We’ve all seen a lot of buzz lately discussing whether we need to detox, if our bodies can do all the detox without help and if there are actually any benefits. Detox was an integral part of my overcoming Hashimoto’s disease so I believe it’s an incredibly important tool. I’m happy to say there are many methods to remove toxins, but probably not in the ways you’ve heard from popular magazines and even some best-selling books. I had a chat with Kim Schuette*, a very knowledgeable certified nutritionist at Biodynamic Wellness so we can dive a bit deeper and truly understand the concept of detox.
1. A detox and a cleanse are not the same.
A detox is a process through which the body’s emunctories (main organs of elimination) are supported and encouraged to release both exogenous (initially found outside the body such as chemicals created by man, industry and even nature) and endogenous (produced in the body, like excess hormones and cholesterol) toxins. Detoxing is a process that last for months, if not years. Detoxing is about restoration of the body’s function and bringing about enhanced vitality.
A cleanse is generally a lightening of the body’s load for a few days to a month, most often through limiting or eliminating food and focusing on juicing or consuming only limited raw foods.
2. In today’s world, a perfect diet isn’t enough.
Dr. Louisa Williams says it very succinctly: “Although drinking pure water, exercising regularly, and eating organic foods are all important – even essential – these general health guidelines are no longer sufficient to ensure the preservation of good health for most individuals. Unfortunately, in modern toxic times, our immune systems have been subjected to poisons unparalleled in previous centuries…The pervasive petrochemicals polluting our homes and environment, the placement of toxic mercury amalgam fillings in our mouths, and the excessive use of antibiotics and other prescription drugs are just a sample of the modern traumas that have rendered many individuals chronically ill…Indeed, in our current toxic environment, much more “radical” measures are required.”
3. Detox is necessary.
Yes, your body can naturally detox, but only when armed with the right tools.
Unfortunately most people living in industrialized nations have impaired detoxification processes due to their overexposure to environmental toxins and their lack of a nutrient-dense, traditional diet.
For the past hundred years, the American diet has declined in its nutrient content. It has sorely lacked fat-soluble vitamins as well as vital minerals. The result is massive physical degeneration and impaired detoxification. This is evidenced by our increased rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, allergies, autism, attention deficit disorder and so on.
Due to our physical degeneration, I think we must first restore our diets to what built healthy people around the globe for thousands of years. Secondly, I find that most individuals greatly benefit by supporting their detoxification process. This may involve gentle homeopathic drainage remedies – home therapies like Epsom salt baths, castor oil packs, coffee enemas and supervised liver/gallbladder flushes.
4. Be aware of environmental toxins if you want to properly detox.
The number of environmental toxins now tops 24,000. Number one on the list is bisphenol A (BPA), which is a chemical used in the production of plastics. It is probably the most commonly used chemical found in American homes. BPA is found in plastic water bottles, baby bottles, plastic wrap, food packaging and dental sealants. It has been shown to damage to the endocrine system in both women and men.
Second would be oxybenzone, commonly found in cosmetics, sunscreens, lip balm and moisturizers. This toxic chemical is a hormone disruptor and also can damage developing fetuses.
Then there is sodium fluoride, which is found in tap water, toothpaste and fluoride treatments in dental offices. Sodium fluoride, a synthetic by-product of the aluminum and fertilizer industries, can weaken the integrity of the bones and encourage the formation of cancer.
Parabens are another huge concern. Parabens are synthetic preservatives found in personal care products like hair care, shaving products and moisturizers. They are hormone disruptors and cause cancer in animals.
Phthalates are chemicals that are added to plastics to make them flexible. They are found in paints, nail polish, hair sprays, perfumes, vitamin coatings and cosmetics. Phthalates are linked to infertility and cancer.
Perchlorate is another very detrimental chemical derived from perchloric acid, a strong oxidizer, which is a very corrosive. It is found in solid rocket fuel. Perchlorate has been used for the past fifty years to treat hyperthyroidism. Perchlorate competitively blocks iodide from entering the thyroid thus slowing down the production of thyroid hormones. Essentially it inhibits the thyroid gland’s ability to absorb iodine from the bloodstream, making it an “iodide uptake inhibition” or a goitrogen. Keep in mind that thyroid hormones are vital to proper development in children.
Perchlorate contamination occurs in water from the leaching of jet fuel into the water tables. There has been concern over perchlorate’s effect on unborn babies, infants and children. Women with hypothyroidism who are exposed to perchlorate are at an increased risk for having children with lower IQ levels.
Toxic metals like mercury, aluminum, cadmium, lead and arsenic continue to be pervasive sources of environmental toxicity. Methyl mercury, a by-product of burning coal, persists in the air we breathe. Mercury is also found in dental amalgams (link) and many medications, including vaccines. Aluminum is found in many medications (buffered aspirin, Tums™, to name a few), cosmetics and skin care, processed flour and cheese products and cookware.
Metal toxicity has been linked to neurological disease like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s, multiple sclerosis and autism. Cadmium is found in cigarette smoke, batteries and coal exhaust. Lead can be found in lead-based paints, soil contaminated from lead gasoline and old pesticides and water that has been treated with chloramine and run through lead pipes. It is also used in some mascaras and hair dyes.
Chloramine (a toxic compound made from chlorine and ammonia, used to kill pathogens in public water) leaches lead from water pipes. The most common source of arsenic exposure in the US is through commercial poultry. Commercial poultry are given feed additives called roxarsone and nitarsone, which are used to increase weight and skin coloring of the poultry since these birds are malnourished from being indoors and on an unnatural diet.
Asbestos has been used in the past in ceiling and floor tiles, paints, coatings, adhesives, and plastics. It has also been found in certain garden products and some crayons. Its use has been conditionally banned by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1989. Unfortunately many homes and buildings still contain asbestos.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that are released into the air as gases. They are linked to reproductive, respiratory, neurological, and developmental problems. They are also being connected to different types of cancer. VOCs are commonly found in air fresheners, hair spray, perfumes, cleaning products, paints, carpets, furniture made out of pressed wood and mattresses.
These are just a few examples of the more than 24, 000 toxins we may be exposed to on a daily basis. I have started by cleaning up my home and office environment, to diminish my exposure and my body’s need to detox.
5. Juicing as a way of detoxing isn’t for everyone.
Juicing can serve as a short term cleanse for those with very stable blood sugar. But, I do not recommend it for those with hypoglycemia. The body requires fats to properly detoxify and proteins in order to regenerate. The daily addition of raw vegetable juices is certainly beneficial along with a regular and generous intake of animal fats. I do not suggest green juicing without some form of dietary vitamin A. My favorite way to enjoy raw vegetable juice is to include a raw egg yolk or two along with a couple of tablespoons of raw cream.
6. Vitamin A from animal foods is essential for proper detoxification.
Vitamin A is actually essential for proper detoxification. Vitamin A (retinol) is found only in animal foods. Your richest sources are liver (beef, lamb, duck, chicken), cod liver oil, butter, egg yolks, raw cream and cultured raw sour cream. It protects against the myriad of environmental toxins. It protects the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Vitamin A is the only source of essential fatty acids that can make the claim of lowering levels free-radical lipid peroxides. Other essential fatty acids actually increase levels of lipid peroxides. Lipid peroxidation is the process by which free radicals steal electrons from the lipids in cell membranes. This results in damage to the cells. We see this process in polyunsaturated fatty acids (those fatty acids derived from vegetable oils).
There is a HUGE misconception out there that vegetables, especially carrots and squashes, are excellent sources of vitamin A. This is absolutely false. Vegetables are wonderful sources of beta-carotene. But beta-carotene is only useful to humans as it is broken down and converted in the body to vitamin A by the body’s vitamin A stores.
This presents a tremendous challenge and serious health problem for vegans. This also explains why most long-term vegans eventually present with disorders linked to liver congestion and why it is not uncommon to see jaundice in vegans. While most vegans have good intentions, they may not have been properly educated as to the significant role vitamin A plays in detoxification as well as in skeletal formation and thyroid function.
7. Be careful with your leafy green consumption. It doesn’t provide as many detox benefits as you may think.
Most people should be cautious of consuming raw kale since kale is a goiterogen and can suppress thyroid function. This is true for all cruciferous vegetables. For this reason I suggest cruciferous vegetables be cooked or fermented to release the thyroid-suppressing properties.
Oxalates are another issue when consuming leafy greens. Oxalates are toxic salts that bind with mercury, lead and other heavy metals. Oxalates then deposit the metals into the tissues where they are difficult to remove. This can eventually lead to kidney stones and other disorders.
Nutrient minerals like calcium and magnesium bind oxalates and help pull them out through the stools. The addition of fat in the diet (and with the oxalate-containing foods) assists with the absorption of the nutrient minerals. This is one more reason we want to include animal fats with every meal.
8. Fat is necessary for detox
Fats are essential for healthy detoxification process to function. The key benefits of animal fats are as follows:
- Animal fats are rich sources of vitamin A, which is necessary for the liver’s detoxification processes to work efficiently.
- Fats, and especially omega-3 fatty acids, are strong natural antioxidants and are used to eliminate petrochemicals, pesticides and heavy metals.
- All cell membranes are composed of 50 percent saturated fat.
- Unlike polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, saturated fats do not require bile or any digestive enzyme in order to be digested, absorbed and utilized.
9. Detox twice a year
Twice yearly is a good goal for gentle detoxing with the remedies being used for four to six weeks along with a cleansing diet, movement, plenty of fresh air and home therapies like castor oil packs, coffee enemas, dry brushing, Epsom salt baths and so on.
I think everyone benefits from using occasional liver and kidney tonics. My favorite modality for supporting detoxing is gemmotherapy. Gemmotherapy remedies are young embryonic plant stem cell extracts. These extracts can be from the rootlet, bud or seed of the plant. Gemmotherapy remedies are very gentle and very restorative. It is always best to start with a liver remedy, such as Juniperus. I do advise that gemmotherapy remedies be used under the guidance of a qualified health practitioner.
I have found that a series of liver/gallbladder flushes are most helpful, especially in cases of maldigestion of fats and hormonal imbalances and certainly for all who have a history of consuming a low-fat, polyunsaturated vegetable oils and high refined carb diet. Liver/gallbladder flushes should be supervised by a qualified health practitioner with a thorough history of the individual. Flushes are done every three to four weeks until the person experiences two flushes in a row where no stones or sediment are passed.
Sulfur and milk thistle are excellent supplements to the diet that effectively aid our bodies’ detoxification processes. Most importantly is water – pure water. I also recommend a product called Toxi-Clenz, which is a high quality food grade diatomaceous earth. It is excellent for absorbing mercury, E. coli, endotoxins, viruses, and organo-phosphate pesticide residues, drug residues, and proteinaceous residues produced by bacterial infections.
10. A nutrient-dense diet along with at-home cleanses can keep the body detoxing and cleansing continually.
Most key is the adoption of a traditional, nutrient-dense diet like the one promoted by the Weston A. Price Foundation. Real foods that are properly prepared, which include both raw and cooked foods, dairy and meats from grass fed and pastured animals, wild fish and seafood, non-GMO grains and legumes properly soaked and prepared and of course, generous amounts of animal fats daily.
Daily rituals can include dry brushing, dry saunas (especially near infrared sauna), movement (rebounding, brisk walks, stretching, etc.), time outdoors without sunscreen, drinking purified water with fresh lemon juice, castor oil packs and coffee enemas. These are all very supportive to the lymphatic system, liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin.
A Simple Detox Protocol to Start Today
We start new clients off with our Foundational Food Plan, which includes generous amounts of traditional animal fats (a minimum of 1 tablespoon per meal), a small to moderate serving of animal protein at each meal and lots of fresh vegetables with a tablespoon of a lacto-fermented vegetable (like kim-chi or sauerkraut or pickles) with at least two of their three daily meals. While on this food plan, raw juices can be included. Drink plenty of fresh purified water and bone broth throughout the day. Upon rising have with 12 ounces of purified water and fresh lemon juice.
Additionally incorporate nightly (or daily) castor oil packs over the abdominal cavity, where 70% or more of the lymphatic tissue resides, as an excellent boost for detoxification.
And last but certainly not least, practice forgiveness daily. Nothing burdens the liver more than unresolved anger. So don’t fall asleep without offering up forgiveness each day.
You are welcome to order detox products through our office, Biodynamic Wellness, and we will include suggested dosages. Let them know Deliciously Organic sent you and they will take care of the shipping cost!
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*Content below each tip typed in bold is quoted from Kim Schuette.
Kim Schuette, CN, Certified GAPSTM Practitioner
Kim has been in private practice in the field of nutrition since 1999. She has been trained in hair mineral analysis, salivary hormone balancing and blood chemistry assessment. Her workshop topics range from children’s health and female hormonal concerns to transitioning to a whole foods diet. Kim is an award-winning activist for her work in children’s nutrition and preconception nutrition. Additionally, she was named “Best Alternative Health Practitioner of 2013” by Ranch & Coast Magazine in their annual “Best of San Diego” edition in March 2013. She serves on the honorary board of the Weston A. Price Foundation as well as the San Diego Chapter Co-Leader of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Kelly @ The Nourishing Home