Detoxing, detoxification and cleansing are concepts that most people I've talked to are afraid of. Some cleanses/detoxes can definitely pose more harm than benefit and I think this is where some of this fear and misconception comes from.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a cleanse??
A cleanse or a detox doesn't have to incredibly restrictive or uncomfortable or scary at all. Cleansing just means clearing out some of the toxins in your life (whatever those may be) and starting with a fresh slate. This looks different for everyone! Unfortunately, there are growing numbers of toxins in our environment and food, leading to increased levels of toxins in our bodies and an increased need to support detoxification.
We often all have some desire for this at certain periods in our lives, maybe every new year, maybe around your birthday, maybe at each change of season. For some this will look like cleaning out their closet, or cutting out alcohol completely for a period of time, or focusing on eating organic, or doing a healthy juice/smoothie/soup cleanse.
Now at this point you're probably thinking: should I do a detox?
When we have too many toxins in our bodies we get toxicity symptoms that can present in a variety of ways and a wide range of conditions including (but not limited to): acne, eczema/psoriasis, brain fog, fatigue, recurrent colds/flus, depression/anxiety, ulcers, allergies, autoimmune disease, and weight gain. Whoa, that's a lot!
Now, I want you to picture a bucket. Don't worry too much about what it looks like - everyone's will be a different probably. This represents our individuality. Some buckets will be big; some will be small. Some might have a handle, some may not. Some may be made of wood, others of metal or plastic.
Now, add a single, small out-spout to the bottom of your bucket. Maybe your out-spout has a dial to open it up or close it, maybe your outspout is just perpetually open.
OK. Got it? Now I want you to imagine filling your bucket with liquid while your out-spout is open. The out-spout can keep up with the liquid your pouring into your bucket for a period of time. After adding in more and more, or if your liquid switches to sludge, the out-spout can't keep up anymore and your bucket starts to overflow.
Oh no, now you have a huge mess of liquid on the floor. How can we remedy this situation?! We can stop adding liquid to the bucket so the out-spout can finally catch up. What else? We can also add another out-spout to help your existing/overworked out-spout.
Do you see where I am going with this? The bucket represents your body, while the out-spout represents your organs of elimination (kidneys, liver, digestive tract, and skin). The overflow of liquid represents symptoms that show up only after a period of time or when your organs of elimination are overworked. The liquid that's filling your bucket can be any number of things from allergens, sensitivities, infections, stress, trauma, and genetics to heavy metals, toxins and pollutants.
Detoxification (bucket emptying) generally functions to reduce the toxic load (bucket filling) on the body in 2 ways:
- Supporting the organs of elimination to help neutralize, transform and eliminate long-standing toxins from our bodies.
- Reducing toxins entering the body via specific lifestyle + dietary change.
If you think that a detox or a cleanse may be right for you, I encourage you to chat with your naturopathic doctor to develop a safe and healthy plan. I've provided some general tips below on ways to refresh and replenish your 2018! Choose a few tips below and start emptying your bucket!
General tips to reduce toxic load
- Limit exposure to chemicals in the following products and/or switch to natural or homemade products: cosmetics (soaps, creams, make-up, toothpaste), bug sprays, deodorants, candles, air fresheners, feminine hygiene products (look for non-bleached), household cleaners (look for dioxin-free), paint, plastics (look for BPA-free), dry cleaning. Think Dirty, Shop Clean!
- Avoid plastic. Try glass or metal water bottles, food containers, straws etc.
- Filter or purify your water. Aim for 2-3L per day OR 4oz every ½ hour.
- Take some time each day away from EMFs. Electromagnetic fields are high in cell phones, computers, wifi routers etc. Especially important while you sleep!
- Focus on reducing stress. Prolonged stress causes a cascade of effects that allows toxins to accumulate. Try meditation, deep belly breathing, yoga or going for a walk (especially in combo with #6)!
- Spend some time in nature. Breath in the fresh air.
- Limit exposure to toxic locations such as gas stations, hair & nail salons, or areas known to have high levels of radiation.
- Strive for organic, non-GMO produce and meats whenever possible. Organic is especially important for the “Dirty Dozen”, you can probably get away with going non-organic on the “Clean Fifteen”.