Going on a detox? Here’s what you need to know about detoxing, and importantly how to do it safely!
Detoxification, loosely defined, is removing toxins from your body. These may be pollutants, synthetic chemicals, and processed foods in your intake that needs to be eliminated from your body to keep it healthy.
When we’re talking about ‘detoxing’ the body, we’re referring to the process of having an optimally functioning stomach, intestines, and colon that actively clears out toxins. These digestive system parts process what we eat and drink by retaining only what our body needs and excreting waste. However, we mustn’t forget another vital organ in the detoxification process—our liver.
Detoxification is the body’s natural ability to remove or break down specific chemicals, which can become incredibly harmful if not excreted or if their concentrations become too high. Health problems can occur if our livers fail to maintain this balance.
The liver is one of the largest organs in our bodies, plays a central role in gut detox. One of its primary functions is to produce bile, a digestive fluid that turns fat into fatty acids that our bodies can use in several processes. It also cleanses the blood of chemicals that flow through our stomach and intestines, converting harmful ammonia in our bodies into a substance that we naturally pass through urination.
In short, think of your liver as your body’s toxin excretion centre. It works alongside the intestines that absorb the nutrients our bodies need, and the liver completes the picture.
Gut cleansing and detoxification isn’t just for those who suffer from an upset stomach, as is commonly believed. If you suffer from the following health complaints a detox or gut cleanse may also be beneficial for you:
The above symptoms may suggest your body is unable to detoxify efficiently and cannot rid itself of toxins. Fortunately, your body’s natural function is well-equipped to remove toxins and although the liver naturally processes detoxification, you can make several lifestyle and diet changes to boost its efficiency and strength.
In the process of detoxification, you can enjoy benefits such as improved gut health, smooth digestion, promotion of weight loss, and a holistic feeling of better physical well-being and overall health.
The important thing to understand is that there are no quick fixes, herbal teas, juice fasts, cleanses or crash diets that support detoxing. Your body’s detoxification requires accurate medical advice and care to achieve long-term health benefits.
Thankfully, our body already already knows how to remove toxins and detox properly so considering the handy tips below can help your body to do what it does best and restore your body’s functioning so you can feel your best!
If you’re looking for a natural detox give these tips a try:
A healthy gut is one of the many benefits of having a regular sleeping schedule.
The body’s sleep-wake cycle, known as its circadian rhythm, has long been found to be aligned with when your gut is also “awake” and ready to perform its digestive and gut detox functions. The circadian rhythm is also aligned with when the gut is “asleep” and similarly at rest.
A disruption in the circadian rhythm might mean you’re awake at night or in the early hours of the morning (and possibly consuming a meal or snack) whilst your gut is at rest and unable to process what you’re feeding it, leading to a potentially disrupted metabolism.
Aside from this, constantly being sleep deprived could result in an alteration of the bacterial diversity present in the gut. The digestive system needs a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria to perform its functions properly, one of which is gut detoxification.
Sleeping at least six hours a night, ensuring your sleep is undisturbed all night, and sticking to this habit can help your body detox effectively.
Keeping away from nicotine products is one of the most effective ways to maintain gut health and help the process of natural gut detox. Smoking, though historically associated with respiratory health, also affects digestive health.
It can cause a myriad of life-altering, painful, and difficult-to-treat digestive issues, all of which severely hamper the efficient functioning of the liver and other digestive organs. Smoking also disrupts the stomach’s microbial balance, inhibiting the growth of good bacteria necessary for detox, which can cause the bad bacteria to grow in abundance, making you feel ill.
Physical activity is so important in our efforts to detox because movement increases blood flow to all parts of our bodies, including our gut. When there is increased blood flow, organs perform better. When the gut receives ample blood flow, we can literally aid the intestines in “massaging” food as it passes through them, all the way down to the last step of waste excretion.
As for our liver, more physical activity equates to increased fatty acid oxidation, decreased fatty acid synthesis, and prevention of mitochondrial and hepatocellular damage. In other words, it lessened the chances of developing liver disease while increasing liver function efficiency.
Going on regular walks with pets, scheduling some time in your day for a nightly stroll, or getting outdoors during weekends are all simple things you can incorporate into your lifestyle to increase your level of physical activity.
Mindfulness and physical activity combined make a powerful method of detox. Studies have shown that exercising can reduce stress-induced gut disturbances and stress-related digestive diseases. Both mental and physical exercises are proven ways to control stress and its effects on the digestive system.
Frequent mindfulness practice can directly reduce the number of harmful bacteria in your gut, encourage the production of healthy bacteria, and help strengthen your intestines, the digestive organ is susceptible to chronic stress.
Drinking more water allows your body to remove waste from your blood more effectively. When the body undergoes a gut detox, food moves through the intestines more smoothly and is excreted when you’re sufficiently hydrated.
Without proper hydration, you risk stressing your intestines or liver as they could struggle to cleanse the body of toxins and keep the level of chemicals in our bodies manageable and safe.
A hydrated digestive system also means stomach acids and enzymes are broken down properly rather than left to stew in your stomach and cause discomfort. Hydration and liver functioning are also inseparable; the less hydrated you are, the more difficult it is for your liver to flush toxins from the body.
An unhealthy diet filled with synthetic ingredients and artificial flavours can decrease the number of bacteria present in your gut. If your diet doesn’t include foods from different food groups like meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and even nuts, dairy, and whole grains your gut may suffer negative effects.
Some of the most common dietary traps to look out for include:
If you’re looking to support detoxification, certain nutrients may help ensure a healthy detox process.
Zinc is an essential element required in multiple processes in the body. It has a substantial protective effect on the epithelial barrier in the gastrointestinal tract, such that a deficiency in the nutrient can lead to digestive problems. A lack of zinc may also result in liver problems.
Curcumin contains anti-inflammatory properties and studies have looked at its role in addressing disorders of the digestive system, especially ones that result from inflammation. It may also help with liver problems because of its antioxidant effects.
Keeping a healthy and balanced diet, supplemented by the right vitamins and nutrients, can ensure your gut’s health, ensuring that the microbiomes in your body continue to thrive and produce beneficial bacteria to keep a fully functioning digestive system.
It’s important to remember that there is no magic detoxing tea or pill that will offer a quick fix solution but the above methods can help your body to detox naturally and restore your body’s equilibrium.
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*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.