Detoxification is one of the latest buzzwords in the nutritional medicine world. The body is actually detoxifying all the time. The liver and kidneys are constantly eliminating chemicals that the body is exposed to and waste that it has made. There is a growing concern that we are becoming overburdened by the toxins to which we are exposed. Many methods touting the ability to cleanse the body, but what are good choices and how should they be done?
There are now hundreds if not thousands of chemical exposures the body must learn to handle. Fortunately, the body has several built-in mechanisms it uses to help get rid of metabolic waste and toxins. We must use these detox pathways on a regular basis. Even when our bodies make energy, waste is generated. This is similar to burning a log for heat and having leftover ashes. Unfortunately, in addition to the ash that our bodies generate, we are taking in waste from our environment. This along with poor diets, poor sleep, inactivity and emotional stress is leading to the onset of more chronic diseases at younger and younger ages.
A good starting point for detoxification is lifestyle. Diet is a big part since it will influence the level of nutrients in the body and will play a major role in the health of the bowels. The bowels are perhaps the safest route of detoxification, so their proper function is critical. Do not start any detox program if you are chronically constipated. Improve bowel movements first with water, fiber and magnesium or vitamin C. Detox will help move toxins out of the body, but if the bowels are backed up, the toxins will reabsorb into the body. Establish good dietary habits by increasing fruit and vegetable intake and cutting out refined sugars. This puts the body in a better position to detoxify. Adequate water intake is a necessity for the body to be able to move nutrients in and toxins out. Be sure to allow your body to rest. Sleep is a wonderful time to stimulate the body’s deep healing processes.
There are many supplements used for detoxification. No one supplement is better than another as each can target a different group of toxins. Some may have certain advantages by way of what they target, cost or their effectiveness.
- Chlorella: As a type of algae, chlorella has the ability to help the body eliminate a wide range of toxins and is typically well-tolerated. Dosages can start at 500 mg and increase to 1,000-2,000 mg daily, taken after meals.
- Garlic: Garlic is best used as a regular part of the diet. It can also be taken as a capsule 2-3 times a day. Garlic is a very healthy food and has many benefits to the body, but may cause stomach upset if taken too aggressively.
- Modified citrus pectin: This is a fiber found in fruit that is gaining reputation as a detox treatment [Source: Zhao, Eliaz]. It is also being looked at as a treatment to help contain the spread of metastatic cancer [Source: Glinsky]. It may be a good choice for those with a personal or family history of cancer.
- MSM: Methylsulfonylmethane is another treatment that can help support the body’s own detox methods. It is also used for joint pain. Dosage starts at 500-1,000 mg daily. Joint pain dosages go up to 3,000 mg daily.
- Alpha-lipoic acid: This antioxidant can aid in heart disease, brain function and diabetes. It has the ability to support the detox system as well [Source: Salinthone]. This could be a good option for diabetics or those wanting to support the heart and brain. Dosage is 150 mg daily, which can be increased up to 450 mg daily.
- Cilantro: Another healthy and tasty food that can be added to many dishes, cilantro has the reputation of helping with detoxification.
- Infrared saunas: This is another method of detox. It uses sweat as a means to remove toxins from the body. Infrared saunas are relaxing and can be utilized for a few minutes at a time or up to 20 minutes or more. They do not have the intense humidity that some saunas have, making it much more tolerable for many. Infrared saunas can help those with a history of high blood pressure as it relaxes the blood vessels. If you do use an infrared sauna, you must stay hydrated before and after use and wipe yourself off well after each session.
Learn more about nutrients for detoxification on the next page.