We have become exposed to an increasing number of chemicals in our food supply, the air we breathe, and through many common items we use daily including cosmetics and household cleaner.
Among their potentially adverse effects, these chemicals can build up in our system and stall weight loss. While many factors often contribute, researchers find that environmental toxins play a role in being overweight or obese.
That’s where a well-designed detoxification plan can help. Besides helping you eliminate the wrong foods that can contribute to weight gain, the right program can give your liver and overall health a helping hand eliminating those excess toxins.
“Detox diets range from total starvation fasts to juice fasts to food modification approaches and often involve the use of laxatives, diuretics, vitamins, minerals and/or ‘cleansing foods,’” writes Hosen Kiat, Head of Cardiology at Macquarie University Hospital and the Australian School of Advanced Medicine, and Dr. Alice Klein from the Cardiac Health Institute, in a review about detoxification diets published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.
Detoxification starts in your liver. While it’s a complicated process, your liver essentially does this in two phases. First, it converts toxic substances to highly reactive metabolites and then excretes these toxins. Your kidneys, lungs, and even gut also play a role in detoxification.
Toxins can impact these organs both acutely and cumulatively. More dangerous are the persistent, low-grade toxins such as residue you consume regularly in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. Reactions aren’t immediate, and you might not see the connection between chronic low-grade toxicity and struggling with weight loss.
How Toxic Overload Can Stall Weight Loss
Whereas a healthy body can optimally detoxify, so many things we confront daily — the food we eat, the air we breathe, and prescription drugs — can make those toxins accumulate, overwhelming your body’s defenses.
“When we are toxic… the mechanism for detoxification in the liver gets sluggish, and certain toxins can remain active longer than we want or than our systems can handle,” says Mark Hyman, MD, in The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet. “This makes us sick and impedes normal metabolism. It also causes fluid retention, bloat, and puffiness.”
That’s where a detoxification plan can possibly help. Among its benefits, research shows the right one can impact weight loss directly as well as reduce factors that contribute to weight loss including chronic inflammation.
Effective detoxification to lose weight and improve overall health demands reducing or eliminating what creates a toxic load, but it also requires giving your body everything it requires to optimally detoxify. Food becomes the foremost way to do that. After all, we detoxify constantly, and we eat several times daily.
Cleanse Your Body Naturally With Food
A healthy diet is the most important way to detoxify. First, remove foods that interfere with detoxification or make you more toxic. Among them include fructose, which is found in soda (as high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS) but also in fruit juices and commercial juice cleanses.
Research shows this simple sugar can become a key contributor to chronic diseases including obesity. Fructose ramps up problems including chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, which both contribute to obesity.
A natural cleanse also involves avoiding trans fats and damaged fats. These fats are in processed foods with “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients — even if the front label says “low in fat.” Scrambled eggs on the buffet table are an example of damaged fats, where the fat has become oxidized — skip them.
Food sensitivities can also stall weight loss and exacerbate toxicity by making your gut more permeable and allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream. Gluten, dairy, soy, and corn are among the common food sensitivities. When considering detoxification, try eliminating these foods for three to four weeks.
“Using a focus on food to support the highly complex processes of detoxification and biotransformation is the wise approach,” says John Cline, MD. “If an apple contains at least 700 different phytochemicals, it is better to eat the apple as one of a variety of foods than to try to replicate its benefits with single nutritional supplements.”
The Best Foods for Natural Detoxification
Fats and Oils
Natural fats and oils like extra virgin olive oil and organic coconut oil provide energy for the detox and biotransformation processes.
Nuts and Seeds
Try almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds for a healthy snack. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of fiber that assists in proper excretion and elimination.
Protein is crucial for the proper function of the two major detoxification pathways inside the liver cells — called the Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification pathways. Opt for organic grass-fed beef and wild-caught seafood.
Beans, lentils, and other legumes are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber as well as a variety of amino acid precursors.
Fruits contain a wide variety of phytonutrients, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and anthocyanins that have protective antioxidant properties. They are also a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber and are high in water content.
Among their nutrients, non-starchy vegetables provide a wide variety of phytochemicals and fiber.
Essentially, a body cleanse diet includes plenty of nutrient-dense, lower-sugar, high-fiber plant foods along with excellent sources of protein and healthy dietary fat. It would eliminate most processed foods including inflammatory fats and instead focus on whole, unprocessed, real foods.
Whenever possible, choose organic plant foods. The Environmental Working Group or EWG estimates conventional produce contains 178 pesticides!
If you can’t choose organic because of cost or availability, check out the EWG’s guide to the most — and least — pesticide-ridden fruits and vegetables, appropriately called the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15.
Food provides nutrients that help your body detoxify, but sometimes providing specific nutrients in therapeutic doses can naturally cleanse your liver and other detoxification organs.
A full range of nutrients to support liver health and aid in detoxification should be customized for a particular person’s needs. In his book Align Your Health, Dr. B.J. Hardick describes how to navigate a grocery store to find the least pesticide-ridden produce plus much more.
As a chiropractor, Dr. Hardick regularly helps patients determine the right nutrients in efficacious amounts to detoxify. A chiropractor or other healthcare professional can also design a customized detoxification program for you.
10 Fad-Free Ways to Help Your Body Detoxify
In order to support your liver health and your body’s natural detoxification processes, make daily detox a priority to help you get (and stay) lean, healthy, full of energy, while reducing your disease risk. Here are 10 ways to get rid of toxins.
1. Eat the right foods
Copious studies show whole foods including cruciferous vegetables, berries, garlic, and spices like turmeric can help your body detoxify through various pathways. Paired with protein and quality fat creates an optimal food plan to detoxify and lose weight. Go for organic plant foods and the highest-quality animal foods whenever possible.
2. Support your gut
Gastrointestinal issues will create or exacerbate a faulty detoxification system. Improving your digestive system requires removing obstacles that create dysbiosis (gut imbalances) and other problems, but also incorporating the right gut-supporting foods and nutrients. Talk to your chiropractor or other healthcare professional if you suspect intestinal permeability (leaky gut) or other digestive problems.
3. Reduce inflammation
Toxicity contributes to inflammation, which leads to a heavier toxic load, stalling fat loss in the bargain. An anti-inflammatory diet includes wild-caught seafood, plant foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids including flaxseed and chia seeds, lots of non-starchy vegetables, and spices including turmeric. Work with your chiropractor or other healthcare professional to incorporate anti-inflammatory nutrients including fish oil, krill oil, resveratrol, and curcumin into your diet.
4. Support your immune system
At a minimum, ensure you eat well, get good sleep, manage stress levels, practice good hygiene like washing your hands regularly, and get the right nutrients that support optimal immunity.
5. Supplement your natural detoxification program twice a year
While your cells constantly detoxify, consider doing a more formal detox as a spring (or fall) full-body cleanse. These plans, which typically last two to three weeks, include all the essentials to help your liver and other organs optimally detoxify, including protein, nutrients, and a detox-minded eating plan. Our Detox System provides all the nutrient support you need to keep your natural cellular and body detoxification in peak, all in one convenient package.
6. Minimize exposure
Prevention is always your first line of both offense and defense. Avoid household cleaners, building materials, plastics, processed foods, and other places toxins linger. A good place to start is with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which provides a wealth of information including identifying toxins in your life.
7. Drink plenty of clean water
Hydration keeps your cellular machinery at peak performance, detoxing optimally along with its numerous other functions. Always aim for properly filtered water to avoid added toxins.
8. Sweat out your toxins
Among its benefits, exercise can help your body better excrete toxins and burn fat more effectively. Whether that involves hot yoga or high-intensity interval training, find a consistent workout plan that fits your preference and schedule.
9. Get good sleep
Several years ago, scientists discovered a brain detoxification process called the glymphatic system that occurs when you sleep. According to Andy R. Eugene and Jolanta Masiak, insufficient sleep impairs your glymphatic system, causing toxin build up. Without quality sleep in the right amounts on a consistent basis, your body cannot effectively detoxify.
10. Visit a chiropractor
Chiropractic adjustments impact the nervous system, which controls all metabolic pathways including detoxification pathways. Getting adjusted will free your body to optimally detoxify and perform at its peak level.
Toxic overload is an often-overlooked factor in obesity, and the right detoxification plan can provide the nutrients your body requires to help you heal and lose weight. While these strategies are a powerfully effective starting point, a chiropractor or other healthcare professional can help you design a custom-tailored detoxification plan based on your individual needs.