Liver Detox: Do we need to detox or is it another myth?
We read so much in the media about new potions to help you detox such as activated charcoal, detox drinks and diets, it leads to the question - do we really need to go on a strict detox or does the body do a good job on its own?
Our body has 5 major organs of detoxification to remove any harmful chemicals and pollutants from our system.
These systems are designed to effectively process and protect us from exposure to daily toxins and our bodies are usually very capable in this process. However if any of these systems become over burdened by poor lifestyle choices, environmental pollutants, medications or genetic weaknesses we can find ourselves feeling below average and at worst on the brink of disease.
The purpose of a detox is to ease the stress of the body’s organs and aid the removal of toxins. Environmental factors, stress, poor diet, medications, smoking etc. can all add extra stress to our detoxification systems, especially the liver. If you are eating a well balanced healthy diet there is no need to 'detox' your body. If however you have been partying a little too hard, overdoing the alcohol or processed foods then lightening up your diet can go a long way to helping you feel fit and fabulous.
Signs you need a detox!
Include; feeling sluggish, a low mood, a lack of energy and having general malaise. If you experience the following symptoms it may be time to detox:
Dark circles around the eyes
Brown spots or liver spots on the skin
Sensitivity to sulphites in wine and champagne (this can also be due to a deficiency in the mineral molybdenum).
A variety of lifestyle and dietary changes may be required to cleanse your body naturally. For the first few days leading up to the detox slowly reduce your intake of tea, coffee, alcohol, salt and processed foods. This will reduce possible detox side effects and withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, sugar cravings, nausea and headaches.
Try a gentle cleanse to help to kick start cleansing of your body's organs and aid the removal of toxins.
Avoid smoking or being around cigarette smoke.
Avoid heavily processed foods high in salt and sugar
Avoid processed meats such as ham, bacon, salami, sausages
Avoid adding sugar to drinks or meals
Limit coffee to one good quality, freshly brewed cup per day
Stay away from toxic relationships and environments that you know will lead you astray
Always wash fruits and vegetables before eating them to remove pesticide residues. Choose organic where possible.
Avoid heating foods in plastic containers in the microwave, wrapping foods in plastic and drinking/eating out of plastic. The plastic can leach toxic chemicals into the foods. The softer the plastic usually the more toxic it is so avoid wrapping food, particularly high fat foods, in plastic. These chemicals can have an oestrogen like activity within our bodies which accumulate over time in fatty tissues such as our brain, breast tissue and liver. This can lead to oestrogen dominance and increase the potential health risks that come with it such as infertility and oestrogen based cancers.
Avoid taking unnecessary medications unless prescribed by a doctor. Medications such as paracetamol and sleeping tablets add extra work for the liver so only take them if you really need to.
Raw fresh juice is a wonderful way to increase nutrients in the diet and support liver health.
Fruits and vegetables that are good to use as cleansing juices include:
Red and green cabbage
Bone broth based soups are an excellent way to get extra nutrients in your diet. Bone broth is rich in minerals and vitamins to help support a healthy body and it also contains gelatin. Gelatin is wonderful for hair, skin and bones and also helps gut health by maintaining the integrity of the lining of the gut. When our gut health is good it helps maximise nutrient absorption, and liver support.
Upping the fibre in the diet is imperative for our general health and well being. Fibre helps to remove toxins from the system, helps maintain blood sugar, cholesterol and hormonal balance and helps regulate bowel function. Ensure your diet is full of fresh fruits, vegetables and wholegrains such as oats and brown rice.
Get Moving! Exercise & other tips to help you feel better
Our sedentary lifestyles have a strong link to a variety of disease however the good news is that we can reduce our risk factors by simply upping the amount of exercise that we do. Daily exercise is essential to help lower blood sugar levels, aid weight loss, tone muscles, strengthen bones, balance hormones and release feel good endorphins. Exercise also encourages fresh oxygen to our cells and helps to remove waste materials from our cells. If you are not used to exercise start by including a brisk 20 – 30 minute daily walk. This is a good way to de stress and stimulates the lymphatic system to aid the removal of toxins.
Dry Body Brush
The lymphatic system is an extremely important system of the body which often gets overlooked. The lymphatic system is multifunctional not only does it work like a waste disposal system, removing toxins and waste from our cells, it also transports fat and fat soluble vitamins to the bloodstream via lymphatic vessels. The major role of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a straw coloured fluid which carries immune fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.
If our lymphatic system is sluggish this compromises the removal of toxins from our body and also our immune system.
A simple way to kick start the lymphatic system to aid the removal of toxins in the body is to dry body brush. A natural bristle brush can be purchased from most health foods stores, pharmacies and even some supermarkets.
Use the body brush on dry skin each morning before you shower. Start at your ankles as you work your way up your legs using gentle and extensive movements until you reach the upper thigh. Spend extra time on stubborn areas of cellulite. After that, begin brushing the fingertips, again working up to the arms, the shoulders, and then the upper chest. Continue brushing towards the lymph nodes in the armpits, then brush the body, your back, and then finish with the abdomen in clockwise motions. Avoid brushing over any sensitive areas, sunburn, cuts or abrasions. Avoid the face.
Massage and Relaxation
Massage is a wonderful way to relax and detoxify the mind and body. There are many different types of massage techniques available and different styles suit different preferences. For additional detox benefits my favourite techniques are lymphatic drainage massage, remedial massage, shiatsu, reflexology and aromatherapy.
Be sure to rest after any massage or body treatment and drink plenty of clean water.
To detox stress and tension from your daily life try a hatha yoga class or practice deep-breathing and meditation.
A warm bath with a couple of drops of lavender essential oil can aid relaxation.
Epsom salt baths, magnesium sulphate are another wonderful way to aid relaxation and cleansing of the body
Add two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. Do this once to three times per week.
If you are pregnant or have any health concerns such as poor liver or methylation function, please check with your doctor before using Epsom salts