Detox: Your Internal Spring Cleaning
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
April is here - and spring is just around the corner. April is a month of change: it starts as winter and ends with green grass and leaves budding on the trees. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver and the gallbladder are associated with this season. The liver plays a crucial detoxification role in our bodies, helping to reduce free radicals and turn potentially harmful toxins into waste products to eliminate. The liver also produces bile (which the gallbladder stores) which helps us to digest fats in our foods.
We are exposed to many toxins in our environment on a daily basis – many of which have direct effects on our hormones. We are more susceptible to toxins in our bodies if our body’s detox organs (liver, intestines and kidneys) aren’t eliminating waste efficiently.
Do you have signs of toxicity?
Signs of too high a toxic burden can include:
Brain fog, memory issues
Fatigue, especially waking unrested after a full night’s sleep
Skin issues - including acne, rosacea, eczema
Heavy or painful periods
Are eliminating efficiently? Or are you susceptible to toxic overload?
You may be susceptible to toxicity if you are:
In a chronic stress state or are frequently in high stress situations
Sleeping less than 6 hours per night
Constipated or have sluggish bowels (not having at least one bowel movement daily, or needing your coffee to keep you ‘regular’)
Dealing with chronic health conditions or chronic inflammation
A regular alcohol consumer or have liver damage
A diabetic, have high blood sugar or kidney damage
Eating less than half your plate full of brightly coloured vegetables at most meals
Naturopathic medicine can support the liver to detoxify harmful chemicals and daily toxins that accumulate in our bodies. Before considering any detox diets, protocols or supplements, there are a few key pieces to ensure are in place.
How does your body detox?
I like to consider the detox process in three stages:
Elimination (your bowels and kidneys work to give you consistent, daily, easy-to-pass bowel movements), followed by
Conjugation (phase 2 of liver detox, which prevents free radicals from building up), and finally
Oxidation-reduction (phase 1 of liver detox).This stage is also activated by“toxins” like alcohol, coffee and stress.
I think the elimination stage of detox is often overlooked in its importance. In order to get your body eliminating well, you need to consider whether it is being burdened by things like food sensitivities (which cause inflammation in your gut and prevent proper elimination of toxins), dysbiosis of your gut (which has many causes, including antibiotic use, foreign travel, food poisoning, parasites, and even chronic stress!), or constipation/sluggish stools (which may be due to the factors above, or simply not getting enough fiber, vitamin C and magnesium in your diet).
Elimination is key to detoxification: What can you do to help this crucial detox step?
Eat a variety of colourful veggies at most meals (aim for at least half your plate full)
Instead of relying on wheat bran fiber (or coffee), eat more fibrous veggies instead! You can try adding 1 Tbsp psyllium flakes to water or food and follow with a large glass of water (or speak to me about prebiotic fibres that are gentle on sensitive bellies!)
Eat foods naturally high in magnesium – make sure you are at least meeting the 'recommended daily allowance' (RDA) which is between 310-420mg daily for adults, though if you're deficient, you may need much more! Eating more magnesium through food sources is safe - but supplementing at high doses may not me. See the list of magnesium-containing foods below.
Support your body's detoxification today!
Rich food sources of magnesium include:
Veg: dark green leafies (spinach, kale, chard, collard greens, mustard greens, beet greens) Green leafies: 1 cup (cooked) = ~160mg
Fish (fatty ones): salmon, halibut, mackerel Salmon: 3 oz = 110mg
Whole grains (only if tolerated – quinoa is my preferred pseudo-grain!) Quinoa: 1 cup = 126mg
Nuts & seeds (a small handful – caution if you are susceptible to gallstones): cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, chia seed Pumkin seeds: ¼ cup = 317mg Flax seeds: 2 Tbsp (ground) = 111mg Sunflower seed butter: 2 Tbsp = 100mg
Dark chocolate (at least 70%): 1 oz square = ~100mg
Legumes (well-cooked or fermented, if tolerated): peas/lentils/beans; soy if organic and fermented
Other (lower magnesium content): avocado, banana, dates
A sample day of foods:
160mg x 3 (green leafy veg - 3-4 cups of cooked leafy greens daily is a healthy dose of fibre and other minerals too) + 110mg (fish) + 126mg (quinoa) + ~100mg (handful of seeds or a dark chocolate square) = 816mg of magnesium!!
If you want help with supporting your body's innate detoxification pathways, I'm happy to help! Get that spring cleaning going on the inside too! Book an appointment with Dr. Natalie Senst, ND!
*If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, detox can be dangerous. Please book an appointment to see me and discuss your options for supporting your body in a safe way for your baby!