How To ‘Clean’ And ‘Detox’ For Life? | Taking A Detox Program For Life?

How To ‘Clean’ And ‘Detox’ For Life? | Taking A Detox Program For Life?

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My patients and clients often inquire as to which supplements I recommend, when they inquire about a quick cleanse or detoxing program. The term “detox” is no longer used to refer to removing the body from alcohol and drug addiction, but to refer to ridding the body of bad habits and bad health.

As a Functional Medicine Nutrition Therapist, I find the concept of cleansing and detoxing to be a slippery slope between science and fiction, especially when renowned physicians and healthcare experts are selling books, 30 day programs, supplements, and the like. Don’t take their word for it, there are plenty of yoga studios, saunas, and spa retreats that are ready to take your money for the promise of detoxification. On the internet, there are lots of superfood juicing recipes. Alternatively, you can opt for colonic irrigation in which a hose of water is guided into your colon to wash away your inner toxins. I have to admit that I was fascinated by the colorful particles of fruits and vegetables that left my body when I ate them the day before, despite the risk that the hydrotherapist could accidentally perforate my colon. Correct? Ewwww? I wouldn’t call it a “detachment” though.

I guess I have detoxification and cleansing to thank for becoming the dietitian I am today. Years before studying to become an RD, I too jumped on the cleansing bandwagon with a group of my friends seeking weight loss, and fell for one of the biggest ‘cleansing’ scams ever – the one where you take tons of ‘cleansing’ supplements and fast for 8 days only drinking psyllium husk and betonite clay shakes. We didn’t know that the products we were consuming contained a polymerising agent that turned our feces into a plastic consistency, so when we experienced a massive rubbery poo snake slithering into the toilet we truly believed we were cleansed of our ‘intestinal plaque’ forever. For years after that ‘cleanse’, I experienced terrible gastrointestinal problems including IBS, gluten and soy intolerances and the like which I now attribute to that program’s utter destruction of my body’s natural flora. It took years of intense probiotic therapy and a strict elimination diet to heal my gut but I eventually did, and felt inspired to become a Functional Medicine Dietitian because of it.

It is possible that this is the first time that this is happening. It is possible that this is the second time that this is happening.

Let’s separate out the fact from the fiction and get to the heart of the matter, or more correctly, the liver.

The human body is designed to self-regulate and cleanse itself of daily toxins that we ingest, absorb from our environment, or make as bi-products of natural metabolic processes. Our main organs are the kidneys, skin, lungs, and the liver. There is a serious science behind Phase-1 and Phase-2 liver detoxification. If you want to learn more about the science of metabolism, you can look at a diagram illustrating the pathways.

As complicated as the science is, you can achieve a healthier body through diet and lifestyle changes that will yield shorter and longer term results than cleansing pills, juicing, and the sauna alone can achieve.

Here then are my 7-pillar guidelines to Cleanse/Detox for Life …


1. Eat Better

A diet that is heavily whole food and plant-based, with abundant fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds including Omega 3 sources like walnuts and flax/chia seeds, should be adopted. If your main source of fruit and vegetable intake is something other than Juicing, then it’s ok to remove the plant fiber. As long as you follow the other guidelines for eating better, going vegetarian or vegan is a good idea. If you eat grains that containGluten, eat them less than you normally would. Limit the amount of sugar and sweetener you consume. If you eat meat, poultry, and dairy, limit your consumption. Antibiotics and bovine growth hormones are found in factory-farmed, non-organic meat and dairy products. Avoid processed foods with trans fats, nitrates, sugar substitute, and artificial ingredients or chemicals you can’t pronounce. Genetically modified ingredients can be avoided as well.

 2. Drink Purer

Drink a lot throughout the day to prevent dehydration. If you want water over juice or soda, go for the spring water. Water with fresh lemon or lime is a great alternative. If you enjoy alcohol, be sure to limit your consumption to the equivalent of 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. When you binge drink too much at once, you overload the liver, which can be extremely toxic to the body. Coffee should be limited or avoided altogether.

 3. Sweat it out

It’s important to work up a sweat every week, even if you don’t like outdoor sports, hitting the gym, or intense housework. Exercise helps your heart and cardiovascular health, it supports weight loss, and it helps your body to naturally detoxify. Saunas don’t take the place of exercise, but they are good for this.

 4. Mind your pill taking

We often hear that we should not combine prescription and over-the-counter drugs with alcohol because they can wreak havoc on the body’s immune system. These substances are not benign and you need to understand what you are taking. Taking too much of the wrong thing can be more harmful than helpful when it comes to taking dietary supplements. It is difficult for the body to clear artificial dyes in certain supplements and they are often filled with artificial substances. Birth control pills, pharmaceuticals, and other drugs can be very toxic to the body and should be avoided at all costs.

5. Improve your sleep

While we sleep, the body does its best work. Whatever amount you need to feel your best, go for 7 to 10 hours a day. Chronically short changing the sandman can lead to a host of issues, including a compromised immune system, difficulty with weight loss, and other issues that affect the body’s ability to detoxify. If you have sleep issues, consult a registered dietitian or other licensed healthcare practitioners.

6. Manage your stress

It is better to learn to let go. Chronic stress wrecks havoc on the adrenal system and can lead to the same metabolic imbalances, compromised immunity, difficulty with weight loss, and other issues that inhibit optimal detoxification. Re-engage with loved ones and friends, enjoy a hobby, adopt a pet, take a break from technology, and anything else that can help you relax and let go are all things that can help you relax and let go.

7. Consider your environment

Our environment contributes to our body’s toxic load beyond what we ingest. We are living in a toxic world and it is making us sick. If you want to minimize your exposure, you have to learn how to avoid toxins in your body. There are some important recommendations.

  • Protect your lungs. 

    If you use tobacco or marijuana, then quit. Don’t smoke second hand, smoke at all costs. There are harmful fumes at gas stations and in traffic congestion, when painting or using heavy duty cleaning products, and when around chemical solvents. The fumes from the new car smell and the freshly laid carpet are toxic. Toxic chemicals are present in traditional air fresheners.

  • Protect your skin. Avoid parabens and phenoxyethanol that are used as preservatives in shampoos, lotions, soaps, cosmetics, makeup, toothpaste, etc. Toxins consumed via our mouth are 90% filtered by the liver while toxins absorbed into the skin are 100% absorbed by the body, thus a skin dose is 10 times that of an oral dose. Look for natural brand alternatives that are made without harmful ingredients.
  • Protect your digestive system. Don’t consume plastic polymer chemicals that rapidly diffuse into food when the food is microwaved or reheated in plastic or styrofoam containers. Use glass or ceramics whenever possible for heating and storing food. Throw away worn Teflon pans containing large scrapes and scratches. Avoid plastic bottles and tin cans that contain Bisphenol A (BPA).
  • Beware the heavy offenders. Have you traveled to a far away destination and picked up a parasite or two? Do you have mercury amalgam fillings in your mouth? Do you work in agriculture where there is heavy herbicide and pesticide use? Does your trade require you to be around industrial chemicals? Artists, woodworkers, even cosmeticians are all at risk. A knowledgeable Functional Medicine practitioner can test for this kind of toxicity and prescribe proper protocols for how to detox safely and effectively.

The promise of cleansing and detoxification claims to relieve symptoms of fatigue, indigestion, skin problems, constipation, excessive weight and brain fog, all of which are often symptoms of a toxic body. Rather than invest in trendy detox programs, costly books, a juicer, or supplements, why not start with the basic 7 pillars I’ve laid out herein. Taking initial steps for a few weeks is likely to make you feel lighter and healthier and will set you on a path for improved health and cleansing/detoxification for life. Should you be interested in a custom therapy program tailored to your unique health and nutritional needs, please contact me for more information.

NoneBe well,


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