Detoxification programs have become a huge business, yet I also regularly hear practitioners claim such programs are nonsense or that our bodies already have the mechanisms to detoxify.
When you hear the word “detox,” you might think drug detox or alcohol detox or wheatgrass enemas. That’s not what I am talking about.
I am referring to the science of how our bodies get rid of waste. If waste builds up, we get sick and fat. The key becomes figuring out how to enhance our body’s capacity to detoxify and get rid of waste while minimizing our exposure to toxins.
Stop and consider some staggering statistics. We are exposed to 6 million pounds of mercury and 2.5 billion pounds of other toxic chemicals each year.
Eighty thousand toxic chemicals have been released into our environment since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and very few have been tested for their long-term impact on human health. And let me tell you, the results aren’t pretty for those that have been tested.
How can we not be affected by this massive amount of poison?
According to the nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group, the average newborn baby has 287 known toxins in his or her umbilical cord blood, so imagine how many you have been exposed to in your life.
Do you think this may be why so many of us are sick and fat today? The simple truth is that we are living in a sea of toxins and it is destroying our bodies and brains.
How Do You Know if You’re Toxic?
The role of toxins and detoxification in health has been largely ignored by medicine. Thankfully, scientists and practitioners are starting to recognize its importance in health.
Many of you probably have symptoms of chronic toxicity that you don’t label as being toxic. If any of these sounds familiar, keep in mind that detoxifying might be critical for you to get healthy and feel good again:
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Sinus congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Excessive sinus problems
- Foul-smelling stools
- Sleep problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Food cravings
- Water retention
- Trouble losing weight
- Skin problems
- Canker sores
- Puffy, dark circles under your eyes
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Other menstrual disorders
- Bad breath
In a healthy body, the process of detoxification runs smoothly. When we are toxic, though, the mechanism for detoxification in the liver gets sluggish, and certain toxins can remain active longer than we want or than our systems can handle. This makes us sick and impedes normal metabolism. It also causes fluid retention, bloat, and puffiness.
If you are overweight, you are toxic by definition because most environmental chemicals like pesticides and plastics are stored in your fat tissue. As you lose weight, you need to flush out the toxins that get released from your fat tissue. Otherwise, they can poison your metabolism and impair weight loss.
Excessive weight and obesity aside, nearly every disease on the planet has links to toxicity, including dementia, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and digestive issues.
Just How Toxic Are You?
There is no question that you are toxic. Everyone is. The issue becomes how toxic you are.
To understand toxicity, you must understand the concept of total load, or a total amount of stressors on your system at any one time. Think of total load like a glass filling over with water. It takes a certain amount to fill the glass and then, after a certain point, you put more in and it overflows.
When our detoxification system becomes overwhelmed and overloaded, we start developing symptoms and get sick, but it may take years of accumulated stress and toxins to get to that point.
The total load includes things like:
- Heavy metals, mercury and lead, petrochemicals, residues, pesticides, and fertilizers
- Food allergies, environmental allergies, molds and toxins from molds.
- Our standard American diet (SAD)
- Stress — the mental, emotional and spiritual toxins that affect us; isolation, loneliness, anger, jealousy, hostility— which all translate into toxins in our system
- Medications can sometimes be toxins; often we need medications, but the reality is that most of us are over-medicated and use medications for things for which there are better solutions such as lifestyle and diet
- Internal toxins, like bacteria, fungus, and yeast that are inside our gut and may be affecting us, as well as hormonal and metabolic toxins we need to eliminate
Now why aren’t we all sick given this incredible load of toxins? Because each of us is genetically and biochemically unique, which means some of us are good at getting rid of toxins and waste while others are not.
I am not. That is why I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I became overloaded with mercury and I couldn’t get rid of it because I am missing a gene for GSTM1, a critical detoxifying enzyme for mercury. But by learning to support my system and learning how to detoxify, I was able to cure myself from what we thought was an incurable condition.
Detoxification Starts with Your Diet
The foundation of your diet should be high-quality protein, fats, and non-starchy vegetables that don’t spike blood sugar or insulin. These are the types of foods that detoxify your body but also reignite your metabolism, calm body-wide inflammation, crush cravings, and fill you up.
Thankfully, plants have evolved many protective defenses against pests and infection, called phytonutrients. Many of these also help human biology to function better, especially in the realm of detoxification. These defenses are better developed in organic foods because they have to work harder to survive.
Eating organic food provides higher concentrations of these protective detoxifying, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds may outweigh the benefits we can get from other nutritional supplements in their overall effects on our health. And they taste better!
These are the detoxifying foods I want you to be sure to include in your diet as often as possible, preferably daily:
Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, collards, kale, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, arugula, radishes, wasabi, watercress, kohlrabi, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnips). Eat at least one to two cups, cooked, daily.
- Detoxifying and anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, including turmeric, cayenne pepper, thyme, rosemary, chili powder, cumin, sage, oregano, onion powder, cinnamon, coriander, cilantro, paprika, and parsley
- One to two cups of green tea a day boosts liver detoxification (increases GST or glutathione enzymes).
- High-quality sulfur-containing proteins or foods, including eggs, garlic (a few cloves a day), and onions.
Nutrients to Support Detoxification
There are many detoxification pathways, or routes, for toxins to get out of the body. But these pathways require many helpers. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, special nutrients, and a whole range of phytonutrients from the foods noted above are needed for our detox system to function optimally.
The most important factor for our detoxification system is keeping our glutathione levels up. Glutathione is the main detoxifier in the body (an antioxidant and immune booster). Our body needs to regenerate it all the time.
The main nutrients helpful in boosting glutathione are all the methylation nutrients, zinc, and selenium that are part of my basic supplement program. In fact, as far as my personal supplement program goes, besides taking a multivitamin and fish oil, supporting glutathione levels is the most important thing I do every day for my health.
Here are some additional supplements you can take to do that:
- N-Acetyl-l-Cysteine or NAC, 500 mg twice a day – this is a special amino acid that dramatically increases glutathione. It is even used in the emergency room to treat liver failure from Tylenol overdose.
- Buffered ascorbic acid (vitamin C), 1,000 mg twice a day in addition to what is in your basic multivitamin; Buffered vitamin C with mineral ascorbates in powder, capsule, or tablets during periods of increased detoxification is especially useful. Too much vitamin C may cause diarrhea. Simply reduce the dose.
- Milk thistle (silymarin), 140 mg twice a day of a standardized herbal extract. Milk thistle has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels. This formula combines milk thistle with other liver-supporting nutrients.
5 Key Steps for Optimal Detoxification
Think of these strategies as “big picture” ways to enhance your detoxification pathways. None of them are easy fixes, but they become critical to reduce toxic load:
- Identify and get rid of toxins. I listed the primary forms of toxic exposure above. Eliminating them is absolutely essential if you want to rebalance your detox system.
- Fix your gut. Gut imbalances are a key source of toxins for many.
- Get moving. This helps your blood and lymphatic circulation do its job. Whether you’re a novice or pro, you’ll benefit from the exercise plan I’ve provided here.
- Get your liver and detox system working. If your detoxification system isn’t working properly, this is a serious problem and needs to be addressed. A great place to start is the 10-step approach outlined below.
- Detox your mind, heart, and spirit. This is just as important as detoxing your body, and it’s an area few of us ever think about as a source of toxins. My UltraCalm CD is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
These five keys will help to correct problems caused by toxicity, maximize your body’s own detoxification capacity, and help you safely eliminate stored toxins.
Depending on your symptoms, genetic predispositions, and environmental exposures, you may need different levels of nutrients and types of treatment. But remember, getting rid of toxins and learning how to optimize your detoxification system is essential for creating optimal health.
To completely detoxify your body you need to work through each of those five steps I mentioned above carefully, and that can take some time. But you can start today by following this simple 10-step plan.
10 Simple Steps to Enhance Detoxification
Proper detoxification is so essential for health that you need to start enhancing your body’s ability to detoxify today. Here is how to do it:
- Drink Clean. Drink plenty of clean water, at least eight to 10 glasses of filtered water a day.
- Eliminate properly. Keep your bowels moving, at least once or twice a day. And if you can’t get going, then you need some help. This can include taking two tablespoons of ground flaxseeds, acidophilus, and extra magnesium citrate capsules. If you have any chronic diseases or problems, you have to be careful about taking supplements and should work with your doctor.
- Eat clean. Focus on organic produce and high-quality animal products to eliminate the toxins, hormones, and antibiotics in your food.
- Eat detoxifying food. You should eat 8 to 10 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day, particularly those in the family of the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, collards, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi) and the garlic family (garlic and onions), which help increase sulfur in the body and help detoxification.
- Minimize drugs. Avoid stimulants, sedatives, and drugs, such as caffeine and nicotine, and try to reduce alcohol intake.
- Get moving. Exercise five days a week with focus on conditioning your cardiovascular system, strengthening exercises, and stretching exercises. Grab my comprehensive exercise plan here.
- Avoid the white menace. This includes white flour and white sugar.
- Sweat profusely at least three times a week, using a sauna, steam, or a detox bath.
- Take a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement.
- Relax deeply every day to get your nervous system in a state of calm, rest, and relaxation. My UltraCalm CD makes the perfect way to relax and reduce stress and anxiety.
Simply following these steps will help to correct problems caused by toxicity, maximize your body’s own detoxification capacity, and help you safely eliminate toxins stores in your body.
Remember, getting rid of toxins and learning how to optimize your detoxification system is essential for losing weight and creating lifelong vibrant health.
My newest book, available at both Barnes & Nobles and Amazon, The 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook can show you how delicious and healthy eating like this can be. Download my 10-Day Detox Diet Starter Kit and get started TODAY!