‘Detoxing’ has long been a popular topic in the wellness industry and a well structured, healthy and safe detox plan with, for example, organic vegetables and fruit can be very beneficial. It reduces the amount of toxins we are exposed to daily and gives our body – in particular our liver – time to deal with any ‘overload’ it may be experiencing.
However, detoxing too strongly or quickly or without really knowing what we are doing can result in feeling worseafterwards – and actually causing us more harm than good. A strong and quick detox can cause rapid weight loss, causing the body to move its toxins out of their relatively “safe” storage places (namely fat) and into the blood. (Read Can fat loss cause a toxic release?)
A great and safe way to support our body in its natural detoxification process is to reduce our ‘toxic load’. Toxic load is the accumulated amount of toxins in our bodily systems through environmental pollutants and the things we ingest. In order to do that, let’s first understand what we mean when we talk about ‘toxins’.
We are exposed to a large amount of toxins (heavy metals, POP’s, chemicals etc) every day via:
- The things we eat and drink: Many foods can contain Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) like pesticides, fungicides and herbicides (great reason to go organic!), and antibiotics, artificial colours and sweeteners, caffeine etc.
- Toxins absorbed through the skin: Products we use on a daily basis can contain toxic material, like parabens in shampoo, as well as chemicals in our water supply like chlorine.
- Environmental pollutants: These can include chemicals from cleaning products you use at home, fumes from fuel, paint, electronics…the list goes on!
- Medications and addictive chemicals like nicotine, can be toxic to the body.
- Internal toxins already present in the body: These include naturally occurring bacteria and fungus. Their by-products are toxic, and if we have too much of them (like candida) the toxic waste can overload our system.
How will decreasing our toxic load help?
As mentioned earlier, the liver is the organ that deals with toxins in the blood. If we can reduce the amount of unnecessary additional toxins the liver has to deal with, it has more chance to deal with those toxins we can’t avoid. And also by reducing our exposure to toxins in general, we are giving our body as a whole a better chance to work towards balanced health.
When we gently detox, it is possible to notice great benefits in a relatively short period of time – these include healthier-looking skin, increased energy levels and generally feeling better.
How can you decrease your toxic load?
- Give your liver a break
As much as possible, avoid or reduce foods that may overload the system like alcohol, excessive caffeine, meat and dairy products, added sugars and sugary drinks. Take a look at some of the everyday products you use in the home and on your skin and hair, see if it is possible to swap these for more natural (maybe home-made) alternatives.
- Chuck out the ‘dead weight’
There are also foods that slow the elimination of toxins. Think of foods that have been over-cooked, or processed and stripped of their natural fibre. Examples of these are: white rice and white flour, white bread, pasta, cakes, couscous etc. These can cause digestive problems like constipation so the toxins stay in your system longer.
- Support your liver
– Foods and drinks that increase liver enzyme function include leafy greens (like spinach, swiss chard and kale) and also green tea, garlic, broccoli and cauliflower.
– You can also support the liver in the detoxing process through topping up on your antioxidant intake. Add more berries, green tea, herbs like oregano, parsley, coriander/cilantro, and any other fresh, red or orange fruit and vegetables.
- Speed up elimination
Then there are also foods that speed up elimination of toxins from your gut and that help to get them out of your system more efficiently. Drinking lots of water is important for this, and eating foods that are unprocessed and rich in fibre like fresh fruits, vegetables with skin, whole grains, nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds. Also beans and lentils seem to bind toxins preventing them from harming our guts.
What can you do to get started now?
1. Set a date
My suggestion is that you choose at least three things from all the examples above and start applying them to your diet. I recommend setting a time period to do this for, whether it is 3 days, 7 days or 30 days. It’s up to you.
2. Get moving
Support your body with yoga classes to stimulate your circulation and digestive system. You could try classes from the Detox Week of our Tune Up and Refresh programme. Or any type of exercise you like.
3. Other changes you could make include:
- Drinking more water and cutting out sugary drinks, such as fruit juices and sodas.
- Stop drinking coffee altogether, or cut out your milky coffees and drink it black, without sugar.
- Eat salads for your lunch instead of bread or floury products, or stay away from white flour products altogether.
- Add lots of leafy greens to your meals.
- Cut out any added sugars, or sugar altogether. Do this gradually as you may feel some withdrawal symptoms in the first few days.
So basically you can reduce your toxic load in simple steps and support your body to do its job. Take it at your own pace and see how you feel and how it goes. If it goes well, you can extend the time, or add some new healthy habits.
If you incorporate these suggestions in your diet over a long period of time, your body will be able to detox more easily, and you will certainly notice the benefits. But even just making changes for a few days will give your body a “break” so that it has some energy left to send to parts of the body that need it!