The purpose of detoxing is to rapidly cleanse your system of toxins, like spring-cleaning. But detoxing your body isn’t like detoxing your closet after a season of bad shopping. Although detoxing is popular, I don’t personally apply that approach to my life for three reasons.
1. Believing that you can purge toxins from your system with impunity can encourage bad eating and lifestyle habits.
2. Detoxing is extreme and I don’t agree with doing anything extreme to your body. Detox methods can be harsh and draining on the system because you unleash a boat load of toxins into your bloodstream, often more than your body can deal with, especially when detoxing your colon. The GI tract responds better to pampering. We need to take care of our gut–our second brain–because it is the command central for the immune system.
3. Detoxing usually doesn’t allow for actual food and we need solid food every single day for ongoing metabolic processes and rebuilding. A green juice flush is a great example. Where are the fats and proteins necessary for rebuilding? Because the normal breaking down and building up is occurring and you have in a well-meaning way, deprived your body of materials to complete the rebuilding process.
People often don’t feel like they’re doing anything purposeful unless it’s extreme. If it’s not radically hard or painful, or in the case of a juice flush that comes with the encouraging head high you get from starving, then they don’t think they’re doing anything. We need to get away from that mentality of immediacy and think more about the long term. Doing anything extreme whether it’s an extreme dietary choice like avoiding a food group altogether, going on green juice flushes along with extreme exercise is going to age you in an accelerated way. I just saw a classic example through my friend Phil Keoghan who is the host of the Amazing Race. He’s working on a documentary called “Le Ride” about Harry Watson the New Zealander who was one of a group of the first English speaking cyclists to ride in the Tour de France in 1928. He rode 120 miles every day on a no-gear bike for 22 days. The picture of him before the race looks like a normal 28-year old guy. After the race he looked like a badly wrinkled elbow. He’d aged 30 years. This is what doing extreme things does to the body. It ages you fast. So with detoxes which are mostly radical and take a lot of discipline, you get the glory, the head rush, and all the satisfaction of being heroically disciplined, but you’ve assaulted your body and done damage along the way that will eventually show up on your face, your hair, your skin, in your organs and so on.
Of course we have to think of the 80,000 toxic industrial chemicals in our environment today. Poison overload interferes with vital organ and gland functions and damages your liver’s ability to filter, break down, and eliminate the toxic substances. Many toxins are fat soluble and migrate to the subcutaneous fat under your skin and remain there, smoldering, generating free radicals, and destroying mitochondria (energy factories in your cells) and DNA (blueprints that give instructions). Prolonged toxic overload poisons cell membranes; causes genetic damage, endocrine problems (including reproductive issues), neurological disorders, and cancer. What we’re seeing a lot of today is that all of these toxins are flipping out people’s immune systems, manifesting in allergies and sensitivities, escalating to extreme environmental sensitivities, autoimmune conditions, and adrenal burnout.
All that said, rather than going on a detox, I encourage people to live a detox lifestyle, to eat and live in such a way to keep your toxic load as low as possible. You want to avoid as many toxic exposures as possible, while you provide your body with building supplies including supplies that contain antioxidants (to neutralize free radicals). There are times when we’re exposed to toxins in factory-produced food, anesthesia, secondhand cigarette smoke, heavy duty chemical and pollution exposure in third world travel, and so on. Continuing your detoxifying lifestyle will bring your body back into balance. If you are exposed to big gun toxins like chemotherapy, you can add big gun detoxifiers (which we’ll talk about shortly) while continuing to supply your body with building materials.
A detox lifestyle is also an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Chronic inflammation has been identified as the single mitigating factor in the development of accelerating aging and degenerative diseases.
Sources of toxic exposure are the environment, food (including the packaging), medicine, and self- and home-care products. But the focus of this blog is what we ingest.
The basics of a detox lifestyle are avoiding as much toxic exposure as possible while providing your body with the best quality building supplies.
• Avoid all factory-made foods (including animal foods raised in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). A short list of the toxic ingredients in these products includes partially hydrogenated fats, MSG, aspartame, GMOs, refined sugar, HFCS, fertilizers, preservatives and nitrates, colored dyes, antibiotics and other drugs, hormones, bisphenol A (BPA) in hard plastics and the lining of cans. Chemicals act as xenohormones, which are endocrine disruptors responsible for mood disorders, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Pesticides and herbicides are xenohormones, and are responsible for the rise in breast cancer.
• Eat organic, responsibly and humanely raised foods to supply your body with building materials.
• It makes sense that if you’re detoxing to remove toxins from your system to lower your risk for disease that you’d also want to develop eating habits that reduce the generation of internal toxins. Most important is to eat a low sugar diet because sugar is toxic to cells. Eat the amount of carbs that are appropriate for your level of activity. Always eat carbs with proteins or fats because even if you’re burning off the energy, when large amounts of sugar enter your system large amounts of insulin are released to deal with that sugar. Prolonged elevated insulin levels are also toxic. With a high carb diet you get a poisonous two-fer, sugar and insulin. Because of this, going on a juice fast would be suicidal. Consider that orange juice contains three oranges, which is 60 grams of carbs. Liquid carbs are absorbed immediately, instigating an immediate and copious insulin response.
• Alcohol and caffeine in moderation or none.
• No artificial sweeteners. Aspartame and Splenda are brain damaging, cancerous substances.
• Eat enzymatic foods. Factory food is dead, but real food is living and includes enzymes. A rule of thumb is to only eat foods that rot. The reason food rots is because it’s contains living enzymes. Enzymes are essential to life because they are biochemical catalysts of cellular function both inside and outside of cells. Examples of enzyme-rich foods are anything fermented like sauerkraut, veggie-kraut, kefir, kimchee, kombucha tea, yogurt, raw apple cider vinegar, pickles, raw beer, shoyu (which is naturally fermented soy sauce not the chemical brew better known as soy sauce). Examples of non-fermented enzymatic foods are raw eggs from a clean source because salmonella does not breed in clean organically farmed chickens, raw cheese, raw fruit, raw milk and cream, raw veggies and green juice, the sea veggies, spirulina and chlorella, and sprouted seeds–but if you’re not getting enzymes if you eat those sprouted seeds in a loaf of baked bread because heat over 114 degrees kills enzymes.
• Avoid anything containing soy. Eight-five percent of soy is Monsanto Round Up Ready soy. Even if it’s organic, soy contains phytoestrogen, which is plant estrogen, as well as goitrogens, which are substances that interfere with your thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine, so your thyroid can’t make hormones and begins to decline.
• Eat cooked and raw food. Humans discovered fire a long time ago so we’ve been cooking some foods all this time. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. People are eating bales of kale by juicing it. Kale also contains goitrogens. Juice or have a kale salad once in a while but cook it most of the time. There are other foods with similar problems. And some foods aren’t palatable unless they are cooked so your now limiting what you can eat.
• There are other thyroid dangers out there. City water contains fluoride, which has played a role in the upswing of hypothyroidism. City water also contains mercury, pharmaceutical drugs, chlorine and industrial pollutants. Get a reverse osmosis point of use water system put into your dwelling and carry your water around in a metal container. Drink one half of your weight in ounces of purified water every day. The purpose of urinating is to flush toxins out of your system.
• Avoid heat and chemical-processed and partially hydrogenated polyunsaturated vegetable oils like corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, soy, canola. That means if you can’t believe it’s not butter than it’s not, including the spreadable omega 3 products that have undergone chemical and heat processing. Stick with nature’s fats.
• Examples of nature’s fats are real butter, and you can take a spoonful of therapeutic fats like Activator X, which is the butter from grass grazing cows, butterfat from whole milk, whole yogurt, and whole cheese, fatty fish like salmon and sardines, seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, and cod liver oil (also available fermented).
• Drink detox teas that contain a combination of dandelion, burdock, alfalfa, red clover, slippery elm, golden seal, and silymarin (milk thistle).
• Use stainless or cast iron to cook not aluminum or Teflon or other weird science chemicals that release molecules into your bloodstream that attach to your organs staying there indefinitely. Don’t use tin foil on hot food because it releases aluminum into your system, which is associated with Alzheimer’s. Don’t cook in a microwave because it destroys nutrients and exposes you to radiation. For goodness sake don’t microwave in plastic ever, which is another source of xenohormones.
• Eat plenty of organic fruits and veggies and take high-quality supplements including vitamin D3 and antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals, as well as niacin. You can now buy no-flush niacin.
• Take probiotics daily to keep a good balance of healthy flora in your system.
• The amino acid glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant and detoxer. A big gun way to get therapeutic doses of glutathione is by going to an enlightened doctor and getting it by IV. It is expensive, my doctor charges $100 for a 1,500 milligram dose. But if you’ve had cancer treatments or have otherwise been exposed or have had big volumes of free radicals introduced into your system. Then it’s worth the investment to go and have a few IV glutathione treatments. Most health experts believe that the glutathione molecule is destroyed by stomach acid (though some doctors say that the reduced supplement is partially absorbed). You can however eat sulfur rich foods to boost your glutathione. Sulfur is a sticky, smelly molecule that attracts free radicals that stick to it and then they’re carried from the body during normal elimination. Glutathione also helps your immune system function optimally. Examples of sulfur rich foods are garlic, onions and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress.
I’d like to end with my spiel on not being a zealot. I don’t believe in zealotry because it always leads to self-criticism for failures and judgment and even hatred of others. I urge people to lead as pristine lives as possible but to pick your poisons. When I say pick your poisons I’m not implying that the use of poisonous substances or food is OK in moderation. That’s the FDA’s stance (a little poison here and there). My position is to avoid all toxins as much as possible. The point isn’t to join a monastery but to eat and live in such a way that you keep your toxic load as light as possible while providing rich nutrition to your brain and body–including bombarding your body with antioxidants–so you can enjoy the best quality of life.
Peace, Fun, Love.
Your girlfriend in health,