Okay, okay, I know.
You hear the word DETOX and immediately your mind conjures up an image of green juices and fancy-schmancy people starving themselves, all in the name of HEALTH - or at least that's what I used to think of.
But what does it actually mean? What does it do? How does your body get rid of the nasty stuff you don't want? Keep reading, Young Padawan.
According to the dictionary, detox means:
a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification.
But here's the thing - your body is working to detoxify itself on a daily basis. In a beautiful combination that only Mother Nature could invent, your body works synergistically with all your organs to rid itself of the man made (and natural) toxins that we encounter daily.
So what's the problem? If our body detoxes itself daily, then why do we have to do anything?
I'm glad you asked.
Here are some facts:
(click the links for sources)
- 80,000 toxic, man-mad chemicals have been released into our environment since the industrial revolution.
- On average, newborn babies have 287 known toxins in their umbilical cord blood, 217 of which are neurotoxins (affecting the brain).
- We are exposed to 6 million pounds of mercury and 2.5 billion pounds of other toxic chemicals each year.
What's worse is that of all the chemicals created, many have never been tested for human safety - or if they have, they were not tested in a realistic manner of accumulation (how your body is exposed to micro-doses over time), and regulating bodies cannot keep up.
“We really don't know how many chemicals are currently in commerce in the United States because the method of updating the inventory wasn't designed to answer that question.” - The Challenge: Chemicals in Today's Society
Don't let these stats scare you. Remember, knowledge is power. The more you know, the better equipped you are to handle any situation.
The goal is to highlight the fact that maybe, just maybe, your body might need some help eliminating the plethora of substances that we are exposed to at an unprecedented rate.
So what can we do about it?
I'm super glad you asked.
Our best tool in the fight against the bombardment of toxins is to support our body and its natural detoxifying processes.
Using the fabulous metaphor from Dr. Mark Hyman: We gotta take out the trash.
We wouldn't let trash keep piling up in our home - and we wouldn't want to be the only person taking it out either - so we gotta help our bodies out on this one.
The first thing you can actively do is avoid or reduce unnecessary chemical exposure.
Chemicals lurk everywhere: tap water, deodorant, car fumes, hairspray, laundry detergent - the list goes on. This is something I'll definitely write more on (as it's a beast of a topic), but for now, here are some quick, practical tips.
- Take stock of your exposure. What are some daily personal care of household products that you use that contain lots of chemicals? What could you easily swap out with something more natural?
- Filter your water. Please.
- Use glass containers for your food storage - or if you must use plastic Tupperware (let's be honest - we all do), never heat it up in the microwave. Heat releases the chemicals from the plastic and leaches them into your food. If you have to use the microwave, heat your food in a glass container, otherwise heat your food up the old-fashioned way (and have some patience).
The next important step is to support your organs that are already working 24/7.
Support your kidneys.
The kidneys are responsible for flushing waste from the blood, so drinking plenty of clean filtered water is a great way to support them. Half your body weight in ounces each day is a good estimate of how much you need to stay hydrated. You'll know you are doing a good job when your pee is clear or only slightly yellow (yay for instant gratification). If your urine is dark yellow, grab your water girl (or guy).
The daily poo.
You should have 1 to 2 good poops a day, and you shouldn't necessarily need caffeine to get ya going. Drink a big glass of water upon waking (#Supportthekidneys) to get your digestion moving. Ideally, you're having your first poo in the morning, a little after waking. Increase your good fiber intake (lots of veggies and beans, yo). Your body uses the fiber to help bind up the toxins and expel them out through your number 2. If you are not pooping regularly, that is a sign that you have some other underlying gut-health issues, which will lead to toxin retention.
Sweat it out.
"Your skin is your single largest organ of elimination." -Dr. Mark Hyman
Your body naturally rids itself of toxins through your sweat (why thank you). So make sure you are working those pores daily if you can. This doesn't mean insane daily workouts (you actually should never overtrain), but it does mean allowing your body to get hot. Whether that's a long walk outside if you live somewhere warm, or take advantage of a nice hot bath or sauna if you live in a place with sweater weather (lucky!)
You're already doing this daily, but you can maximize the effort. Pranayama - the practice of breath control in yoga - is a great place to start. You want to ensure you have big, deep belly breaths (not shallow ones in your chest - hello anxiety).
And that is the truth (albeit condensed) about DETOX.
DETOX: It's our body's way of not only staying alive, but allowing us to THRIVE.
It's more than just expensive green juices. In fact, it doesn't need to be expensive at all. You can easily incorporate the above tips for free. Take stock of your surroundings and your bodily movements/functions. Notice if a certain chemical makes you feel funny (and avoid it). Tune in to your body, she is always talking to you.
You can absolutely support your detoxification process even more with supplements and programs. I personally just completed a 21-day Functional Medicine detox, inspired by Dr. Stephen Cabral's protocol. These types of detoxes allow your body to reset, or get back to basics so to speak. You can check out the products here if you're interested. They offer 7, 14 and 21 day programs*.
I hope you've found this topic helpful! I'd love to hear from you. Pop your questions or comments below so we can connect.
*I am an ambassador with this program, so if you purchase a product I will receive a small commission.