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Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace a one on one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. S. Vitale Holistic Health, its officers, affiliates, employees and Shannon Vitale, CTNC encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The entire contents of this document are based upon the opinions of Shannon Vitale, CTNC, unless otherwise noted.
Detoxing is such a buzzword these days. Cleanses & detoxes have become popularized marketing ploys. But what really is detoxification? Do you really understand what it is? Do you really understand why is it important and how can we support this natural process safely?
For a long time, I did not understand & I put my body through many harmful cleanses over the years. My hope is that this information will help you make better decisions, more informed decisions. So here we go – Detoxification 101.
Detoxification is first and foremost a natural process that your body operates on its own to remove toxic substances in order to allow the body to function properly as well as heal on its own – as it should. The key word there is PROCESS. Detoxification is a process, and something that we can support on a regular basis.
Detoxification is NOT a quick fix, it’s not something that is accomplished in 3 days. Your body will NOT be toxin free after only a few days and it is a myth that food is not important during a more structured or extensive detox undertaking.
Detoxification is a bodily process that should be ongoing. Now, because we are exposed to more toxins than ever before in human history, our body has a big job to face, and we are making it extremely hard for our detox functions to keep up. As a point of reference, studies have shown that there are over 500 chemicals found in our own homes that we are exposed to everyday. Chemicals that didn’t used to exist and are deterimental to the inner workings of our cells, tissues, organs and systems.
Also keep in mind that, although extremely popularized today, detoxing has been around for ages. It’s a continuous part of life that helps the body stay clean and clear of disease. More specifically, detoxification can be defined as “lifestyle changes that reduce the exposure of toxins while nourishing the body to improve digestion and elimination.” This is not and should not be limited to the physical body, but should extend to the mind and spirit as well.
Listening to your body for cues that a more supported detox is needed is extremely important. Signs the body needs to detox are very similar to signs of chronic inflammation (not a coincidence! – essentially chronic inflammation is toxin buildup) & include: • Weight gain • Inability to lose weight • Fatigue • Headaches • Congestion • Aching or swollen joints • Backaches • Digestive problems • Allergy symptoms • Bad breath • Constipation • Cellulite • Anxiety • Immune weakness such as frequent colds • Acne and other skin problems • Depression • Sexual dysfunction
There are many systems that are involved in detoxification processes and its important to consider each. Your digestive system, urinary tract, respiratory system, lymphatic system, your skin – these are all involved in the process of detoxification.
Here’s where we get a bit more technical – bear with me – I think you’ll find it important information. Biologically speaking, detoxification is essentially a biochemical reaction. Through a series of chemical and enzymatic reactions the body processes unwanted toxins – of which there are 2: Water Soluble and Fat Soluble. Water soluble toxins are easily removed by the body through blood and urine. Fat soluble toxins are more difficult for your body to get rid of and these include things such as man-made toxins like preservatives, food additives, pollutants and plastics (among others).
There are 3 phases your body goes through in the detoxification process & in order to help your body keep up with the deluge of toxins we throw into it, it is essential to understand these phases and what nutrients support each phase. I’ll go through each at a high-level (with some examples inspired by my nephew to make it fun), however please refer to the quick cheat sheet handout that I’ve posted on my website that summarizes these phases for easy reference.
Phase 1 is called the Enzymatic Reaction phase. Through a process called oxidation, your body uses enzymatic reactions to turn toxins into a more water-soluble version. However, if the detox stops there you’re in big trouble as these little toxic beauties are simply floating around in your body still. Oxidation, while inherently critical to us, can also be problematic without the other phases as it can wreak havoc inside us. It’s sort of like a troop of little toy army men. When huddled together in group on the floor, you can easily walk around. However, if those things get spread around like a tornado all over the place – you’ll step on them and they’ll be poking you or cutting you or just making you slip and slide around the floor. Oxidation breaks up the group and they are loose to roam free throughout your body.
Note that there is a transition period between Phases 1 & 2, however we won’t dive in to that now. Just know that if your detox stops at this phase – you’ve done more harm than good! Many current cleanses or detoxes on the market only take you to this level – which is why they are not actually helpful. To minimize the negative impact of oxidation during phase one and throughout the other phases, it is essential to ensure you have the proper nutrient intake to help protect your body from this process. B Vitamins, Calcium, Glutathione & Branched-chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine are a few of the powerhouses that help to protect you.
Phase 2 is what’s called “Enzymatic Conjugation”. And it is exactly what it sounds like. Essentially in this phase the oxidized toxins are combined with water-soluble molecules and they are packaged together for safe elimination through the body. In order for this to take place there are specific nutrients that must be present: Glycine, NAC (a powerful antioxidant), our friends the B Vitamins, Amino acids such as taurine, glutamate, cysteine, lysine & Fiber all help to bind to toxins. Think of them as the SWAT team swarming in to round up the bind guys and bring them in.
And finally, we have Phase 3 – the transport phase. For this essential part there are specific transporters that are needed to escort the toxins out of the body safely so that they don’t wander off into off limits territory. Much like the SWAT team noted above transporting a dangerous criminal in a controlled manner. In addition to the nutrients listed above, there are general nutrients recommended during a detox that support all phases. These include: a multivitamin for overall support, a probiotic to replenish and balance gut flora, digestive enzymes to help break down food consumed during a cleanse, so nutrients are easily available, protein for amino acids & a detox support supplement with blend of herbs and vitamins to support the digestive system as a whole.
So – there you have it the 3 Phases of detoxification. I hope that you can see how important it is during a detox or cleanse that you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to make it through all 3 phases. The last thing you want is to create a worse problem by only getting through Phase 1 or by not getting through the elimination phase! I also hope it has shown you the potential dangers of some of the “miracle” cleanses or programs out on the market. I always encourage you to understand how a program or how a supplement will affect your body before taking it – like GI Joe used to say after school “Knowing is Half the Battle” – how many of you remember that reference??!!
If you have questions or want to know more please let me know – contact me through Insta or FB @vitaleholistichealth or email me!
According to Shawn Stevenson in his book “Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success”, the first thing to address is the lifestyle issue causing the sleep problem (to which I wholeheartedly agree). However, here are some natural sleep-aids he suggests:
Chamomile: Used for thousands of years; science is now supporting its ability to calm and relax as well as reduce inflammation. Chamomile tea before bed is a great addition to your evening ritual.
Kava Kava: sedative properties, helps reduce anxiety and has been used to treat sleeplessness and fatigue.
Valerian root: Strongest of these 3 herbs and is a moderate sedative.
I am not prescribing or suggesting you use these herbs, merely providing information. Do your research, choose wisely and discuss with your medical professional prior to use.