We absolutely want to clear toxins from our body.
Read on so you do only good for your body and avoid harmful mistakes.
It seems like everywhere I look, someone is promoting a "detox" or a "cleanse." It just feels right at the beginning of Spring when everything is coming back to life and is fresh and beautiful and new - we want to feel fresh and new and revitalized too!
A detox or cleanse is an essential piece of creating wellness and avoiding disease, but often people are advised to dive in without looking at the big picture or preparing their body.
There are two big reasons why a quick yearly cleanse could be doing more harm than good:
You are adding more toxins to your body even while detoxing because you aren't paying attention to where you are being exposed.
Your body may not be in a state of strength and/or have the current ability to clear the toxins you free up in your cleanse.
First Things First!
When considering a detox, implement strategies to reduce your toxic load and exposure first - we can really shine by paying attention to these things all year long. Look at your personal hygiene and cleaning products, your cookware and storage, etc. Select personal care products that are free of hormone disrupting and other harmful chemicals (Skin Deep by the Environmental Working Group is a great resource to find safer products). Choose stainless cookware, parchment paper instead of aluminum foil, and glass rather than plastic (especially if you use a microwave).
Let's get even more basic - are you getting ample clean air and oxygen? Most people spend the majority of their time indoors with climate-controlled forced air. All of the chemicals from cleaning, fragrances, carpet and furniture (and clothing!) out-gassing are trapped in your home and you are inhaling them. Air your home out (even in Winter!) once a week and consider getting house plants and a good air filter. And speaking of inhaling, how is your breathing? If you have sleep apnea or a breathing issue such as asthma or COPD, be sure you are taking measures to support good quality breathing. One of the most important things you can do is pay attention to how you breathe and make sure it is through your nose. Nasal breathing increases oxygen absorption by 18% and improves airways, while mouth breathing degenerates them. Mouth breathing also causes the body to lose 40% more water, contributing to dehydration.
TIP: It may sound strange, but a great practice to use at night is to place a small square of surgical tape over the lips to encourage nasal breathing! Give is a try - I bet you'll find you sleep more deeply and may have less bathroom trips too!
Now you can start looking at clearing some of your toxic load. Things get sticky when we dive into a cleanse without making sure all the pathways are clear and ready to go. It's like this: you can take the trash out, but if the garbage truck isn't coming for a month, there is going to be a problem.
There are actually 4 phases of the detox process and we need to make sure all are fired up and ready before unleashing those toxins in the body. Not only that, but we want to do this in reverse order (i.e. don't start a detox if you're constipated or dehydrated). Make sure you are drinking plenty of water with electrolytes, are having (at least one) daily complete bowel movement, have a balanced microbiome, are getting plenty of good sleep, and plenty of movement that makes you sweat. Make sure your cell (many toxins need to actually enter our cells in order to be transformed in a way they can then exit the body) membranes are functioning optimally by supporting with omega-3 fats. Get high quality nutrition to support your detox pathways (e.g. amino acids & B-vitamins).
Once these steps are all in place, only then should you increase the mobilization of toxins.
Taking a little extra thought and care before beginning your detox will ensure a more effective cleanse with less side effect symptoms and decrease the likelihood of any collateral damage.