Detox: “a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification.”
From time to time we all need a detox. The pace of this life is difficult to sustain. While sad, it’s no wonder our health rates and life expectancies are declining.
So what are some signs you’re ready for a detox, and what’s the best way to go about it?
There are times when it’s pretty obvious we need a detox. After 2 weeks of eating Christmas cookies and spinach dip, or a week of frozen fruity cocktails over spring break my body gives me some pretty obvious signs it’s time to clean up. Most notably a bloated belly and breakouts! No fun.
But sometimes the signs of needing a detox can be more subtle. The slow, yet consistent, accumulation of toxins in our body from a tainted food supply and stress can show up as any or several of the following symptoms:
- unexplained weight gain despite working out
- fatigue, yet poor sleep
- chronic pain
- belly bloat
- 3pm slump/sugar cravings
- anxiety, depression, mood swings
- digestive issues
- menopause, pre-menopause, PCOS, or other hormonal issues
All of these annoying issues are signs of a deeper problem. Your stress and hunger hormones are likely out of whack, your gut is probably inflamed, and your liver is likely asking for a break.
Stress, hormones, and your liver
Whenever your body is under a perceived threat (this could by physical or emotional), your body pumps adrenaline to help shunt blood away from your organs organs to your muscles, to fuel the “fight or flight.”
It also raises your respiratory and heart rate, constricting your blood vessels and thereby increasing blood pressure.
Adrenaline’s job is to help direct energy away from certain functions that aren’t a priority given the current danger (ie running from tiger) situation, such as digestion and reproduction.
Hence, when adrenaline is chronically stimulated, digestive and reproductive problems ensue.
And when adrenaline is chronically stimulated, cortisol steps up to the plate to help out.
Cortisol is another hormone, and it’s job is to help manage inflammation, metabolism, immune function, and thyroid hormone production.
Cortisol is meant to follow a daily cycle – it peaks in the morning with the sunrise, giving you natural energy to awaken. It gives you energy during the day, and tapers off towards evening so that you can rest and repair during your 7-9 hour sleep cycle.
So you can see how sleep issues can be a sign of too much stress in your system.
Now what about the liver?
One of the main jobs of your liver is to process and excrete toxins, cholesterol, and excess hormones. The EPA says we are exposed to over 80,000 chemicals just by living on this planet! You can run, but you can’t hide.
When we overrun our liver with too many toxins from junk food, and too much stress hormone, we weaken its abilities to do its job.
If you remember, the liver also produces bile, which helps your body eliminate waste and break down fats. It helps regulate blood sugar and store excess protein in carbohydrates.
Your liver does a lot!
So what do we do about it?
The human body amazes me at its resilience and capacity to heal itself, rebuild itself, and repair itself. You liver can actually completely regenerate itself! Our job is simply to create the best possible environment for healing to take place.
Breaking it waaaaaay down (because there are books and studies after study that you can read to dive deeper on this), detoxing comes down to:
- Removing toxins – this could be anything from NSAID medications to toxins from food, alcohol, sugar, plastic, cleaning agents, cosmetics, lotions, and soaps. Take an inventory of what you come into contact with and remove as much as is reasonable for your life.
- Nourish – revamp your meals and up-leveling your ingredients to exclude likely triggers (like gluten and sugar and dairy…really sorry!) and to include foods that will help heal your gut and ease inflammation (like healthy fats, fermented foods, and lots and lots of organic veggies). Start thinking of food as medicine. There are a lot of specific supplements and foods that the liver loves. Fiber helps your gut eliminate waste. Milk thistle, dandelion root, antixodiants, B vitamins, ginger, and tumeric all help support the healing and regeneration of the liver.
- Moving, breathing, and the inner dialogue. Moving your body gently, in a way that opens the lines of energy and joints but doesn’t tax your already fried adrenals is super helpful to lower cortisol and help you replenish. Whether you enjoy yoga, mindful meditation, or art, when you give your body the chance to slow down and pay attention you’ll be more aware and more empowered to stop and reverse the train before too much damage occurs.
As a nutrition coach I frequently work with people on revamping their eating habits to support better detoxification. If you are in need of additional support on your nutritional journey I invite you to contact me below to learn more about my programs.
I support my detoxing efforts with running and yoga. After all, sweating is detoxing!! Below I am sharing one of my quick and easy yoga routines to help supporting detoxing through digestion. Enjoy, and happy detoxing!
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