Detox: The Real Definition
Detoxing is such a trendy word, isn't it? There are juice bars popping up left and right, over the counter pills that promise results, celebrities endorsing special “shakes”…
There are several problems with the things I mentioned above and perhaps are even reasons why you’ve had bad experiences with it in the past:
You’re usually left feeling tired, hungry and deprived but you keep on keeping on, with the idea that you’re supposed to be feeling that way.
These things cater to the masses. How in the world would a celebrity or a juice chain know exactly what your individual body needs? Each one of us has different toxicity levels, genetics and health issues. Health and wellness is not one-size-fits all.
Usually, these “detox” items are missing huge pieces to the puzzle. For example, did you know that we need protein and fat in order for certain detoxification processes in our body to work? A green juice isn’t always going to cut it.
You should never detox without making sure your elimination pathways are open (we’ll get into this below). Think about it — if you are detoxing but your body is not digesting, emptying, or performing properly, where are these toxins going to go? They're going to get cycled back through your blood, causing even more dysfunction and making you feel even worse than before. This of course should all stem from a nutrient dense, properly prepared, whole foods diet. If you’re not going to fuel your body with real nutrients, you’re not setting yourself up for success. It’s also very counterproductive to try and detox chemicals, excess hormones, etc. while eating processed, packaged food loaded with synthetic ingredients and while using toxic-laden personal/household products.
Let’s look at what detoxification means without the commercialized spin to it:
Detoxification: the mobilization and elimination of toxic chemicals
That sounds a lot more intentional than drinking a green juice, right? It is the act of getting those toxins moving around and getting them out of the body through various detoxification pathways. Our skin (through sweat), our kidneys (through urine), our lungs (through breathing), our liver (through the filtering of the blood and neutralizing the toxins), our digestive system (through bile and feces), our cardiovascular system (through the circulation of our blood) and our lymphatic system (through the transportation of lymph, a fluid containing white blood cells that help the body rid itself of toxins or unwanted materials). After everything I just mentioned, maybe you’ll notice something — our body is always detoxifying. It’s not a once-a-year event. It’s an on-going process. At the same time, modern life slows (or even halts) these pathways which is when problems arise and we need to be intentional about supporting our body’s ability to keep doing what it was designed to do.
What’s the best way to detox?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everyone is different. This is why “healthy eating” and “detoxification” is so confusing, contradictory and dare I say, unsuccessful. Like nutrition, detoxification should be addressed in a bio-individual way. What works for one person may not be the best option for someone else. One person may be dealing with heavy metal toxicity and needs a more rigorous protocol while someone else struggles with hormone imbalance and simply needs support to flush excess hormones. Keep this in mind (and seek guidance from a functional doctor or holistic practitioner) while making a decision on detox practices. I am a huge fan of Dr. Jessica Peatross’ protocol, “kill, bind, sweat”. When intentionally detoxing stealth infections, heavy metal toxicity or even things like Candida, it’s important to mobilize and kill the bad guys, bind them up so they don’t just get reabsorbed by the body, and sweat it out through the skin (and eliminate through the bowels and urine). This may be too rigorous for some so please don’t jump into a protocol without learning what your body specifically needs.
Here are some tools gentle enough to do daily but powerful enough to keep your body naturally doing it’s thing: detoxing!