We are all exposed to toxins on a daily basis. They are hidden in the foods we eat, the chemicals we encounter, pollutants in the air we breathe, and even in the water we drink. It’s almost impossible to avoid exposure to toxins. Our bodies rely heavily on our livers to detoxify our internal systems. But at the rate we’re absorbing toxins – especially in a city like Hong Kong – relying solely on our livers to do their job against all the toxins we face may not be enough. We need to lighten the toxic load with occasional detoxification. Some people (myself included) need this more often than others!
What is detox?
‘Detox’ is one of the most popular topics in my line of work. However, I often must clarify what people mean when they refer to ‘a Detox’. Are they looking to reduce toxic loads in the liver OR just to lose a few pounds? The latter is what many people think detoxes are for: a low-calorie, semi-starvation diet – AKA cleanse – to fit into their jeans. Even though this might actually damage your body in the long run.
Juice cleanses are not necessarily as good is claimed. Yes, you might lose a few pounds quickly, but that is mostly water weight – not the loss of fat that contributes to long-term weight loss. Long bouts of starvation can slow down the metabolism and the high sugar content of most juices can push your blood sugar and hormones out of balance. At the same time, the lack of protein during a juice fast can affect your body’s ability to excrete toxic substances. This in turn may make you more toxic than you were before you started!
In this article, I’m not referring to laxative teas or ‘fad’ diets that claim to “flush out” the toxins in your body in 5 days. A real, evidence-based detox or good liver cleanse will help your liver detoxify. It will also effectively balance your hormones, boost your metabolism and shift that hard-to-shed stubborn fat.
Length of a detox
In my practice, we usually put clients on either a 10-day or a 3-week cleanse, based on the person’s needs. We combine a dietary food plan that breaks free of all common allergenic foods, as well as refined sugar, preservatives, pesticides and other common toxins. We then support the liver and gut by adding herbal supplements, a detoxifying agent and vegan protein to aid the liver in excreting accumulated toxins from the body safely. For more intensive needs, we might put our clients onto a chelation IV program. I would highly recommend everyone to schedule a cleanse every 6 months, and for people with genes that make them detoxify slower, commit to a cleanse quarterly.
Keeping your toxins down
Of course, your detox shouldn’t be limited to a certain meal plan or drink. To give yourself the best chance of fighting disease, staying lean and fighting aging, detox should be a lifestyle! Follow these simple steps to keep your toxic load low:
- Do a heavy metal and mineral analysis test – You need accurate data on the mineral and toxin levels in your body to figure out what to do. This test will provide deep insights into your heavy metal toxicity, metabolism, liver and kidney health, inflammation, and much more.
- Buy organic – especially for the “dirty dozen”. Rid your diet from pesticides found in fruits and vegetables as well as hormones and antibiotics found in meat. Choose non-GMO foods, organic fruits and veggies, and hormone-free meat as much as possible.
- Eat your broccoli and cabbage – Non-starchy veggies like broccoli, cabbage, onions and garlic provide sulphur to boost detoxification.
- Supplement wisely – Liposomal glutathione (Pure Encapsulations is my go-to brand) or the precursor, NAC, is shown to lower inflammation and mercury levels. I get high doses of these via IV Drips at LifeHub.
- Sweat – Skin is one of the largest detoxifying organs on the body. Infrared saunas and hot yoga are my favourite ways to sweat!
- Drink a huge glass of warm lemon water first thing upon waking – this will alkalise your body and aid detoxification
- Reduce alcohol – Alcohol is the hardest toxin that the body has to deal with. By reducing alcohol consumption, you free up your liver to focus on other toxins.
Written exclusively for WELL, Magazine Asia by Candice Chan