Thank you to Pure Encapsulations® for sponsoring this article
As a human living in the 21st century, we are all exposed to environmental toxins and pollutants. Fortunately, your body can naturally do a lot of the detox work for you but you may need a little support in this process, especially if you have genetic variations that decrease your ability to detox. Does that mean you have to follow a restrictive diet or juice cleanse all summer long? No! Therapeutic detox diets can be helpful in certain situations but what will make a long-lasting impact on your health is focusing on small changes that you can make this summer that are sustainable.
Detox is a natural process where your body removes toxins and clears out the system. This process is very nutrient dependent. So, detoxification requires enough nutrients onboard in order for you to get 100% functionality. That means if your diet is inadequate in certain nutrients, then it will be harder for you to detox. In addition to your diet, there are also many other factors in your lifestyle that can impact your ability to detox.
There are so many steps in the detoxification process that it can get super complex. I’ve highlighted some of these in depth details in previous articles, if you are interested in reading. But the goal of this article is to break detoxification down in the easiest way possible. Because it really doesn’t need to be extra complex or expensive. Effective detoxing involves two layers:
1) Reducing your exposure to toxins and pollutants in the environment
2) Understanding the nutrients that support your two-phase detox process that occurs in the liver
Today I’m giving you the rundown of my favorite simple supplements, foods and habits that can support your body’s natural detoxification process. These are simple ways to reduce your exposure to environmental pollutants AND gently detox daily all summer long.‡
1. Use an All-in-One Detox Supplement
My go-to recommendation for many of my patients who need a little extra detox support is a product called Liver GI Detox by Pure Encapsulations®. It targets both phases of detoxification, making it an all in one product. Sometimes I will recommend that clients take this supplement daily if they are detoxing from heavy metal toxicity but for most clients, I recommend using Liver GI Detox intermittently.‡
There are certain times when we need more detox support and it is helpful to have this supplement on hand. Examples of these times may include: after enjoying a few summer cocktails, flying on a plane, staying in a hotel with poor air quality, etc. It’s helpful for situations where you are exposed to more environmental pollutants that interfere with feeling your best. See below for a chart of some of the effective detox-promoting ingredients in the supplement.‡
|Ingredient||Effects on Detox|
Taurine, Glycine, L-Glutamine, L-Methionine, N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine
|Supports phase two detoxification by binding to toxins in liver, supporting methylation and cell repair, helps make glutathione.‡|
|Alpha Lipoic Acid||
Antioxidant that boosts tissue glutathione.‡
|Turmeric||Provides enhanced antoxidant defense, helps maintain healthy liver function, helps produce glutathione, and promotes healthy colon function.‡|
|Milk Thistle||Protects against free radicals, contains Silymarin which supports the liver and liver cell cycle function.‡|
|Broccoli Sprout Concentrate||Sulfur-containing: produces more glutathione, helps to protect against free radicals.‡|
|Artichoke Extract||Promotes healthy bile production and supports liver function.‡|
|Chlorella||Traditionally celebrated for its blood purifying and cleansing properties.‡|
2. Eat Two Cups of Cruciferous Vegetables Per Day
While I generally recommend eating five cups of non-starchy vegetables per day, most people will benefit from two of the five servings to be from the cruciferous vegetable family. Cruciferous vegetables are a family of vegetables known as brassicaceae. They are incredibly important in detoxing for two reasons: they have sulfur which plays many beneficial roles and they have fiber that helps bind to toxins. The sulfur in these vegetables helps to produce the master antioxidant glutathione that is crucial in protecting you and your cells from oxidative damage. Eating plenty of fiber helps to bind to toxins and clear them out of your system through bowel movements. Here are some of the best cruciferous vegetables:
3. Try 4-7-8 Breathing
Shocking as it may seem, breathing is a built-in detox mechanism that happens to be extremely accessible for everyone. The simple act of consciously inhaling can increase the oxygen available for your body to use and absorb nutrients while exhaling for longer periods can help eliminate some waste in carbon dioxide form. It can also calm your sympathetic nervous system—the fight or flight system—reducing cortisol in the body which is known to inhibit the work of antioxidants that are so necessary in protecting your body from the oxidative properties of toxins.
4-7-8 breathing is exactly what the name describes: breathing in cycles of four second inhales, 7 second holds and 8 seconds exhales. While you run through this exercise, place your tongue on the rough of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. This powerful breath exercise has been recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil for years. Learn more here.
4. Drink Filtered Water
As you make small changes to support detox, it is absolutely essential to stay adequately hydrated in the midst of the summer heat. Water has the ability to literally flush toxins from the body and promote regular bowel movements, which is essential for detox. It’s best to aim for half of your body weight in fluid ounces (ex: 150 lbs =75 fl oz of water).
Choose filtered, reverse osmosis water to minimize your exposure to heavy metals and other toxins. Some of the most common forms of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic are from unfiltered water. Try searching the Environmental Working Group Tap Water Database to learn about the quality of your local water and the safest alternatives. And be sure to carry a glass or stainless steel water bottle instead of plastic water bottles that will heat in the summer sun.
5.Avoid High Mercury Fish
A lot of summer inspired dishes are fish-based. While fish is highly nutritious, there are certain fish to be weary of, due to their high mercury levels. Just like with the water, you want to avoid possible sources of toxin exposure as much as possible. Fish like tuna or swordfish tend to be high in mercury from a process known as bioaccumulation. As the oceans become polluted with mercury from modern industrial processes such as coal burning, the mercury becomes part of the plant food in the ocean. Small fish feed on these, accumulating mercury in their bodies. Since these small fish make up the diet of bigger species, bigger fish end up accumulating high amounts of mercury. To find the safest fish that are lowest in mercury, reference this guide from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
6. Choose Mostly Organic When Possible
Another area in which you can decrease your toxic load is in purchasing produce. While any produce is better than none, most conventional produce is sprayed with high levels of pesticides. If you consume high amounts of pesticides, they can build up in your body and increase the workload for your body’s detox pathways. A good guide when buying produce is the EWG’s Dirty Dozen. These are the fruits and vegetables that are most important to purchase organic since they are the most heavily sprayed with pesticides.
7. Limit Use of Plastics
While plastics have made life very convenient, plastic packaging contains persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that can pose a threat to health. These POPs, such as BPA and PBDE, tend to persist for long periods of time in the environment and can lead to endocrine disruption, behavioral changes, and reproductive issues. To minimize your exposure, avoid buying plastic water bottles, containers and bags. Instead, opt for reusable silicone or canvas bags, and glass or metal containers and water bottles. Try to substitute foods that are unnecessarily packaged (e.g. vegetables in plastic bags) for ones that are unpackaged.
8. Sweat Daily
Like consuming enough liquid, sweating is a great way to make sure that the toxins that your body are properly flushed out. In a recent study, sweat was the best way to get rid of bioaccumulated toxins, over urine and blood. In this vein, enjoy hot yoga, saunas, and good aerobic activity to expel some of these toxins through sweat.
Overall, detoxing does not have to be a complex process. Simply increase your intake of the nutrients needed to support detox—through both vegetables and a variety of other foods and supplements—and decrease your exposure to common toxins wherever you can. Make sure you are both consuming plenty of liquids and fiber as well as sweating and producing bowel movements enough to rid your body of toxins.
‡These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.