New Year, New Detox?
Feeling like you need a detox after the holidays? You're certainly not alone. Before you run to the nearest juice cleanse (spoiler alert: this is a complete waste of money) let's chat about some real-food ways you can support your body's own detoxification abilities.
Despite the growing market of detox-related programs/supplements/juices/you name it, our bodies are actually capable of detoxing on their own. In fact, our bodies are detoxifying all day, every day and they're pretty darn good at it!
If you don't want the science but just want the action items, skip to the next section. Science lovers, read on...
Our bodies, since they are bombarded with toxins 24/7 from the air, food and products we use, actually have a pretty awesome detoxification ability on their own: primarily through our liver and secondarily through our kidneys, GI tract, lungs and skin. These organ systems are able to filter out much of the chemicals we get exposed to as well as detoxifying excess hormone levels when working optimally. The problem lies when these systems get bogged down, resulting in symptoms like fatigue, skin flare ups, stubborn weight, headaches, aches and pains, etc. A good visual to this is Costco. Like Costco, our body’s detox pathways are complex with all kinds of steps. When we Costco shop on a crowded day it takes us forever to move about the store, we bump into things, we hit people with our carts (maybe that's just me?), we sometimes forget items and we are worn out and frustrated at the end. This is much like our detox pathways when they are overburdened. On the flipside, when we hit Costco on an empty day we smoothly wheel the cart through the aisles and get in and out quickly with everything we need. That is how our body’s detox pathways are supposed to work as well.
There are 2 phases of detoxification in the liver. To put it very simply: phase 1 involves converting toxic compounds in the body into non-toxic compounds. We do this by binding the toxins to a variety of substrates in the liver. The next step converts these toxins into a water-soluble form so they can be readily excreted from the body. In order to detoxify effectively we need both phase 1 and phase 2 to be working in balance. This requires key vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids (or protein building blocks). We will get into what foods provide these below. In addition to the raw materials we need, we also need to make sure we can excrete the toxins effectively through urination, bowel movements and sweat. This requires adequate hydration, fiber intake and daily movement.
6 Ways to Naturally Support Detoxification:
To summarize all the science-y stuff above, the body needs a few key nutrients to detoxify optimally: Vitamin C, antioxidants like glutathione, sulfur containing plant compounds and adequate amino acids or protein. From there, we need to make sure we have adequate fluid and fiber to properly excrete the harmful compounds from the body. Here are a few quick ways to help your liver out post-holiday season:
- start your day with a big glass of water + fresh lemon and aim for at least half your body weight in total ounces per day. The vitamin C and bioflavonoids in lemon help to love on your liver first thing in the morning and gently wake up the system
- fill half of every plate with veggies and prioritize cruciferous veggies (brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower) because these provide the sulfur-containing compound known as sulphoraphane glucosinolate (SGS for short) as well as Indol-3-Carbionol (I-3-C) which helps your body detoxify excess estrogen
- reduce inflammation and lessen the burden on the liver by cutting back or totally eliminating: added sugars, artificial chemicals/dyes, and alcohol
- consider adding in a few natural anti-inflammatories like ginger, turmeric and green tea
- aim for 1-2 palm serving of high quality protein at each meal to provide all essential amino acids
- move your body daily and break a sweat most days
Are all detox supplements BS?
Not necessarily. There are a few pharmaceutical-grade products that I have frequently used with clients and tested out myself. The ones I would go for supply higher doses of all the essential detox nutrients discussed above that can be very beneficial. Typically I will pair these types of supplements with clean eating, lots of water and lots of sleep!
If you want to see the types of supplements/brands I trust, head over to my fullscript page. I use this site as a convenient way to provide high quality supplements at a lower cost (and free shipping).
Give these tips a try this week to give your liver some much needed love and boost your own detox abilities post-holidays! You can revisit these tips any time you need a fresh start (I know I will post-bachelorette in a few months ;)).
Thanks for reading!