BY TRACY McCUBBIN, MD, ABOIM, ABEM
Are you feeling sluggish and tired? Is your skin dull, your hair thinning? Do you routinely walk into a room and forget why you went in there? Are you having trouble losing belly fat? Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep? Is the list of foods you can eat getting shorter and shorter? Does your spouse wonder if you will ever have sex again?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you would benefit from a Detox/Cleanse. In accordance with other traditional medical systems, we recommend our patients do a cleanse twice a year, spring and fall.
Since the 1970’s, more than 87,000 chemicals have been approved for commercial use. A survey by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in 2015 found that the average adult uses 9 personal care products per day containing 126 unique chemicals. From makeup and fragrances to cleaning supplies and soaps, most of these have not even been tested for safety in humans. Those that have been researched were tested in isolation for short-term exposures. No data exists about these chemicals in combination. And no data exists for chemical exposures in people on multiple medications. And no data exists for continued long-term exposure to these chemicals.
Nearly every chronic disease on the planet has links to toxicity including dementia, heart disease, autoimmune disease, food allergies and digestive issues. Many of these compounds are lipophilic and have a very long half-life; they accumulate and store in our fat tissue. If you are overweight, by definition you are toxic….
These toxins primarily enter our system through our lungs, skin and GI tract. Your liver is the powerhouse that breaks down these “xenobiotics” and helps your body eliminate them. Since our exposure keeps growing, we need to “love our liver.” A good supervised cleanse will help your liver function optimally. It is important to ramp up Phase 2 liver detoxification first then move to support Phase 1 detoxification. This is because Phase 1 makes a very toxic intermediary that Phase 2 has to quickly neutralize so your body can excrete this breakdown product. Phase 2 liver detoxification requires certain amino acids so protein is important during a cleanse.
What should I eat?
Using a medical food to provide some bowel rest and necessary nutrients is helpful. A good cleanse should provide recipes to incorporate some detoxifying foods and supplements. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli for example) and beets help the liver detoxify. Vitamin C and sulfur containing amino acids are among the nutrients that play a vital role in the detox process. If you are someone who is exposed to volatile chemicals on a daily basis (think hair stylist or nail technician), after doing a cleanse consider taking milk thistle to further support your liver.
Is there more?
Yes. Exercise plays a vital role in a cleanse. This helps the blood and lymphatic system do its job. Work up a sweat. Sweating is also a great way to eliminate toxins. Sauna or steam should be included during your cleanse if you have that available to you. If you feel comfortable getting a massage, this will add to your cleanse.
Hydration is critical. Your kidneys eliminate all the water-soluble toxins. Remember to drink 8-10 glasses of water every day to help flush your system!
Breathwork is important. Learning proper breathing techniques will provide your cells with lots of oxygen during a cleanse.
And while you’re at it, cleanse the rest of your life, too!
Here are 4 simple strategies to reduce your exposure to some common toxins and to enhance your body’s ability to handle them.
Clean out your kitchen: Throw out the plastic containers and replace them with glass. When we heat and store in plastic, the plasticizers are breaking down and leaching into our food and then into us! These compounds are endocrine disruptors and obesogens.
Clean up your air: There are plants that actually do this for us! Consider adding a peace lily to each room in the house. They are inexpensive and hardy, easy-to-care-for plants. Indoor air quality can be quite poor with off gassing of formaldehyde from pressboard, PVC and flame-retardants that are added to furnishings and carpets.
Clean up your personal care products: An EWG study found that when a woman leaves her house in the morning, she is wearing up to 168 different chemicals, about twice as many as men. Many of our deodorants, hair products, shaving cream, cosmetics and lotions contain phthalates, parabens and perfumes. These are endocrine disruptors and can lead to hormone imbalance in both women and men. The EWG (ewg.org) has a great section on skin care products and can help you make the best choices!
Clean up your thoughts: Those negative, pessimistic thoughts send signals to every cell in your body turning on all the wrong pathways! Consider adding in some meditation to your day and learning to shine positive light on those negative thoughts.
While cleanse programs are often promoted through gyms or online, a doctor-supervised cleanse offers additional knowledge, support and guidance. Dr. Tracy practiced Emergency Medicine for over 20 years before founding the Centers for Complementary Medicine at Kaiser Permanente. She went on to become board certified in Integrative Medicine and pass her written exam for certification in Functional Medicine. This combination of knowledge makes her the perfect doctor to lead you in your journey to optimal health.
Join us at Radiance Functional Medicine on Tuesday April 6 at 5:00pm for a free webinar to learn more about our Cleanse and decide if this is right for you, either now or in the future! Cleanse begins on April 12!