This word has become quite a buzz word in the last few years and unfortunately brings along with it a sense that it’s a fad or something extreme people do unnecessarily for things like rapid weight loss, etc.
And with that, people forget that detoxing is actually an extremely important and vital component of life. The reality is that our bodies are detoxifying every second of every day, with or without us being on a “Detox” plan or not.
In today’s article, I just wanted to talk about some of the basics of how our bodies detoxifies, how we can support the process, as well as reduce our toxic load and therefore how much detoxification our bodies need to do on a daily basis.
Note: Due to the amount of information I wanted to share with you, I had to make this topic a 2 part article. In Part 2 I go more in depth on how to support your body’s natural detox pathways. You can read it here: DETOX Part 2!
The Detoxification Organs
When we think of our detoxing organs, we often only think about our liver. Although it’s possibly the most important of them all when it comes to detoxing, it’s definitely not alone in the process.
There are 5 detoxing organs: the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, and skin.
Each of these organs helps our body eliminate the external toxins that we’re exposed to on a daily basis as well as the internal ones that our body produces through metabolism.
Having been fully immersed in the health field and especially within the Holistic Healing realm now for 8 years, I know first hand that knowing the amount of toxins we’re exposed to can make one go crazy trying to avoid them all. So…I don’t. (I also don’t want to be known as the crazy Nutrition lady! Lol!)
I don’t stress about it, but I do support my body on multiple levels knowing that my body is an amazing healing machine that when nourished properly on a mind-body-spirit level it can do anything and everything!
But, in all honesty, just living and breathing in 2018 we’re exposed to more toxins that you can shake a stick at. The scientists estimate that we’re exposed to over 2 Million toxins…DAILY! Yes, DAILY!!
Now “Toxic Load” refers to the volume of toxins (substances that causes excess stress on the body) that have accumulated in the body and its overall burden placed on the body’s system and vital organs.
There are countless types and sources and toxins, the most common being environmental, chemical, and radiation. Common examples being artificial sweeteners and flavour enhancers in our foods, car exhaust, cigarette smoke, solvents, pesticides, plastics, xenoestrogens, and cleaning products to name a few.
We are directly exposed to toxins through the food we eat, air we breathe, and anything that comes into contact with our skin. Because of that, those 3 pathways: digestive tract, lungs, and our skin are our most vulnerable. This is why we have built in defense system for these systems: mucous membranes which trap foreign particles, various bacteria on our skin and in our digestive tract, and special immune cells.
Our gut flora (the trillions of friendly bacteria forming our internal ecosystem) is the most important factor in our immune health. Keeping a healthy digestive system is the #1 goal for keeping a healthy body.
How to tell if your detox pathways are blocked?
Having slow or sluggish detox pathways in your body is not something your Medical Doctor will tell you until it manifests into something more serious. Most commonly, NAFLD (Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) is on an exponential rise in North American countries is probably the best example I can give of what happens when your detox pathways are blocked for too long. If you have elevated ALT (Alamine Transaminase) liver enzyme levels in your blood work this could be an indicator that your liver function is declining and not functioning optimally.
Most commonly you’ll get diagnosed with something secondary to the root cause, such as hormonal imbalances like endometriosis or fibroids or skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.
Here are some of the most common symptoms you can experience if your detoxification pathways are blocked:
- Achy muscles and joints
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Difficulty breathing
- Digestive Imbalances/Acid Reflux
- Fuzzy thinking
- Gas, bloating
- Hormonal imbalances
- Yeast infection
How do detox pathways become blocked?
As I mentioned above, just being alive in 2018 our bodies are exposed to enough toxins that it’s almost safe to assume that most of our detox pathways are blocked to some degree. Although some worse than others depending on our individual exposure and lifestyle choices.
Here are some of the most common reasons why your detox pathways can be blocked:
Toxin Exposure: Depending on your career choice or home environment, you might be more exposed that someone else. For example, if you work in a garage, for a cleaning company, or even a farmer, your exposure to chemical toxins is much more that say someone working possibly works in an office environment or if you use green cleaning products in your home.
Nutrition Choices: Your level of toxin exposure is greatly affected by the quality of the water you’re drinking, food you’re eating, and air your breathing. Pesticides, food preservatives, food additives and coloring are some of the most common.
Gut Health: Keeping a healthy gut flora is key to helping our immune system run smoothly, as well as how our bodies process the foods we’re ingesting. If you have a yeast overgrowth or parasite infection in your gut, those pathogens will excrete a whole list of their own toxins that your body has to filter and eliminate. The Candida bacteria alone releases around 80 different toxic by-products, including Acetaldehyde – one of the most common neuro toxins.
Low Exercise: If you’re not moving your body on the regular, you’re making your detox pathways work harder to remove the toxins being accumulated. Especially our lymphatic system which moves our intercellular fluids and white blood cells, they require our muscles to move since they don’t have they’re own pump like the heart.
Poor Sleep: Sleep is so so so important when it comes to detoxification. Some even say that if you’re not sleeping, you’re not detoxing! This 7-9 hour period at night when we sleep is when so much of our detoxification happens. It’s even studied that our brain detoxes 10x more when we sleep that when we’re awake!
Dehydration: Water is our body’s main medium for waste elimination. If there isn’t enough water circulating, then the toxins can’t leave our bodies fast enough and will start to recirculate. Your goal should be to consume at least 2L of filtered water daily.
Supporting the Detox Pathways
When I started to write this blog post I thought it was going to be just 1 post. But as you can see there is so much information that I want to share that it’s going to be a 2 part series. Part 2 will be next week and will talk about how to support the detox pathways with various products including essential oils and easy things you can do at home too.
But I didn’t want to leave you hanging, so here are some basics with you for supporting each organ:
Lungs: Deep Breathing! Other than being mindful of your air quality as best you can, deep breathing is the best thing you can do to help your lungs clear out any toxins. This exercise is one of my fav’s:
4 Count Equal Breathing Exercise – This type of breathing is great to beginners. It’s super easy but super effective!
Breathe in for 4 counts
Hold for 4 counts
Breathe out for 4 counts
Hold for 4 counts
Repeat 4+ times
Colon: Keeping your digestive health in tip-top shape is important in every aspect of your health, especially when it comes to detoxifying since it’s eliminating such a large amount of waste daily. If you’re NOT having good solid regular bowel movements daily you’re recirculating the toxins your body spent the last 24hours accumulating in your large intestine ready for elimination. Headaches is one of the common signs in this type of situation of constipation. I would highly encourage a digestive cleanse to reset your gut flora and help get your bowels moving regularly.
My Candida Crush is a 30 day cleanse is perfect for resetting your gut flora. You can find out more about the cleanse HERE:
Kidneys: Water, water, water, water! Oh, did I mention water? Lol! Your kidneys are your main fluid detoxing system so making sure there’s lot of fluid to help flush out the toxins is key. Drinking filtered water is ideal so that your body has less to filter out like chlorine and fluoride. My favorite water filer is the Santevia countertop unit and it won’t break the bank. I’ve had one for 7 years now and I love it! Here is a code for 15% off if you’re interested.
Liver: The liver is such an important detoxing organ I think I could have written a whole article just on the liver. But to spare you the science of it, these are some of the main functions of the liver:
• Metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbs (ie. all the nutrients from your digestive system get filtered to your liver for processing)
• Bile production and excretion (which is stored in the gallbladder and is required for fat digestion)
• Removing toxins from the blood stream (excess cholesterol, hormones, drugs, etc)
• Storing of glycogen (main source of energy), vitamins, and minerals
• Regulating blood composition (makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions.)
If you want to support the liver, having a clean diet and being mindful of what you’re ingesting is probably the best way. Bitter foods have also shown to be helpful for the liver. Taking a bitter tincture before meals can be helpful. Arugula is my absolute favorite bitter food and mixed in a salad adds a perfect bite to the mix.
Skin: If you’re having reactions coming out through your skin, this is the surest way to tell that all the other elimination organs are blocked. The skin (although our largest organ) is the last one to push out the toxins. If you haven’t eliminated it via the other 4 pathways, it will eventually have no where else to go but go out through your skin. And this is often not a very pleasant experience. Making sure the other 4 elimination pathways are open is key for minimizing skin irritation.
While there are so many uncontrollable factors in our overall health, a lot can be said for the work we put in ourselves at protecting us from exposure (think not eating processed foods and making your own healthy cleaning products) and how we support our bodies. Reducing our toxic load should not be underestimated.
If you’ve had the pleasure to meet me in person, you know I’m pretty awesome. 😜 I mean… you know that I’m a down to earth person and not an extremist. 😉
Will I eat fries at my local pub? Yes. Do I do a complete digestive cleanse yearly? Yes. Do I consume alcohol on occasion? Yes. Do I support my detoxing organs? Yes.
It’s all about the balance!
I also grow as many organic vegetables as my yard that I can pretty much fit every summer, eat as much organic meats and produce as I can, and most of all I listen to my body when it’s talking to me.
I truly believe it’s all about balance. But also, when you know better, you try your best to do better as well while also enjoying life! And that’s my goal for you and all my clients; get to know your body, how it works, what it likes and doesn’t like, what organs need support, and what specifically work well for you.
After reading this post are you thinking… Oh man, my detox pathways are definitely blocked… If you want a head start and getting things moving, sign up for my free 30 min consultation to find out what your body is saying and where you need to start the healing process and what products work best with your body.
Till next week where in part 2 of this topic, I’m going to talk to you about the basic things I do in my home and products that I take to help support my detoxing organs and keep the elimination channels open and the pathways flowing!