5 Tips On How To Detox This Spring
Spring is here!
For many, this season brings on the desire to clean up both their environment and body. It’s actually an age old tradition based on the transition from a sedentary winter of eating primarily meat and grains to finally getting to enjoy the newly sprouting greens and foods that tend to naturally improve detox pathways in our body.
“Detox” has been a trendy word in the health space for some time, so it also has a large range of meaning depending on who you ask. Physiologically, detoxification is the “removal of toxic substances from a living organism, including the human body, which is mainly carried out by the liver”. Our bodies are innately primed to detoxify using our main elimination pathways: Liver, intestines/colon, kidneys, sweat, and breath. As long as we make sure these systems are working to their fullest potential, we can feel good that our body is staying clean and healthy. Sometimes, though, the environment we live in or the lifestyle we lead can overwhelm these detoxification processes. This is when a little help may be needed, and I have put together my top 5 tips for aiding the body to clean house! My goal is to focus on encouraging the body’s natural detoxification systems, removing obstacles to heal, and only using natural substances with research to back them up.
#1: Increase your water
This is a bit self-explanatory, but something I talk about every day with my patients. Water will help your kidneys excrete more efficiently, keep your bowels moving on a regular basis, and allow you to sweat out more toxins. Try to drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces + ½ cup for each cup of coffee or alcohol, and 30min of exercise. Or just go for 8 cups/day ;)
#2: Increase your fiber
Fiber is helpful in a variety of ways, and we want both soluble and insoluble forms. It helps move the bowels so we have daily bowel movements to get out the toxins and not re-circulate them (yes this can happen, especially with hormones like estrogen), and it also helps with the production and flow of bile which is a main transport for toxins out of the liver and into our intestines. A goal of 30-35g/day is reasonable.
#3: Love on your liver
Supporting your liver is crucial because it is our MAIN detox organ. The liver plays out a complicated biochemical pathway involving 2 phases of detoxification that we won’t get into in detail (but it is so amazing, so go google it!). We can help this pathway by reducing the chemicals/toxins coming in (see more in the next tip), and supporting the detoxification phases in the liver itself.
This is where nutrition comes in for the win!
Eating the following foods will support phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification steps in the liver:
Cruciferous family veggies like broccoli and brussels sprouts, high sulfur-containing foods like garlic and onions, and Artichokes, beets, carrots, dandelion, burdock. I would aim for at least 2-3 servings/day of a combination of them.
#4: Avoid alcohol, drugs, toxins and chemicals when possible
This is probably the crux and most impactful way to help your liver and detoxify your body. In addition to lowering your drinks/week (or try a sober month!), I recommend checking out www.EWG.org to help screen your body products as well as check the quality of your water and get recommendations for air filters. We can’t control a lot of things, but we may as well reduce the exposure when we can!
#5: Add in some liver herbs and nutrients
If someone needs a little extra help and they get the all clear from their doctor, herbal medicine and specific nutrients can be really beneficial.
Certain plants make constituents that have been shown to support liver health, working as detoxification aids or as protectors from fibrosis and other liver diseases. Examples are Milk thistle, Burdock, Dandelion root, Yellow dock, turmeric, gentian….the list goes on. Herbs work best synergistically so I will typically make an individualized tincture containing a few of these herbs.
Nutrients that typically are used are antioxidants, amino acids, and glutathione conjugation supporters. Examples are vitamins C, E, A, and selenium, B-vitamins (methylated), NAC, glycine, taurine…ect. I use a couple different capsulated products that use a combination of these from brands I trust.
As you can see, a detox doesn’t have to be a super restricted diet or a juice fast. These methods can have their place and may be a fast way to help clear out your body, true, but if we focus on sustainable changes in our diet and lifestyle that we implement DAILY, we will always be detoxing to our best potential and lead to a healthier body over time. If you have questions about the best way to support YOUR detox pathways, please reach out! Free 15min phone consults always welcome :)
Dr. Jessie Miller is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Wheat Ridge, CO. She focuses on Women's health, pediatrics, and GI. She has 2 boys who keep her on her toes and a husband who keeps the adventures coming!