Its the New Year! Feels good to finally get back into a schedule! If you aren't feeling your best, a quick detox may be all that it takes to get your hormones back into balance.
How do you know if you need to detox? Are you having any of these symptoms?
Not sleeping well
A detox program will help your body eliminate excess hormones, cellular waste products and environmental chemicals, as well as reducing the amount of toxins that you are exposed to.
FOODS TO INCREASE:
Certain foods help to support your body's natural detox pathways (especially liver health) and help to keep your hormones balanced.
1. Vegetables: Increase your intake of green leafy veggies, and vegetables of a variety of colors to get all the phytonutrients (plant compounds) that keep your cells at optimal function. Try to choose organic whenever possible.
2. Water: make sure you stay well hydrated. The enzyme systems involved in cellular metabolism don't function well when you are dehydrated.
3. Healthy fats: Sources of good fats include avocado, coconut oil, raw nuts, extra virgin olive oil and seeds (like chia seeds, hemp seeds, raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds are all good choices). The healthy fats help to protect your liver and are necessary for balanced hormones.
4. Sulfur containing foods: The sulfur in these foods is important for your liver detox pathways, especially for the production of glutathione - an important antioxidant made in your liver. Good sources of sulfur include Allium vegetables like onion, garlic, shallots, chives and Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and kale.
5. Seasonings: cilantro, rosemary, ginger, turmeric and many of the other seasonings you have in your kitchen right now are natural detox support nutrients. Use them! Your food will taste better, and you will feel better. Its a win-win!
FOODS TO AVOID:
Certain foods promote hormonal imbalances, and interfere with natural detox processes, so they should be avoided.
1. Alcohol: Sorry, but alcohol is very hard on your liver, so avoiding alcohol is important while you are detoxing.
2. Sugar Sugar drives inflammation and insulin resistance, which cause blood sugar problems and weight gain.
3. Hormone disrupting foods: grains, corn, soy, and dairy should be temporarily avoided.
4. Inflammatory fats: vegetable oils like canola and safflower promote inflammation and hormone imbalance. The worst of all are trans fats - hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. These promote diabetes, weight gain and other chronic disease. They are predominantly found in deep fried foods, commercially baked goods, and in shortening and margarine. Choose healthy fats instead, and keep this up as a new habit!
AVOID ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS WHEN POSSIBLE
Toxins are everywhere and it isn't possible to avoid them all, but here are some simple things that you CAN do.
1. Go through your personal care products (lotions, cosmetics, shampoo, etc). Look for anything that contains parabens or artificial fragrance, and replace them. Parabens cause hormone imbalances, and are possibly associated with an increased risk of cancer, including breast cancer
2. When you are shopping for cleaning products, look for "greener" choices, with less chemicals. Even better, use natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda!
3. Don't microwave your food in plastic (especially avoid putting plastic wrap in the microwave). Plastics contain phthalates which are a group of chemicals that also contribute to hormone disruption. Heating them leaches out the chemicals and increases the risk. Heat things in glass containers instead.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
If you are constantly stressed out, your body's detox pathways won't function effectively. Here are some stress reducing tips.
1. Do deep breathing exercises. Take some slow, deep belly breaths and concentrate on the air going in and out. Do this for 5 minutes twice daily (you can even start out with 1 minute and it still works!)
2. Learn to meditate. A great app is called Calm - it is available for free on your phone!
3. Start doing yoga. Yoga stretches your muscles and relaxes your brain - so it helps both physically and emotionally - a two-for-one!
Besides your liver, your skin is another important organ of detoxification!
1. Exercise helps you in many ways! When you sweat, you are releasing toxins through your skin. Make sure you shower promptly so they are not reabsorbed.
2. A sauna is another good way to release toxins through sweat. Look around - they don't have to be expensive (I managed to find a barely-used sauna on Craigslist and I love it. Especially when it is cold outside!)
ADD DETOX SUPPORT SUPPLEMENTS
Many "cleanses" at the health food store are mostly laxatives or fiber supplements that cause loose stools (you get more exercise by running to the bathroom all day!).
A detox program is supporting your liver function, which is different. However, it IS important to avoid constipation while you are detoxing: your liver is doing all that work to excrete unwanted substances into your gut and if you are constipated they are more likely to get reabsorbed back into your system, defeating the purpose.
My favorite detox supplements are included in our 6 Day Detox Kit. It contains everything you need, including a detox shake (OptiCleanse GHI), a probiotic (Probiomax daily), a fiber supplement, a liver/kidney/gallbladder drainage support supplement and a meal plan with full instructions!
If you are a patient, and want to join the Signature Wellness staff in our annual January detox, you can call the office to get your kit - the price is reduced for the month of January, but the kits are very popular so call now before they run out!
You can reach us at 704-752-9346 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in Health!
Dr Deborah Matthew