By Tina Paymaster, PHASE IV Functional Nutrition & Health Specialist
The body is a pretty incredible machine. It naturally detoxifies on a daily basis to help support your health and vitality. However, poor diet and lifestyle habits as well as environmental toxins can congest the body and obstruct its detoxification pathways, leading to a host of symptoms and diseases.
This week we are going to get into action and explore ways to support the body in coming back into a state of balance once again.
By no means should you try to all of these things at once or may you need to. It’s best to assess what areas below may have the greatest impact on your health without causing you added stress. Start with cleaning up your diet, then add on other changes every week or two.
1. Do an elimination diet
Elimination diets can take numerous forms and can range from somewhat restrictive to extremely restrictive. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to how severe your symptoms are and start keeping a food diary documenting how you feel when you eat certain foods. If your symptoms are very severe, it’s best to work with a qualified nutrition specialist or health professional.
For 30 days, eliminate sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, soy, processed meat, red meat and any processed/packaged foods. If you’re having a lot of gas and bloating, you may want to also avoid beans, legumes, all grains and cruciferous vegetables.
2. Choose organic
When restricting the above foods, you will naturally be choosing whole foods. It’s important to eat organic and pesticide-free as much as possible. If you can’t buy everything organic, at least choose organic for the Dirty Dozen.
3. Increase the right vegetables and fruits
Although potatoes are a vegetable, they are high in carbohydrates and can elevate blood sugar. You want to include non-starchy vegetables with every meal, especially dark leafy greens and herbs. Cilantro is a natural heavy metal chelator so add it to your salsas, salads and stir-fries! Choose lower sugar fruits such as lemons, limes, berries, apples, pears and apricots. Once again, pay attention to how your body reacts to eating these foods and remember to eat fruit separately from other foods, ideally 2 hours apart.
4. Drink purified water
Water quality does matter. Drink plenty of purified water, ideally spring water or filtered water. Although there is a lot of hype around alkaline water, there are some studies that show it may not live up to the type. Room temperature is the best as it supports digestion better than cold water.
5. Get off of caffeine
Coffee isn’t inherently bad, however, it is acidic and many varieties are heavily sprayed with pesticides and are prone to mold. Caffeine is also a stimulant, which can aggravate the adrenal glands and increase cortisol. If you aren’t ready to give up caffeine, switch to an organic green tea instead. Otherwise, try an herbal tea such as Dandy Blend or any other non-caffeinated herbal tea.
6. Good quality probiotics
All probiotics are not created equal and the unfortunate truth is that most of the ones on the market are not that effective. There are however some great brands like Natren that make pharmaceutical grade probiotics that have a ton of scientific research to back their claims. Poor diet, antibiotics and stress can all impact that sensitive microbiome of your gut. An imbalance in your gut bacteria, also called dysbiosis, can not only lead to digestive discomfort, but many other serious diseases such as autoimmune diseases, skin issues, arthritis, cognitive decline, mood imbalance and even cancer. If you are going to begin a probiotic regimen it’s important to also support your gut by eating foods that your body can digest and avoiding foods that continue to harm the beneficial bacteria in the gut. In addition, make stress management practices a part of your daily routine.
Exercise is a necessary element of any detoxification regimen. When we move, we support the lymphatic system in removing toxins from the cells of our body. If you are on a very strict diet, however that limited your quantity of food, you will want to stick to light exercise such as brisk walking, hiking or yoga, as to not stress out your body even more. The same applies if you are suffering from any time of chronic fatigue.
8. Stress management
When the body is stressed, not only will cortisol increase, but digestion will slow down as well. With chronic elevated stress, all systems of the body can eventually go haywires causing a myriad of health issues. In addition, if you already have health complications, stress will most definitely make it worse and get in the way of any treatment protocol you are trying. There are many practices you can implement to combat the negative effects of stress including mediation, slow deep nasal breathing, taking epsom salt baths before bed, maintaining positive relationships with the people in your life and getting adequate sleep.
Speaking of sleep… this may be one of the most important parts of detoxifying your body. When we sleep we give our body the time it needs to rest, repair and rejuvenate. Without adequate sleep, cortisol levels will increase, hormones will eventually go out of balance, digestion will be compromised and cognitive function will be impaired. These are just the baseline results of consistent poor sleep.
10. Clean up your kitchen
Plastic containers and non-stick cookware all leach toxins into the food you eat. These toxins are endocrine disruptors and have been proven to contribute to serious illnesses such as cognitive decline, hormone imbalance, learning difficulties and even cancer. It’s best to swap your plastic storage containers for glass and use cast iron or stainless steel cookware only.
11. Clean out your personal care product
What you ingest isn’t the only thing that impacts your body. Believe it or not, what you put on your body gets absorbed through the skin and goes directly into your bloodstream. Choose makeup and beauty products (skin lotion, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, etc.) that is free from paragons and sulfates and is comprised of ingredients you recognize. If you are extra sensitive, it’s a good idea to also choose natural cleaning and laundry products as well.
12. Get outside
Breathing in fresh air is not on good for the mind, it’s also a great way to detoxify with clean oxygen. Make a point to take walks on your breaks and go hiking or partake in other outdoor activities as much as possible throughout the year.
To close out our detoxification series, next week we will cover supplements that can help support your body in ridding itself of dangerous toxins and chemicals. However, remember, that no one supplement or routine is going to change everything. It takes dedication to a healthy lifestyle to create lasting change.
For more personalized nutrition support, contact us at 310-582-8212 for a complimentary consultation.