Detoxing 101

Nobody lives in a bubble, so exposure to toxins is a part of everyday life. Toxins are presently abundant in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the beauty products we use, and everything in between. It is simply impossible to completely  avoid toxin exposure; however, there are many ways to effectively detox the body!

Each year, over 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released into the North American environment alone. These include 72 million pounds of recognized carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). Our bodies experience a constant battle against these chemicals and pollutants, creating side effects that are both silent and/or visible.

Fortunately, our body is equipped to desensitize and eliminate harmful toxins through our 7 channels of elimination; the liver,  skin, lungs, colon, lymph nodes, blood, and kidneys. By supporting these organs we assist the body in effectively relieving some of the toxic load that has accumulated in our bodies over the years. Here are some significant practices that you can incorporate into your routine to jump start a detox!

LIVER: With over 500 vital functions, the liver processes and filters all toxic byproducts that are present in the body. It is the main organ of detoxification. To support proper liver function: drink dandelion tea every day, eat plenty of green leafy vegetables (spinach, arugula, collards, Swiss chards, kale), supplement with milk thistle, and choose organic products whenever possible. It is also important to limit/avoid alcoholic beverages, and reduce your consumption of processed fatty foods and refined sugar.

SKIN: Skin is the body’s largest organ, accounting for approximately 15% of your total body weight. To support proper detoxification through the skin: drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day, squeeze in fresh lemon for added benefit. Also, sweating is a great way to rid the body of toxins so make sure to sweat it out often with regular exercise. Try using the sauna once a week for added benefit. Receive sun exposure in moderation and use natural sunscreen products for prolonged exposure to UV rays. Eat foods rich in omega-3 such as chia seeds, walnuts, flax seeds, sardines, Atlantic wild salmon, and marine algae. Choose wisely which beauty products you buy, always read the label. Avoid products with the following harmful chemicals; parabens, aluminum, lead, parfum/fragrance, BHA/BHT, formaldehyde, dioxane, oxybenzone, phthalates, and propylene glycol to name a few.

LUNGS: Not only do our lungs provide us with vital oxygen, but they also remove carbon dioxide from our bodies, which could become hazardous in high levels. To support proper lung function: practice deep breathing at various times throughout the day. Bring your attention to your breath and fill up your stomach with air as you breathe in for 3 seconds. Hold your inhale for 3 seconds and follow with a 3 second exhale. Repeat at least three times. Deep breathing helps to alkalinize the body and energize the cells. If you are spending the majority of your day indoors, consider taking a walk in nature to fill up your lungs with fresh, clean air. Limit/avoid exposure to second-hand smoke. If your are a smoker who is wanting to quit, surround yourself with supportive family and friends who will keep you accountable. Be patient with yourself and take it one day at a time.

COLON: Also called the large intestine, it is the final part of the digestive system where water is absorbed and faecal matter is passed through the rectum. To support proper function of the colon, a high fibre diet is key! Fibre helps promote regular bowel movements and thus helps to eliminate toxins that build up in the intestines. Aim for 30-40 grams of fibre per day with fibre-rich foods such as oatmeal, fresh fruit, vegetables, lentils, quinoa, whole grain breads, chickpeas, and all types of beans. Ideally, you should be having 1-3 solid bowel movements a day! Constipation is not only the result of a low fibre diet but also low water intake. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If your urine is coming out clear or very light yellow, that is a great sign that you are staying hydrated. Probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) are another great way to maintain a healthy colon. Food sources of probiotics are kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, and kimchi.

LYMPH NODES: A large part of toxin elimination depends on the proper functioning of the lymphatic system, where plenty of white blood cells are accumulated. Since the lymphatic system does not have a pump, it relies on physical activity or stimulation for optimal function. These include rebounding, dry skin brushing in circular motions and towards the heart, alternating from hot to cold water in the shower, getting a massage, and staying hydrated throughout the day. Sedentary lifestyles may lead to poor lymphatic drainage and therefore less toxins are being filtered and eliminated. If you are spending most of your time at a desk, on the couch, or sitting down in general, consider getting up for a quick stretch at least every hour!

BLOOD: The circulatory system is connected to all the organs in the body for the purpose of delivering fresh oxygen and nutrients, but also to remove waste products. To support its proper function, eat foods that help purify the blood, such as garlic, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and spinach. Also, foods that are naturally high in iron help to increase hemoglobin levels (to carry oxygen supply). These foods include lentils, red beets, hemp seeds, black beans, and dark chocolate. Adding chlorophyll drops to your water is a quick, easy, and refreshing way to help purify the blood!

KIDNEYS: Located just below the rib cage, both kidneys are bean shaped organs, each approximately the size of a fist. Two hundred quarts of bodily fluids are filtered daily by millions of nephrons (filtering units of tiny blood vessels). Through this process, chemicals, drugs, and other toxins are excreted in the urine. To support proper kidney function: drink organic cranberry juice, lemon water, and natural diuretics to reduce water retention (bloating/ puffiness). Natural diuretics include parsley, burdock tea, dandelion tea, and stinging nettle tea. These diuretics help flush out excess sodium and toxins that the bodily is holding on to. It is best to avoid the frequent use of over-the-counter pain relievers, as they may harm the kidneys with long-term use. Also, use salt in moderation and choose high quality salts such as pink Himalayan salt as an alternative.

The body is in a constant state of detoxification on a cellular level. When we support this process with optimal nutrition and high quality supplements, we are bringing vitality back to our bodies. Use these detox tips when you are feeling under the weather, have low energy levels, or simply to stay healthy year round!

Share them with friends and family who could use a boost of vitality!