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When we think of “detox”, we might imagine a juice cleanse or supplement protocol that will flush out toxins. Although periodic detoxes can be helpful in certain situations, it’s crucial to adopt lifelong dietary and lifestyle habits that support detoxification every single day.
The body’s detoxification system is designed to eliminate harmful substances, without the need for radical dietary changes or supplementation. The important question is: what can we do every day to fully support our detox pathways?
Why is detoxification important?
Detoxification is a constant process in the body and a part of regular organ function. Toxins have always been in our environment – from natural occurrences like volcanoes or fires, to plants making toxins as protection from predators. The problem is that our toxic load today has skyrocketed. Pollution, plastics, pesticides, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals and more are adding to the toxic load, and this increases the burden on our detoxification organs.
The liver is known as the main organ of detoxification. Liver detoxification takes place in phases, where toxins are converted from fat-soluble to water-soluble metabolites, so they can be removed through the detoxification organs. Harmful substances are naturally eliminated through the kidneys (via urine), GI tract (via feces and bile), lungs (via exhaled air) and skin (via sweat).
To minimize the health impacts of toxins, we want to support detoxification through 2-steps:
- Avoid the toxic burden when possible
- Support the body’s detox capacity through diet & lifestyle
In NTI’s Nutrition Therapist Master Certification program, students take a course called Digestion & Detox. This course dives deep into the biochemistry and mechanisms of detoxification. Students discuss strategies to avoid toxins and support the body’s detox capacity, particularly through the use of food and lifestyle. In this blog post, let’s dive into 5 daily lifestyle tips to ensure your detox pathways are fully supported.
Lifestyle strategies to support detoxification
Here are some lifestyle strategies that are known to support detoxification:
1. Daily bowel movements
Having regular bowel movements is one of the most important aspects of detoxification. This is how we eliminate toxins that have been filtered through the liver. Without a daily bowel movement, there is a potential for the toxins to be reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.
2. Warm lemon water in the morning
Animal studies have shown that the citric acid in lemon can protect liver function and prevent oxidative damage. Additionally, warm liquid is beneficial for stimulating the gastrointestinal tract, so it’s a bonus to drink your lemon water warm!
3. Dry brushing
Dry brushing is a technique for moving lymph, which delivers waste products to the liver and organs of elimination. Dry brushing can help detoxify your skin by increasing blood circulation and promoting lymph flow/drainage. Other ways to move lymph include lymphatic massage, daily movement and diaphragmatic breathing.
Utilizing sauna is a great way to increase the detoxification of toxins through sweat. Exercise is also helpful to support detoxification: sweating supports detox, while the contraction and relaxation of muscles helps move the blood and lymph, improving lymphatic drainage. However, intense exercise increases the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can cause oxidative damage to the body, adding to the detox burden, so make sure to avoid intense exercise if focusing on detoxification.
5. Gentle movement
Gentle forms of movement like gentle yoga, stretching and walking are beneficial for stimulating lymph circulation, but do not produce high ROS as mentioned above.
There are numerous diet and lifestyle changes that are important for supporting detoxification, including specific foods, herbs, and supplements. Additionally, avoidance of toxins is a crucial piece. The training to become a Nutrition Therapist Master prepares you to recognize when detox pathways need to be supported for your clients, and how you can individualize the appropriate detox strategies in each situation.
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About the Author: Daina Rasutis is a graduate of NTI’s Nutrition Therapist Master Program. Her background in Environmental Engineering has allowed her to combine the best of science with a love for nutrition, sustainability & delicious food. Follow Daina’s nutrition practice, cooking creations and lifestyle tips on her website: www.tabletocrave.com
- A Woman Doing Yoga by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels
- Lemon Honey Tea by Anda Ambrosini on Unsplash
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