A Whole9 guest post by Dr Sult, medical doctor, medical educator, inspirational speaker & the author of Just Be Well: A Book For Seekers of Vibrant Health. This article is the second in a series on detox. Read part 1 here and part 3 here.
Conceptually, a detox diet makes sense. In a world filled with toxins that we can’t help but ingest or absorb, periodically helping our bodies clean those out through a structured plan is smart. The hard part is knowing how to do it effectively and safely.
A three-day diet of whole food eating. Is that a detox diet? What about a 21-day diet that consists of liquid diets, supplements and enemas? Or the seven-day diet that includes whole foods, but eliminates grains, starches and dairy, without explanation?
While these plans emphasize some healthy eating, that’s not nearly all that is involved in a detox diet. Unfortunately, many of these diet plans that are found online do not explain the multiple purposes of detoxification—or caution against doing it incorrectly.
A true detoxification program has three distinct goals:
- Eliminate as many toxins in your world as possible
- Improve the mobilization of toxins, while keeping the mobilized toxins to an amount that you can excrete, otherwise, those toxins can redistribute to other parts of the body
- Increase the excretion of toxins
The most immediate way to attack toxins is by starting with an organic, whole food, Paleo-diet. This would emphasize lean meats and non-starchy vegetables and fruits. Avoid processed and prepared foods, as well as dairy, grains, legumes, refined sugar, salt and alcohol.
This diet will accomplish two things: because of its organic nature, it will reduce the pesticide and heavy metal residuals in your food, and, consequently, in your body. Also, the high-density fruits and vegetables are filled with phytonutrients, natural chemicals that help your liver detoxify.
In addition to decreasing toxins through diet, look at ways to eliminate toxins in your environment. Avoid cigarette smoke, first- or secondhand. Paint fumes and cleaning solvents can also have many toxins. Look for paint with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and use non-toxic or green cleaning solutions. Check the ingredients in your toiletries and cosmetics and consider nontoxic alternatives.
Once you’ve begun decreasing the amount of toxins entering the body, it’s time to decrease the amount already there. These foods and nutrients will help your liver convert harmful toxins into less harmful ones. They also help the liver detoxify by burning toxins, changing them from fat-soluble to water-soluble so they can more easily be excreted from the body.
- Take a high potency multiple vitamin and a high potency B vitamin.
- Eat at least one serving each day of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage).
- Take a dose of high quality fish oil each day. Available in pills, you’ll need the equivalent of 1500 mg of the fatty acid EPA plus the fatty acid DHA two times per day.
- Take curcumin, a member of the ginger family, to help increase detoxification. Look for 95% curcuminoid, and take 1000 mg two times per day.
- Take some sort of mixed super food, such as “Dynamic Greens,” one scoop, two times a day, for its phenomenal boost of phytonutrients and antioxidants.
- Take a probiotic with 100 billion good bacteria two times per day, which will be beneficial in helping rid the body of toxins and optimizing gastrointestinal function.
Increase Excretion of Toxins
With the intake of toxins decreased and the toxins in the body mobilized, it’s now time to help your body remove them. Many toxins are excreted through the liver, into the bile and from there to the stool. In order for the excretion process to be effective, you need an optimally functioning digestive system. If you have chronic constipation or other digestive difficulties, you should resolve that before attempting detoxification.
Because many toxins are stored as fats in the body, ingesting healthy fats can flush them out. As part of that Paleo-diet, liberal amounts of olive oil, ghee, coconut and others will help. Drinking plenty of water helps detoxify the toxins that have been changed from fat-soluble to water-soluble.
Anything that involves sweating also helps detoxification. A bath with Epsom Salt, in water as warm as is comfortable, will make you sweat and detoxify. If you’re well enough to exercise, this will help as well.
Moving Through the Dextox 101 Steps
How long should you spend on each step of the process? That’s the part where medicine is more of an art. The number of days varies by individual. But if you are profoundly depleted, you should eat a lot of fruits and vegetables before increasing mobilization. On the other hand, if you have a generally good diet, you could progress more quickly. A good rule of thumb is to spend at least a week or two on each phase, but if you feel sick during any of the phases, that’s a sign to slow it down because you’re going too fast.
Although a detoxification program is often used as a jump-start or recalibration, the most effective way to maintain your health is to incorporate many of the aspects of this program in your everyday life. Eating a healthy, varied diet of whole foods every day and avoiding toxins is the most efficient and effective way to stay healthy.
Tom Sult is a medical doctor, medical educator, inspirational speaker & the author of Just Be Well: A Book For Seekers of Vibrant Health. Board-certified in family medicine & integrative holistic medicine, Tom is on faculty with the Institute for Functional Medicine and maintains a private practice in Willmar, MN. Join Tom’s crusade to change the way doctors treat their patients at www.justbewell.info. For more information on Tom’s practice please visit the 3rd Opinion website.
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