Our bodies are designed to naturally detoxify, but with our modern lives and the amount of toxins we are exposed to (through our food, personal care products, household items, and more), our natural detoxification processes often become sluggish and don’t function as they should. This is when we begin to see a lot of health issues that, if our detox processes had been functioning properly, would have been prevented in the first place.
Now that you’ve learned from The Details about Detox: Part 1 that most of what we think when we hear the term “detox” is false (and even harmful), let’s discuss the meaning of toxic burden and the different types of toxins, plus, how we can detoxify the body by supporting our natural detoxification pathways.
Toxic Burden and the Types of Toxins
Whether you’ve been a reader of Healthfully Hannah for a week, a month, or a year you’re familiar with what it means to encounter toxins in everyday life. Our food, water, air, homes, everyday products, and more are simply not as safe as we assume. Our bodies total accumulation of these toxins is our “toxic burden”, sometimes called “toxic overload”.
As our detoxification pathways become overloaded with toxins, our ability to detox properly is inhibited and toxins begin to build up in our fat stores. This contributes to and worsens health conditions.
While we’re never going to achieve perfection, there is so much we can do to reduce our exposure to everyday toxins, which reduces our overall toxic burden. (Good news!)
The two primary types of toxins that affect health
Physical – These are the main types of toxins that come to mind. Examples of physical toxins are harmful chemicals (lurking in our food, water, air, household materials and products, even personal care products and cosmetics that disrupt hormones, are known carcinogens, and linked to respiratory and immune concerns), mold, heavy metals, pesticides, alcohol, medications, and more.
Physical toxins enter the body through consumption, inhalation, and via the skin.
“Of the nearly 100,000 chemicals used in industries, only a tiny amount of them have ever been tested for potential health impacts on fetuses, infants, children, or adults.” – Adonis Maiquez, M.D.
Mental and Emotional – It’s true! Research has shown that emotional toxins are in fact real and negatively affect the body. Examples of emotional toxins are anger, jealousy, bitterness, resentment, hostility, stress, and more.
So, let’s say you learn the truth about what’s in your drinking water. If you spend the next several days stressed about how “toxic” water is, that stress is actually doing more harm than the toxins in our water. (Does this information about stress make you stressed?) Take a deep breath, de-stress, and let’s keep learning 🙂
How to detoxify the body, safely and naturally
Forget those fad juice cleanses and extreme diets. These often leave us undernourished, unsatisfied, and let’s be honest, miserable. They do not support our natural detoxification pathways. In most cases, they do more harm than good.
So, how can we support natural detoxification?
Remember from Part 1 of this series that detoxification is a lifestyle, not an event.
Our liver goes through two phases of detoxification.
Phase I Detoxification
During this phase, our liver is hard at work using oxygen and enzymes to make fat-soluble toxins water-soluble, so they are more easily excreted by the body. (1)
How to support Phase 1 Detoxification– Reduce processed food products as much as possible and incorporate cruciferous vegetables (these include bok choy, kale, radish, turnip, watercress, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.) Also, make sure you’re getting enough zinc from foods such as quality meat and nuts & seeds.
Choosing organic fresh food whenever possible reduces the amounts of toxins we’re consuming through our food.
Related Post: 5 Easy Ways to Detox Daily (+ free guide!)
Phase II Detoxification
During Phase II, the toxins that have been oxidized by Phase I are combined with amino acids and sulfur and excreted from the body. (2)
How to support Phase 2 Detoxification– Make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of protein (as Phase II relies on amino acids), as well as cruciferous vegetables, onions, turmeric, and milk thistle (a herb great for liver health). Fresh ginger and turmeric are also great for detox as they have been found to promote digestion and increase metabolism.
Eat real food. Reduce your exposure to everyday toxins.
In part 3 of “The Details about Detox”, I will discuss more “advanced” methods of detoxification.
Until then, If you’re looking for more ways to detox your life, be sure to sign up for my Library of Resources, which will help you eat well, transition to natural beauty, and detox your home.
Sources and additional reading:
- Environ Health Perspect. 1983 Feb; 48:65-71. “Research needs for hepatic injury due to environmental agents.” Guzelian PS.
- Practical Gastroenterology, Vol. 5, No 4 (July-Aug. 1981), pp. 26-30, “Environmental toxins and the liver”, P.S. Guzelian. Cited in Power Healing, L. Galland
Hannah is the founder and health educator at Healthfully Hannah, empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s personal health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Feel free to send Hannah a message here.
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