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Supporting Your Body's Natural Detoxification: A Dietitian's Guide

Written by Meredith Krayenhoff, Registered Dietitian. Published December 3, 2023.

blog title with detox foods including lemon and turmeric

Detoxification is a hot topic in the realm of health and nutrition. But are detoxes necessary? Yes and no. Yes, because our bodies are constantly detoxifying chemicals as part of their natural processes. No, because we don't require a specific fasting regimen or a particular product to facilitate this natural detoxification.


It's important to understand that our bodies are continually engaged in detoxifying various chemicals as part of their regular functions. In this blog, we'll learn what toxins are and the different kinds, we’ll explore the importance of supporting your body's natural detoxification processes and how specific nutrients can play a crucial role in this journey.


In this blog:


Exploring Different Types of Toxins

Toxins come in various forms, each with its unique impact on your health and well-being. Let's delve into the various categories of toxins:


Psychological Toxins

Chronic stress and unresolved trauma can be considered psychological toxins. They exert profound effects on mental and emotional health, contributing to conditions like anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments.


Hypersensitivity Toxins

Allergies fall under this category. When the body reacts excessively to certain substances, it can lead to various allergic reactions, impacting respiratory, digestive, or skin health.


Chemical Toxins

Substances like mercury, found in certain fish and dental fillings, are chemical toxins. Prolonged exposure to such toxins can lead to systemic health problems and toxicity symptoms.


Metabolic Toxins

These toxins are often linked to lifestyle factors, such as chronically high blood sugar levels. Uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to a range of health issues, including diabetes, and affect multiple bodily systems.


Biological Toxins

Viruses and bacteria are biological toxins that can cause infections and diseases. Managing these toxins requires a strong immune system and preventive measures such as vaccinations.


Physical Toxins

Radiation and physical injuries are considered physical toxins. Exposure to radiation, whether from medical procedures or environmental sources, can have long-term health consequences. Meanwhile, injuries can lead to inflammation and tissue damage.


Toxins and Body Systems

Certain body systems are more susceptible to the effects of toxin buildup. Pay attention to your immune, endocrine, and nervous systems, as they may show signs of distress in the presence of excessive internal toxins.


Immune system written in chalk surrounded to detox foods


Immune system:

Your immune system is your body's defence mechanism against illnesses and infections. However, the presence of internal toxins can compromise its effectiveness. The immune system is responsible for identifying and neutralizing foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances. Toxins within your body can hinder its ability to function optimally, resulting in several adverse effects:


Weakened Immune Response:

Excess internal toxins can suppress the immune system, making it less efficient at recognizing and fighting off pathogens. This can lead to more frequent and prolonged illnesses.


Inflammation:

Toxins can trigger chronic inflammation in the body. While inflammation is a natural response to infection, persistent inflammation due to toxins can harm healthy tissues and impair the immune system's ability to distinguish between harmful and non-harmful substances.


Reduced Immune Resilience:

A compromised immune system may struggle to adapt to new threats effectively. This reduced resilience can make you more susceptible to infections and slow down the recovery process.


Endocrine system:

Your endocrine system plays a vital role in maintaining hormonal balance throughout your body. However, it can be significantly affected by the presence of excess internal toxins, potentially leading to various health issues. Toxins within your body can interfere with the delicate balance of hormones produced by the endocrine system. This disruption can manifest in several ways, including:


Stress Hormones:

Elevated stress levels can trigger the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Internal toxins can exacerbate this response, leading to chronic stress and its associated health consequences, such as anxiety and sleep disturbances.


Gynecological Health:

The endocrine system is closely linked to the regulation of the female reproductive system. Toxins can disrupt this delicate balance, potentially causing irregular menstrual cycles, fertility issues, and gynecological disorders.


Thyroid Function:

The thyroid gland is a key player in regulating metabolism and energy production. Excess internal toxins can impair thyroid function, leading to conditions like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, with symptoms ranging from fatigue to weight fluctuations.


Nervous system:

Your nervous system serves as the command centre for your body, with various functions, including sensory perception, motor control, and cognitive processes. Internal toxins can have adverse effects on your nervous system in several ways:


Emotional Instability:

A toxic internal environment can make it more difficult to deal with mood changes and emotional instability.


Headaches:

Toxins can contribute to the development of chronic headaches, making them more frequent and intense.


Memory Changes:

Toxins can affect brain function, resulting in memory changes and difficulties with focus and concentration.


Lastly, certain systems in our body are more sensitive to a buildup of toxins than others. If you notice you’re regularly having health concerns in these areas in particular, it may be beneficial to explore how well you’re supporting your body’s detox systems.


Your Body's Detox Organs:

The truth is, your body is designed to make detoxification a part of its everyday activities, just the same as you are designed to move, sleep, and eat. Your body possesses several organs dedicated to the detoxification process. These include the liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and skin. They work tirelessly to eliminate toxins, both from external sources like pollution and food, as well as internal ones like hormones and metabolic byproducts.


We all have a toxic load: this is an unavoidable reality.

Detoxifying from Within

Your body detoxifies chemicals from various sources, such as inhaled car exhaust, toxins in fried foods, or even smoke from a campfire you enjoyed last night. What's fascinating is that your body also needs to detoxify chemicals that are produced from within. Hormones that have fulfilled their functions must undergo detoxification and safe disposal. Stress hormones need to be neutralized. Even carbon dioxide, a natural byproduct of respiration, can become toxic if not properly managed - which is why we can’t go more than a few minutes without breathing!


This leads us to the central question: How can we best empower our bodies to perform their functions at peak efficiency? Our ability to respond to toxins varies significantly, influenced by factors such as genetics, environmental toxin exposure levels, and our body's ability in eliminating these substances. Let's narrow our focus to explore the specific nutrients that can enhance the efficiency of toxin elimination from our bodies.


Nutrients for Detoxification:

detox foods including water, kiwi lettuce, apple and banana

High-Quality Protein

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They come together in different proportions to serve different roles in our bodies, whether it's for muscle development, connective tissue maintenance, or the heavy lifting of detox! When it comes to detox, your liver relies more heavily on specific amino acids, namely glycine, taurine, and glutamine. It is imperative that we eat foods rich in these specific amino acids to prevent your liver from running low while riding the body of toxins.


To ensure you're getting these key amino acids, aim to eat high-quality protein foods, such as hemp seeds and fish, into your diet three times a day or more. Some popular current health foods like bone broth and collagen are also excellent sources of glycine and glutamine, but they aren’t the only ones.


Antioxidants.

The liver's detoxification process actually consists of two distinct phases: phase I and phase II. While the amino acids listed above support one phase, we need antioxidants to “mop up” the leftover toxic byproducts (waste) from phase I.


Most antioxidants are characterized by bright colours, so the brightest, or darkest, fruits and vegetables often have the most nutrients in them. Lycopene, for example, is red. It is found in tomatoes, and also in watermelon!Rather than remembering all the details of which nutrients are which colour, simply aim to “eat the rainbow,” and you’ll be covering a wide range of antioxidants in your diet.


Vitamins C and E

Two antioxidants that deserve a special shout-out for their role in liver detoxification are vitamins C and E. Vitamin C is found in high amounts in strawberries, bell peppers, and citrus fruits. It's worth noting that vitamin C is very sensitive to heat and light, so include these foods in salads rather than a stir-fry for the greatest benefits. Vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant, is found in foods with higher fat content. Excellent sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, avocado, and almonds. Kiwi is our golden child in this area, containing plenty of both vitamins C and E making it a valuable addition to your diet.

Wondering whether a vitamin C supplement is necessary for you? Explore our blog on vitamin C.


Water

A well-hydrated body supports the kidneys in filtering out toxins by emptying your bladder. Aim to empty your bladder at least six times a day! This will assist your kidneys in their essential detoxification role. It’s very difficult for your kidneys to filter toxins out of our blood if they don’t have enough fluid to dilute them.


Visit our blog on how to drink more water to assist your kidneys in their detoxification role.


Fibre

Fibre, a unique type of carbohydrate, possesses a unique characteristic—it resists breakdown in our digestive tract. This characteristic allows fibre to move through our intestines, assisting in the trapping of toxins while also promoting regular bowel movements.


Since the gut is another prime detox organ, including fibre-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet is vital for effectively trapping toxins and ensuring they leave our system.


Probiotics

The beneficial bacteria living in our gut don't only serve to keep you regular: they also act as a protective barrier, guarding our intestinal walls against the intrusion of harmful pathogens and unwanted chemicals sneaking into our bloodstream.


While probiotics can be taken in supplement form, we can also naturally introduce a diverse range of healthy bacteria into our digestive tract by consuming fermented foods. Consider incorporating kefir into your morning smoothie, adding kimchi to a flavourful bok choy and egg noodle soup, or including sauerkraut in a quick sandwich for a boost of gut-friendly bacteria.


A Holistic Approach to Detoxing

Holistic self-care bath salts, brush, candle and plant

Dealing with the impact of toxins on your body requires a holistic approach to promote well-being including:


Adequate Sleep:

Ensuring you get enough sleep and downtime is essential. This allows your nervous system to recover and repair.


Stress Management:

Practicing stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises can mitigate the effects of toxins on emotional well-being.


Supporting Natural Detoxification:

Proper nutrition, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular exercise play pivotal roles in reducing toxin accumulation. These practices support your body's innate detox processes.


Nutrient-Packed Diet:

A diet high in antioxidants benefits your nervous system and counteracts oxidative stress caused by toxins. It contributes to maintaining a healthy nervous system.


By embracing this holistic approach, you can not only reduce your toxin load but enhance your well-being!

Download our FREE self-care guide to help you craft a holistic self-care routine.


Key Takeaways: Supporting Your Body's Natural Detoxification


Your body is inherently equipped with detoxification organs like the liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and skin. They work tirelessly to eliminate toxins, both external and internal, supporting your well-being.Your body detoxifies not only external toxins but also those produced internally, such as hormones and metabolic byproducts. To optimize the detoxification process, embrace high-quality protein sources, antioxidants, water, fibre, and probiotics as your allies.


If you’d like support in building a personalized detox diet that aligns with your health needs, reach out today! Our dietitians at In Good Nutrition would be happy to work with you to get back to feeling in control of your health. Book online or contact us to start your wellness transformation!




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