Monday, January 4, 2016

Detox-Facts and Fallacy

Happy New Year!

Smoked chicken wings, pork belly, rice and garlic pea shoots from
Now for those pesky resolutions.

You know the ones, the ones that get people to pay for yearlong gym memberships as they commit to an exercise plan every morning for the next 362 days.
The resolutions that say they will never again let saturated fats, sugar or alcohol past their lips till ....

Yeah, those terribly impractical resolutions that mean well but are almost impossible to actually manifest.

I see it in my office every January. Patients arrive with the same concerns, "I need to change how I'm eating, I gained 10 pounds over the holidays.
I need to DETOX."

This January, I've decided to take my office visit online, since so many of my patients are more victims of hyperbole than of true science.

In medicine, Detox has a very narrow definition- It is based on the principle that illnesses can be caused by the accumulation of toxic substances (toxins) in the body.
Treatment involves evaluation of the excessive toxic substances and elimination of the same.

In general use, the definition morphs to include a concern about anything done to excess and the belief that our bodies need help to get rid of the excess.

Kinda sorta the same thing, but vastly different in actions needed.

Medically- detox is saved for things that will cause true harm to be inside the body-like heroin or other overdoses, Heavy metals, chemical exposures. All these can be assessed by blood, urine and fecal testing to see how bad the exposure is, and to insure that treatment won't create more damage.

While in the hyperbolic use of the word detox, we are talking about the extra pint of eggnog, tray of holiday cookies or bottle of Champagne ingested over the holidays.
Next to impossible to assess using lab tests, but very likely resulting in a general malaise, a few pounds of weight gained and perhaps a lowered immune system to fight off the viruses of winter.

If you think you have the medical definition needing detox, see your local physician.

For everyone else, here goes:

5 ways to Detox 

1. Get movement into your life every day.

Three sessions of 20 minutes per day of movement, walking, dancing, gardening, yoga, bike riding, rock climbing, dog walking, heck anything that gets you on your feet making your muscles contract and release works.
The muscular contractions squeeze your most powerful detoxification pathway into action- the lymph system. The lymph system is the trash removal system of your body at the cellular level. Keep it happy by moving at least 3 times per day. This system is dependent on muscular contraction and release, so move!

2 Keep your body hydrated.

The lymph system needs one more thing to work well, clean fresh water frequently ingested.
I make sure to use filtered water to prevent increasing the work of my body. After all, if we don't take in chlorine, fluoride, Cryptosporidium, coliform bacteria, arsenic, etc. then we don't have to eliminate them.
Personally, I have a Wave Enviro countertop water filter attached to my kitchen sink that filters many environmental exposures. It doesn't filter fluoride, but our community doesn't include that in our water supply.  I like having the convenience of a simple pull to filter, and otherwise my sink can fill without.  One of our local stores carries the cartridges so replacements are a breeze.

We used to take BPA free bottles to our Coop for reverse osmosis filtered water, but I find the sink version so much easier.

How much to drink is always a question my patients ask.

I get them to use physical signs to evaluate whether they are getting enough.  If you are well hydrated, then your urine should be pale yellow to clear.
Healthy pee colors from Dr. Jean Layton
Unless you are taking B vitamins, it should remain that pale all day.
Each person's ideal water intake is a bit different, depending on movement, food intake and medications, that giving one amount is difficult.  But the colors rarely mislead.  Unless of course you take those B vitamins, but then the color change lasts about 3 hours.
Personally, I fill a metal quart water bottle with filtered water and finish at least 4 per day along with my tea, and food sources of moisture.

3. You are what you eat

So choose wisely, this is the time to exclude highly processed foods and drinks from your diet.
Personally, I think January is a horrible month to attempt a clean diet.  We need more calories in the winter, unless you live in LA or another warm climate.  We need to maintain our vitamin D levels and need a bit of fat to do so.
The ideal time to do a cleansing diet is when the first greens poke out of the ground, in my climate around March.
Up till then, I eliminate sugar, alcohol, white processed flours and starches.
I increase all vegetables, fruits and clean, preferably grass fed meats.
The best way to consume all these wonderful foods are in warming stews and soups with a bit of whole grains cooked in for thickening.
I puree the fruits and vegetables into smoothies occasionally, but no juicing.  We need that fiber for our digestive health.

4. Sleep

When detoxing, we need to give our bodies a chance to repair and relax.
Sufficient sleep is essential. 

Only problem is that "sufficient" is a relative term.  I need 8 hours to feel relaxed, revitalized and refreshed.  My husband gets by with 6-7 hours with ease. Our 17 year old twins need 9-10 hours. 
Look at your vacation habits, do you sleep more or less than at home?
Sleep hygiene is essential for getting to sleep, staying asleep and waking refreshed. 

Still can't sleep? When I have my monkey mind planning, planning, planning, I use homeopathic coffea cruda 30 C to assist in getting to sleep.  No side effects, no interactions with other medications. 

5.  Environmental Exposures

Have you ever noticed that when we get into colder weather, we end up dealing with indoor exposures to scents and chemicals more? Rarely do we get to open a window to clear out those stale smells. Many people choose to cover up the unpleasant with highly fragranced (and toxic) Organic Hydrocarbon rich products.
Let's make January the month where you evaluate each exposure, starting with what you put onto and around your body.
Your skin absorbs these chemicals with ease, adding to your burden to cleanse.
Choose unscented products, use only organic essential oils for your cleaning products.
Shampoo/Conditioner/Styling chemicals
Sanitary products
Cleaning chemicals
Laundry Chemicals
Scented candles/sprays/diffusers

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