Nature has provided our bodies with a built in detoxification system. There is no need to purchase special supplements, shakes or spa treatments. A healthy body will naturally detoxify with an abundance of water, whole foods and exercise. There are natural foods and behaviors that will assist in the detoxification process. Let’s take a look at a few of these detox helpers.
Fruits, vegetables and herbs are filled with thousands of anti-oxidants called phytochemicals. The micronutrients neutralize free radicals. The accumulation of free radicals are believed to be responsible for aging and progression of some diseases. We are exposed to free radicals from sources like ozone, pesticides, cleaners, cigarette smoke, radiation and pollution. A diet high in sugar and alcohol can contribute to free radical production. Our bodies have a natural anti-oxidant defense system against free radicals but need an influx of these micronutrients to work best. In this way, a diet high in fruits and vegetables can have an anti-aging effect and protect against many types of disease. Some of these nutrients may even have a protective effect against certain types of cancers.
Water is essential for all body systems to function properly including the liver and kidneys that clear toxins from our body. Many of us walk around in a partially dehydrated state and we don’t even realize it. By the time symptoms of dehydration show up, we are substantially dehydrated. Most of us can divide our bodyweight in pounds by half to find the number of ounces of water we should be drinking each day. Added sugars and alcohol will increase this amount.
Exercise moves blood and lymph at a faster rate. The faster they circulate, the faster the liver can do its job of clearing waste. The lymph collects unwanted "debris" in the body such as fats, bacteria and other harmful materials and filters them through the lymph nodes. Unlike the blood system, the lymph system has no pump. The lymph system relies on movement for circulation. Together with water, exercise induces sweating which is another way the body naturally cleanses itself. The digestive system works well and moves regularly with daily exercise. When you exercise you breathe more deeply with your lungs. The lungs produce and give off carbon dioxide as a waste product of aerobic exercise.
Probiotics and prebiotics are helpful in eliminating the harmful bacteria in the gut. Over time, a diet rich in probiotics and prebiotics change the flora of the gut by crowding out harmful pathogens. This can improve regulation of the immune system and play a positive role in brain function and mood. Prebiotics are the fuel that attracts healthy bacteria and are found in fiber rich fruits and vegetables. Probiotics are live cultures found in fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, kimchi, tempeh, pickles, apple cider vinegar and kombucha.
Reducing emotional stress can reduce natural chemical stressors in the body. Cortisol and other hormones released during stress alter functions in all body systems. Chronic stress puts us at risk for numerous health problems. Deep breathing, meditation, exercise, spending time outdoors are just a few well known stress reducing strategies. Find what works for you and incorporate it into your daily life.