Monday, April 25, 2011

Safe and Effective Ways to "Spring" into Detoxification

As the days grow longer, many of us are eager to take advantage of the sunlight and re-implement our New Year's resolutions. If for you that means some time of "cleanse," here are three safe and effective ways to take your health back.

Portrait of bicyclist drinking water
bicyclist drinking water

Adequate Hydration

The human body is composed of approximately 65 percent to 70 percent water. Every cell, tissue and organ contains water, and every metabolic reaction and function in the body needs water.

However, the evidence is conflicting over "optimal" water intake. To take into account varying daily activities, drink enough water so that your urine is clear or at least straw color. And remember to drink filtered water, as opposed to distilled, which can alter electrolytes in the body and cause harm.

Performing the above will safely remove all metabolic waste products and contaminants in our environment from the body without excessive burden on the kidneys.

Diet

  • Fruits and vegetables — The more varied the colors of the fruits and vegetables, the more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you will get. Most detoxification pathways in the body utilize the nutrients we obtain from fruits and vegetables. Buy organic when you can.
  • Functional Foods — These foods have actions beyond their basic nutrient content and are known to enhance our body's ability to detoxify. Examples include artichoke, the Brassicaceae (Cruciferous) family, beets, onions, garlic, green tea and herbs like turmeric and dandelion root.
  • Fiber — Just like water helps to excrete toxins via the urine, fiber is needed to excrete toxins via the stool. The Institute of Medicine recommends total fiber intake from foods at 38 grams per day for young men and 25 grams per day for young women. However, the 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 93 percent of Americans consume less than 25 grams per day.

Exercise

One important benefit to exercise is sweating, which helps remove toxins. Also, as our heart rate goes up, so does our metabolism, burning the fat that stores many of the toxins we're exposed to on a daily basis, including toxic metals such as mercury.

In addition, the more vigorous we exercise, the more we respirate. Some of the most volatile compounds, such as solvents and cleaners, can be excreted via the lungs. *Consult with a physician before beginning any exercise or fitness routine.

Beyond the Basics

There are many ways to safely detoxify one's body, and these are just some of the basics. If you're interested in learning how to detoxify even further, call (206) 834-4100 to make an appointment at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, and let us help you along the road to more optimal health. 

— Todd A. Born, ND, naturopathic physician and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University.

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