It’s a seductive premise: you’re filthy and toxic on the inside, and you need to be scrubbed and purified so you can gain health.
That’s the premise most “detox” products, plans, and protocols are built upon.
But is it true?
Yes and no.
Let me explain.
We live in a soup of potential toxins. The air we breathe has toxins. The water has toxins. The food we eat has toxins.
And not just human-made toxins like insecticides and pharmaceuticals and nuclear waste. I’m talking about the natural stuff that’s been in the air, water, and food of humans as long as humans have existed.
Mycotoxins. Natural radioactivity. Naturally-occurring heavy metals. And many of the foods we eat have naturally-occurring toxins in them.
Humans didn’t evolve in a sterile environment. And, in fact, many of the toxins that we are exposed to help to keep us healthy via what is known as hormesis.
The point is this: our bodies are naturally capable of and designed to detoxify.
So does your body have toxins in it? Yes, of course.
But do you need coffee enemas, juice fasts, and far infrared saunas to get all those toxins out? Probably not.
And, in fact, a lot of those supposed “detox” practices may backfire and cause a build up of toxins by actually impairing your body’s natural detoxification pathways.
The main ways in which your body deals with toxins is by way of some of the major organs, including the intestines, lungs, liver, and kidneys. These organs are your natural detox centers. They are, if you’ll indulge the poetic language, magnificently designed for detoxification.
And do you know what helps these organs to thrive?
I’ll give you a hint, it’s not overheating, overexercising, laxative or emetic purges, enemas, fasting, or juice fasting.
Here’s what helps these organs to thrive: nourishment.
Your body and its detoxification organs comprise a living animal. It is not a machine. It doesn’t need to be disassembled and scrubbed and purged and rinsed.
Like all living animals, your body is constantly regenerating itself. It is constantly taking care of unbelievably intricate processes of maintaining optimal life.
And what it needs to support that optimal life is nourishment in the form of adequate food, adequate rest, adequate light, adequate love, adequate care, and so forth.
In this post I’ll just touch on some of the nutritional needs of these organs.
The liver detoxifies through a variety of pathways, involving amino acids (mostly from protein), vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
For example, one way the liver processes toxins is through conjugation with amino acids such as glycine, glutamine, taurine, and methionine.
Another detox pathway in the liver is called sulphation, which requires sulfur, B vitamins, and a handful of other nutrients.
Where do these nutrients come from? From food. From animal proteins and vegetables and fruits and dairy and so forth.
Fasting restricts these nutrients and inhibits detoxification in the liver.
The result is a build up of the toxins that your liver cannot detoxify because you didn’t supply it with enough nourishment.
The kidneys detoxify through a variety of means. One of those ways is through cells called podocytes. And podocytes need adequate nutrition and particularly calcium and potassium in order to function well.
Again, where do the nutrients come from? From food, of course.
The intestines thrive when they have adequate amino acids, particularly glutamine. So once again, adequate quality protein is important for detoxification.
And adequate fermentable fiber found in foods like potatoes, rice, beans, fruits, and vegetables supports a healthy microbiome in the intestines.
If you want to support your body’s natural, safe, and healthy detoxification pathways, provide nourishment, not “cleanses”.
I feel for the cleanse mentality for decades starting at a young age. I started out relatively healthy, but in pursuit of super health I did a number of my health. Eventually, my health collapsed in a really big way, and continuing to attempt to cleanse only made matter worse.
Eating adequate calories, adequate protein, adequate carbohydrates, adequate minerals, adequate vitamins, and all-around supplying an abundance of nutrition has helped me to restore my body’s natural ability to detoxify.
I eat fruit, grain, dairy, sugar, meat (including organs and gelatin), fish, coconut, butter, vegetables, and a variety of foods. This supplies my body with all the nutrition I need.
I don’t do coffee enemas, far infrared saunas, juice fasts, green smoothies, fasting, or any of the things promoted as “detox” practices for a simple reason: they don’t support my body’s natural detoxification processes.
By focusing on nourishment – through nutrition, sleep, loving my life, etc. – I have made major recoveries and great strides in recovering from Lyme disease, chronic fatigue, and multiple chemical sensitivity, among other conditions.
Educating myself on basic biological needs of the human animal has helped me to no longer fall prey to the cleanse mentality. And as a result I am healthier and happier.