March 31, 2021
Don’t let fancy detox packages fool you - you know that the secret to a healthy detox has nothing to do with what you buy. Have you seen the trendy detox claims, and are left wondering is it possible to do a healthy detox? Since your body naturally detoxifies itself every day, you technically don't have to do a detox. But, if your closet looks like mine, you'll understand that even when we have the best intentions we don't always keep ourselves "clean"and in perfect order. Like your closet, it's occasionally helpful to spend a little time tidying up - that’s what a detox is. Here’s are secrets science knows about how to do a healthy detox.
You wake up in the morning feeling like a rock star, jump out of bed, drink a glass of water, and head down to enjoy a green tea smoothie, tapping your toes to a great beat you head off to get a sweaty workout started. Oh, pardon me? Does that not sound like you? Is your morning more relatable to a scene involving an alarm clock being tossed across the room, followed by scuffling feet towards the coffee maker? If so, maybe it is time for a detox.
If you are struggling with these symptoms, it might be time to take some time to help your body catch up on it's detoxification efforts.
Short for detoxification, a detox is similar to cleaning out the closet. The closet, like your body, is great at keeping you fueled with the right wear for the day, but over time it can get a little messy. Things fall off the hangers, drop to the floor, and become covered in dust balls in the back corner of the closet. Every now and then, you get in there and give that closet a good clean. It feels so great, to spring clean the closets. It may even put a spring in your step when you open that closet after, efficiently grab what you need, and leave perfectly dressed to take on whatever the day throws at you. Your body also has dust-covered things building up in its proverbial corners, and it’s helpful to take some time and clean things up. Enter the concept of a detox. Don’t get me wrong – your body is impressive at cleaning itself up. There’s your liver, kidneys, skin, and colon all working to keep you, spick and span!
These detoxification organs remove toxins and waste from your body, but they aren’t perfect (similar to how despite all of your intentions to always properly hang your clothes, some are hanging half on the hanger, while others have fallen to the floor). Sometimes the load put upon your detox organs can be overwhelming – remembering that alcohol, sugar, and stress can hinder your body’s ability to detoxify itself. Since you likely ran into all of these unhelpful factors at the latest birthday party you attended or family holiday meal, it’s possible your detoxification organs could use some help cleaning up. Here are secrets from science, you should know, on how to do a healthy spring detox.
When your body is well-hydrated it’s able to flush out any toxins it’s trying to eliminate. Drink up! Science points to the importance of hydration in health, specifically in skin health, neurological function (headache, mood, cognition), digestive health (constipation), and kidney function.
Foods rich in fiber, such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds are helpful as they trap toxins in the gut and help carry them out when you visit the porcelain throne. In fact, eating more dietary fiber has effects beyond the gut, say scientists. Dietary fibers alter the gut’s microbiome, which influences the guts’ immune and hormone responses, and can alter the detoxification organs, like the liver and kidneys.
Give your liver some help as it’s working hard to remove toxins from your body, and send them into your digestive tract for elimination. Nutrients that support the liver include milk thistle which has been used in herbal medicine to support liver function, according to Health Canada.
Getting sweaty is a great way to help your skin. When the skin sweats it is able to excrete certain metals better than other detox organs, according to scientists. Sweating deserves consideration as a detoxification option. Try hot yoga, a sauna, or get active doing your favourite physical activity.
Consider cleaning up your act. The products you put in your body, such as sugar and alcohol, that aren’t healthy don’t make you feel good, so why not take a break from them, and clean up your eating habits a little. Oh, and remember your skin – it absorbs everything you put on it. Consider switching to organic, natural cosmetics, skin creams, soaps, and laundry detergents.
Organic foods are not grown with pesticides, which are toxins your body has to tackle. Scientists note the use of pesticides leaves residues in conventional fruits and vegetables, which constitutes the main source of human pesticide exposure.
Certain foods help detoxify your body. The most commonly discussed include lemons, usually in the form of drinking lemon water to improve hydration while consuming antioxidants. Apples are a source of antioxidants and soluble fiber that helps trap toxins in the gut. Garlic contains allicin, which research suggests enhances detoxification of liver cells. Turmeric appears in research studies to help liver cells deal with pesticides.
The theory is that antioxidants in green tea can help detoxify the body. You may have read about it on trendy websites. A healthy green tea detox does not include heavy restrictions on dietary intake, but simply eating clean, such as organic, plant-based foods, as much as possible, while consuming a few cups of green tea each day. Studies suggest 2-3 cups of green tea per day, or 240-320mg of polyphenols is an optimal consumption of this beverage, the second most popular drink in the world, after water.
Let’s boil down the details, and steep for a while in the science so we can understand if the green tea detox works? Healthy atoms in the body contain an even amount of electrons. Free radicals are unhappy atoms that will steal electrons from happy atoms. Free radicals can accumulate and cause oxidative stress, leading to illness. Antioxidants help make free radicals happy atoms again. Green tea contains helpful compounds called polyphenols, an antioxidant, that interrupts the harmful free radicals chain reaction. Consumption of green tea boosts the production of a crucial enzyme, called glutathione S-transferase, say scientists that turn harmful chemicals into non-toxic chemicals. That’s how a green tea detox works – science is so cool!
Here are links to the studies mentioned in this blog:
Narrative review of hydration and selected health outcomes in the general population. Nutrients 2019 Jan; 11(1): 70.
Milk Thistle, Monograph. Health Canada 2021.
Silybin, a major bioactive component of milk thistle (Silybum marianum L. Gaernt.) – chemistry, bioavailability and metabolism. Molecules 2017 Nov; 22(11): 1942.
Impact of dietary fibers on nutrient management and detoxification organs: gut, liver and kidneys. Adv Nutr 2016 Nov; 7(6): 1111-1121.
Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review. Environ Health 2017; 16:111.
The toxic truth about sugar. Nature 2012 Feb; 482, 27-29.
Allicin modulates the antioxidant and detoxification capabilities of primary rat hepatocytes. J Tradit Complement Med 2012 Oct-Dec; 2(4): 323-330.
Protectivec mechanism of turmeric (Curcuma longa) on carbofuran-induced hermatological and hepatic toxicities in a rat model. Pharm Biol 2017; 55(1): 1937-1945.
Beneficial effects of green tea: a literature review. Chin Med 2010; 5:13.
The beneficial effects of green tea – a review. J Am Coll Nutr 2006; 25(2): 79-99.
Green tea supplementation increases glutathione and plasma antioxidant capacity in adults with the metabolic syndrome. Nutr Res 2013 Mar; 33(3): 180-187.
Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat: a systematic review. J Environ Public Health 2012 Feb; 184745.
This blog was sponsored by Millennia Tea.
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