Did you know toxins in your body are not only bad for your health but can also make you feel sluggish and tired, too?
Dr. Kelsie Lazzell, a naturopathic practitioner at the Center for Holistic Medicine, says when you have toxins in your body – caused by everything from preservatives and chemicals in your food to toxins in the air we breathe and water we drink – your body has to spend extra energy trying to rid those toxins from your major organs, making them less able to function properly.
“As we do spring cleaning in our houses, it’s a good time to do a spring cleaning in our bodies as well,” Lazzell explains. “Summer is a more active time, so we need to boost our energy levels. By detoxifying our organs, we can help optimize their function and support energy production.”
Dr. Jerry Gore, MD, clinical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine, says the easiest way to detoxify your organs on a regular basis is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. “If you eat lots of vegetables, fruits, beans and grains that are high in fiber, stay normally hydrated, and walk or get exercise four to five times a week, you will have regular bowel movements and will be able to detox naturally,” he says.
But, if you’ve been eating a lot of processed foods, overeating, or staying indoors a lot, you may need to take additional steps to rid your body of the toxins that have built up over time.
Here are some easy lifestyle and supplement changes you can make to help detoxify each of your organs to help you get ready to tackle a new season:
Much of the toxins in our body come from what we eat – through pesticides put on plants, chemicals used as flavorings and preservatives and more. To detoxify your gut, make a commitment to eating only non-processed, fresh, organic foods. You also want to increase your fiber intake by getting lots of fruits, vegetables, beans and high-fiber grains.
One great way to detoxify your gut is by doing a one-day juice fast, which means not eating any food but instead only drinking juice made from vegetables. For example, a typical juice fast might include the juice from leafy green vegetables, carrots and cucumbers, meaning the fiber is taken out and left behind in the juicer. This is different from a smoothie, which has the vegetables blended up and contains all the fiber in it. A smoothie is easier to digest and promotes some cleansing, while a juice is an even more aggressive cleanse because there is no fiber to digest.
Supplements that help detoxify the gut liver (please consult your health care practitioner before taking any supplements):
- Triphala – A combination of three plants native to India, triphala has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 3,000 years to help cleanse the gut.
- Charcoal – Helps trap toxins and chemicals in the gut to prevent them from being absorbed into the blood stream.
On a normal day, the liver’s main job is to help eliminate toxins from the body. “Everything that comes in has to be processed in our liver – heavy metals in our water or air, pesticides, chemicals in our food,” Dr. Lazzell says. That’s why when you are doing a detox, it’s important to support the liver as much as possible.
Dr. Lazzell says one way you can do this is by eating green, leafy vegetables such as kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens, endive, radicchio, and arugula, as well as foods that are high in sulfur, including onions, garlic and eggs.
She also suggests saturating a cloth with caster oil and applying it to your stomach for about an hour. “This will help support blood flow to your liver and lymphatic drainage away from your liver,” she says.
Also, Dr. Lazzell recommends avoiding alcohol, which uses up a lot of antioxidants in your liver and makes it more difficult for it to function properly.
Supplements that help detoxify the liver (please consult your health care practitioner before taking any supplements):
- Milk Thistle – A supplement derived from the milk thistle plant that is often used to protect the liver against toxins.
- Vital Defense – This combination of herbs from Nutriplex Formulas is designed to help detoxify the body and the liver, especially if you eat non-organic foods or foods with artificial ingredients.
- Glutathione – An antioxidant that is produced naturally in cells or that can be taken as a supplement. Supports liver detoxification.
- Chlorella – A type of algae that supports liver health and may reduce heavy metal toxicity in the liver.
Dr. Lazzell says if your kidneys are functioning normally, you should be urinating every three hours. If you’re not, you may need to increase your hydration. Remember, stay away from sugary drinks or anything with caffeine, which can dehydrate you.
Your lymph nodes are part of your body’s built-in waste system — they filter lymph fluid, which contains liquid and waste from the body. You can help drain the lymph nodes by doing some form of movement every day. Or you can try skin brushing, an ancient Chinese medicine technique that involves using a dry, stiff brush to massage your body, which helps promote blood circulation and the drainage of your lymph nodes.
“I don’t think we really realize much the smog and pollution in the air affects out body,” says Dr. Lazzell. She suggests using an air filter at home and investing in some air purifying plants for your home to keep your indoor air as clean as possible.
Dr. Gore also says it’s important to spend some time outside. “Get out in the fresh air or crack your window at night to let in fresh air,” says Dr. Gore. And you can try some cleansing breathing techniques as well.
Did you know that sweating is one of your body’s natural ways of getting rid of toxins? Try to work up a sweat by doing exercise or spend some time in a steam room or sauna to flush the toxins out of your system.
Remember, detoxing can affect everyone differently. If you already live a healthy lifestyle, you should be able to try all of these detox methods without any issue. If you have more unhealthy habits, you may experience some side effects from trying too many detox methods too quickly. So it’s a good idea to consult with your healthcare practitioner before attempting any detox method.