While much of the country is still under snow, March is the month when spring officially arrives. In honor of spring, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the idea of doing some “spring cleaning” for your body, also known as detoxification. In today’s modern world we are constantly bombarded by toxins in our environment, from contaminants in our air, soil and water. Everything from heavy metals like lead and mercury, to pesticide sprays like DDT, to plastics like bisphenol A (BPA). In addition, we can also become exposed to toxins via home cleaning products, skin and hair
Dietary detoxification can be a catalyst for lifestyle change. Many people experience increased energy, improved mental clarity and sleep, and increased awareness of potential food sensitivities as a result of detoxification.
The main pillars of health all have a connection, directly or indirectly, to detoxification. To engage in the process of dietary detoxification we need to place our focus on sourcing and preparing healthy food.
The consumption of whole, unprocessed foods, such as cruciferous vegetables, berries, herbs, and spices, provide us with important bioactive components to support detoxification processes. In addition to increasing our intake of whole foods and specific nutrients, the elimination of processed foods and synthetic ingredients is also important for balancing blood sugar and improving energy levels. Consider selecting clean and organically produced options, when available, as these will also minimize the intake of pesticides, herbicides, and other compounds which compromise the process, and are counterproductive to our goal.
A good detox diet not only provides you with the nutrients your body needs to process and eliminate toxins, but it also should have the nutrients you need for other metabolic processes your body undertakes including those associated with your daily activities. You will experience better focus and improved energy.
Don’t forget hydration is an important key as well. Use filtered water, freshly made herbal teas, juices and smoothies. There is often a debate around whether juicing is superior to consuming whole foods with the various fibres in tact. While juicing may allow us to consume far more in the way of nutrients due to the lack of bulk, it may not always be practical and some of the beneficial bioactive components remain tightly bound to the pulp or fibre that is often discarded. A combination of whole, fresh foods, juices from these foods, and dietary supplements offers the most comprehensive approach to detoxification.
Metabolic detoxification occurs when we up regulate or modulate specific biochemical pathways, including phase I cytochrome enzymes, phase II conjugation enzymes, and our antioxidant support systems. This is achieved in using phytonutrients to activate pathways, and providing sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals and other substrates for optimal enzyme functioning.
Some of the key foods (and their bioactive components) commonly used in dietary detoxification protocols are listed below:
Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, (alpha lipoic acid, indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane)
Berries (astaxanthin, bioflavanoids, ellagic acid)
Milk Thistle (silymarin)
Spices and tea – chilli peppers (capsaicin), garlic (diallyl sulfides), green tea (EGCG), rosemary (various acids), turmeric (curcumin)
All of these foods also contain varying amounts of vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients that are highly beneficial. Supplemental nutrients, including; B vitamins; magnesium; N-acetyl-cysteine; methionine; selenium; and alpha lipoic acid are highly beneficial to the production of detoxification enzymes. Vitamin C acts as a preferential electron donor for many of the metabolic processes.
AOR offers most of these supplemental nutrients individually, and in combination in our detoxification formulas. Some examples include Liver Support, D-Glucarate + Milk Thistle and Triphlax-750.
Removing toxic metabolites from the body should be done through multiple elimination processes. Adequate hydration will help to move toxins out of the body via the kidneys and colon. Exercise is important to drive lymphatic circulation as part of the dietary detoxification process, and sweating can help with the removal of heavy metals and phthalates. Lastly, a good sleep routine is also supportive – as our body is most efficient at detoxification when in a parasympathetic state.