Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Spring Detox

It's that time of year again...Detox Time! In just under 2 weeks, we will be kicking off another Detox Clinic Challenge. If you are a regular of The Coach House, you may have already participated in one of our challenges. If not, no time like the present to hop on board!

If the term detox brings on some mixed emotions, you are not alone. Even the idea of the benefit or purpose of a detox has it's critics. I mean, our bodies' job is to eliminate toxins. We do it all day, every day already. We are literally always detoxing. So, why would we need to do a 'detox' or 'cleanse.' To answer this, we will start with the basics.

How do we detox?

Maybe it's just me, but I am pretty much constantly in awe of the human body and how intricate it's systems are. We all have 5 (6 for females) routes of elimination/detox- Skin, Lungs, Kidneys, Bowels, Liver and for females, Uterus/Menses. These organs help us to clear waste and toxins and keep our bodies healthy. The Liver is the main powerhouse when it comes to detoxing/elimination. It handles a HUGE host of toxins and involves a two step (phase) process to change those toxins into waste that can be excreted from the body. Each phase has a list of nutrients that it requires to function properly. 

Once those toxins are converted into waste products they are then excreted either through the bowels (fat soluble) or the kidneys (water soluble).

What are toxins?

Now that we have an overview of how we eliminate toxins, let's go over what toxins are and how we are exposed. Some of these are universal and pretty obvious, such as

  • Air pollution
  • Chemicals
    • cleaning products
    • personal care products
    • scents
    • phthalates, parabens, xenoestrogens from plastics
Photo From First Descents
It's actually been determined that the average woman is exposed to 168 (!!!) different chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products Every. Day. Crazy! But it doesn't just end there, all plastics with leach xenoestrogens and even drinking water has been shown to contain trace amounts of birth control and other medications.

But it's not just these known toxins that your body has to deal with, it's also medications, alcohol, preservatives, food colourings, pesticides and even the food itself. If you have any food sensitivities, there is often a immune reaction that occurs which causes symptoms. Your body is responsible for clearing this added inflammation and the foods that you aren't processing so well. Sugar intake also stresses your liver. Excess glucose is processed by the liver. Fructose is processed by your liver- both of these will be either be converted into glycogen (sugar stores) or fat. When we lose weight, any fat soluble chemicals that are held in the fat cells are released and need to be processed and removed from our body by our liver as well.


Likely the impression you are getting is, "Whoa! Our bodies do a lot!" And it's true. But, we can get backed up. Our diets aren't perfect. We are under constant stress. We consume too much sugar. Most people have less than stellar digestion. All of this can impede how efficiently we are able to eliminate. And this is the reason I tend to recommend a detox twice a year. It's a way to give our bodies a boost of nutrients so it can do it's job efficiently and get caught up. It's a way to refocus on our health and what we are putting in our bodies. It's a way to get back on track. Because I think these are the goals of a good detox, I focus on nutritional detoxes and not on caloric restrictions, or juice fasts, or master cleanses and I even think these types of 'detoxes' or 'cleanses' can impede progress. Often by the end, people feel so depleted and restricted they go on a binge. Instead by focusing on real, healthy, clean foods without caloric restriction it sets you up to continue the changes. Let's be honest, nobody gorges on broccoli. Each time you do a nutritional detox, you find new recipes and ways of cooking so you slide back a little less.

In my opinion, a good detox focuses on
  • increasing nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables 
  • avoid processed fats but loading up on healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil, etc. 
  • increasing fibre to help with elimination and digestion- chia seeds, flaxseeds, veggies, etc.
  • stabilizing blood sugar by avoiding sugar and excess starch. 
The focus on sugar is something that I have become more and more convinced is imperative in this day and age. Sugar has innumerable health detriments to the body and in North America there is extreme over consumption. I wouldn't limit this to just sugar, but also to refined starches, which have become a main staple in the North American diet but, which have the same detrimental effects on blood sugar regulation, insulin and the body.

Supplements are another question that often comes up. Are they really necessary? The short answer is no, but there is benefit to adding proper supplements in. This is because certain supplements can help with the detox process. For example, Milk Thistle is highly antioxidant, hepato-protective (protects the liver) and may even regenerate liver cells. Amazing. Other herbs will support different routes of elimination, and adding nutrients that are highly antioxidant will add to the benefit of the nutritional detox. However, it's important to make sure the supplement is right for you and not just something grabbed off the shelf. Quality and dosing are extremely important when choosing a supplement.

Even if you aren't really to go for the full clinic challenge, you can make small changes that will improve your bodies' detox pathways and overall health. If you are interested in ramping up your diet and participating in our clinic challenge be sure to give us a call or book online!

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

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