As a cleanse expert, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make sure you’re supporting your detoxification system. When I design my cleanses, the goal isn’t to simply flush the body of toxins by any means possible. In fact, aggressive cleanses can often result in a toxic overload that do more harm than good. When I create a cleanse, it’s with the intention to support the organs of elimination in order to gently coax toxins out of the system. The truth is, our bodies are detox champs if we set them up for success. They were built to be able to eliminate waste and toxins. It’s the fact that our environment is constantly dishing us a toxic load that causes us problems.
In order to combat our toxic environment, we have to be extra diligent making sure our elimination organs have the support they need. So who is the star line up when it comes to eliminating wastes and toxins?
There are six key players that I like to focus on: the liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, large intestine and lymph. The idea is to do whatever it takes to support these guys. If you do, they’ll be sure to thank you by showing up every day and kicking toxins to the curb.
While you probably know the liver as our main detox organ, the liver has more functions than any other organ in the body. From making proteins to storing sugar, it’s responsible for a huge amount of our bodily functions. The liver is the main processing plant for all chemical substances entering the body. Everything from beneficial plant chemicals to alcohol and prescription medicines report to the liver for proper disposal or use.
When it’s bogged down, the liver can sometimes get stagnant which slows down it’s typical process. One of the best ways to help give it a kick start is to incorporate bitter flavor into the diet. Bitter flavor makes a very rare appearance in today’s diet as we’ve gravitated so far to the sweet spectrum. However, it plays a very important role in traditional medicines which have treated bitter flavor as a liver tonic for thousands of years.
When our tongue senses something bitter, it actually stimulates bile which wakes up the liver and gets it ready for some action. One way I like to support my liver with bitter flavor is drinking warm lemon water every morning. A few traditional bitter herbs include dandelion root, yellow dock and oregon grape root which can be taken as tinctures before meals.
While not a bitter, another incredibly effective liver supporting herb is milk thistle which has actually shown to regenerate liver tissue, which was previously thought to be impossible.
A few other liver loving foods are leafy greens, garlic, beets, and sulfur-rich foods such as cabbage or broccoli. Also, a handful of cherries and cranberries are the ULTIMATE liver tonic, cleanser and rejuvenator.
Water is one of the most effective ways for your body to help metabolize and remove toxins. Your kidneys are your body’s gatekeeper of all things water and they help to further filter wastes after your liver has done its work. Treating your kidneys right means being mindful of proper hydration and electrolyte balance. In return, they’ll provide you with a healthy pH and blood pressure.
When it comes to detoxifying, you want your kidneys to be working efficiently so that harmful chemicals are eliminated as quickly as possible. One way to jumpstart your kidneys’ detox power is to use herbal diuretics that support function while eliminating water waste fast. Dandelion is a great way to do this along with nettle, parsley, and cilantro. These gentle diuretics promote water elimination while nourishing kidneys and other detox organs.
Don’t forget, the number one nutrient when considering kidney support is water! Your system needs the raw materials in order to go through any process and water is the most important. I absolutely LOVE fresh organic cucumber juice, because it contains electrolyte compounds specifically geared toward nourishing your kidneys.
We don’t often think of the lungs as a detox organ but they definitely play a vital role. Essentially our air filters, they process all kinds of wastes and debris. I live in Los Angeles, where we have some of the worst air quality, so I have to work extra hard to support my respiratory system.
Supporting the lungs is a little less food based and more to do with small environmental “hacks”. I do what I can to make my indoor environment the as ideal as possible by using non-toxic cleaning products. I’ll sometimes even use an indoor air filter on particularly bad air days.
I’ve also begun to incorporate indoor plants into my decor. Certain species, such as peace lily, have been shown to filter oxygen and increase air quality. I try and have at least one plant near to where I sleep.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spicy or pungent flavors support the lungs. Consider incorporating small amounts of wasabi, cayenne, radish or mustard to support lung detox through food.
Lymph is a liquid substance that moves through the lymphatic system, managing bacteria and viruses. Unlike the circulatory system, there is no pump that moves this stuff through your body. The lymph system is entirely dependent on your movement to flow and combat pathogens. If you aren’t getting enough movement, chances are neither is your lymph system.
Any type of movement that shakes up your system is a great way to support lymph detox. Jumping, dry brushing, and lymphatic drainage massage are a few easy ways to help your lymph flow. You don’t have to run marathons! Something as simple as bouncing up and down for a few minutes before bed will suffice.
A few foods that support the lymph system are ginger, turmeric, garlic, citrus and seaweed. To increase lymph flow try goldenseal, astragalus, and echinacea.
Our skin is considered to be the largest organ of the body. It’s also generally our first line of defense against toxins, chemicals, and pathogens. Paying attention to your skin is key for the detoxification process because it acts kind of like the canary in the coal mine. If you’re having problems with your skin, there are likely problems lurking deeper.
One of the best things we can do to make sure our skin is doing the best job possible is to sweat. This can be movement induced or simply temperature induced through something like an infrared sauna. Just like with the kidneys, hydration is key to proper detoxification through the skin.
Epsom salt baths and bentonite clay masks can also help draw out impurities. Plus a DIY spa night is never a tough prescription to swallow.
For foods to support skin detox, I often recommend purple foods such as cabbage, beets and blueberries. The plant chemicals that create a purple hue carry antioxidant properties that help heal damaged skin cells. Oat straw and nettle have also been known to support the skin as an elimination pathway.
Also known as the colon, your large intestine is the final stop of your digestive tract. If your digestion is compromised, it’s really hard for your body to eliminate toxins. Your colon is responsible for getting rid of all the solid waste so that it doesn’t recirculate. It’s also the home to specific species of bacteria that help us break down waste.
In order to keep our colons moving, a diet with adequate fiber is essential. Anything that’s made up of more bulky plant fibers contains insoluble fiber. This non-absorbable plant matter gives something for wastes to cling to in order to form stool and be eliminated. Not the most appetizing idea, but none the less it’s super important. Without fiber, we are basically allowing waste to sit idly in our system. Apples, lentils, chia seeds, and hemp are a few of my go-to fiber rich foods.
To support overall digestive health for toxin elimination I also recommend aloe, probiotics, and fermented foods.