Let’s just address the elephant in the room: DETOX is a buzzword. There, we said it! Whew! So now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk.
I know I’ve met quite a few people that scoff at the idea of completing a detox, and maybe you’re one of them or on the fence about it. BUT, here you are, at least reading and educating yourself on the what and why we do a detox.
Completing a detox is truly a staple in functional medicine, and therefore a staple here at Incredible Health … and for good reason!
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you look and/or feel bloated?
- Do you have difficulty sleeping?
- Do you experience energy crashes or lack energy in general?
- Do you have a hard time concentrating?
- Do you have joint pain?
- Do you experience an upset stomach or other digestive issues after eating certain foods?
- Do you live or work around highly polluted areas?
- Do you drink alcohol, especially on a regular basis or in excess?
- Do you consume foods that are either packaged or fried?
- Do you wear cologne/perfume or use any hygienic products that aren’t “natural”?
How many did you say “yes” to? I have yet to meet someone that says “no” to all of these.
Did you know that every year, there are more than 4 billion pounds of chemicals released into our environment? When you pair that type of chemical environment with a poor diet, you are overtaxing your body. Completing a detoxification helps clean up the internal environment by providing advanced and targeted nutritional support so your body is able to eliminate the unwanted and harmful chemicals.
So first, let’s address what detoxification is.
What does it mean to Detox?
There is a lot of room for weird and complete quacky (yes, I just made that a word) types of things when it comes to doing a detox. A lot of people ask me if it is the lemon water thing or if I am going to make them start juicing or fasting.
Guess what?! That is not what’s asked of you while completing a detox. Although – side note – lemon water has plenty of benefits.
The purpose of a detox is to reduce the toxic load you and the environment place on your body. We do this by reducing your exposure to the toxins, clean up the diet through lifestyle modifications and provide the proper supplementation in order to refresh your liver and gut.
Why the liver?
The liver is the largest organ in the body and is responsible for multiple vital functions. Here are some of its functions:
- Produces bile which help break down fats in the small intestine
- Stores glucose as glycogen to be used when energy is needed
- Metabolizes proteins and carbohydrates
- Stores vitamins A, D, K, B12, iron, copper and folate
- And…. Primary organ for detoxification (you knew it was coming)
During the detoxification process, the following are eliminated from the liver?
- Alcohol and chemicals
- Drugs (anti-inflammatories, pain killers, oral contraceptive, etc.)
- Micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc.)
- Old and unhealthy cells
How does the liver do this?
You liver is like a giant factory for your body. Let’s follow a piece of food through your digestive system to give you an idea of what I mean.
Once you chew up your food, it creates a ball of food (bolus) that you swallow. The food travels down your esophagus and into your stomach. While there, stomach acid happily greets the food to begin breaking it down so it can be absorbed by the body. As the stomach clears, the partially broken down food moves into the small intestine. Nutrients (and chemicals) are also absorbed into the blood.
As these small particles enter your blood stream, they are routed to your liver to begin the filtering process. The liver will convert the sugar into glycogen and then store it for later use when the body needs energy. It will also convert amino acids to proteins for the body to use for building muscle. The liver is also responsible for producing bile that will be stored and used by the gall bladder to help break down fatty foods.
Your liver is the main filter for your blood, and this means it is also responsible for removing the toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream. The toxins and chemicals that are removed range from the environment we are exposed to, the type of food/medications we digest and also the end products from regular digestion. Anything that your liver cannot actually use will be packaged into bile and delivered back to the small intestine or will be carried to your kidneys for further filtering.
The liver is a natural detoxifying organ that has two phases of detoxing. In Phase I, enzymes convert non-water soluble chemicals into water soluble chemicals to be eliminated by the body easier. There are also harmful free radicals that are formed as a result of this but they are either neutralized or converted to harmless water by antioxidants.
In Phase II of liver detoxifying, the intermediate substances are converted to more water-soluble compounds and excreted from the body through the urine. This conversion process is called conjugation. The liver binds a water soluble molecule, which comes from your diet, to these chemicals to make them water soluble and prepare them for elimination.
There needs to be balance of these phases so that as the toxins and free radicals are produced in Phase I, Phase II is able to deal with them in a timely matter. If toxins are broken down quickly in Phase I but Phase II isn’t able to keep up, toxins and chemicals will build up in your body. Free radicals are very dangerous, and if the liver isn’t able to neutralize them, they can begin causing a lot of damage.
The liver is pretty important for the detoxifying alone, but did you know it does a lot more that effects your entire body. It helps convert Vitamin D to a more usable form so it can aid in calcium absorption. The liver breaks down and clears certain hormones from your blood, including insulin, estrogen and cortisol.
Another crucial function the liver plays is regulating our blood sugar. During digestion, glucose is released into the blood stream. The liver converts all of the leftovers into glycogen for storage to be used for energy when your body needs it later. This helps to keep your blood sugar in check, so there is less glucose circulating in your bloodstream at any given time.
So, as you can see, the liver is VERY important and needs to be taken care of.
You may be asking yourself, how does a detox help to support our biggest detoxifying organ?!
The detox is there to support your liver to do its job better and clean out the sludge that could be creating problems, especially creating an unbalanced Phase I and Phase II.
How Do You Complete a Detox?
We have two different programs available. One involves taking supplements in the morning before breakfast and before dinner. The other one involves taking supplements and shakes during the day. Both include eating food though, and plenty of it. You will receive a meal plan for both of them.
The process is very simple. Depending on how good/bad your diet currently is, will determine if you need to do a dietary transition phase before beginning the protocols. That is the first step: reduce the toxic load on your liver and body. A dietary transition may be provided to help guide you before you get started.
As you get started in the actual detox, there is an elimination diet. The programs will provide you with a list of foods to eat and what foods to exclude during the protocol. You will be removing high allergen items: corn, soy, wheat/gluten, eggs, dairy, shell fish, and peanuts. Some other things that are not allowed while on the detox are alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and (for a portion of the plan) no red meat. You will be drinking PLENTY of water throughout this process! The water helps with waste removal, besides, most people don’t drink nearly enough water anyways.
With these foods removed, the medical detoxification (what we refer to as completing a detox) provides specific nutrients to help fortify the natural liver detoxification pathways. You will maintain this diet for a short period of time before reintroducing any of the allergen foods that were removed.
When it is time to reintroduce foods, you will do so slowly to do a self-inventory on whether or not that food has any adverse effects on your body. The things we typically see with people with an intolerance to a food upon reintroduction is headaches, joint pain/swelling, upset stomach, fatigue, bloating, gas and/or diarrhea. If you experience something like that, we know that you should avoid those types of foods. One food we do not support reintroducing is gluten (the sticky proteins of a certain grains- wheat, barley, rye, etc.)
A detox has a very specific and science-based definition within Functional Medicine. The goal of a detox is to modify dietary intake and supplement nutritional co-factors that support the body’s detoxification pathways. By doing this, it can alleviate the toxic burden and reduce incoming toxic exposures, while providing the body with nutrients known to support the body’s natural capacity to remove toxins.
When Should I Detox?
It is recommended that you complete a detox every six months. Because your liver, and body, is detoxifying 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is good to give it some support. Try doing some “Spring Cleaning” around March and do another one in the fall before the holidays kick off around September or October.
Which Detox is Best for Me?
We have two different detoxification products. One is called Metabolic Rejuvenation by Douglas Laboratories and is my personal favorite because it is just one pill packet in the morning and one pill packet in the evening and then you are eating food other than that. This protocol is 28 days long and is best for people that need a little more time to get their new lifestyle diet in order and make healthy eating a habit. It does fortify a healthy routine and types of foods you would see in a regular lifestyle diet. It is also good for regular detox maintenance every six months, especially if you are not good with medical foods like what are included in the other detox product.
The other detox product is Clear Change by Metagenics. This product is 10 days long and is best for people that have already completed their first detox and are just cleaning things up. This is not ideal if you are needing to get “back on the wagon” again because you aren’t likely to stick with healthy habits after just 10 days, you need a little longer. This protocol involves taking pills and medical food shakes during the day. There are a few flavors to choose from though including peach, vanilla, chai and berry!
If you are ready to get started, give us a call us at 480-418-3678 and set up a FREE 15 minute consultation with one of the Wellness Coordinators to explain each detox and figure out which would be best for you and answer any other questions you may have.