It’s Spring time and inevitably we start looking ahead to the summer – and you’ll start hearing that Detox word again. I’m personally not a fan of once a year clean-ups, rather I believe it’s important to support our body to detoxify all the time. Sometimes we might need a little help. Certainly if you know your liver needs some love, a well-managed detox programme might be just what you need to kick start things.
Anyone and everyone living in modern society is inevitably exposed to a wide array of toxins, both from external and internal sources. External toxins are our pollutants, and include toxins from “heavy” metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminium, etc.), modified foods, additives, preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and nasties such as plasticisers, and bisphenols. Unfortunately these compounds are found in almost everything that we touch, inhale or ingest. Unfortunately most of us cannot cope with the load and struggle to detoxify properly. When this happens our body compensates by storing toxins in our liver (often for years!).
Toxicity can also come from less obvious causes. Gut dysbiosis (often referred to as Leaky Gut) puts constant stress on our liver as toxins are able to travel through the permeable layer into the bloodstream forcing the liver to become involved in digestion. These toxins often also end stored in the liver. This is often experienced as bloating and through skin symptoms such as acne and eczema. The first thing that people usually do when experiencing such symptoms is to blame the poor old food they eat and start cutting things out of their diet. You will usually experience a brief “honeymoon period” where everything feels great to have a break from foods that aggravate it, but when the symptoms return it’s time to look a little deeper.
Other internal toxins include metabolically-induced free radicals, and various by-products of glycation, even aging and hormonal metabolism. So we need to support healthy detoxification!
Detoxification is not a once a year event, but it is a daily process which our bodies perform all year round. It is a process that depends on creating a balance between toxin burden and toxin resistance. A detox programme certainly may help prevent the excessive accumulation of toxins and people may require therapeutic assistance if a big clean us is indicated. This is best done under good supervision to maximise the effectiveness and reduce the symptoms of detoxification.
Food, Glorious Food!
To reduce the toxin burden, refined, processed and deep-fried foods should be avoided, to minimise the intake of chemical additives and inflammatory adducts. Large amounts of red meat, dairy and gluten tend to be inflammatory, harder to digest and less beneficial to restoring the healthy microbiota in the bowel.
More important is what you can put in! It’s spring time so now it’s time to move away from those warm, nourishing comforting Autumn and Winter foods and reintroduce lots of fresh and ideally organic (or at least non-sprayed) fruit and vegetables.
What’s in season this spring?
Apricots, Artichokes, Asparagus (some areas), Endive, Melon, Broccoli, Lettuce, Squash, Collard Greens, Fennel, Green Beans, Honeydew, Limes, Mango (some areas), Mustard greens, Oranges, Peas , Pineapple, Radicchio, Rhubarb, Snow Peas, Sorrel, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Onions, Watercress.
Lots of leafy greens and yummy things, so go wild with them!
Water is the almost the single most important requirement for life. Blood is mostly water, and the muscles, lungs and brain all contain a lot of water. Water is needed to; hydrate and lubricate the body, move vital nutrients through the body, aid in digestion, remove waste, regulate body temperature and help maintain a healthy weight.
Water carries nutrients to our cells, aids digestion by forming stomach secretions, flushes our bodies of wastes, and keeps our kidneys healthy. It keeps our moisture-rich organs (our skin, eyes, mouth, and nose) functioning well, it lubricates and cushions our joints, and it regulates our body temperature and our metabolism, just to name a few of its many functions. Water helps to carry out wastes and toxins and even slight dehydration can put a burden on our liver and kidney function.
Not drinking enough water may meant that nutrients are not well or fully absorbed; that toxins are not properly detoxified, and this may affect kidney, liver and bowel function. Also look out for: headaches, chronic joint and muscle pain, lower back pain, poor concentration (or brain fog), fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and strong urine colour or odour.
In clinic we recommend to sip 1.5 to 2 litres daily to allow for good hydration and support for elimination. We recommend additional water when exercising or losing a lot of water through sweat. It is also a great idea to add a little mineral salt back in (just a pinch of Himalayan salt) to re-mineralise after exercise.
I wish you all a happy fresh and crunchy spring.