In this episode, you will learn how to safely detox your body. I know, I know, I talk about this topic quite frequently, about four times a year in fact when I host my four seasonal detoxes. But it is all over my newsfeed again, people starting down the path of these juice detoxes where they subsist only on juice for days or weeks at a time, so today we are talking about the safety of that and what to do instead.
Want to listen later?
Pin it or subscribe on iTunes and rate us too!)
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Need more in-depth help?
If you need one-on-one help, please click here to schedule a complimentary appointment.
Detox Your Body Truths & Safety
What is a detox or cleanse?
A detox and a cleanse are essentially the same thing—the terms are generally used interchangeably. For our purposes, I will use the term detox.
At its core, a detox is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances and simultaneously adds substances via foods or supplementation to assist the body in pushing toxins out. Now let’s be real here, it’s simply not possible in this day and age to abstain from toxins, or really even fully rid your body of toxins. It is, however, possible to BOOST your body’s ability to get rid of toxins.
Detoxing seems to be all the rage right now, the ones I see pop up on my radar usually have some outrageous claims (I guess it sells detoxes, right?) and are usually super restrictive - because if they aren’t how are they going to work, right? WRONG! But we will touch more on that later.
Where am I getting all of these toxins I need to get rid of?
Everywhere. The average woman has gotten 300 toxic chemicals in her bloodstream before she leaves the house in the morning, just from topical soaps, hair products, makeup, deodorants, etc. Not to mention coffee and breakfast.
But it’s not just women. Toxins affect everyone and can come from inside and outside of our bodies.
Toxins that come from outside our bodies, those found in food, air, water are called exogenous. These can be naturally occurring or synthetic. 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 also 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 foreign to the body and they have to get out.
How Do I know I need to detox?
Usually, your body detoxes all of these exogenous and endogenous toxins through its natural detoxification channels. The most common detoxification process happens naturally in a two-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 and then show up as:
- White or yellow-coated tongue and/or bad breath
- Fluid retention and/or congested sinuses
- Cravings and/or blood sugar issues
- Gallbladder issues or you had it removed
- Abdominal bloating
- Overheating/excess sweating
- Acne, rosacea, itchy skin
- Fatigue that isn’t relieved by more sleep, especially in the morning
- Chemical sensitivity – you’re a lightweight when you drink alcohol or smelling fragrances makes you anxious
- Insomnia – especially if you experience early morning awakenings such as 1-4 a.m.
Why avoid the harsh detoxes and juice cleanses?
So I get it, you are having all these symptoms and into your social media feed pops an ad about a juice cleanse or your friends posting about their fabulous grapefruit cleanse and you think, “Hey that doesn’t look so bad - 3, 5, 7 days to get rid of this! I’m in!” And you dive into your week of juices.
On the surface, that seems really safe, and maybe you even know some people who have had a lot of success on these type cleanses. Maybe you see people who are feeling better, maybe even losing weight, or they found some relief from a symptom they were having. And that is awesome!
I would love to tell you a little more about what is happening on the inside so that you understand how to navigate this better, and I will pick on juice detoxes a little bit here.
Firstly, I will say, I am 100% not against juicing! I think it has mega benefits, but the safest and most effective way to add juicing to your life is to start in small doses. Much like anything restricting your food intake, when you suddenly flip the switch on your body and swap your typical Standard American Diet for a week of juice a few things happen:
1- The water-soluble toxins get flushed out and since you aren’t actively adding more, you see some cool things like a little weight loss and better sleep. Maybe your skin starts to clear up or you feel a little less joint pain. You feel a little more energetic and have a little more pep in your step.
2- Because of the significant calorie reduction you are literally starving your body of some key nutrients and overloading it on others. When the body is starved, it can let go of water, but the primal biological force takes over and fiercely holds on to fat and increases fat storage.
3- Thanks to biology, the fat-soluble toxins in your body hang on for dear life and dive deeper into your adipose tissue. So this means that while you feel better for a short time during and maybe a short time after the detox your body long term will feel worse. Your next flare-up of whatever you're working on healing will be worse.
4- You will suffer from a rebound effect, not just in the toxin load but also in your weight. If you lost 4 lbs statistically, you will regain 8.
I know this sounds grim, and I don’t want to scare you out of making good choices for your body, but I want you to do it in a way that is sustainable and gives you not just short term benefits but also long term shifts towards more wellness in your life. Otherwise, you are investing in a bandaid, and oftentimes in a way that is going to give you more trouble later.
How should I detox then?
There are so many ways to detox your body. Ultimately you have to find a way that works for you. I find there are three basic things that help my clients find success in detoxing and those are:
1. Keeping detoxing simple. A detox is an awesome opportunity to look at your eating (and other) habits from an analytical perspective. Many of us have attachments to particular foods, whether it’s a sugary food, or a salty snack, or a glass of wine or craft beer, or even our more jolt of caffeine.
Because of those attachments, many detox programs require you to give up a LOT of foods and things at once. Some even require that you give up food altogether and live on just juice for days or weeks. This tends to be complicated when managing a family and/or a busy schedule. Instead find a detox that is simple, unrestrictive, and fun - it should feel more like adding exciting new recipes than over-complicated restriction.
2. Doing detox with a community. Have you ever tried to use willpower to get yourself to do something? How did it go? Were you able to get what you thought you needed or did you end up in worse shape than when you started off?
Oh man. I’ve soooo been there and done this one! I’ve tried to do detoxes all on my own and it never ends well. When I rely on my willpower and my attempts to ‘force’ myself to stick to any diet, I end up just feeling frustrated, alone, and ticked off. (This is how I discovered the anti-diet science movement of health at every size.)
When you really think about it, it’s kind of silly, but food is about pleasure, inclusion, friendship even, and relaxation. When I’ve detoxed all on my own before, it’s felt like a jail sentence, it feels isolating while you eat your restrictive food (see mistake 1) all alone. It really stinks to be eating food that’s totally different from what your friends and family are eating!
The solution is to detox in a community and considering the amount of connectivity we have these days with our smart phones and laptops, you’re able to find a group detox no matter whether you live in a really densely populated city or if you’re out in the sticks. Even if it’s just you and your spouse or you and your best friend agreeing to do the detox together, having a support system in place increases your chances of success so much! Frankly now that I have developed this current detox plan, I usually sneak it on my family and they are never the wiser unless I announce we are recipe testing, just loving all the new seasonal recipes mom’s cranking out.
You’re so much more likely to succeed if you know that you’ve got someone on your side. And it’s even easier to detox if you’re using an easy to follow program with real food, with connection to a group, and with the chance to connect with some kind of leader. Regardless of what kind of detox feels right for you, give yourself the benefit of having a cheer section to help you keep going when the going gets tough.
3. Using detox as stepping stone towards wellness instead of as a punishment.
It is absolutely NOT necessary to do a hardcore cleanse or detox that forces you to suffer and restrict to get a benefit from detoxing. Many detoxes, in case you haven’t figured out my clinical opinion yet, are actually far more dangerous and damaging for most people than effective. Gentle, nourishing, and whole food based detoxes are incredibly effective and they are more likely to help you make a lasting change that impacts your health over the long term.
Because seriously, what’s the point of doing a lemon juice cleanse if you’re so miserable halfway through that you just give up and dive into a bag of Cheetos and tub-o-cola? This is actually one of the worst things you can do because with the lemon juice cleanse you’ve pushed your body into believing you are starving. And guess what happens when you eat something when your body thinks you’re starving? That’s right – your body stores that food as fat immediately to protect you from impending starvation and death. So save yourself the trouble in all senses of the word and avoid those types of detoxes.
Another thing I want to mention with regard to punishment is that I encourage you to choose a detox that you WANT to do. Not one that you SHOULD do or your FRIEND did or your mentor did. Choose one that feels right to you and your needs.
What can I do right now?
I generally recommend a nourishing and un-restrictive detox 2-4 times a year, seasonally. Just as the Mother Nature and Mama Earth changes from season to season, so should what you nourish your body with. It’s just good internal body hygiene, and it is EASY once you can look objectively at your local produce department and know what is actually in season and what has been warehoused for a season. We are currently between group detox’s now, but the spring one will be happening <<insert dates>> and you can register now if you like.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait until then. 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, avoid non-stick pans, avoid plastics, work to improve elimination, and lymphatic flow.
If you are into juices, you can start with 2oz of green juice each morning on an empty stomach, then the next week move up to 4oz, and then to 6 oz the following week, and then 8 oz on an empty stomach on into perpetuity. THAT is the way to incorporate healthy juicing, not “Let’s swap two meals a day or all the food for the week for juice.”
If you like Kombucha (new Healing Art of Kombucha Class coming soon!) you can do that too! Same pattern as the juice (just be sure to use a low sugar one).
So let’s do a quick recap.
To wrap this up, step AWAY from the juice cleanse, or the romaine cleanse, or the bone broth cleanse. Step. A. Way. Instead, find a detox system that helps you to indulge in delish nourishing food, as much as you need, without over-restriction. Find one that is safe and nourishing for your whole family so you aren’t cooking extra meals, and find a community to support you.
Remember, eating well, nourishing your body, moving your body is not a punishment for what you ate or the way you’ve been living, its simply taking care of you.
Thank you so much for listening/reading this episode. If you like what you hear please subscribe and rate us on iTunes!