Echinacea flower

DO YOU NEED TO DETOX THIS SPRING?

WOMAN WITH A QUESTION

INTRODUCTION

Did things get just a little messy this winter? Is your clock the only thing that sprung forward? Do you ever feel that things just aren’t moving along in the right direction? If your answer is a resounding YES to all of these questions, then you may need a spring clean me up!

But, wait a minute, what exactly does a spring clean me up entail? Well, first look at where you’re at right now. What you put in and on your body last season won’t necessarily help your body run better in the Spring.

Remember: Detox isn’t something you go on — it’s a system in your body.

DO I NEED TO DETOX?

Your body is detoxifying right now. This very minute. Yes, even if you haven’t been chugging organic cold-pressed green juices all week or adding special powders to your morning smoothies. Don’t believe me? I get it. That’s because you probably hear the word “detox” used a lot of different ways and few are correct.

Here’s the deal: We create internal “messes” every day that necessitates detoxification—a.k.a. clean-up work in the body. When you create a mess and don’t clean up, there’s a good chance you’ll get sick more often, feel kind of “meh” all the time, not get the weight-loss results you’re going after, and more.

However, your body is a well-designed machine that knows how to detox (read: clean up those messes) on its own. And there are also plenty of ways you can support this genius mechanism. Read on for everything you need to know about this hot topic.

HOW DOES THE BODY DETOX?

The body has two detoxification pathways, which you want to make sure you’re engaging equally. This, as well as maintaining a healthy digestive system is the key to better health. Here’s the breakdown

PHASE I DETOX AND WHAT SHOULD I EAT

PLANT OMEGA-3 FOODS

In Phase I, it’s all about conversion. This is when the body goes to work to convert toxins into waste to be eliminated. Here’s the funny thing: Sometimes this can be a messy process and create more free radicals (yep, the stuff you’re trying to get rid of), which add to the toxic load that needs to be eliminated.

It’s proof that the body’s detox work is never done! However, during this first phase, your bod marks all of the toxins for elimination—think of it like putting all of the stuff that needs cleaning up in your car or your house into boxes and marking it for “trash,” “donation,” or “bring back to the kitchen.”

So, what should you eat in order to help your body rock Detox Phase 1? I’ve got one word for you: plants. Some of my detoxifying favorites are whole grains, peanuts, seeds (hemp, sesame, and sunflower), avocado, banana, spinach, and all greens. 

A quality, plant-based diet will always help promote your body’s natural detox system.

PHASE 2 DETOX AND WHAT SHOULD I EAT

FOODS HIGH IN OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

It’s all about elimination. This is when your body starts moving those toxins that were marked for removal. In order to do this, the body may add specific nutrients to harmful toxins for them to be eliminated. 

The great part about this phase is that it’s also when the body removes “used” hormones (like estrogen and thyroid hormones), which may reduce your risk of certain cancers.

To help the body convert toxins for elimination, get in your broccoli (florets) or consider a glucoraphanin supplement. Choose plant proteins (like hemp seeds), and quality animal ones (wild salmon, sardines, organic whole eggs). 

For calcium enjoy sesame seeds, fortified non-dairy, and seaweed plus magnesium-rich foods like those whole grains, greens, nuts, seeds, and cacao. Enjoy shallots, leeks, garlic, and radishes, more often, too.

DO I NEED A DAILY DETOX

FEMALE STUDENT ASKING QUESTIONS

I always say that your body is like a race car. And if you roll with me on that analogy, then you know how your car needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Imagine getting into your car with all of those on-the-go pit stop crumbs, crushed cereal, crumpled-up tissues, and gum wrappers.

Then, imagine taking a drive after spending some time cleaning, vacuuming, and wiping all that dust off the dash. So much more enjoyable, right? Well, the same is true inside your body: We create little messes inside our bodies every day.

While you might guess that the “unhealthy” stuff causes these messes—like non-organic food, stress, and alcohol—the good stuff in life contribute to these messes, too. (Think exercise, excitement, and even just eating a bunch of great-for-you food.)

Because of this, detoxing can’t be an annual event or even something that happens every so often (say, before a big event). It has to happen every day. Yep, you read that right. You should be detoxing Every. Single. Day.

The good news here is that your body was built to detox every day. Now, this doesn’t mean your liver just detoxes on its own—especially if you are giving it too much else to do; this is a major over-simplification. But this detox process is something your body intuitively knows how to do, and there are ways you can help nudge things in the right direction.

young woman sitting outside in the city

HOW DO I REDUCE MY TOXIC LOAD?

OK, so it’s impossible to eliminate toxins completely. Heck, the body creates some toxins when it’s digesting good-for-you vegetables. But think of it this way: If the body is already creating little messes by doing what it’s supposed to do, it’s smart to avoid the very-avoidable things that’ll only add to that mess.

What do I mean? Consider taking the following steps to reduce your toxin exposure:

  • Take your shoes off before walking around your house. Sounds simple, but it’s a surefire way to do what you can to control what comes into your environment. Have a furry friend like me? Wipe your dog’s paws with a natural wipe after y’all go for walks.
  • Wash your fruits and veggies carefully. Yep, even the organic ones. And if you cook meat, be careful to clean as you go so you’re not leaving any toxic remnants behind.
  • Choose organic food. It’s absolutely your best proactive shot at reducing unnecessary toxins via your food. You don’t need to buy everything organic! Focus on choosing organic varieties of the foods you eat most frequently. For example, I eat berries almost everyday, so they’re always organic. However, as for those kiwis I only eat once in a blue moon, I don’t sweat it if I can’t find an organic option.

CONCLUSION

So there you have it — Detox 101. Do you need a Spring Clean Me Up? Does your body need a little nudge in the right direction? What’s 1 food you can add to your diet to help your body detox better? What’s 1 thing you can take away that’ll help this process? Leave a comment and let me know.

***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***

About the author

Susan Taylor, RDN LD is a registered dietitian / nutritionist with 20+ years experience in the nutrition field.  Susan has worked in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, longterm care, rehab, and private practice. She currently enjoys life in the Charleston, SC area and is always looking for ways to fit in a little more beach time.