Spring is in the air!
Spring is when I also eagerly welcome the bounty of fresh local produce.
My body is craving all the spring greens after winter.
This is also usually when I start hearing my girlfriends talk about "Spring Time Cleansing" or "Detoxing." This, in general, is a good idea. When done right.
According to the traditional Chinese medicine, Spring is a great season for giving your liver some extra love. This is easy to do with the local dandelion greens, sorrel (my personal favorite) and other amazing fresh local produce. Finally!!!
Why is it important to give you liver some extra love, at least once in a while?
Why is liver important for detoxification?
The liver is a reservoir, like a holding tank, for all the toxins in in your body. The role of the liver in your body is that of a clean-up system. Among its other functions, the liver is also responsible for regulating the hormones in your body. Consider this: if lipid (fat) levels are too low, the liver will do its job and release a bunch of them back into the bloodstream.
That is where it is so interesting to think about the fat and toxin storage levels in fat cells.
Did you know that your body, being super smart, "tucks away" toxins it cannot safely process in your fat stores?
This is where if a person were to lose fat too quickly, the liver would release a bunch of fat and toxins into the bloodstream (to compensate as it will). And what would THAT mean? That person would be be hit with a high level of toxins. That is where a quick detox and a fast loss rate is likely to wreck a ton of havoc on your system and leave you MORE toxic than you were prior to starting a detox.
The headaches, the flu like symptoms frequently associated with a detox? Does that sound familiar? I know I have heard my girlfriends discuss those... Isn't that how you know your detox is "working?" And the answer is... NO!
A properly run detox should have you feeling energized and not depleted. Sure, if you are used to large doses of caffeine and are suddenly going to stop drinking coffee cold turkey one day (not a good idea, by the way), you are going to get a headache while your body adjusts but that is a bit different.
"Detox symptoms" are actually a sign your body is having trouble safely processing and escorting the toxins out of our body. And it is a big deal when that happens.
When toxins are released in your blood stream too fast and you are lacking the proper nutrients to help your body convert them into safe compounds and "package up" for successful excretion, you become MORE toxic than you were before you embarked on a detox regimen. You are literally a walking "toxic bomb" unable to get the toxins out of your body.
This does not sound or feel good at all, does it?
So, what IS the biggest detox mistake to avoid? The biggest detox mistake to avoid is NOT giving your body extra nutrients while taking the "bad things" out. Without the proper nutrients, you body is unable to escort the toxins out of your body.
What are those nutrients? Well, there are quite a few. B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Selenium, Zinc, Magnesium, Glutathione and N-Acetyl Cysteine (comes from the amino acid L-cysteine, and amino acids are the building blocks of proteins) are just a few. And, of course, there are quite a few of botanicals (such as ginger, bitter greens and enzymes contained in the skin of citrus fruits) that assist the detoxification process as well.
The discussion of the proper nutrients to enable safe detoxification is actually fairly complex. It should involve the description of the detoxification phases (there are three of them) and the detoxification pathways (there are six of those, and the efficiency of each one in our own body is unique to you).
This discussion is truly fascinating but we are not going to geek out on this here right now. I am grateful you have made it this far. It is, however, crucial to know that your body needs MORE, not less, in order to successfully detox.
I am going to give you my three top tips on making sure you are helping your body to detox safely:
- B vitamins (especially Riboflavin (B2) and Niacin (B3)) are among the key nutrients your body needs to transport toxins OUT of your body.
- Clean sources of protein/ amino acids (especially N-Acetyl Cysteine) are critical during a detox/ cleanse. The actual amount and type of protein truly varies for each individual. Tune in for my upcoming post on clean protein sources, it is a great topic to discuss and tackle next!
- If you can, work with a qualified practitioner to ensure you are honoring your body and giving it sufficient time and nutrients to detox safely. A balanced food based detox/ cleanse is best.
In summary, that "all you do is drink green juice" cleanse your girlfriends might be talking about is NOT a good idea. Just share with them that, while green juice is indeed fantastic for you, it will actually do more harm than good without clean protein, B vitamins and sufficient sleep to regenerate your liver. They (both your girlfriends and your liver) will thank you!