How to Detox—Key First Steps Toward Greater Health and Vitality

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Can anyone do a detox program? What if I have a serious health condition? Or certain dietary requirements? Or a packed schedule?

As an integrative physician specializing in safe and effective detox, I hear these sorts of questions frequently. And my answer is always: Yes—with the right support.

When done correctly, detoxification offers you a wealth of disease-fighting, rejuvenating health benefits. It’s a way to reset your health baseline to a higher level. In fact, safe, effective detox is one of the most important strategies in integrative health and medicine. And the truth is, you’re already doing it, all the time, every day.

But with the barrage of toxins in today’s world, your body’s natural detox functions need some support. 

I’ve helped countless patients with high toxic body burden reduce their toxin load and experience significant health improvements, using natural detox methods backed by published clinical data. Most importantly, these methods are safe and gentle, yet highly effective for taking out health-robbing heavy metals, biotoxins and even radioactive particles.

These advanced detox approaches and formulas are simple, painless and easy to incorporate.

And when you combine them with fundamental elements for successful detoxification, which we’ll explore in a moment, you optimize your body’s ability to eliminate toxins, and repair the damage they’ve done—without causing the so-called “healing crises”… a huge misconception and problem in the world of detox therapies. I’ll be discussing the issues around these “detox crises” in upcoming articles, since it’s an important topic on its own.

For now, I’d like to share some of the most effective steps you can take today, to build a reliable foundation for optimal detoxification and long-term health. 

How to Detox: 7 Important Steps

1. Food: The Best (Detox) Medicine

Diet is the most far-reaching and impactful ways to support detoxification and overall vitality.  By making the right adjustments, you can lower your toxic load, reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar levels for sustained energy, and improve numerous other areas of health in the process.

My first recommendation is to emphasize organic food over conventional-grown food whenever possible. Importantly, stay away from processed foods, trans-fats, alcohol, grain-fed red meat (grass fed is a better choice), gluten, dairy and sugar, which all tend to be pro-inflammatory and increase toxic body burden.

Instead, emphasize lean proteins, non-starchy vegetables, culinary herbs, nuts and seeds, low sugar fruits like berries, and healthy omega fats. If you have certain dietary restrictions, you can simply incorporate them into your detox diet, which already eliminates some of the most common inflammatory “trigger” foods.  

2. Hydrate for Detox

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of drinking plenty of water. Many of us are chronically dehydrated, and most biological processes rely on water. For example, immune cells signal each other through liquid. Ultimately, the body needs abundant hydration to flush toxins. Aim for 64 oz of purified water or a combination of water with herbal teas, daily.

3. Build Your Antioxidant Reserves

Antioxidants are essential during detoxification. Many toxins generate oxidative stress, which can damage cells right down to their DNA, while depleting critical antioxidant levels in your body. Supplementing with additional antioxidant nutrients and compounds can help counteract this damage. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables offer good antioxidant support, found in their vivid pigments. Medicinal mushrooms, as well as aromatic spices and culinary botanicals are also excellent sources of antioxidant compounds. Other key antioxidants include vitamin C, lipoic acid, and the botanical extract Honokiol, which offers an extensive array of additional benefits.

4. Increase Fiber for Detox

Be sure to increase fiber, which supports an efficient gastrointestinal system and healthy digestive terrain. Fiber binds to toxins and creates a healthy environment for beneficial bacteria. High fiber foods include flax, chia seed, rice bran, quinoa, low-starch vegetables, and many others.

5. Incorporate Pre- and Probiotics for Detox

One of the most important strategies to improve gastrointestinal, immune and overall health, and promote detoxification, is to use pre- and probiotics. Probiotics (aka friendly bacteria) enhance immunity, improve digestion, aid detoxification and produce critical nutrients for gastrointestinal and overall health. Prebiotics are specific nutrients that feed the probiotics, and promote a healthy digestive environment for them to thrive. A targeted pre and probiotic formula helps improve digestive health and regularity, supports nutrient absorption, and sets the stage for optimal detoxification.

6. Move Toxins Out

Exercise supports detoxification in a number of ways. First, it burns fat, which can help you shed any number of toxins that get stored in fat cells. In addition, the metabolic acceleration and boost in circulation you get from a good workout will improve cellular detoxification. Exercise also supports the immune system to help address harmful invaders.

7. An Overlooked Factor in Detox: Stress Reduction

Another excellent way to support detoxification is to practice healthy stress relief measures. On the flip side, effective detoxification can go a long way in calming and balancing overactive stress responses.

By simply taking five or ten minutes each day to calm the mind, you can reduce stress hormones, lower inflammation and improve overall well-being. Meditation allows you to shift from a state of struggle and survival, a state of thriving vitality.

I also recommend moving meditations, such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong and yoga. These combine the benefits of exercise with meditation to improve muscle strength, endurance and balance, with an intent toward approaching life from a calm and centered place. One study found that yoga actually changes your gene expression to enhance immunity.

Gaining Momentum in Detox

These initial steps help create a failsafe foundation for thoroughly removing toxins stored deep within your body. In upcoming articles, we’ll explore some of the top natural formulas and therapies I rely on for optimal toxin removal. These powerful yet gentle compounds help to bind and remove toxins, and enhance the body’s natural detox abilities—while at the same time, restoring healthy function to cells, tissues and organs through unique mechanisms of action. 

Effective, evidence-based detox methods are your best defense for protecting against the barrage of “Forever Chemicals” you face regularly. And with the right foundation, including diet, hydration and stress reduction, these methods can provide the ultimate momentum on your path to thriving health, wellness and beyond.

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