Helpful Tips from CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine)
Your body produces toxins as a result of normal metabolism, which can become harmful if allowed to build up. The most damaging toxins we face are likely to come from the environment, including from the food we eat, the water we drink and bathe in and the products we use on our skin and in our homes.
Luckily, the body has a very complicated and sophisticated detox system, which works on our behalf every day. Our bodies get rid of toxins by eliminating them through organs such as the liver, the kidneys, the gallbladder or the skin. The flow of blood and lymph also aids the process.
The sheer amount of toxins that we are exposed to, however, means that our detoxification systems can sometimes benefit from a helping hand. By stimulating and supporting our main organs for detox, they can work at maximum efficiency, enhancing the results. The welcome effects can be more energy, improved immune function, reduced congestion and inflammation, and brighter skin, hair and eyes. So how do we do it?
Foods which Boost or Reduce Detox
There are a number of foods that provide vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, which the body needs to assist with the detox process. These include:
Fresh veg: artichokes, peppers, beets, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, kale, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, watercress, and bean and seed sprouts.
Fresh fruits: apricots, cantaloupe melon, citrus fruits, kiwi, papaya, mango, red grapes and all types of berries.
Certain foods can be used therapeutically to gain further detoxifying effects:
Fibre-rich linseeds have a stimulating effect on the bowels. If you’re not having at least one bowel motion a day, stir 2-3 heaped teaspoons of linseeds into an 8oz glass of water, leave to soak for a few minutes, then swallow. This is a very gentle bowel treatment that will not cause discomfort. If it doesn’t work for you within a week, consult your natural health practitioner.
Adding turmeric to your cooking, which, with its main component, curcumin, not only helps cleanse the liver and purify the blood but also increases bile flow and promotes good digestion. Bile aids digestion and breaks down fat.
Kick-start the liver and kidneys by starting the day by drinking the juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime squeezed into a glass of water. You could even add a pinch of cayenne pepper to further enhance the effects.
Cut out the culprits by removing foods that make the liver work harder. These include fatty foods, sugary foods, salt, alcohol and caffeine, as well as refined carbohydrates like white rice, white pasta and white bread. Dairy products can also be a common food allergen, and are mucus-forming. To reduce the chance of toxic pesticide residues, it’s best to buy organic food and drink..
The kidneys filter large volumes of waste from our bodies every day, and keeping well hydrated encourages efficient kidney filtration. Sweating is another important route of elimination and we need to be well hydrated to sweat properly.
Aim to drink around 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day, depending on your size, air temperature and your activity level). Ideally choose filtered or purified water, or mineral water from glass bottles. Sip throughout the day, and beware that too much water is as dangerous as not enough. A good check is to look at the colour of your urine, which should be a light straw colour.
Open the Pores
Try having a 10 –20 minute sauna or steam room session to increase circulation. By forcing blood to the skin to reduce body temperature, sweating is promoted, allowing toxins in the blood to be eliminated and saturating the body with ‘feel good’ negative ions. Remember to drink plenty of water to re-hydrate afterwards.
To help circulate the lymphatic system, which is another major route for detox, and to stimulate the skin, the bodies largest detox organ, take a stiff bristle brush and before you take a bath or shower, brush the entire surface of your skin, working from the extremities inwards towards the heart. Finish with clockwise circular strokes over the abdomen.
There are many herbs that can help support the action of either the liver, kidneys or digestive system (or all of them, combined), each of which play a significant part in any detox.
Milk Thistle improves liver function and protects the liver from toxins and prevents depletion of glutathione, which is very important for liver detoxification. Dandelion root, turmeric and artichoke also support the liver.
Nettle is mildly diuretic and promotes kidney function. It’s also an easy herb to take as a tea on its own or with other herbs. Try red clover in addition to nettle for a gently cleansing effect. Dandelion leaves also promote good kidney function.
Fresh ginger tea with fennel, cumin and cardamom is very useful to encourage the whole digestive system to work more efficiently. This mix can be put into a flask and drunk throughout the day. Grate or chop some fresh ginger root into the flask and add one teaspoon of the mixed spices either in powder form or as seeds and pour on boiling water. Adding half a teaspoon of ground flaxseed will add a gentle scraping effect to the colon to aid cleansing.
Get advice from your naturopathic herbalist about the most appropriate herbs and doses to suit you.
CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine) trains students for successful careers in natural therapies, and offers Short Courses for interest, and Postgraduate Courses. Look out for CNM’s special one weekend ‘Food for Health’ course at a CNM college near you, this January. You’ll gain the confidence to make educated choices about the food you eat as well as gain practical tips for better health and wellbeing. www.naturopathy-uk.com 01342 410 505