There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about the purpose of a detoxification (detox). Detox programs come in many varieties from super-aggressive and borderline dangerous to mild, slow and consistent approaches. Of the two, we are definitely in favor of the latter. We need to detox because throughout the day, we are constantly putting chemicals into our body that do not occur naturally. Those chemicals include preservatives in food, hormones and antibiotics in our beef and chicken, pesticides on vegetables and artificial sweeteners. These products do not occur naturally and have to be eliminated from your body by one of a few different organs. These include the kidneys, liver and to a lesser extent, your stomach and gallbladder.
Goals of the Detox Process
The first goal of detox is to stop putting harmful chemicals into your body for a short period of time. Typically good detoxes are a minimum of 21 to 28 days. During this time you are allowed to eat all the non-starchy vegetables and fruit you want. You are also allowed a limited amount of organic chicken, cold-water fish and free roaming eggs.
The second goal of the detox process is to add certain botanicals (herbs) and amino acids to activate phase I and phase II detox, the mechanisms that rid your body of toxins. These botanicals, herbs and amino acids work to effectively repair the liver, reverse damage that has occurred, and allow it to become healthy again.
The best analogy I can give is that this process it is very similar to back-washing the filter on a swimming pool. A swimming pool filter typically has screens that are covered with a filtering agent called diatmatious earth (DE). The water goes through that DE covered screen and collects all of the debris from the pool. After a period of time, that screen gets clogged up, and you have to literally run your pool backwards, dump all the DE and gook out of the filter and then add fresh DE to regenerate it. The same process can occur in your body. Over time all the chemicals add up and begin to slow down your bodies natural filters including your liver, kidneys and stomach. Once they slow down, they no longer work as well as they used to. So to fix this issue we use the detox program to “backwash” or clean out yours bodies filters. Once you complete the detox program, your liver, stomach and kidneys will return to a more optimal function.
The types of things that respond very well to detox are varied because so many different organs are involved. Very common reasons we put people on a detox program are trouble falling asleep, poor quality of sleep and inability to lose weight. For example: It is very common for people in their early 30’s to late 40s who historically have always been able to lose weight (when they got serious) to suddenly, no matter what they try, find they can no longer lose those unwanted pounds. The reason these mechanisms stop working is because one of the conversion factors your body needs for fat metabolism no longer functions properly. So, a short month-long detox can work to reset this mechanism and get it to work again.
Other reasons for detox include fatigue, irritable bowel, chronic illness, long-term prescription drug use or long-term social drinking.
What You Can and Cannot Eat
The biggest concern most patients give about starting a detox program is not being able to eat things they like. Remember this is NOT a diet. There are no limits to the quantities of the foods you can eat just the types of foods. In following our goal of only providing “good” foods to our body we must limit “harmful” foods from our diet. You are allowed to eat most things that occur naturally and have not been processed. You are allowed all vegetables and fruits that are not starches (no corn and potatoes). You are allowed good oils like walnut oil, olive oil, and in small amounts sunflower and sesame oil. For protein you are allowed organic chicken, cold-water fish and free roaming eggs. We remove patients from all dairy products because generally speaking, dairy can be allergic and can create congestion and mucous. We also remove patients from all grains since they contain the toxin gluten and are heavily processed. For 28 days, you can live without pasta and rice.
What You Can Expect
Because the reasons for doing detox are so varied, the expectations and the outcomes are not the same for every person. Patients experience different things. The most common things that we hear from patients are that they had extreme apprehension about committing to a detox program; however, within a short period of time, they thoroughly enjoyed it. Some positive feedback we have received include increased energy, better quality sleep, and feeling ready to rest at night. Feeling less energetic at night is actually the natural way you should feel at night. This means your normal sleep cycle is working properly again. We have had many patients lose weight. It is not uncommon, especially in the beginning to have a quick weight loss (8 or 12 pounds), which usually slows, but continues. Most importantly, you can expect to feel a sense of renewed health and stamina.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Because we are trying to remove all toxins from the body, caffeine and alcohol are off limits throughout the detox program. However, for some of our patients, going cold turkey on caffeine is too much for their system to handle. For those patients, we allow organic green tea, which has caffeine, but also has positive effects like calming the brain, increasing metabolic rate, burning fat, and reducing inflammation. For those who do not like hot tea, you can always brew it, pour it over ice and have organic iced green tea. If you do not care for green tea, you may also try red tea which also offers many health benefits.
Throughout this entire process, water is absolutely critical. One of the best mechanisms for removing toxins from the body is through high water consumption. The goal outlined in your detox program will be one-half ounce of filtered water per pound of body weight. When in doubt, if you ever have a bad day during detox, you are probably dehydrated, drink plenty of water, and you will be fine. If you like flavor in your water, try fresh lemons, limes, strawberries and oranges.