Summer approaches and with that a frenzy to embark on diets and exercise routines. It’s no surprise that one of the questions I’m most getting these days is:
Cristina – I’m thinking of doing a detox. Which one should I do?
Detoxes can be a wonderful way to kick-start good nutrition habits, shift those last few stubborn pounds, boost energy levels and even do a deep internal cleanse.
However, detoxes can also trigger a healing crisis that can leave you much worse off than when you started. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your detox:
Like digestion – detoxification only happens when the body is in parasympathetic mode.
This is the branch of the nervous system that is activated when we meditate, practice mindfulness, stop multitasking and sleep deeply.
So, if you’re detoxing and…
- Not sleeping a full 8 hours a night
- Burning the midnight oil at work
- Constantly on your smartphone
- Vigorously training at the gym
- Engaging in that toxic relationship at work or in your personal life
Then don't waste your time or money because you really are not going to extract the full benefit of it. You might lose a few pounds because of calorie restriction but the body only detoxifies when it is resting.
That means practising mindfulness while you’re eating (and not multitasking or going on your phone), doing a guided meditation like this one. And most importantly, it means making sure that you are getting a full night of deep, regenerative sleep.
Epsom salts baths are a great way of decompressing after a full day. They are full of magnesium, which is nature’s relaxant and an important co-factor to detoxification, so an Epsom salt bath is a great add-on to any detox programme.
If I had a dollar for every person who told me they went on a juice detox but didn’t poop – OMG! I could buy a house on the Peak in Hong Kong!
Detoxes that do not get you pooping are not detoxes at all.
Often – people will go on the detox because they are not pooping properly and they think a detox will help with that. Well, let me tell you that
PRIOR to going on a detox, you have to do a POOP PREP and get pooping regularly
because if you don’t that means that all those toxins that you are releasing during your detox have nowhere to go. They will recirculate in your body, creating inflammation and possibly provoking a healing crisis.
This is why before doing any detox work with my clients, I recommend doing a Comprehensive Stool Test like the GI MAP. This test tells you exactly what’s going on in the bowel and if there is any inflammation, parasites or viruses that need to be addressed before attempting a detox. The GI MAP also tells you how strong your gut immunity and enzymatic activity is. This kind of knowledge can help you choose a detox programme that will help you reach your goals AND strengthen your digestive system so that you are better able to cope with toxins on a daily basis.
LOVE YOUR LIVER & KIDNEYS
Detoxing places a tremendous strain on your liver & kidneys because they are your primary internal organs that perform detoxification for you. These organs take toxins, turn them into substances we can safely expel from our body and then flush them out.
If you’re attempting a deep detox or a heavy metal detox, you will be expelling toxins from your body that have been hiding safely for a long period of time. As a result, your liver and kidneys must deal with an extra toxic load.
Please choose a detox that takes liver & kidney support into account.
And if you already suspect that your liver or kidneys are weak, then you've got to work with a nutritionist or health practitioner to strengthen and prep these organs before attempting a full-on detox.
Otherwise, you could potentially damage these organs and / or suffer through headaches, nausea, bloating and other symptoms of inflammation, e.g. flare ups in acne, rosacea, psoriasis and eczema.
Foods from the cruciferous family, like broccoli, leeks & cauliflower really help to protect and support the liver. Foods like cherries, blueberries, onions, ginger and turmeric are great for kidneys. Drinking plenty of water – at least 2.5L daily – is also crucial.
Supplements like milk thistle, magnesium, a methylated B-complex and NAC also help to support and protect the liver – but don’t go choosing them willy-nilly.
You are unique and your detox programme should be too.
Consult with your nutritionist, naturopathic physician or health practitioner.
Detoxing can be amazing but doing it safely and effectively is key to get the full long-term benefits.
Have more questions on how to detox safely and effectively?
Give me a shout!
Cristina Tahoces is a holistic nutritionist and owner of Thrive Nutrition Practice, which focuses on digestive healing, blood sugar regulation & post-natal recovery. Please join her Facebook Group "Thrive Nutrition Practice" for weekly articles, recipes & promotions.
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