Healthy Body Detoxification 101
By Nina Syahira
December 31, 2015
Juice fast is one of the most popular “body detox plans” – but is it safe?
Eating and drinking too much this festive season? Don’t worry, you’re certainly not the only one! Besides, you can always start off the New Year later on a healthier note. Simply go on a juice fast to cleanse your system and flush out all that guilt from bad dieting. Right?
Well, not quite.
We recently spoke with Dr Julinda Lee, a gynaecologist from Wellness & Gynaecology Centre by Dr Julinda Lee, a Singapore Medical Group. According to her, while body detoxification is a natural process that happens all the time, so-called popular detox diets like juice fast or smoothie cleanse may not be as safe as one might think. In fact, those may actually instead force your body to detoxify faster than it should or may even contain too much sugar, which would then be detrimental to one’s health.
Dr Lee also recommends that it’s best to consult a nutritionist/naturopath (a health practitioner who applies natural therapies) or doctor who has experience in the area of detoxification.
Below are quick tips you need to know about healthy body detoxification!
Eating healthy foods helps keep body detoxification successful.
What is body detoxification? And how does it help the body?
Detoxification is the process by which the body breaks down certain “toxins” in the body and renders it suitable for excretion, usually through the urine, faeces or through the skin via sweating. [It] is actually something that your body does all the time, whether you intend for it to do so or not.
If you have a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, eat moderately and eat foods that help your body with detoxification, you could be effectively detoxifying your body every day, all the time.
The science of body detoxification
Majority of detoxification is carried out by the liver (95%). Detoxification is usually divided into two phases.
Phase I involves converting toxins (which are often fat-soluble) into a water soluble intermediate, which can then be bound to other molecules in the body via Phase II detoxification to make it suitable for excretion. This process of detoxification is therefore important to allow our body to rid itself of potentially toxic substances.
Proper hydration is also important to remove toxins via the urine. Lack of proper nutrition during the detoxification process can lead to an imbalance in Phase I and Phase II of detoxification. Phase I of detoxification often makes toxins more toxic than they were in the first place. If Phase II detoxification is impaired because of poor nutrition, one can often be harmed by “detox”, rather than to benefit from it.
Squashing the myth of “fast & easy” body detox
These “detox” techniques may be helpful but sometimes may be harmful if not carried out well. Going on a “detox” can be potentially toxic to the body if weight loss occurs too quickly, since many toxins in the body are actually stored in the fat. Fat loss liberates these toxins into the blood stream. If your liver does not have proper nutrients to carry out detoxification, then you could have caused more damage to your body.
During detox, it is also important to ensure hydration and regular bowel movements to ensure that the toxins that your liver has worked so hard to remove can truly leave your body and not be reabsorbed into your bloodstream.
Better looking skin is one of the benefits of successful body detoxification.
What are the benefits of body detoxification?
Detoxification prevents the accumulation of substances that could potentially be harmful for your health. These include xenobiotics (like in plastics, pesticides) and heavy metals. These substances, if accumulated over many years, can result in increased likelihood of fatigue, hormone imbalances and therefore increase the likelihood of diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and cancers. But immediate benefits of better detoxification would include better skin, more energy, sound sleep and reduced pain. Weight loss is also more likely to happen if detoxification improves.
Playing sports is a fun way to exercise, which helps the body with detoxification.
What exercises benefit body detoxification?
Any exercise that results in perspiration can potentially help with detoxification. However, patients who have a lot of stress, have poor nutrition, smoke or drink alcohol excessively, intense exercise can generate free radicals that increase the oxidative stress in your body.
During the process of detoxification, your liver requires significant amounts of antioxidants. Therefore, engaging in habits that increase oxidative damage in your body will actually result in reduced capacity for detoxification and potential for liver damage.
Can one detox the body without exercising? Why?
Majority of toxins are actually removed through the urine and faeces, so it is possible to carry out detoxification without exercise. Some patients may consider a sauna to increase sweating, but adequate hydration is very important.
Adopt a consistent healthy lifestyle for a better you!
How can one ensure an effective body detoxification?
1. Limit harmful habits like smoking, caffeine intake and alcohol consumption.
2. Support diet with lots of cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kai lan, cabbage, bok choy). This helps to balance detoxification Phases I and II.
3. Garlic and onions contain sulphur rich amino acids and are important in supporting Phase II.
4. Eat a small amount of protein (either animal or plant-based) with every meal to aid in Phase II.
5. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day, more if you engage in activities that increase perspiration.
6. Ensure intake of adequate amounts of fibre and water in your diet for regular bowel habits. Toxins that are excreted into the intestines can be reabsorbed if bowel transit time is increased (i.e. constipation). If you have had exposure to multiple courses of antibiotics or have previously received chemotherapy or are under high stress, you may want to speak to your doctor and consider improving your gut microflora. Good gut bacteria are important for proper laxation (going to the toilet regularly).
7. Take lots of coloured fruit and vegetables of an antioxidant supplement for adequate antioxidants. Some patients may consider supplements such as milk thistle, glutathione or dandelion as part of their detoxification process.
From our collaboration series with Singapore Medical Group, check out our Heat Survival Tips for SAFRA AVventura with Dr Lim and How to Exercise Smarter with Dr Dutton!
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