What is a Detox and Do You Need One?

Posted on December 16, 2013 in Be Healthy - 11 comments - 7
Do you need a detox?

Detox seems to be on everybody’s mind as the holiday season’s excesses are already being seen on our waistlines and the new year looms large with the promises of a new start!

The detoxification process is the body’s natural, ongoing process of neutralizing and/or eliminating toxins, i.e. chemicals, endotoxic pharmaceuticals,used hormones, and even waste products that result from normal cell activity, such as ammonia, lactic acid and homocysteine.  The liver, intestines, kidneys, lungs, skin, blood and lymphatic systems work in synergy to ensure that toxins are transformed chemically to less harmful compounds and excreted from the body.

You read that right.  In a perfect world, in a state of health, your body would “spring clean” every single day.  The problem is, in a stressful world that is too fast and crazy, full of chemicals in the environment and in our homes, drugs (and yes, beauties, Tylenol is a drug), food additives, and countless numbers of xenoestrogens in those chemicals and foods additives, our bodies are bombarded.  If that all wasn’t bad enough, our inability to listen to our own intuition about what foods actually nourish us has led us to yo-yo dieting and food fads which leads to an overload on the liver which is a slippery slope not only to the diminishing of the detox process but the buildup of toxins, most notably estrogen and other hormones leading to estrogen dominance, blood sugar handling issues, and thyroid dysfunction.

So how do you know if you are on overload??

Below you will find a few of the symptoms that, if you are experiencing them, even intermittently, could be a sign your body needs a reset.

  • History of alcohol or drug use, have had or have hepatitis
  • Long term prescription drug use (that includes the use of NSAIDs or even supplements)
  • Sensitivity to chemicals (tobacco smoke, fumes, perfume, cleaning agents, etc.)
  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Stomach upset brought on by greasy foods
  • Greasy or shiny stools, stools that float
  • History of nausea (morning sickness included)
  • Light or pale colored stools
  • Headache over the eyes
  • Gallbladder pain or attacks
  • Bitter taste in the mouth (especially after meals)
  • Become sick or easily intoxicated if drinking wine or champagne
  • Easily hung over
  • Pain under right side of rib cage
  • Hemorrhoids or varicose veins
  • NutraSweet (aspartame) use
  • Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
  • Severe PMS, fibroids, or cysts
  • Severe fatigue
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • blood sugar handling issues
  • Depression/Anxiety or other mood disorder

Raise your hand if you have at least two symptoms on the list?  Three?  Five??  Don’t worry.  You aren’t alone.

The liver is the “mother” of the detoxification process and if she isn’t happy, the rest of the body will be dramatically out of balance. Because no one function of the body, including detoxification, is isolated from any other function, let me preface the rest of this post by saying, even though the liver is the center of the detoxification universe, if any other part of the body or its function is out of balance, especially but not limited to, the GI tract or Enteric Nervous System, and intestinal permeability, dybiosis or cellular metabolism is damaged, nutrients will not be absorbed and assimilated on a cellular level.

What that means for the detox process is is that if nutrients are not getting where they need to get in the body, the liver can’t detox the body.  If your gut is leaky or if you are eating a lot of “gums” like carrageenan, eating the Standard American Diet full of grains (notably wheat), fake or bastardized sugars, feedlot animal proteins, or even if you think you are eating healthy but loading up on nuts, whole grains, (there are exceptions here), chia and flax seeds, and soy, then you could be pushing your liver over the edge.

nutrients needed for proper liver detox

 

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do if he or she has a bogged down liver?

The mainstream media and various nutrition dogmas would tell you a “detox” or “cleanse” and boy, do they have the powders, potions and pills to do it!

Here’s the thing though.  A lot of those powders (even the protein ones!) potions, and pills include low quality, non-assimilable plant or whey based proteins or irritating, downright questionable ingredients like senna leaf, psyllium husks, and a plethora of ill-advised combinations of herbs and substances meant to stimulate the detox process but these methods can overstimulate leaving you with  “toxic density” (when liver and fat cells release the excess estrogen and toxins too much too soon) which leads to toxic overload leading to more fat cells being created to try to “store” excess toxins.

If you don’t go the “product” route, then the other “quick fix” option is the juice cleanse.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love me some juices and smoothies.   I love them in addition to a healthy real foods way of eating, NOT a source of sustenance no matter the time span.

“Why?”  First and foremost because PROTEIN is needed to drive the detoxification process and, even if you are adding in a lot of protein or “protein rich superfoods” I am telling you, you aren’t getting enough protein. Second, a juice cleanse can test the will of the strongest person.  The body craves the ability to chew, to experience what it eats.  Forcing a regime on the body is like ignoring it’s own feedback mechanisms and the body will come back with strong and often unyielding cravings.  (The ONLY time a fast is a good idea is when one has the flu where body is in a hyper metabolic state and starving it of its nutrition is a way to kill the “intruder”)

Bear in mind when a person is in a hypo metabolic state (such as hypothyroidism) the body will hold water.  Consequently the person will crave less water and will want more “real food” and salt.  A juice cleanse is counterintuitive to the cravings of a hypothyroid person because it ignores the body’s need for salt and solid food to fuel the metabolism.  A juice fast, in this case, would throw the body into a greater state of dysfunction.

If someone does feel the need for a “power up” or “jumpstart” what can they do?

The short answer is eat real foods!!  I’m not saying you can’t drink a juice or have a smoothie, especially if you have a particularly hectic day but I am saying that you must balance your macronutrients, i.e. healthy saturated fats, pro-metabolic sugars, and anti-inflammatory proteins.  This means coconut oil and gelatin as well as a pinch of sea salt in your smoothies or juices and, if you feel the need toinclude dark green leafy vegetables you must juice them instead of blending them to avoid the indigestible cellulose.

Real and delicious foods that nourish the body and the soul are much better options for making sure the body activates its own powerful and completely natural way of ensuring it “takes out the trash” daily instead of only a few days of the year!

In a few weeks we will be rolling out our 11 Day Power-Up Detox to reset your body and prepare you for deep healing, supercharged digestion, and vibrant health this year!  Watch for details coming soon!

 

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About The Author

Author avatar

thedetoxdiva

I am a Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach. I enjoy motivating people to eat cleansing, nourishing foods to cleanse, balance, and restore their bodies so they feel better. Inspired by local, seasonal and farm fresh produce... Read More

11 comments

  1. Gennifer - - reply

    Hello I have a question. I have a Nutribullet and the recipes that came with it all include green leafy vegies. Are you saying the green leafy is bad to blend even in the Nutribullet??

    1. thedetoxdiva - - reply - author

      I’m saying that I no longer advise blending dark green leafy vegetables,especially if you have any kind of thyroid issue. They are incredibly high in cellulose (even blending doesn’t break this down enough to be digestible) and can be goitrogenic. A little JUICED won’t make me cringe but yes, FULL of dark green leafy vegetables I would give it a miss!

        1. thedetoxdiva - - reply - author

          I absolutely do. I use them in my bone broths and discard them, leaving the liquid but when we do eat greens we cook them and serve them with a saturated fat like butter, bacon fat or coconut oil!

  2. Nila - - reply

    Hi
    Thanks for all the great information.
    I have doubt. Is ALT and AST levels related to hypothyroid?
    I am 34 yr old women normal and healthy but suddenly seeing lots of symptom for hypo. So went for blood test and found TSH is 5.6 and cholesterol alt ast and triglycerides are high. Initially TSH was 6.3. After 2 months went down to 5.6. Been doing few yoga poses and exercise too. I always was on the lower end of bmi. So no wt issues.
    Thanks for any help.

  3. Nila - - reply

    Thanks. I meant healthy before. Last one yr slowly started to notice symptoms even though blood tests were normal. Then doc said could be B 12 deficiency. So took b12 supplements but again b12 came back to normal and finally this yr the blood test results are all messed up. Is ALT AST also related to thyroid?
    Thanks.

    1. thedetoxdiva - - reply - author

      Yes Nila, AST and ALT although liver enzymes, can directly relate to how the thyroid works but more often than not it is an indicator of how your liver is detoxing.

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