by Phoebe Thomas, Naturopath and Nutrition Coach

Over my years in practice as a Naturopath, my clients have come to see me with a range of health concerns varying from low energy, poor memory, headaches, and constipation through to more chronic conditions such as arthritis, high cholesterol and infertility. One of the possible contributing factors with all of these conditions can be an underlying build up of toxins that has caused the channels of elimination to become congested and no longer work efficiently. These toxins can then re-circulate in our bodies, which then starts to have an affect on our health and illness can develop.

In my clinical experience I have run Detox programs at a health retreat in Thailand for individuals and for groups. I found it extremely satisfying to see the overall improvement in my client’s health and wellbeing at the end of these programs. It would make a significant difference to their body’s ability to heal and also to their general sense of wellness.

Why Detox?

Every day we are exposed to a range of toxins from our external and internal environment . Environmental toxins can be found in our foods, water, air and everyday household items. There are many avenues by which we are exposed to them including non organic foods and drinks, non filtered tap water, medications, cosmetics and skincare, cigarette smoke, household cleaning products, plastic food storage containers and car exhaust fumes. Women use an average of 12 personal care products each day, exposing them to up to 160 different chemicals.

Internal toxins can be generated by an overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria, yeasts and parasites in your digestive system. These internally generated toxins are then absorbed into your bloodstream which can affect your health and energy levels.

If your body has the proper nutrition in sufficient quantities and if the organs of elimination and detoxification are functioning at optimal levels, it will be able to eliminate these unwanted substances safely and efficiently. However, often the body is producing and taking in more toxins than it can safely eliminate, and this can lead to a build up of toxins which can lead to a lower state of health and eventually illness.

The need for regular detoxification practices as part of our preventative healthcare has become increasingly important as our society and the way we live has changed over the years. In the past we were able to rely on our diet alone to provide the nutrients we needed to detoxify and our body was able to efficiently carry out this natural process. We planted, harvested and ate our foods in tune with nature and it’s seasons. Each season different foods were available and these would play a role in detoxifying our bodies.

Over time our society has developed rapidly and much of the way we do things is based on convenience and having everything we want at hand immediately. With these changes the way our foods are grown, prepared and eaten has altered dramatically. Often our foods are farmed in soils that are depleted of nutrients and high levels of chemicals, pesticides and preservatives are used. The food is then stored for extended periods of time before it is eaten. We are no longer eating our foods in tune with how nature intended, so we are losing a lot of the beneficial detoxification effects to our bodies.

Whilst we may have been able to rely on diet alone in the past to detoxify our bodies, today we need to consider supporting our health with regular cleansing to counter the impact of an increased toxin load from our environment, lifestyle and the reduced nutrient levels of our foods.

What is a Detox?

There are a range of ways you can detoxify the body depending on your individual needs. Ideally you see a Naturopath to have a detoxification program designed specifically for you. This may include a tailored diet and a range of herbs and nutrients that will all work together to cleanse the body’s main organs of elimination (liver, kidney, bowel & skin). There are also various treatments that you can have during a detox to enhance it’s benefit including Lymphatic drainage massage, detox body scrubs, saunas, and when indicated colonic hydrotherapy.

10 diet and lifestyle tips that can enhance your detox

  • Eat lots of fresh organic seasonal fruits and vegetables
  • Include berries in your diet– High in antioxidants
  • Fresh fruit and vegetable juices can enhance your detoxification. A delicious detox juice is a combination of beetroot, carrot, lemon, apple, celery and ginger
  • At least 2 litres of filtered water per day
  • Consume lemon juice in water – stimulates the liver and alkalises the body
  • Add Coriander to your cooking – as it enhances the clearance of heavy metals from the body
  • Increase Broccoli in your diet– contains detoxification enzymes and is rich in anti-oxidants
  • Try Lymphatic Drainage massage – the lymphatic system is one of the channels of transport and elimination of toxins in our body. Lymphatic drainage massage helps to enhance this process
  • Indulge in Saunas – as help to draw impurities out of the skin
  • Add Epsom salts to your bath – 1 cup of Epsom salts in a bath once per week will help to draw out toxins

When should I do a detox?

A detox can be done at any time of the year, however, according to Traditional Chinese medicine winter is not the ideal time to be stressing the body with a detox. It is better to wait until Spring/Summer when the weather is warmer and we are coming out of hibernation and often want to increase our energy levels and drop those extra winter kilos. People also often consider doing a detox after Christmas when they have been overindulging in rich foods and excess alcohol and they can be left feeling congested and sluggish.

Who should do a detox?

We can all benefit from doing a yearly detox, to keep our body running efficiently and to maintain optimum health. It is always a good idea to check with your Naturopath first and follow a detoxification program that has been tailored specifically for your individual needs.

The following areas will gain great benefit from a detox:

  • Low energy levels
  • To enhance weight loss
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Hayfever
  • Skin conditions
  • PMS
  • Chronic illness
  • To improve fertility- a Preconception care detox can be highly beneficial
  • Digestive problems ie, Constipation, IBS
  • Impaired liver function due to lifestyle (alcohol, toxic exposure, poor eating habits, high stress, chemical exposure in the workplace) or illness
  • Irritability, mental fogginess and poor memory
  • Poor quality sleep

There are some conditions where your Naturopath would advise against doing a detox. For instance, if someone is very rundown, has an acute cold/flu, or is taking a particular type of medication that can be affected by a detox. You should also avoid following a detoxification program during pregnancy, however it is ideal as pre-conception care to prepare the couple for pregnancy.

Phoebe Thomas
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