to spit the oil out when you're done though, don't swallow!, as it will be full of toxins.
- Infrared Saunas: This article by Lauren Geertsen, NTP, recommends the Sunlighten sauna but I have a sauna purchased from Wayfair for much cheaper that I absolutely love.
- Gentle Movement: This doesn't mean get up and run a marathon or join a cross-fit gym. Things like walking, stretching and light yoga can get that lymph flowing and make big differences in your health.
- Rebounder/ Trampoline: get that all important lymph and respiratory system moving again!
- Epsom Salt Baths: Epsom baths are an excellent way to absorb magnesium. Most people these days are depleted of magnesium. Soaks can also improve skin hydration and circulation.
- Massage: This an excellent way to improve circulation and to get into that coveted parasympathetic state. Be sure to drink lots of water hydrate after any massage.
- Deep Breathing: by far the fastest and easiest detox, breathing has many health benefits. Most importantly it rids our body of CO2 and other toxins. A few deep breaths just before meals can switch you into that "rest and digest" parasympathetic state. Consider installing the Breathe or Stop, Breathe, Think app to remind yourself to take some good belly breaths several times a day.
4. Adding specific nutrients to support detox can be useful if you’re still working on the above steps.
Foods to support detox:
- Sulfur-rich vegetables
- Probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut
I've included the TEDx Iowa City talk by Dr. Terry Wahls below on the importance of vegetables in detoxification.
- Liver support (I like MedCaps DPO by Xymogen)
- Liposomal Vitamin C
- Liposomal Glutathione
- Natural Calm
These are great use as gently cleansing teas. Several have a gut healing component.
- Milk thisle
- Pau D'Arco
- Marshmallow Root
5. If you’ve done all the steps above, and are generally healthy, now you can do a more in-depth detox protocol if you still need it.
The 7-Day Detox Miracle by Dr. Peter Bennett, ND, and Dr. Stephen Barrie, ND is a phenomenal resource for these in-depth protocols. I’d recommend working with a dietitian, NTP, or a licensed healthcare provider when going through any sort of in-depth detoxification program. They will make sure the protocol is tailored to your individual needs.
Remember optimal health is about progress, not perfection. Fad "detoxes" and quick weight loss are not sustainable long term. In fact, they can even be detrimental to your health. Toxins are often stored in fat tissue. If you get that moving too quickly without proper foundations and open elimination pathways you can start feeling much worse. The bottom line? As long as you don’t rush the process, gentle detoxification methods are a great option for improving your health and setting you up for long term success.
- Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Course Material
- The 7-Day Detox Miracle by Dr. Peter Bennett, ND and Dr. Stephen Barrie, ND
- “Phase I and Phase II Detoxification” YouTube video by Dr. Mary Shackleton, MPH, ND