Its that time of year isn't it when all the detox programs come out, but what is it all about and is it necessary to do a detox.
Detoxification as we think of it is actually the 'biotransformation' of potentially harmful substances and compounds, so they can be safely eliminated out of the body. These substances and compounds are produced both within our body and found in the environment. Food, drink and medications all need to be detoxified as well other molecules such as toxic metals, pollution, plastics, toxins, mould, pesticides, alcohol, and the many chemicals found in beauty products and cleaning products. To name but a few!
Studies on the affect of toxicity from chemicals found in our environment are not new. As we age all of us are gradually accumulating more and more of these chemicals with the average person being exposed to well over 500 chemicals per day! The extent to which we are affected by these toxins depends on our level of exposure and the ability of our detoxification systems.
The good news is that our body is detoxifying all the time with the main detox organ being the liver, whilst others, the kidneys, lungs, skin and digestive system also helping to eliminate toxins out of the body. To work properly these systems need a variety of nutrients, co factors (helping other nutrients), enzymes ( to help reactions take place) and elimination pathways to work properly.
Some of the signs of poor detoxification may include sluggishness, headaches, low energy and fatigue, dark circles under the eyes, low mood and irritation and skin breakouts. Here are 5 ways you can lower your toxic load.
1) Try and reduce toxins from foods and drink. For example eating organic would reduce pesticide exposure. You could start by looking at the clean 15 produced by the environmental working group here.
2) Ensure you eat a good range of colourful fruit and vegetables supplying the antioxidants to support detoxification systems.
3) Use more natural beauty and cleaning products.
4) Use glass storage and baking paper instead of plastics, cling film or tin foil.
5)Try and get active and sweaty everyday to promote elimination through the skin.
Some people who otherwise feel their diet and lifestyle is 'clean' but still don't 'feel right' might require further targeted nutritional recommendations to support detoxification pathways. Certain nutrient deficiencies or genetic factors for example can compromise detoxification systems. I found I have a specific compromised gene which means I have a reduced capacity for producing an enzyme responsible for clearing toxins potentially leading to an increased risk of chemical sensitivity. Supporting the detoxifications systems through nutrition does not mean a strict juice cleanse or restrictive diet rather changes that can be implemented everyday to ensure the nutrients needed for adequate detoxification are there. Its possible through diet and lifestyle to improve detoxification but sometimes you may also need added supplement support.
Hope this helps! xx