How To Do a Detox Safely

How to do a detox safely
Let’s talk about the basics you will need to know in order to successfully complete a safe detox! First, what does the term “detox” really mean?

Let’s talk about the basics you will need to know in order to successfully complete a safe detox!  First, what does the term “detox” really mean?  It refers to the process your body goes through in order to neutralize and get rid of any toxins you are exposed to.  Toxins refer to anything your internal or external environments are exposed to, including things like food, alcohol, drugs, medications, allergens, molds, microbes, etc…  Your liver plays a crucial role in this process, as it completes 2 phases of detoxification, phase I and phase II, before substances are eliminated from the body.

 

During phase I of detoxification, substances are modified and transformed into compounds that can be passed on to phase II for completion of detoxification.  Many of these substances and metabolites are free radicals that can cause damage to cells, which in turn have the potential to not only make you feel ill, but can also contribute to disease.  This is why it is absolutely necessary to make sure your phase II detox pathways are set up properly before attempting a “detox” program.  During phase II of detoxification, conjugation happens, which makes the intermediate free radical substances from phase I more water soluble, so they can be eliminated in urine or bile via stool.  This brings up a very important point about elimination.  You also need to ensure drinking enough good quality water, at least half your body weight in ounces, AND that you are having at least daily bowel movements before attempting a detox.  If you are not having a daily bowel movement, adding more vegetable fiber to the diet will certainly help get things going.  If you need more assistance than that, magnesium citrate, aloe, and triphala (of course choose one to start with) are easy supplements to add until you are having a daily bowel movement.  Of course sweating, including exercise or infrared sauna use for example, are great ways to help the detoxification process along also, as sweat and breath are also ways we eliminate toxins.

 

Unfortunately, many people will attempt to go from a very poor quality diet and lifestyle one day, and think starting a juice fast to “detox” the next day will make them feel better, only to find out they feel sick, or worse, at the beginning of their detox.  Before undergoing any detox or elimination food plan, I have my patients complete a 3-week prep plan, to ensure those pathways are set up properly.  Only if someone already has a relatively clean diet and lifestyle will I recommend starting a detox or elimination food plan right away.  Other patients may need 4-6 weeks or more to get started with nutrition and lifestyle changes, and may need extra assistance in following through on their plan.  I always tell my patients it is more important that the steps before their food plan or detox actually happen, rather than how fast they happen!

 

While it is not recommended to stay on a detox or limited nutrition plan of any kind long-term, there are many elements that will be permanent lifestyle changes, such as enough water intake, increased vegetable content in the diet, and continued elimination of poor quality and inflammatory foods.  Food plays an important role in all phases of detoxification, thus making sure you nutrition is on point BEFORE you attempt a detox is paramount.  If you attempt going form pizza and beer on Sunday to carrot sticks and celery juice on Monday, the process is likely to fail, and you feel miserable too!  And of course, if you have any serious medical problems, please consult your physician before proceeding, especially if you have known liver or kidney disease.  Please see the necessary steps below in order to enjoy all the benefits of successful detox.

 

Things to work on Pre-Detox

 

  • Download the app MyFitnessPal, or any other food and activity tracker app for free, and starting logging your food, water, and activity
    • If possible get an activity monitor of some kind to track at least your steps per day.  Aim for 10,000 steps.
    • Aim for 30 min of exercise per day at least 5 days a week
    • Aim for 30 grams or more of fiber per day
  • Start your morning with a cup of hot water with lemon (this will help get your digestion going and helps to detoxify the liver). You can do this before every meal for even better results.
  • Focus on drinking more clean, filtered water, as your body needs this to flush out toxins, at least half your weight in ounces, more if it is hot outside, or if you are very active.
  • Avoid processed or packaged foods as much as possible.
  • You will eliminate gluten (and all grains), dairy, sugar, soy, corn, peanuts during the detox, so you may want to consider decreasing your intake of them ahead of time.
  • Focus on increasing vegetable intake.
    • Aim for a little bit of a lot of color…in other words have lots of different colors on your plate
    • Organic and fresh is best.  Frozen organic is ok too.
    • You can get a list of the “dirty dozen” vegetables and fruits that are highest in pesticide, and a list that are lowest at www.ewg.org to help you decide which are most important to get organic
      • Generally speaking if it has a thick skin on the outside that you are not eating, it is usually ok non-organic (think banana or avocado).
  • Try to eat all of your meals in an 8-12 hour window. For example, if you eat breakfast at 7am, you should have your last intake of food by 7pm, or earlier.
  • Limit caffeine intake to before 2 pm.  Ideally only in the morning.  There will be a caffeine free part of the detox, so start weaning yourself down ahead of time to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.  There will also be an alcohol free portion of the detox as well, so start trying to decrease your intake now.
  • Sleep!!  Underestimated, yet VERY important!!!
    • Goal is 8 hours a night, no less than 7.
    • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
      • The more hours of sleep you get before midnight the more restorative sleep you will get. Aim for a bedtime of no later than 10pm.
    • No eating 2 hours before bedtime
    • No screen time of any kind 1-2 hours before bed (the blue light screens emit actually lower your sleep hormones).  You can download f.flux app for phones, ipads, and computer screens that filters out the blue light.
    • Make your bedroom as dark as possible and remove or turn off all unnecessary electronic devices (or at least put them as far away from you as possible).
  • Sunlight
    • Goal is 30 minutes of real sunlight per day, ideally in the morning.
      • If you cannot get this because of your work schedule, then consider getting a 10,000 lux light box and sitting in front of it 15-30 min in the morning before you leave for work. You can do this in your bathroom as you are getting ready, or at the table while you are eating breakfast etc…
  • Detoxify your personal and household products
    • Try to use more natural products with less chemical ingredients
      • AVOID: Parabens, Phthalates and Sodium Laurel Sulfate
      • Look for these ingredients on product labels of household cleaning products, soaps, shampoos, conditions, styling products, lotions, deodorants, toothpaste, make-up, laundry detergent, and anything else that comes into contact with your body.
      • You can check the safety rating of products at www.ewg.org, they even an app called Skin Deep that does this for you.
    • Drink out of glass or stainless steel containers only.  Plastic, aluminum, and Styrofoam containers can leach chemicals into your food and drinks.
    • Especially avoid microwaving food or drink in anything but a glass container (paper plates or cups if necessary…avoid Styrofoam).
  • Relaxation☺
    • Stress is a major cause of illness and disease; do not underestimate its effects on you.  Relaxation and personal time is important.
    • Aim for 30 minutes a day for yourself to do a meditation, or visualization, or deep breathing exercise.
      • If you are new to this, start with even 5 minutes and increase from there.  Even if it just means sitting in a quiet room for a few minutes with the main focus on taking nice, relaxed deep breaths it will help.
        • For deep breathing focus on taking 4 seconds to inhale, 4 second hold, and 7-8 seconds to exhale. Do 4 breaths at a minimum.

 

Now you are ready to safely begin your detox!  Here is Dr. Parke’s recommended 7-day Detox program.

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