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With the New Year well underway, many people are already starting to put their resolutions into practice. It has become part of the ritual associated with the holidays, but is not only about “overindulgence remorse”. It is actually an ancient practice that goes along with the return of the sun after Winter Solstice. As the days slowly start to get longer we want to be more energetic and active and vital. In addition to the usual self-resolve to lose some extra pounds or have a more consistent exercise routine, many people include detox among their New Year’s resolutions — a cleanse can be a great way to reset metabolism, bolster immunity, and refresh vital energy.
As an integrative physician, I have guided my patients through various kinds of detox programs for over 30 years, and what I’ve found is that gentle is better. You don’t need to feel “bad to feel good”. The truth is, detox can be a gentle, gradual and — yes — enjoyable process, when we focus on nourishing foods and targeted supplements. These minor adjustments can make a big difference in our health, vitality and overall well-being.
The food solution
The right foods can detoxify and heal our bodies, increase vitality and add years to our lives while other foods get us hooked into an addictive cycle. How do we make the right choices? There are some general guidelines that work well for most people. For anyone with digestive issues or other chronic health problems, taking an individualized approach is needed.
Inflammation is Key: Low level chronic inflammation is a primary root of chronic illness and accelerated aging. So how does this relate to diet? A study in the Journal of Nutrition gathered data on a whole battery of pro- and anti-inflammatory markers measured in participants’ blood who consumed particular foods. They then created a wonderful tool, an Inflammatory Index for 2400 foods. This makes it easy for you to check any particular food, or to analyze your current diet and make adjustments to make your diet more anti-inflammatory.
It’s no surprise that an anti-inflammatory diet has a foundation of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods, like sprouted grains, nuts and legumes, highly colored vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and lean proteins. And no surprise that processed white flour products, alcohol, sugars, trans fats and excess vegetable oils high in Omega-6 are all pro-inflammatory.
And what about healthy foods like eggs, tofu, and organic dairy products? This is where the individualized approach comes is important. Identifying food sensitivities is an important first step in any comprehensive detox program. Even someone who eats a healthy diet may be increasing inflammation unknowingly, by eating foods that their bodies recognize as “toxic.” A specialist in food allergies can test for common sensitivities to foods like dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, and others. Another way to test is to follow an elimination diet for two weeks, cutting out common sensitivity-producing foods, and then add each one back in every few days, monitoring your symptoms.
Good foods and herbs for detox support
Greens, including cruciferous vegies are often the foundation of a cleanse. The cruciferous family – cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and broccoli sprouts, kale, and Brussels sprouts support hormone metabolism, as well as detoxification. One study found that people who consumed broccoli sprouts were more successful at removing the toxic compound benzene from their bodies. Hydration is all important – some good choices include vegetable broth, herbal teas, fresh vegetable juice, and of course lots of water. Include herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion, burdock root, astragalus, cilantro, and ginkgo – all support detoxification by targeting different organs and systems.
Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchee have become an essential part of healthy eating and for good reason – they are rich in probiotic bacteria, enzymes and nutrients that support detox and maintenance of a healthy microbiome.
One of my favorite recommendations during a cleanse is a lemon-olive oil drink regimen excellent for both liver and gall bladder. The mixture is made by blending an organic lemon, cut into pieces, 1¼ cups spring water and a tablespoon of olive oil. Partially strain the mixture, leaving some pulp. Drink before bed.
So, plan ahead, pick a time frame that suits your schedule – it could be a day, a weekend a week, or more depending on your goals. Or it could be a more gradual process of changing incorporating healthier practices.
Extra help from targeted supplements
Heavy metals are everywhere in our environment, food and water. Even organic food can contain heavy metals as was discovered recently with arsenic in rice, especially brown rice. I have developed a supplement that addresses the two major issues with these and other toxins – getting rid of what we already have in our bodies, and preventing incoming toxins from getting absorbed. PectaClear® — is a blend of PectaSol-C® Modified Citrus Pectin and alginates from seaweed. The modified pectin portion is easily absorbed into the systemic circulation where it binds tightly to heavy metals, without depleting essential minerals. The alginates remain in the digestive system to bind to toxins before they are allowed entry. This makes it an excellent gentle formula to use on a daily basis.
I’ve also developed a comprehensive formula for more in-depth detoxification, ecoDetox®, a blend of botanical extracts and nutrients that optimize the body’s natural detox functions. The ingredients in this formula support not only the liver, but also the kidneys, skin and other organs of elimination, while providing antioxidant and vital energy support that is necessary for successful detoxification.
The combination of PectaClear and ecoDetox provides toxin binding capabilities with extensive support for our complex inherent detoxification systems. Along with a nutrient-dense anti-inflammatory diet and regular exercise, you’re well on your way to fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions.