Sometimes we think that feeling tired, unfocused, irritable or just generally unwell is because we’re stressed or not getting enough sleep, but these symptoms can be a sign of toxic overload. Under ideal circumstances, our bodies naturally rid themselves of harmful pollutants and protect against their effects through the built-in detoxification system of our liver, digestive tract, skin, kidneys and lungs. But the sheer volume of exposure to pollutants and chemicals we get on a daily basis sometimes overwhelms the natural processes. Pair that with an unhealthy diet, and chronic health issues may be the result.
1 Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
Choose a rainbow of colours — green, red, orange, purple, and yellow fruits and (mostly) vegetables. Aim for a minimum of five (half cup) servings daily. Green veggies, especially those of the Brassica family (including broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and kale) have high chlorophyll content in addition to other compounds that aid in liver function. Other excellent choices include avocado, collard greens and asparagus.
2 Choose organic produce wherever possible.
Unfortunately, not all the pesticides used to kill bugs, grubs and/or fungus on our conventionally farmed fruits and veggies wash off under the tap. Opt for organic fruits and vegetables, particularly in certain varieties known to contain higher levels of pesticide residues, such as bell peppers, kale, potatoes, spinach, apples, blueberries, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches and strawberries. Non-organic produce should be cleaned with a natural fruit and veggie wash to remove any pesticides, waxes, and chemicals. Rinse thoroughly and peel the skin where possible.
3 Add herbs and spices
Many herbs and spices, including turmeric, ginger and cilantro (coriander), have anti-inflammatory, liver cleansing and many other healing properties.
4 Include lean proteins
Lean protein is beneficial in clearing chemical toxins more rapidly from the bloodstream. Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry, ideally organically raised, or game meats. Include more vegetable protein sources like legumes, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds.
5 Eat fish…in moderation
Include fish in your diet as long as it’s not loaded with mercury and other heavy metals. Eat wild or farmed fish once or twice weekly. Avoid fish high in mercury such as: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, grouper, all varieties of tuna, orange roughy, marlin, Chilean sea bass, halibut, snapper, sablefish, and striped bass (wild).
6 Try some non-processed grains.
Select grains that have low allergenic potential and a high nutrient profile. This includes gluten free grains like buckwheat or kasha, millet, quinoa, brown rice, arrowroot, amaranth and some oats.
7 Drink water
Water enhances detoxification. Drink a minimum of six to eight glasses of purified or mineral water each day to flush your system. Liven it up by adding lime, berries or fresh mint leaves to infuse flavour. Squeeze the juice of half an organic lemon into a glass of water first thing in the morning to boost your immune system, aid digestion and stimulate liver enzymes.
8 Support your detox
In addition to this nutritional approach to detoxification, be sure to avoid chemical-laden skin, hair and body products. Salt and soda baths, vinegar baths, dry skin brushing and infrared saunas also help remove toxins from your skin. Maintain a healthy workplace and home environment, by minimizing environmental pollutants and toxins.
The keys to vitality are a clean body and active mind. Physical activity, sleep and adequate stress reduction are important to the success of any detoxification program. Take some time to listen to music, dance or sing, breathe deeply, write in a journal, and have a good laugh.
Article by Jerry Balice
Jerry Balice is the Clinic Director at Nex Wellness in Burlington and Binbrook. You can read more health and wellness articles on his website at nexwellness.com
Nex Wellness, Burlington
Pure Love, Burlington
The Institute for Hormonal Health, Oakville
Imbuir Naturopathic Medicine, Burlington