I hope you’re having a great festive period and that all the food and drink isn’t making you feel too bloated and sluggish.
At this time of year, you might be feeling a little guilty about overindulging over Christmas… heck, we all like to overindulge now and again.
It’s common to want to do some cleansing or detoxification to compensate for the good times, but does a January detox or, say, a juice fast, really work?
The answer in my experience is “no”.
Juice fasts and mini-detoxes can make you feel good in the short term, both physically and psychologically (and that’s a good thing).
They can also help you kick start a more consistent wellness programme, which is also great.
But on their own, they are not going to provide any longer term benefit.
Over the next few days I’d like to share a few realistic concepts with you on how to make sure you start 2017 in the healthiest possible way, both physically and mentally.
I want to start by sharing my knowledge on detoxification and why people tend to get it all wrong at this time of year.
Detox isn’t that difficult, but it has to be done correctly otherwise it’s just a waste of time or money.
There’s a huge misconception about detoxification.
Contrary to popular belief you cannot detoxify in 7 days or even 30 days (that is unless you spend thousands – and I mean THOUSANDS on intravenous therapies).
The idea of taking 7-days or 30-days out of your year to do a “quick” detox and then spending the remaining 358 or 335 days doing the same things you usually do just doesn’t add up.
Think about it: Can a 7 or 30 day detox really compensate for the rest of the year eating crap, drinking alcohol and so on?
The truth about detoxification
Before you are born – while you are a foetus – you detoxify by sharing your blood supply with mum.
As soon as you are born, you begin breathing and the umbilical cord is cut.
At this moment you start detoxifying your own body.
Waste products and toxins are produced as part of your metabolism and you cannot avoid this.
You also take in substances from your environment in air, water, food and on your skin.
You have get rid of both your internally produced and your externally absorbed toxins.
You have to do this from the moment you are born until the moment you die – if your heart is beating and you’re breathing, you have to detoxify otherwise you will die.
Detox overload problems
Under normal circumstances, your body can detox very effectively because it is designed to be a detoxifying machine.
In caveman days, it was easy to detoxify because the environment was comparatively pristine.
Cavemen had other things to worry about such as predators, nasty invading tribes stealing all the women and infectious diseases, which kept the average lifespan very low.
These days, we live much longer and we’re exposed to a lot more potentially harmful substances over our lifetime.
The combination of higher exposure plus living longer leaves us in a tricky position because if we’re not careful, we can begin to stockpile toxins.
If the quantity of toxins entering our body (from metabolism or from outside sources) exceeds our capacity to get rid of them, they begin stockpiling, triggering symptoms and causing disease.
In its wisdom, our body shunts excess toxins into storage but unfortunately the storage warehouses are our cells.
Ultimately, this can cause an awful lot of problems.
Key question to ask yourself:
With all this in mind ask yourself whether 7 or 30 days of guilt-induced detoxification at this time of year is of any value whatsoever.
Be really honest with yourself when you answer the question.
Then ask, would it be more sensible to adopt a lifestyle that optimizes day-to-day detoxification, thus rendering the need for things like “dry January” and “January detox” programs unnecessary?
Where do external toxins come from?
The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, led to a staggering array of man made chemicals being produced.
It is estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that around 80,000 – 100,000 man made substances float around the environment these days.
Not all of them are commonplace, but we are certainly exposed to several thousand high use chemicals.
Here are some of the main ways these man made chemicals get into your body:
- Processed food, pesticides and food additives
- Charred food (overcooked on the grill)
- Recreational drugs
- Medical drugs, all of which have the potential to be toxic
- Cosmetic and personal care products
- Car exhaust fumes
- Dental amalgams
- Industrial waste
- Air fresheners, paint fumes, carpet cleaners, cleaning fluids
… and many more
Your lungs, digestive tract and skin are the three main entry portals for external toxins and they’re exposed to unprecedented quantities of these.
Of course, some people are exposed to more toxins than others depending on where they live and their occupation.
Food itself can be toxic
I encourage you to consider the some foods contain a lot of toxins without you even knowing it. These toxins occur naturally in the food and don’t need any man made input.
Substances like gluten and even natural chemicals in plants (especiallt above ground vegetables), grains, nuts and seeds can be extremely toxic and add to your personal toxic burden.
Alcohol is also a toxin in any form.
Toxins you produce all by yourself
The word ‘metabolism’ defines the sum total of every chemical reaction in your body.
Each second you’re alive, your metabolism creates compounds that have to be transformed, broken down and eliminated from your body.
They include ammonia, histamine, hydrogen sulfide and intermediate detoxification chemicals, which I’ll talk about next time.
If these compounds build up too much, you will get a toxic effect from them even though you made them yourself.
By “treating” ammonia toxicity, I’ve seen brain fog, fatigue, headaches and other symptoms clear up inside 24 – 48 hours (I’m not joking).
As with all areas of metabolism, your detoxification power comes from energy and nutrients.
Key detox nutrients include glutathione, glycine, taurine, methionine, lipoic acid, B-vitamins, plant compounds, sulfur, molybdenum, magnesium and selenium.
Deficiencies in these nutrients, which I see all the time in client lab test results, will slow the detox process down.
Too many toxins entering your body + inadequate nutrient power to perform detoxification = a recipe for disaster.
This cannot be overcome by a 7 or 30 day January detox that is based on balancing out your guilt from a couple of weeks of Christmas overindulgence.
Sorry if this sounds tough, but it’s the truth.
Toxins from your GI tract
Your GI tract is a major entry and exit portal for toxins because any toxin you swallow ends up in your GI tract.
Anything that is absorbed from your GI tract first gets absorbed into your bloodstream and goes to your liver for processing.
Thus, too many toxins entering your body via your GI tract can overburden the detox system.
Many toxins leaving your body are processed by your liver and dumped into your GI tract, where you poop them out if everything is working properly.
Where do GI toxins come from?
In addition to foods, additives, pesticides, alcohol, medical drugs and so on, toxins can come from microbes in your GI tract.
As you probably know, your GI tract is populated with trillions of microbes and these organisms also have a metabolism.
They have to eat and poop!
Just like your own cells, when everything is working well, the metabolic balance of your GI tract microbiome works in your favour.
But when things get out of balance, your microbes can cause a lot of toxicity.
You will have seen me write a lot about stool testing, which helps identify ‘bad bugs’ like parasites, Candida, H. pylori and others.
When these organisms overgrow, they create toxins that you have to detoxify.
These toxins, known by fancy names like histamine, endotoxin, LPS and gliotoxin, can cause major digestive problems.
Some of these microbial toxins can break through your GI tract wall and get into general circulation.
Once in your blood, they can cause all manner of other problems, including fatigue, foggy thinking, headaches, joint pain, hormonal problems and allergies.
Again, I’d like you to ask yourself whether you think a January detox using a bit of vegetable juice is really going to resolve this.
How can 7-30 days of ‘detoxing’ make a difference when you are detoxing 24/7, 365 days a year anyway?
If you really want to get healthy in 2017 and detox properly, it takes a little more action than a juice fast or alcohol-free January.
The first step in detoxifying your body
If I want to empty the bath, I don’t keep the tap running. How can I ever empty the bath if the water constantly pours in?
Before you try to do anything to detoxify your body (empty the bath), the #1 thing you must do is reduce the amount of toxins entering in the first place (turn the taps off).
Trying to detoxify while pouring toxins into your body is at best a little silly and at worst downright insane.
Now, unless you confine yourself to a bubble with pure air inside, you will never be able to completely avoid toxins.
It’s not realistic to expect to live a 100% clean life these days because the environment simply won’t allow it.
But you can reduce your exposure significantly in a very short space of time by following some simple rules:
1. Spend 30-days optimizing your diet. Eat clean, unprocessed food and try to eat free range or organic where possible. Follow these simple rules:
- If it wasn’t here 10,000 years ago, don’t eat it (at least minimize it.)
- If it needs an ingredients list, don’t eat it (or at least minimize it.)
- Avoid gluten.
- Avoid soy and textured vegetable protein.
- Avoid processed dairy products.
- Minimise vegetable oil consumption (except organic olive and coconut oils)
2. Cut alcohol and smoking completely, or make a huge effort to minimize them. The toxins in booze and cigarettes places a lot of burden on your detoxification system and can jam it up.
If you take these simple steps and sustain them through 2017 and beyond, you will slash your toxin exposure significantly and free up your detox system to do what it is designed to do 24/7.
You’re not magically going to optimize your diet overnight, but don’t worry about it because you’re looking for steady, sustained progress, not a quick fix.
Wellness is built on consistency, not quick fixes.
In the next article I’ll give you two more simple tips to implement in January that ensure you start the year on your best foot without needing to resort to crazy, ineffective fasts and cleanses.
We’ll look at how detoxification actually works, how to ramp it up safely, and why things like juice fasting can actually slow down detoxification, much to your detriment.
Oh, and please watch out for this…
I realize it can all be a little complex: how do you avoid gluten, vegetable oils, and what the hell is textured vegetable protein, for goodness sake?
In mid to late January, I’ll be releasing a brand new program to help you optimize your diet, detoxify your GI tract and optimize your metabolism and vitality.
It’s a way for me to teach you everything I know without you paying 1-2-1 consulting fees.
It’s called the H. Pylori Home Recovery & Digestive Reset Plan (HRP for short).
Of course, I’m biased, but I think it’ll be perfect for you if you want to get the healthiest possible start to 2017.
In the meantime, if you’d like to arrange a case review and consultation to see how we can help you make 2017 your healthiest year yet, click here to learn about the process.