What is detoxification, anyway?
Detoxification can be a confusing concept. It is often represented as a product that you must purchase in the form of the newest package, program or nutritional shake. But before you invest in special help, let’s take a closer look at detoxification. In the most basic sense, it is a natural, daily process. In other words, detoxification starts with self-care.
What do I need in order to detoxify?
Detoxification requires a vast array of nutrients, so for most people fasts can actually be counter-productive. Also, we detoxify when we are in the “rest and digest” mode. Unfortunately, most people are usually in the “fight or flight” mode promoted in Western culture. This means that if you want to detoxify, you probably need to slow down and relax.
Our bodies detoxify most efficiently during sleep. So if you’re pulling all-nighters or regularly going to bed really late, you’re missing out.
What body systems are most important for detoxification?
The main organs and systems of elimination are the liver/gallbladder, colon, kidneys, skin, lymphatic system and lungs. Of course, the better the health of your whole body, the better, not just for elimination of waste, but for the big picture.
What are some common obstacles to detoxification?
Stress, lack of sleep and lack of proper nutrients are definitely at the top of the list. Sometimes, though, even people who eat a nutrient-dense diet are undernourished. Poor digestion and absorption of nutrients is common in today’s toxic world.
My nutrition is great, but I still feel like I need a tune-up. Why?
Keep in mind that your body doesn’t automatically have access to all the nutrients from the foods and supplements you take in. If you are under-nourished in spite of a good diet, you’ll need help figuring out why.
Overeating or too-frequent eating can definitely slow down the detoxification pathways, because the energy spent digesting excess food overburdens the liver and colon, making detoxification difficult.
Also, eating foods to which we are allergic or intolerant impairs detoxification by placing undue stress on the organs of digestion and elimination, putting the adrenal glands on alert and increasing the level of inflammation in the body.
What foods and substances impair detoxification?
The intake of alcohol, sugar, refined starches, processed foods, caffeine, medications, etc. stresses the detoxification pathways and reduces our ability to detoxify.
Current or past exposures to environmental toxicants – in some individuals, even at low levels – is also a common stressor in today’s world. Mercury, for example, impairs detoxification by making a number of key nutrients less available and by impairing a number of key enzymes and antioxidants.
What other pitfalls should I know about?
If you tend to be constipated, if you hardly ever sweat, or if you have sluggish bile production, toxins are trapped in the body and re-circulated through the blood. A sedentary life fails to stimulate the lymphatic system and can cause stagnation and build-up of toxins.
Improper, including overly aggressive, cleansing actually increases our toxic burden in the long run.
What can I do to improve detoxification?
- Control stress by relaxing and experiencing joy. Take on less, set good boundaries and practices that help you relax. These may include gentle exercise in nature, meditation, emotional freedom technique, knitting, music or anything you enjoy.
- In today’s highly driven world, we often get the message that the more we do and the less we sleep the better. This may help you get ahead professionally, but it will work against your body’s needs to replenish itself. Make sure you let yourself wind down in the evenings (literally, you’ll need to unplug!) and that you sleep adequately at night. The more hours of pre-midnight sleep, the more restorative your sleep is likely to be.
- Support your body’s natural circadian rhythm. This may seem old-fashioned, but if you are a reader, settling down with a real, paper book rather than an electronic device is important, because electronics interfere with the body’s production of melatonin and thus with our sleep/wake rhythms. Exposure to natural light in the outdoors at various times of day, including early in the morning, is important to the production of melatonin, cortisol and other hormones that help us feel energized in the morning and relaxed in the evening.
- Eat nourishing foods that you enjoy, in balance.
- Drink plenty of spring water, or high-quality filtered water.
- Take care of your emotional needs. Spend time with people you love. Let go of grudges. Reach out for help when you need it. This could mean asking for relief from work, childcare or other daily duties so you can rest and relax more, or help obtaining nourishing food, or professional guidance on nutrition and lifestyle changes that can optimize detoxification.
Detoxification is a natural process in the healthy human body. Work on the foundations of health before considering any special cleansing protocol. By nourishing your body and the organs of elimination, you should be able to reduce your toxic burden substantially and ideally not require specific interventions.
What does the nutritional therapy process look like?
Everyone’s detoxification/rebalancing needs are different. In our work together, we will identify the services you need, and the number of sessions we schedule is personalized to your situation. To learn more about what nutritional therapy with me looks like, click here.
How can I set up an appointment?
If you are unable to heal with good nutrition or are unable to relax due to insomnia, hyperactivity and/or extreme sensitivity to stress, you may need extra guidance. I can help you build a personalized plan to help you gently restore your health.
How much do you charge?
The number of sessions, the length of each sessions and the time between sessions depends on your needs. Read my fee schedule to view my rates.