e all know that detoxifying is good for us, but how do you choose a good protocol to follow? When we remove toxins that have built up over years, it is just as important to consider things we DON’T do as well as the things we DO. A good detox program (there are thousands out there) should be written by a professional in the field of nutrition. Many programs have been criticized for being too harsh, not supplying enough nutrition, or just plain causing more harm than good. Choose one that is effective, nutritionally sound and safe at the same time.
It is critical to make sure your detox program:
- Does not ask you to fast. Toxins are released too quickly with no nutrition to bind and remove them, plus it is just too stressful on the system.
- Does not ask you to refrain from solid food for too long. Easing into a detox makes for higher compliance for one thing. The closer a “program” is to the way you should be maintaining everyday healthy dietary protocols, the higher the probability that you will stick with an energizing wellness plan for life!
- Does not ask you to eat a lot of fruit while resting the gut. This gut-resting time period is usually 3 days to a week to ten days; however, it is possible to rest the gut and provide nutritional support for healing the gut without stressing the glycogen making capacity of the liver. Protein powders are good for resting the gut, and the resting period can vary, but including a lot of fruit is going to work adversely when it comes to blood sugar control (important!).
- Provides the daily requirement of macronutrients (protein, fat and carbs). One hundred and thirty grams of carbohydrate a day are needed to make enough glucose for proper brain function. To give you an idea, a cup of wild, cooked rice has about 35 grams (135 calories) of carbohydrate, 10 grams per cup less than white rice. A cup of cooked broccoli has a little over 5 grams (20 calories) of carbohydrate. Make sure you don’t go too low on your carbohydrate requirement. Many programs unnecessarily limit carbs below what is needed for a healthy diet.
- Provides lists of acceptable foods and non-acceptable foods, along with cooking tips and healthy, tasty recipes to increase compliance. Also make sure that it takes into consideration the huge importance of regulating blood sugar throughout the cleanse.
- Provides a journal to help the practitioner assess the individual’s goals and progress.
Taking The Time To Detox:
When we set aside the time to cleanse our body, we give it the needed attention to get the desired results, although keeping the body cleansed of toxins should be a lifetime goal. The practitioner helps the individual adjust a program to their specific needs. While some detox programs expect you to drastically change your lifestyle and eating habits, the right cleansing system will set you on a lifelong, healthy course for eating the right foods moderately and sensibly, while supporting the body with essential nutrition. Post detox, you will feel revitalized, reenergized, and empowered to maintain optimal results.
Ridding The Body Of Toxins:
All of the toxins enter the body and overwhelm what is usually an already overburdened liver, increasing the need to optimize other detox pathways and support the removal process. In order to remove toxins from their place of storage (fat tissue) we must: Mobilize, Bind and Remove.
Mobilize: To release toxins from the fatty tissue, we usually reduce the caloric load, meaning simply that we eat less. When total calories are reduced, the fat cells are mobilized, and the toxins stored in the fat cells are mobilized with the fat cells into the circulation.
Bind: Once toxins are mobilized, they must be bound so that the body can easily eliminate them. The liver has a sophisticated process (two phases of detoxification) to facilitate the exit of toxins from the body. In Phase I, the liver utilizes nutrients, mostly antioxidants, to prepare the toxin for entry into Phase II. It does this by changing the toxin from a fat-soluble substance to a water soluble one. The important thing to remember is that if a person lacks either the antioxidant power for Phase I, or the nutrient binding power for Phase II, then that toxin cannot enter Phase II , and instead it becomes MORE toxic than when it first entered the body.
In Phase II, the liver then utilizes nutritional elements, mostly glutathione (a nutrient consisting of three amino acids) and sulfur, to bind to the toxin and prepare for removal. Supplements that raise glutathione levels or protect glutathione levels can be helpful (N-acetyl-cysteine, alpha lipoic acid, glutamine, milk thistle, turmeric, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E).
Remove: Toxins are removed from the body by several different pathways. Although the colon is a major detox organ, other important detox organs include the liver, skin, lymph, blood, kidneys and lungs. The body utilizes many nutrients to remove toxins. Vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc. can all help to mobilize, to bind, and to remove toxicity.
Outstanding detox nutrients: Fiber, fish oil, flaxseed oil, black currant seed oil, greens (spirulina, chlorophyll, kelp, parsley, etc.), flax seed, cruciferous vegetables (especially sprouts!), garlic, apple pectin, chia seed, beet root, betaglucans, rice bran, vitamin C, N-acetyl cysteine, alpha lipoic acid, glutamine, milk thistle, silybin, Co-Q1O, quercetin ,silymarin, turmeric, minerals (calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, etc.), glucuronic acid, carrot, asparagus, papaya, caprylic acid, yellow dock, dandelion, mullein, eleuthero (Siberian ginseng), molybdenum, etc. Binding and removing toxins efficiently assures that they do not redeposit somewhere else in the body.
When fruit is balanced with protein and fat during a meal, there is less impact on blood sugar.
Many nutrients, like high fiber food and supplements, are good for both binding and removing toxins. High fiber nutrients include flax seed, chia seed, apple pectin, garlic, inulin, glucomannan, rice bran, and beta glucans. Many vegetables are high fiber, and also provide phytochemical power, such as asparagus and beets. If you’re looking for a concentrated wallop of nutrient efficacy, SPROUTS from cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) have up to 50-100 times the amounts of phytochemicals than even the actual plants themselves!
Even though it’s a good idea to limit the higher sugar fruits in the beginning of the program, many fruits like blueberries contain biologically active antioxidants and fiber, along with enzymes to help digestion, and blueberries are relatively low on the glycemic index. They contain fiber, and a minimum of 40 grams of fiber per day is required on any daily eating plan.
It is especially important post-detox to include fruits; however, your practitioner may still limit high glycemic fruits. Always check with your practitioner to assess your blood sugar handling status and modify intake accordingly. Your practitioner may determine that fruit spikes your blood sugar (sometimes a glucose reading is used to confirm individual responses) and may suggest alternatives. Remember that when you are not getting the beneficial phytochemicals from fruit (because of blood sugar concerns), it is even more crucial to substitute nutrient-packed cruciferous vegetables instead of filling that void with a food that does not offer as much nutritional power. When fruit is balanced with protein and fat during a meal, there is less impact on blood sugar. Recommendations are usually based on healthy individuals, not blood sugar challenged patients, so attending to this detail is important.
It is impossible to address all the details of detox here in the limited scope of this article; however, when choosing your detox program, make sure that the details and guidelines are provided to you and that the program meets the above requirements. Post-detox should be an easy transition to the way you want to eat for life.
Dr. Lynn Toohey received her Ph.D. in nutrition (summa cum laude) from CO State University in Ft. Collins, CO. She has lectured to chiropractors, chiropractic associations, and other health professionals across the country and overseas on nutrition-related topics, including the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA), United Chiropractors of New Mexico (UCNM), the Ohio State Chiropractic Association (OSCA) the Florida Chiropractic Association (FCA), the Georgia Chiropractic Association (GCA) and the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK). Dr. Toohey has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals, including The Journal of Nutrition, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and the British Journal of Nutrition. She has been a Keynote speaker for the MS Society (Vancouver Branch), and for the British Society for Allergy, Environmental and Nutritional Medicine.