The term ‘detox’ has certainly gone through transformations over the years — just twenty years ago it meant breaking free of drug or alcohol addiction. These days the term is used to describe the process of removing all toxins from the body – everything from the toxins we take in through the air we breathe to the pesticides we ingest from vegetables.

Natural body detoxification has been embraced by many ancient cultures. And some of these practices – like Native American sweat lodges, and Indian Ayurveda practice, still survive today. In conventional medicine today there tends to be a lot of skepticism around practices like body detox but if you think about prevention and staying well rather than getting well detox makes a lot of sense!

Supporting your body’s ability to detox effectively every day not only helps maintain wellness but also helps prevent illness later in life. Let’s look at the way your body supports natural detox.

Your Body’s Natural Detox Ability

Our bodies are detoxifying all the time; our metabolic processes create streams of waste and we spend our days absorbing, inhaling, and ingesting allergens, pathogens, chemicals and other toxins without even realizing it.

Our bodies are pretty amazing – all this detoxifying happens behind the scene without much conscious input or help from us – until the process just can’t keep up. That’s why we need to give our bodies a little help. Lifestyle and diet choices can influence our ability to detoxify. Additionally, our genetic makeup has a role to play, as does extended exposure to toxins.

Signs That Your System Can’t Keep Up

When toxins build up inside the body, there are host of possibly symptoms which may play out. These include: sinus congestion, indigestion, hives, bloating, irritability, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, weight gain, insomnia, fuzzy thinking, coughing, sneezing, constipation or even chest pain.

There’s research correlating a link between impaired detoxification ability and a number of diseases including fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome. In my experience other conditions are also related to toxicity in the body – arthritis, eczema, allergies, cirrhosis, fibrocystic breasts, pancreatitis, multiple sclerosis, thyroid dysfunction and heart disease.

Many of my patients are shocked to learn that unwanted weight can also be a sign of excess toxins in the body. Increasing exposure to new toxic substances – both naturally occurring and manufactured – creates the need for health care practitioners to talk with and teach patients about supporting their bodies to detoxify effectively and efficiently.

Issues with Extreme Detox Practices

The word detox is everywhere – in headlines and on TV – with promises of a “quick-fix” that will help restore your energy, help you lose weight and regain vitality. But it’s really not that simple.

I don’t recommend extreme detox regimens. Think about it for a minute; your body is already struggling to process the toxic load it has so why would you challenge it more with an extreme detox plan? I recommend avoiding colonics, coffee enemas, prolonged juice fasts, extreme chelation, hours-long saunas, colon cleanses and excessive doses of minerals or antioxidants. Excess of any kind is rarely a good idea.

Fasting is a well-known and age old practice which is associated with both spiritual and religious traditions. Under controlled circumstances, fasting might be a good choice for you. Extreme fasting, however, can release toxins too quickly – and the end result may make you feel worse, not better. And I don’t think fasting for weight loss is ever a good idea.

Natural Detox: Marcelle’s Approach

So if you shouldn’t believe all the detox hype, what are some good ways to support your body in its detoxification process naturally? My approach to natural detox is one way.

I’ve developed a comprehensive approach based on two basic principles:

  1. Give your body the raw materials it needs – food, key nutrients, water, and other fluids – regularly.
  2. Set up your life to enhance your body’s ability to manage toxins

Every aspect of your life matters, particularly in creating ideal detoxification conditions. I advise my patients to examine everything they do — eating, drinking, work, play, and rest to be sure they are supporting their natural detoxification processes. Making smart choices that help you detoxify well will have a direct impact on both your short- and long-term health.

So what are some specific things you can do? Here’s a few quick thoughts:

  • Eat a wide variety of fresh whole foods; fruits, vegetables, protein and healthy fats are all important pieces of the puzzle. Your body needs the full range of vitamins and minerals for its processes to run smoothly.
  • Find ways to relax and play. Stress places a large burden on your body, so finding ways to de-stress are essential.
  • Get enough sleep. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like there’s so much to do you must sacrifice sleep time to fit it all in, but don’t! Detoxification will happen much more easily if you support your body’s need for sleep.
  • Supplement as necessary. It’s exceedingly difficult to get all of the nutrients we need from food. At minimum, I suggest all women take a high quality multivitamin every day to support their bodies.

Feeling great is within your control, and you don’t need to go to extremes to get there! If you live your life with the intention of supporting your body, then your body will support you in living the life you want!