Detox: Dirty Word or Important Habit?

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3 weeks to finally get well? Believe it. This 3 week protocol can give your body a total reset, clearing out inflammation, shedding body fat (15 lbs is typical), balancing blood sugar, clearing skin, banishing brain fog, increasing energy and mental clarity. If these 3 weeks don’t put you on the path to finally getting well then there is a much deeper issue that requires the help of a good integrative/functional medicine practitioner. This article is on toxins & detoxification, and yes, the 3 week protocol is a detoxification protocol. I know the term “detoxification” carries with it a bit of a stigma, but bear with me here and you will understand why this can be the answer for you and many others.

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Personally, I’ve flip flopped on my opinion on detoxes over the years. Years ago during my phase of being obsessed with the gym and nutrition I remember learning how toxins can be stored in fat cells, and how the body does not want to release these toxins back into the bloodstream and so it holds on to them, it holds on to that fat resulting in that stubborn body fat you can’t seem to lose. Made sense to me, I was on board.

Some time later, I remember watching a video from a health and fitness professional saying something along the lines of, “…anyone who tells you your body needs to detox, or that you need to do a detox diet, is an idiot and doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” and just like that I was now on the anti-detox bandwagon and spreading that advice to friends and family. How easily swayed I was by popular opinion and people “in the know”.

Fast forward to the present day, and with my education in natural integrative health, things have come full circle and I’m back on board the detox train, for good this time. The fact is, toxins are REAL and it’s just no longer debatable. Heck, even in conventional medicine, aspiring MD’s have to take classes on Toxicology.

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So how bad is it? And should you be worried? Let’s look at the facts. The World Health Organisation along with The Environmental Working Group keeps track of all the synthetic chemicals produced and released into the environment by man. In the US there are almost 100,000 man made chemicals (potential toxins) in the environment. This number is much less in Europe, and less still in Australia, but the numbers are still in the thousands and thousands. Many of these chemicals have never been tested for safety and MOST of these have never been tested together. To not know how these chemicals/toxins may combine or interact and the potential effects on our body, when there are so many out there, that is concerning in my opinion.

For instance, what is the effect when glyphosate (pesticide) is mixed with mercury? Both are actually found in tap water, eeek. Both are proven poisons in their own right, but what about together? We don’t know. Does it add to the already proven carcinogenic effect of glyphosate? Does it cause neurological damage? Does it contribute to autoimmune disease? We don’t know, and that’s just 2 out of thousands. These companies aren’t forced to test what happens when these chemicals interact with each other. Instead, our bodies are essentially the test subject. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sit right with me.

Why should you even worry about toxins being in your body? Well lets use mercury as an example again: You can get mercury from eating fish high in the food chain (tuna, swordfish, shark etc.) or through tap water as already mentioned, through dental mercury amalgam fillings, just to name a few. Mercury is so poisonous to our body that when a small thermometer filled with mercury is broken in a house, the advice is to evacuate the house immediately. I don’t want that shit circulating in my body if it’s that poisonous. That is one example of a toxin, out of thousands and thousands.

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I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom, there is good news among the bad news. The BAD news is, there really is no way we can avoid being exposed to these toxins. They are everywhere. They’re in our food, in our water, in the air, in your furniture, in your house, in the carpet, in your shampoo, your toothpaste, your deodorant, your make up, your sunscreen… everywhere. The GOOD news is we aren’t completely helpless, we can minimise the effects these toxins have on our body and support it in detoxification to still lead a long and healthy life. You can still be the cool, old AF granny/pa moving and shaking your way through life, not giving a f*ck (as a lot of old people seem to be haha), and enjoying every minute of your time on this Earth.

So what about those people that say we don’t need to do anything to detox? That our liver takes care of that for us? Yes our liver is amazing and does an incredible job of getting toxins ready for removal from our body. Our liver filters (it’s not actually a filter, but it’s easier to think of it that way for now) all the blood in our body every 6 minutes, continuously, for your whole life. Let’s repeat that… all the blood in your body passes through your liver, where toxins are broken down, every 6 minutes. That’s how freaking amazing our liver is and how hard it works. However, let’s think logically here… our liver evolved in a time where there weren’t thousands and thousands of toxins in the environment, it was just nature. The fact that it’s still keeping up and able to handle ANY of these new man made toxins, is a true testament to the amazing thing that is our body is, and it’s capacity to keep us alive. The thing is though, it really hasn’t been all that long since all these new toxins have come into our environment. Relatively speaking, the industrial age wasn’t all that long ago. Modern science and technology and all that it brings isn’t all that long ago. Our bodies do not evolve and adapt that fast. Our liver was not designed to cope with this level of toxin exposure.

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If we just forget about scientific data and proof and studies for a second, and look at history, at what has been done for thousands of years… all major cultures and religions throughout history incorporated detoxification based processes into their health care. This starts with what some consider the original form of medicine, coming out of India, which is Ayurvedic medicine. They always incorporated seasonal detoxes to make sure they were getting these toxins out of their body on a regular basis…. and they didn’t have ANY of the man made toxins we have today, let alone the thousands and thousands we are being exposed to on a daily basis. It amazes me how these cultures knew to take some of the health care measures that they did, measures that are being proven by science now.

Ok now let’s talk science. Modern science in all it’s glory has allowed us to identify how the liver works, and just exactly what it needs to be able to do its job properly. There are many, many ways to help our body detoxify but the absolute most effective way to support our liver is through a functional medicine (liver) detox. We use the term “functional medicine” as the fancy term that basically means that this is a detox that looks at exactly what the liver needs to get toxins ready for removal (the liver doesn’t actually filter or remove the toxins, it just changes the toxin to a form that can be passed out of the body through sweat, breath, urine or feces).

In order to carry out its job effectively the liver needs certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants, and if it doesn’t have them, it can’t process the toxin properly, and the toxin can’t be eliminated from the body this time around. There is no guess work in a functional medicine detox, the required nutrients are known, and they are delivered in a usable form via state of the art supplements, and a diet that eliminates common inflammatory ingredients such as dairy, gluten, eggs (whites), soy, grains, nuts, corn, red meat, caffeine. This is done in the SHORT TERM… this is not a lifestyle diet.

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This is where the 3 weeks comes into play. Based on your goals and where your current health is at we are looking at anywhere from a 7-21 day functional medicine detox to restore and/or maintain health. We are for a short period (7/14/21 days) removing everything that can possibly aggravate the body and make our liver work hard, and adding everything the liver needs to do its job properly. It is a total body reset, a thorough cleaning of your blood. This is not a cleanse, a juice fast, or some other gimmicky detox diet you read about in the magazines (who even reads magazines these days?) or on the internet, this is a proper liver detox based on real science. 7 days is typically recommended seasonally (4x per year) to maintain optimal health and keep your body fighting fit year round, while 21 days is the NUMBER ONE recommendation for anyone struggling with their weight or any other type of health concern. I personally recommend everyone do the 21 day detox at least once, before then maintaining with 7 days seasonally each year after. You might like to dip your toe in the water with the 7 day first to see what it’s all about before jumping into the 21 day and that’s totally fine, they are both amazing options.

I’m not going to go deep into the science of how the liver processes toxins here, or the specifics of the detox protocol (please get in touch or comment if you’re interested), this article was more about identifying the reasons why one may want to incorporate detoxes into their lifestyle. If you’re the kind of person who won’t be bored out of their brains listening to me talk about how the liver processes toxins through phase 1/2 detoxification, you can check out my IGTV videos on my Instagram here. The rest of you just want to know the benefits right? What do you get out of it? It’s easy for me to say it helps you live longer and feel better and be healthier, but it’s hard to identify with that and get motivated by such general and longer term thinking. This is what most people report after a functional medicine detox (I’ve done a 21 day one myself):

  • Improved sleep

  • More energy

  • 5-20 lbs of weight loss (depending on 7/14/21 days)

  • Improvements in skin

  • Less cravings

  • Less bloating

  • Less brain fog and more clarity of mind

  • Lowered and stable blood sugar

  • A greater appreciation and mindset towards food

I personally experienced literally ALL of these things on my 21 day detox, no word of a lie. It’s not the answer to everything for everyone, but a true 21 day functional medicine detox can be the answer for a lot of people, if not a significant starting point for getting well again.

Detox your liver. It’s 4 Your Health.