Fall Detox & Reset, Part 2
You've read last week's post on why detox is important, the consequences of toxicity, what detox is and who should or shouldn't detox. Today I give you the goods on the detoxification "how tos":
How to reduce your toxic load
How to eat to support detoxification
How to do easy, self care detox activities
Reducing your toxic load
Start with your diet. Remove allergenic and/or pro-inflammatory foods (see below).
Examine your food packaging. Natural materials are best, stick with glass, ceramic and stainless steel. Avoid plastics, styrofoam and coated-paper packaging.
Be picky with your personal hygiene products & cosmetics. How many words can you pronounce on the ingredients list of your beauty products? Many of the chemicals used on our skin care products are not fully vetted because they are not being used internally. To better understand the safety & toxicity of your daily care products check out "Skin Deep" a database of 70,000 different cosmetic and personal care items. Or better yet, follow the simple rule: "if the names are unrecognizable or unpronounceable" maybe think twice before slathering it on.
Clean with clean products. It seems counterintuitive, maybe counterproductive even to clean your house with toxic chemicals, however many of the household brands of detergents and cleaning products contain toxic chemicals like "ethanolamine" or "sodium borate". If you're not too clear on how your cleaning products add up then search them on EWG's (Environmental Working Group) "Guide to Healthy Cleaning" and choose safer, cleaner solutions.
Let your fabrics breathe. From carpeting to upholstery to the clothing on our backs, many of the fabrics that we're regularly in contact with contain flame retardent, softening, stain resistant, waterproofing, color enhancing, shrink resisting chemicals. These chemicals used to treat our fabrics have been shown to cause skin irritation in its mildest form but at its worst has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity and immune dysruption. When it comes to new carpeting, furniture or car interiors, it's best to allow these materials to off-gas until it looses that "new car/carpet/furniture" smell. As for your clothing, in addition to pleasing your fashion sense, consider the fabrics used. Avoid synthetic and pretreated fabrics and anything touted as "stain-resistant", "water-proof", "wrinkle-free". Instead, opt for organic cotton, wool, silk, hemp, bamboo and tencel fabrics.
Dietary tips for detox
The goal of the recommendations below are not to just clear your diet of toxic elements, but to also reduce pro-inflammatory or allergenic foods that can irritate your immune system and bog down your detoxification processes. Personally, change is always a challenge for me so I prefer to do things in a graduated manner. Start with the level 1 changes and allow them to become routine before progressing to level 2 and so on. Though these are tips listed to promote detoxification they work better as part of your daily lifestyle.
Shop the borders off your grocery store. The perimeter of the grocery store is where produce and wholefoods tend to be stocked. Avoid the centre aisles where boxed, bagged and canned processed foods are kept.
Use your hands. Your hands are a great guide to how much of each food group you should consume at each meal (see diagram).
Water & herbal tea only. Caffeine, sugary soda or juice and alcohol should all be eliminated.
Vary your vegetables. Aim for 2-3 servings each of the following categories of vegetables per day: Dark leafy greens (ex. arugula, chards, kale, spinach), cruciferous vegetables (ex. bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens), brightly colored vegetables (ex. bell peppers, beets, carrots, squash).
Say "NO" to dairy. Dairy has been linked to insulin resistance and increases in IGF-1  , a known cancer promoter. Generally I ask that patients avoid dairy as I find dairy to be highly linked to inflammation, acne , digestive and sinus complaints.
Avoid white carbs. White flour, rice and potatos, these are foods that similar to dairy that drive up blood sugar and insulin which promote inflammation and can worsen chronic pain, chronic fatigue, interfere with metabolism and optimal health.
Shop according to Dirty Dozen, Clean 15. This is a great guide put out annually by the EWG. It rates which types of produce are highest in toxicity and should be bought organic as well as the foods that are lowest in chemical load and can be bought from conventional sources.
Go green with your red meat. When eating red meat, choose sources that are free run, grass fed. Grass fed beef is higher in omega 3 fatty acids, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid - a fatty acid that improves fat loss and potentially improve diabetes & cancer risk)  and precursors for antioxidants like vitamin A, E and glutathione .
Love your Liver. Increase foods and spices that are liver protective and supportive: artichoke, beets and beet greens, bitter greens (arugula, bittermelon, dandelion greens), garlic and turmeric. Just to name a few.
Cheap & Easy Self-Care Detox
Alternating showers. This is a great way to get both blood and lymphatic circulation moving to both nourish and detox our tissues. Simply alternate between 3 minutes of hot water and 30 seconds cold (as hot and cold as is comfortable). Note: this should be avoided by those who have high or low blood pressure and those with heart problems.
Dry skin brushing. Another way to move the lymphatic circulation, dry skin burshing helps to drain waste products and toxins from our tissues. All you need is a 100% organic cotton towel and brush in circular motions from your tips, inwards to the heart (see diagram).
Castor oil packs. Castor oil is great for reducing inflammation and promoting circulation through the tissues on which it's applied. Fold a strip of an old organic cotton t-shirt folded into 3 layers, pour about a quarter's diameter of castor oil onto the centre of the layered fabric, apply over your liver (located just below the right breast, on the bottom of your rib cage) and lay a hot water bottle or heating compress on top of the pack.
This may seem like a lot to do, but these are some foundational things to support your body's natural detoxification processes. Start by choosing one or two things to incorporate and as those become routine, layer in one or two more changes. Baby steps! Just know that I'm here if you need a detox cheerleader, or if you'd like an individualized detox plan, feel free to contact me.
In health & wellness,
Dr. Sophia Ma, ND
Tucker, L., Erickson, A., LeCheminant, J. and Bailey, B., 2020. Dairy Consumption And Insulin Resistance: The Role Of Body Fat, Physical Activity, And Energy Intake.
Melnik, B., John, S. and Schmitz, G., 2020. Over-Stimulation Of Insulin/IGF-1 Signaling By Western Diet May Promote Diseases Of Civilization: Lessons Learnt From Laron Syndrome.
Danby, W., 2020. Acne, Dairy And Cancer.
Lenighan, Y., Nugent, A., Moloney, A., Monahan, F., Walton, J., Flynn, A., Roche, H. and McNulty, B., 2020. A Modelling Approach To Investigate The Impact Of Consumption Of Three Different Beef Compositions On Human Dietary Fat Intakes.
Daley, C., Abbott, A., Doyle, P., Nader, G. and Larson, S., 2020. A Review Of Fatty Acid Profiles And Antioxidant Content In Grass-Fed And Grain-Fed Beef.