What you need to know – a Naturopath explains
By Stuart Morick Naturopath, B.H.Sc.(Nat.), MANTA
“I’m doing a detox.” How often have you heard that from family and friends? But what does it really mean for the body?
The advice floating around about ‘detox’ can be confusing, so knowing the essential information is important.
In general, detoxification is the process of removing substances that might accumulate in our body and cause harm, such as:
- Preservatives, additives and chemical sweeteners that might be added to food
- Chemicals and toxins in products we encounter daily, such as cleansers, make-up, perfume, dyes and cleaning products
- Heavy metals and other toxic elements that may be found in food and water
- Alcohol, cigarettes, prescription medication and other drugs
While your body has natural detoxification processes that remove many of these substances, some remain stored in fatty tissues. These fatty tissues include the fat just under your skin, fat within your muscles and bone marrow, as well as fat around your organs, nerves and brain. This is where a ‘detox’ comes in.
If you reduce the amounts of harmful substances contained within your body and what you put into your body you will usually eventually feel noticeably better.
Through increasing the intake of nutrients that support natural detoxification we can improve and optimise the body’s own systems, significantly improving health and well-being
Liver filters toxins
The liver is your body’s main detoxification organ, supported by the intestinal tract, the kidneys, lungs, lymphatic system and skin. The liver filters toxins and bacteria in the blood, chemically transforming them for elimination by the kidneys.
The purpose of a detoxification program is primarily to support these systems so toxins can be metabolised and removed from the body.
But what makes a good detoxification program?
Your nutritional status
It should be based on safe, natural herbal supplements and nutrients that act gently on the body, supporting and enhancing natural detoxification processes. It should eliminate anything that adds load to these processes and include fibre to cleanse the intestines and bind toxins and nutrients that help restore liver function. Your nutritional status is important to your ability to naturally detoxify.
Herbs and nutrients frequently used in detoxification programs include:
- Indoles – phytonutrients found in brassicas, which are vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and bokchoy – known to help the liver speed up its first stage of detoxification (Phase 1 liver detoxification).
- Antioxidants – Vitamins A, C and E – rich sources are fresh fruits and vegetables. Processed vegetables lose much of these nutrients. Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut or kimchee can be high in these. Antioxidants help protect the liver during detoxification.
- Calcium – needed by the liver to produce the enzymes for detoxification. Foods rich in calcium include almonds, buckwheat, sardines, turnips and sesame seeds.
- Amino Acids – such as glycine, cysteine, taurine and glutamine help the liver to perform its phase 2 detoxification function more efficiently – these can be found in fish, liver meat, beans, nuts, lentils and whole grain wheat or rice.
- Milk Thistle – assists Phase 2 liver detoxification – drink as herbal tea, or as capsules or herbal tincture from your health practitioner.
- Organosulphur compounds – readily found in allium specie vegetables such as garlic, radishes, onions, chives, and also in cress and roquette.
There are many different detoxification programs available to suit varying needs. Before undertaking anything it is recommended that you seek advice from your natural health practitioner to ensure you choose the program that is appropriate for your health needs.
Any detoxification program should be monitored and used sensibly and wisely.
Make healthy changes
- If you don’t want to undertake a full detoxification program, you can still support the body’s natural processes by making a few simple healthy changes:
- Reduce sugar in your diet as it is usually highly processed and stripped of nutrients
- Drink more fresh water – filter it if you’re not certain of the impact of the pipes that deliver it to your home
- Avoid heavy metals which can be found in cigarettes, vehicle fumes and industrial waste
- Choose natural personal and home care products and treatments, avoiding those containing perfumes, colours, preservatives and chemicals
- Eat homemade meals that include plenty of fresh produce (avoiding anything that has been sprayed with insecticides or inorganic fertilisers).
Doing all of this will help your body’s natural ability to detoxify to be maximised, which can make a real difference to your longevity, health and well-being.
Further Information: www.purehealthandwellness.com.au
Tel: 08 2774 9378