In this episode, you will learn the science behind Detoxing and how to detox safely. You will also learn the signs you may need to detox and how to ensure that you are doing more good for your body.
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Resources mentioned in this episode:
- 7 Day Spark
- Eating with Intention
- Wellness Tribe
- Submit a Question for the Show
- Fall 2018 Nourishing Detox
- Don't Drink Your Essential Oils Information
- Sluggish Liver Episode 050
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What is a Detox and is it different than a cleanse?
Detox and cleanse are generally used interchangeably. Basically, a detox is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances. Now clearly it’s not possible in this day and age to abstain from toxins, or really even fully rid your body of toxins, it is possible to give your body a BOOST and help it get rid of toxins all on its own.
Cleansing is often used interchangeably in this instance and neither is right or wrong. Both are all the rage right now, so you have surely heard of them before. Some people say that a cleanse eliminates junk and strengthens your body’s detoxification process and a detox is super restrictive...but NO not accurate, they are the same thing, the restrictiveness is completely up to the prescriber.
Another thing I get is “but Audrey, you said your body detoxes itself!” and so very very true! It does! However, when you spend a bit of time focusing on increasing the nourishing and nutrient-rich foods you are consuming, then you can help the liver and kidneys (both major detox organs) to do their jobs better and feel a noticeable difference in skin, sleep, energy levels, mental clarity, and yes even though it's not the goal, even weight.
I am frequently seeing, now more than ever, clients with sluggish livers and borderline kidney troubles too. And unfortunately I also see lots of detoxes/cleanses on the market that claims to help these issues and they are overly restrictive, unsafe, OR leave out key components that can cause the toxins to dive deeper and even slow down the metabolism, instead of help the body to flush them out faster and more effectively.
How does the body detox? What’s really happening in there?
Let’s get into some of the science here, and don’t worry I am going to try to make it less science-y than the last explanation but still get you the details that you need to know.
Over long periods of time, months, and years, small daily doses of multiple contaminants have
cumulative detrimental effects on pathways that our bodies rid themselves of toxins. Eventually, these toxins fully impair these naturally detoxifying pathways and cause disease.
I like to use a bucket analogy to explain this a little better. Think of your body as a bucket. Over time, your bucket gets filled with things like toxins and contaminants (more on where we get those in a second). Our liver, kidneys, and the rest of our body tries to keep up with what is being put into this bucket each day. If our total toxic load (body burden) becomes too much and our liver, kidneys, and body can’t keep up, then our bucket overflows and the toxins spill out of our bucket and overwhelm our body. Then we see disease processes begin.
Where do toxins come from?
Is everywhere a concise enough answer for ya? Because that’s the most accurate one.
Toxins come from food, air, water. They are called exogenous because they are from OUTSIDE of the body, the can be naturally occurring or synthetic. A few examples, well more than a few examples are: Heavy metals, UV radiation, products of combustion (smog, etc.), oxidation (free radicals), animal and plant mycotoxins (mold and fungus), pesticides, herbicides,
industrial chemicals, food toxins, drugs, inhalants, EMF’s (electromagnetic fields), skin products, cleaning products, plastics, etc.
There are toxins that even come from INSIDE our own bodies. These are called endogenous toxins, and they are things like waste products from normal metabolic activities (carbon dioxide, urea, lactic acid, GI tract by-products, etc.)
Less important than where the toxin originated, endogenous or exogenous, or whether or not it is a naturally occurring toxin or not is that once they are in the body, they are either water-soluble or fat soluble.
Water-soluble toxins are easier for most bodies to flush out via the blood, skin, and kidneys.
On the flip side, fat-soluble toxins are more of a challenge for the body to remove. Fat-soluble toxins include things like heavy metals, pesticides, preservatives, food additives, pollutants, plastics, and other environmental chemicals must become water-soluble for the body to eliminate them fully.
This happens mostly in a 2 phase process in the liver, but if our detox pathways and digestive system are not functioning optimally, these toxins get stored in the liver, fat cells, joints, muscles, bone marrow, tissues, and the brain, where they can be stored for years. Hello chronic disease issues, right?
Detox Pathways in the Body (and why some restrictive cleanses/detoxes make it worse)
There are 4 main internal cleansing systems in your body, the liver, the lymphatic system, the intestines, and the kidneys.
The liver, as we mentioned in Episode 050 is the largest abdominal organ, it hangs out there under your right rib cage. There are 2 sections or lobes to your liver. The liver is responsible for a lot of things, including a role in your digestive system.
The liver has 3 main functions, filters blood, disassembles all chemical and toxic compounds in 2 phases of elimination (which is what we are going to focus on) and synthesizing and secreting bile. That’s not to say there aren’t lots of other liver functions as we have discussed before, it also does things like release vitamins and hormones when the body needs them, manufactures glycogen, plays a role in blood sugar stability, produces enzymes, and manufactures cholesterol.
Here’s a decently comprehensive list:
- Regulation of fat storage
- Cleansing the blood
- Discharging waste
- Neutralizing and destroying poisons. Metabolizing alcohol
- Managing the chemicals in the blood
- Aiding in digestion through the production of bile. Producing immune factors
- Removing bacteria from the blood
- Storing vitamins, minerals, and sugars
- Maintaining hormone balance
- Controlling the production and secretion of cholesterol.
- Regenerating its own damaged tissue
As I mentioned, for the purposes of this talk, and detoxing benefits and dangers, let's look at the phases of detoxification that happen in the body. Phase 1 is the oxidation phase, and Phase 2 is the conjugation phase (total mom moment here, but we read Fancy Nancy at our house, “conjugation is a fancy word for joining together”), and Phase 3 is elimination. In short the reactions (oxidation and enzymatic) of Phase 1 convert incoming toxins into substances the body can process out of the body in Phase 2, in Phase 3 they are actually leaving the body.
Ideally, both phases work together, creating a flow that efficiently removes toxins from the body.
This part can be a little tricky to understand, we call them Phase 1 and Phase 2, but they are ALWAYS working at the same time. Toxin FW is in Phase 1 while Toxin UI is in Phase 2... I hope that makes sense.
Okay, so some things can speed up or slow down phases of the process, which is why certain detoxes can cause an increase toxin backup or drive the toxins deeper in your body. Phase 1 speeds up in response to things like drugs, alcohol, and coffee because your body wants to get rid of these substances as fast as possible. It can also be slowed down by things like grapefruits and pomegranates (which can be useful if your phase 2 is impaired and can’t keep up).
The problem is that Phase 2 may not have sped up at the same rate as Phase 1 (hello sluggish liver?!), creating a backup of toxins in the liver.
This handoff of toxins from Phase 1 to Phase 2 is called the intermediate phase. Sometimes toxin get held here for too long if your phase 2 is impaired.
Let’s look at this a little more closely.
Phase 1: Oxidation
This phase breaks substances down. It uses enzymes to oxidize toxins, making them more soluble in water (most toxins are fat soluble and cannot be eliminated without this process).
Sometimes this is also called the burn and clear phase because it is responsible for changing the function of the toxic compounds. Phase 1 converts them into by-products that on their own are more toxic than what entered the body in order to render them ready for the next stage of processing (Phase 2).
These more toxic substances are only supposed to last for a short time in the bloodstream, but different metabolites (by-products) from different toxic compounds will last different times in this intermediary and potentially more toxic phase. Additionally, if there is a sluggish liver, phase 2 impairment, then these toxic substances can hang out for a while and cause some trouble.
People who have intolerances to caffeine, perfumes, environmental chemicals, etc. might have an impaired or weak phase 1 detoxification system.
There are some key nutrients needed for Phase 1 detoxification like:
- Vitamin C (most important nutrient) Selenium
- B Vitamins
- Vitamin A
- Other substances that will help promote healthy phase 1 detoxification include your cruciferous vegetables; citrus, in particularly limonene, which comes from the oil or the peels of citrus fruits.
- Glutathione production is also important (the amino acid called N-acetyl cysteine, or NAC can increase glutathione production)
Phase 2: Conjugation
The highly toxic byproducts of phase 1 are merged with a partner that can biochemically be released or detoxed from the body, as long as the
necessary pathways are functioning properly. Think of it as attaching a handle to the byproduct formed in phase 1.
This phase continues to make a toxin more water-soluble, so it can move out of the body through elimination (phase 3).
You have 6 pathways that each detoxifies different substances:
- Amino acid
A brief example, because this may be more chemistry than you wish to learn, is that a toxic compound can come out of phase 1 and be matched with a methyl molecule and that allows it to go down the methylation pathway.
The key nutrients needed for Phase 2 detoxification vary based on the pathway, but all are important:
- Methylation: Choline (eggs), non GMO Soy Lecithin, B Vitamins, beets and SAMe
- Sulfation: High sulfur foods (egg yolks, broccoli), Cruciferous (brassica) veggies, MSM (Sulfur supplement), Vitamin A, Niacin, Vitamin C
- Glucuronidation: Fish oil, limonene (oil of citrus), SAMe
- Glutathione: Glutathione, Cruciferous (brassica) veggies, Limonene (oil of citrus), Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Zinc, Selenium, NAC (N-acetyl cysteine)
As you may have deduced by now, a detox that isn’t a complete detox, so one that has only Phase 1 or Phase 2 nutrients, actually doesn’t serve to detox the body at all. It can cause those toxins to build up in that intermediate phase or in Phase 1 or Phase 2 and make issues in the body WORSE because you are getting the nutrients needed. I see this frequently with “Pinterest” cleanses/detoxes, MLM cleanses/detoxes, those Beach Body Cleanses, Advocare Cleanses, straight juice cleanses, etc.
Phase 3: Elimination
This is where the body excretes what isn’t needed out of the body. One of the keys to detoxing successfully and safely (in addition to working with both phase 1 and 2) is to ensure that you are opening up the channels of elimination so that garbage doesn’t build up in your system. Just like in your home, you must take the garbage your of your body.
This is done through 5 channels of elimination plus the lymphatic system.
Toxins enter your body through the lungs, skin, and GI system, are processed through the liver, and then exit through the skin, kidneys, colon, lungs, and brain. And of course the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is your garbage collection system or passive drainage system (in comparison to the cardiovascular system, with a pumping heart, that is the active drainage system). It’s a series of vessels and organs that contain lymph. It doesn’t have a pump like your blood vessels do (the heart). Instead, we need to move it around mechanically or energetically (which is still kind of mechanically in nature because energy work moves lymph via polarity). The lymphatic system drains excess fluid (lymph) that leaks out of your blood vessels and into your tissues. Without this function, we would swell up (edema) and die within 24 hours.
The lymphatic system has lots of parts, primarily the vessels, which run side-by-side to the blood vessels all over your body collecting garbage and excess debris. It is also the super highway for your immune cells to get around.
There is also lymphoid tissues and organs like the about 600 lymph nodes, bone marrow, Peyer’s patches (the mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue, the gut-associated lymphoid tissue), bronchial- associated lymphoid tissue, nasal-associated lymphoid tissue, thymus gland, tonsils, adenoids, spleen, and appendix.
And then the liquid gold lymph. It’s not actually gold, lymph is a clear fluid filtrate of the blood. The lymph’s job is to remove the waste, debris and disease components such as virus, bacteria and toxic matter.
Our bodies make about 20 liters of lymph per day. A whopping 17 of those liters (water) gets absorbed back into the blood vessels. Then our bodies must move 3 liters of lymph through the lymph system.
It’s important to keep our lymph flowing to remove the garbage from our body and keep our blood clean and clear. Because the lymph flows mechanically, we must help it move through our body. You may be wondering how we do that without an internal pump?
The answer is simple… Movement, Massage, and Energy Work keep the lymph flowing so the garbage doesn’t accumulate in the cells. These methods let the nutrients from the blood get to the cells and help the waste products move out:
- Deep breathing
- Exercise and movement
- Topical application of castor oil (which we will learn more about in the upcoming Fall Detox)
- Neurolymphatic Work, Acupressure, Energy Work
How do I know if I need to detox?
I generally recommend a nourishing and un-restrictive detox 2-4 times a year. It’s just good internal body hygiene. A few signs of needing a detox are fatigue, headaches, skin problems, and excess bloating. But the truth is that if you just aren't feeling that great, a detox can help. We live in an increasingly hectic and toxic environment, and taking time for high-level self-care like a detox can make a huge difference in your energy, mood and even your body shape.
It’s important to lighten your overall load year around by eating organic as much as possible, eating the rainbow (a variety of plants), to sleep, move, and drink lots of water, reduce stress, meditate, spend time in nature, open your windows, have lots of indoor plants, reduce the usage of toxic cleaners, avoiding non-stick pans, avoiding plastics, working to improve elimination, and lymphatic flow.
Before I close, I want to take a quick intermission to talk about how if you feel like a detox is right for you how you can go deeper into a super supportive, gentle, and effective detox program I offer seasonally.
You may already know that I’m uniquely qualified to talk about how to make a detox nourishing for lots of reasons but also because I’ve had many clients who had never tried a detox program before successfully complete my detox program. And I have to tell you, it’s been so fun!
I remember what it felt like to start my first detox – I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stick to the diet, wondering what on earth I would eat, and frankly, I knew in the back of my head that I was really likely to cheat. So I fixed it and took all the worry and restriction out of it.
If your curiosity is piqued about detoxes now but you’re nervous about trying your first one on your own, then definitely keep listening. I’d like to invite you all to join me for my Fall Five Day Nourishing Detox for Beginners. This virtual group detox starts on November 5th-November 9th. (Even if those dates don't work - go ahead and grab it, you can do it when you can and email me for support <3 )
You can find out more about it at audreychristie.com/falldetox
The 5-Day Detox for beginners is different because it focuses on real, whole foods, balanced for all 3 phases of your bodies detox system. You won’t be forced to make huge leaps in your diet (unless you really want to!) and you’ll be able to use these recipes again and again.
It’s also important to me to keep your budget in mind, which is why the supplements on the 5-Day detox are completely optional, and ones you can get at Amazon. Yes, they definitely will help you detox on a deeper level, but I’ve created a really cool ‘priorities’ list so you can see which supplements are the most important and which ones are beneficial but not necessary.
The 5-Day Detox for Beginners also includes tons of support. Next week's episode is all about detox mistakes, but I will go ahead and spill the beans, one of the biggest mistakes made when detoxing – going it alone. Although this totally works for some people, for most people, being held accountable and when I having a place I can go to get support anytime and ask questions anytime when I’m stuck is really crucial for a successful detox.
If you happen to be near a device right now, you can go ahead and go the registration page for the Fall 5-Day Nourishing Detox for beginners. That URL is https://audreychristie.com/falldetox
As you can see, there’s a LOT of information on this page, but I want to make sure I quickly share a couple of the most important pieces:
- All experiences are different of course, but you can expect to learn about your eating habits, you’ll likely feel better, look better, sleep better, and many people lose weight on my 5-day detox program.
- Dozens of recipes that are specially crafted to support your body’s natural detox processes.
- Two live training calls taught by me on everything you need to know to detox AND on how to transition out of the detox
- A daily protocol with step-by-step instructions on what to do and when to do it
- A 20-minute strategy session with me to determine your next steps once you’re done with the detox
Bonuses I’m including:
- A shopping list template that will make hitting the grocery store a breeze
- A supplement guide including my favorite brands and where you can get them
- A “Deepen Your Detox” handbook so you can boost your detox experience
- A complete “Eating Out” guide so you’ll know exactly what to order if you have a business lunch or dinner with friends & family
If you register by October 24th, you can nab the early bird price, and one thing that’s NOT on this page is a really awesome bonus that you’ll get if you sign up by 10/24.
As a special bonus, I’ve put together a Make it Last Post-Detox Handbook just for you that details the exact strategies I use to make my post-detox glow last as long as possible. You’ll get the Make It Last Handbook when you sign up for my Nourishing Detox by midnight on 10/24.
A lot of my clients understand that transitioning back into the ‘real’ world post-detox is often the toughest part because they feel so great and don’t want to take any steps backward! I’ve created an action plan for you which you’ll get as part of the Make It Last Handbook when you register for the 5-Day Detox by 10/24 at midnight. Doors close on registration on 10/27, but to get the bonus handbook, and the early bird pricing you have to sign up by 10/24.
To register, just go to audreychristie.com/falldetox and click “click here to register” button.
To wrap this up, you can successfully, nourishingly, gently, without restricting detox your body from the toxin load that it takes on. As always, if you have any questions, you can reach out to me from the show notes page or in the Wellness Trib.
Thank you so much for listening/reading this episode. If you like what you hear please subscribe and rate us on iTunes!