You have probably heard the argument: “You don’t need to detox, that’s what your liver is for!” We wish it was the case, but in today’s world our liver and associated detoxification organs can be overloaded, and in need of some support. This month at TNN we explore detoxification and why it can be necessary, regardless of what you might read online. And we’re not talking about a juice cleanse.
In our busy modern world, toxins are very common. Environmental toxins include things like heavy metals, pesticides, food additives, drugs and pollutants, which are present in the air, water and food that we consume. Toxins do not only come from our external environment, toxins can also be generated internally by ‘unhealthy’ bacteria, yeasts and parasites in our digestive system. These internally generated toxins are then absorbed into our bloodstream, impacting your health and vitality.
We know that we are usually well-equipped to eliminate toxins with our own inbuilt detoxification systems, including the liver. However, there can be some instances where a high-quality, supportive detoxification program may be indicated to help clear toxins out of your body and leave you feeling healthy and energetic. It’s definitely not about a quick fix solution or a liquid diet.
While the focus should be on whole foods, natural supplements may be recommended to support your body. This allows your body’s detoxification and repair systems to function efficiently, without causing any undesirable side-effects.
Detoxing consists of:
- Lessening the burden on the detoxification organs by reducing the body’s exposure to pollutants and toxins for a set period of time;
- A tailored nutrition approach, accompanied by certain high-quality supplements, prescribed based on health goals and the current symptom picture.
Reasons why a detox may be worth considering:
- Recurrent headaches
- Muscle aching and weakness
- Nerve pain or numbness
- Poor short term memory and concentration
- Adverse reactions / sensitivity to environmental chemicals and odours
- Chronic fatigue and lethargy
- Depression, anxiety and or mood swings.
Some people with toxicity develop a condition called ‘leaky gut’ (intestinal permeability). In a healthy digestive system, the lining of the digestive system is a very good filter, allowing beneficial nutrients like vitamins and amino acids to pass into the blood stream, whilst keeping toxic bacteria and waste products of digestion within the bowel. This filter is easily damaged by infection, medications and toxic bacteria, which then leads to the unregulated transport of large quantities of partially digested foods and bacteria in the body. Some of this debris is transported to the liver where it has to be processed and removed.
This places huge stress on the liver, and eventually a percentage of this material escapes capture by the liver and it ends up entering the general circulation, where it can lead to many symptoms of toxicity. As a result ‘leaky gut’ results in a great deal of stress upon the immune system, the liver and virtually every other organ of the body.
This means you cannot successfully detoxify the body (or cleanse the liver) without having treated the digestive system and repaired the lining of the gut. This is like replacing the oil in your car without replacing the filter; the oil is going to be ruined very quickly.
The goals of a detoxification program should be to:
- Removing toxin exposure through dietary and lifestyle changes;
- Removing potentially pathogenic bacteria and waste from your digestive system;
- Renewing your digestive lining and the healthy bacteria to improve your digestive function;
- Releasing your body’s toxins so they can be eliminated.
Potential benefits of detoxing include:
- The elimination of toxins that have been running through your body. The positive side effects of this varied, with the most obvious being dramatically increased feelings of vitality and well-being.
- A cleansed colon that prevents constipation that may cause fatigue, lethargy and bloating.
- Weight loss that may be contributed to a healthier diet and the flushing of retained water and fat cells.
- A strengthened immune system that is freed from dealing with everyday toxins.
- The clearance of congestion, mucous, gastrointestinal inflammation and fermentation.
- The reformation of bad lifestyle habits such as junk food addictions, smoking and alcohol consumption.
Disadvantages of Detoxing
It must be considered that detoxing can come with a small number of disadvantages. In the short-term, lowered immunity may occur due to the stimulation of toxin breakdown. A well designed nutrition approach can help support the immune system during this time, and additional gut health support may be prescribed.
Secondly, while detoxing can usually be a great way to promote weight loss, it is not always the outcome. Some individuals experience limited weight loss, or weight that quickly returns once the detox is completed and old habits return. In these cases we need to explore the underlying reasons for fat loss resistance, which can be most commonly be linked to a dysbiotic gut.
Before diving into any old detox program, please seek practitioner advice and ensure you understand the following safety precautions.
- Pregnancy: Detoxification should not be attempted during pregnancy; however, it may be indicated for a preconception program. If you fall pregnant while doing a detox you should stop the program and contact your practitioner.
- Medication: Detoxification has the potential to change the way some medicines work. If you are taking prescription medications then discuss this with your practitioner.
- Side-effects: Occasionally people may experience adverse symptoms during detoxification such as nausea, changes in bowel function or headaches. Generally these are short-term and will resolve without any intervention; however, you should discuss them with your practitioner if they are severe or last for more than a few days.
If you’d like support in deciding if a guided detoxification program is for you, book in for a free 15-minute consultation with myself or the team at TNN here.