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Energize for Spring

Behaviour, Digestion, Diets | September 21, 2016 | Author: naturopath

Immune

Energize for Spring

If your feeling sluggish and fatigued from the winter months and would like to put a spring back in your step then read on. Detoxification is a natural process by which environmental and dietary toxins are changed into less harmful substances and then eliminated from the body. Effective detoxification occurs when the key elimination channels such the kidney, liver and colon are working efficiently. This article will outline why there is a need for most people to detoxify their bodies and what nutrients, foods and herbs are effective to help promote these processes in a safe way.

Why detox?

Detoxification can be an effective way to improve your overall wellbeing, increase energy and reduce digestive complaints such as bad breath, bloating and constipation. A toxin is a substance that interferes with cellular function and ultimately affects our short and long term health.

It is recommended that during detoxing you reduce your toxic burden by limiting or avoiding dietary and environmental toxins. There are many environmental toxins which people can be exposed to on a daily basis and these can include:

  • cigarette smoke, BPA in plastic, pesticides and herbicides, cleaning products, pollution and even chemicals in cosmetics, perfumes and other personal care products.

Dietary toxins can be present in:

  • alcohol, coffee, processed foods and food preservatives or can be part of a food intolerance or dietary allergen.

Toxins can also be created as part of normal internal metabolic processes and by bacteria in the digestive tract. Toxin elimination can also be prevented if the bowels are sluggish and this allows recirculation of toxins from waste in the bowel back into the bloodstream.

It is common in the modern world to have low-level exposure to multiple toxins and by consuming a typical western diet it reduces the body’s ability to process and eliminate these toxins in a safe and efficient manner. The aim of a detox is to improve the function of the digestive system, focussing on the liver, kidneys and bowels as waste products are eliminated via these organs. It is also important to neutralize reactive toxins by including antioxidant support.

Your Detox Checklist

  • Follow a clean diet, organic if possible, and steer away from processed foods. The diet should be plant based with large amounts of raw or lightly cooked vegetables, fruits, nut and seeds, legumes and a moderate amounts of wholegrains. Limit saturated fats and opt for healthier proteins such as chicken breast, fresh cold-water fish (avoid large species such as tuna, salmon, swordfish, marlin and shark as they can be susceptible to higher heavy metal concentrations), legumes, lentils, tofu and tempeh.
     
  • Sticking to a gluten and dairy free diet also has positive benefits on mood, energy and digestion. Gluten and dairy are two main dietary allergens which can increase inflammation in the body leading to free radical damage. Gluten is present in  barley, rye, spelt, triticale and wheat. Dairy products to avoid include cheese, cream, butter, milk, yoghurt and ice-cream.
     
  • Make sure to hydrate with 2-3 litres of filtered water daily to help flush the kidneys of toxins. This can also include herbal teas or water can be flavoured with lemon, mint and/or cucumber slices.
     
  • Avoid personal care products such as aluminium containing deodorants, cosmetics and moisturizers with parabens and other nasty chemicals. It is important to avoid harsh cleaning chemicals with synthetic ingredients. There are many natural products available on the market for cleaning and personal care which won’t be contributing to your toxic burden.
     
  • Exercise would be one of the most important practices to assist healthy detoxification as it promotes the circulation of blood and lymph, enhancing the elimination of waste products. Exercise improves mood and allows the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to organs and muscles. Aim for 30 minutes, three to four times a week of any moderate intensity activity that you enjoy.
     
  • Get a good night’s sleep and aim for seven to nine hours sleep each night. Adequate sleep allows the body to repair and rejuvenate. Avoid stress and toxic emotions as these can also have negative effects on our health.

Herbs and nutrients to assist the process

St mary’s thistle (Silybum marianum) has been traditionally used for liver support by acting as an antioxidant and supporting all phases of liver detoxification. Silymarin, one of the active constituents of st mary’s thistle has been found in studies to have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, whilst also increasing the cellular component of glutathione (a potent antioxidant).
Other herbs indicated for liver toxicity include: schizandra, dandelion root, andrographis and dandelion root. You may see some of these listed in detox products.

Green tea

There is evidence that green tea catechins play a role in protecting against various liver diseases such as cirrhosis and fatty liver by not only acting as antioxidants but by inhibiting pro-oxidant enzymes while inducing antioxidant enzymes.

A study found that drinking green tea five times daily for three weeks significantly reduced oxidative stress in red blood cells.

Green tea is also a diuretic which helps to improve kidney function.

Glutamine is the most abundant extracellular amino acid, with a number of roles, including antioxidant, immune-modulatory and gastrointestinal mucosal-protective actions. Glutamine is a major substrate for the production of energy in enterocytes which are epithelial cells found in the small intestine. Along with the amino acids glycine, taurine and cysteine, glutamine is also an integral part of phase II detoxification through amino acid conjugation, and the production of glutathione.
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If there is suspected parasitic involvement or dysbiosis in the gut these herbs can be helpful. Look for these ingredients in products - garlic, andrographis, chinese wormwood, barberry, thyme and oregano. Include garlic and herbs in your diet for continued support.
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It is important to support the liver and kidneys first and always supplement with a probiotic

If constipation is a factor contributing to poor digestive health and fatigue, implementing additional fibre should be considered. As well as maintaining adequate sources of dietary fibre such as wholegrains, vegetables and fruit, consider taking psyllium husks or slippery elm to assist the detoxification process.

If there is bloating or upper digestive system issues, herbs that act as digestive tonics may also be helpful. These include: ginger, chamomile, gentian, dandelion root and andrographis.

Probiotics

Probiotics and synbiotics (a combination of probiotics and prebiotics) are an important supplement to take during detoxing to repopulate and balance healthy intestinal microflora.

A recent study found that some probiotic and synbiotics improved liver function, reduced body mass index and fat mass in obese individuals, decreased insulin resistance, plasma lipid levels, metabolic stress, while improving antioxidant status and carbohydrate metabolism.
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Safety

A detoxification program is not suitable during pregnancy or for people with certain medical conditions or taking some medications. Occasionally side effects can occur and these include headaches, fatigue, nausea and changes in bowel function.

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References

Balch J & Balch P. (2000). Prescription for Nutritional Healing (3rd ed.), Penguin Publishing, United States of America

Sarris J & Wardle J. (2010). Clinical Naturopathy, Churchill Livingstone, Australia

Thomsen M. (2005). Phytotherapy Desk Reference (3rd ed.), Michael Thomsen, Australia

Saller R et al. An updated systematic review of the pharmacology of silymarin. Forsch Komplementmed. Apr 2007;14(2):70-80 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17464157

Surai PF. Silymarin as a natural antioxidant: An overview of the current evidence and perspectives. Antioxidants (Basel). 2015 Mar 20:4(1):204-47
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26785346

Coimbra S et al. The effect of green tea in oxidative stress. Clin Nutr. 2006;25(5):790-6
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16698148

Saez-Lara MJ et al Effects of Probiotics and Synbiotics on Obesity, Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Review of Human Clinical Trials. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Jun 13;17(6)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27304953

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