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11 Ways to Help Boost Detoxification

Now that Christmas is over you’re probably heading into January with good intentions towards your health. You’re not alone either; January’s the month where colleagues and friends chatter vaguely about ‘detoxing’ and making a fresh start to the year. But what is detoxing, really, and how can you do it properly?

What is detoxification?
Our body is constantly exposed to toxins; those made inside the body, such as used-up hormones and metabolic by-products; and those that come from our outside environment, such as those in food, cosmetics, and other chemicals. Toxins can contribute to disease and can make it difficult for the body to function at its best. Detoxification processes in the body handle these products, preparing and transforming them so that they can be safely removed.

Do I need to detox?
Each person reacts differently to toxic exposure and so the type and extent of symptoms of excess toxicity can vary greatly. Genetics can play a part in determining how efficiently you process toxins and certain genetic profiles can help to assess risk of poor detoxification.
Some common symptoms of impaired detoxification can include:

Dark circles under eyes
Lethargy or lack of energy
Poor concentration or memory
Intolerance to alcohol

As many toxins are stored in fat cells, improving detoxification should be a consideration with weight loss as these toxins may be released with the breakdown of fat.

If you have a high toxic load, rapid withdrawal from certain toxins or rapid changes in the diet can potentially worsen or create new symptoms, such as headaches or rashes. For this reason intensive detoxification is best carried out under professional supervision, and with proper justification of course. The guidelines provided here are to assist you with support your body’s detoxification processes.

How can Nutritional Therapy help?
Nutritional therapy focuses on both reducing toxic exposure and enhancing the detoxification process.

Reducing toxic exposure
  • Choose organic foods where possible to help lower your intake of pesticides, solvents and antibiotics. If this is not possible fruit and vegetables should be washed or peeled before eating. As animal fats can be a store for toxins, avoiding high fat dairy products and choosing lean cuts of meat can help to reduce toxin intake.

  • Reduce or avoid consumption of alcohol and caffeine. Please note that some people can experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms and so a gradual reduction is usually advised.

  • Eat as naturally as possible – food additives, dyes and colourings all require detoxification.

  • If you regularly take over the counter drugs, such as paracetamol or other painkillers, consider investigating the underlying cause of your symptoms with a practitioner.

  • Cooking methods can affect the amount of toxins generated during food preparation. Steaming and slow cooking are preferable to high temperature frying and raw foods can also be beneficial.

Enhancing the detoxification process
  • Protein helps to provide the amino acids (the breakdown products of protein metabolism) important for detoxification reactions. As well as avoiding too little protein, it is just as relevant to avoid too high an intake as this can increase the burden of toxic internal by products, such as ammonia.

  • Constipation increases the time that the processed toxins are held in your body and can allow some to be reabsorbed. Increasing fibre and water intake can help to prevent this and increase urinary frequency, important for eliminating toxins. Increasing fibre is best done by increasing vegetable and fruit consumption, as these will also increase your intake of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which are required to support the detoxification process. Filtered water is preferable to tap water as this can further reduce toxin exposure.

  • As you increase your vegetable consumption, focus in particular on dark, green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables contain particularly beneficial compounds, including glucosinolates, which are released and activated through chewing.

  • Certain foods are associated with supporting your liver. These include onions, garlic and beetroot. Bitter foods, such as chicory and rocket also fall in this category.

  • In addition to a nutrient rich diet, a good quality multi vitamin and mineral supplement can assist in providing some of the key nutrients to support detoxification. These include the B group of vitamins, vitamin C and selenium.

  • It is also important to bear in mind that exercise helps to breakdown fat, increase blood circulation and promote lymphatic circulation, all helpful in the detoxification process. Sweating can also help with the elimination of toxins.

As the different systems in the body are all interlinked, detoxification can be affected by or indeed affect other systems, such as the digestive, immune and communication systems. In this respect impaired detoxification can have a profound effect on the rest of the body.

If you would like to find out how well your body is carrying out the detoxification process or for individualised nutritional advice and a personalised food and nutrient plan to support your health then contact me.

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