Dr Joseph Cheng, ND
Prime Your Body
There are so many detox plans out there claiming to be the “most effective” or “easy.” However, before you dive into any ‘fad’ regimes, you should first work on PRIMING YOUR BODY for detox.
Often, we hear about how people experience ‘aggravations’ from detox where they feel much more tired, start having skin eruptions or hives, and/or experience worse headaches than before starting the detox program. These are all signs that your body is struggling with the detox process. In order to help combat the struggling process, here are some tips to help prime your body for cleansing.
Prime Your Body 4 Weeks Prior to Cleansing
Your detox regime removes any ‘congestion’ and ‘obstacles’ in your eliminating channels, so, it’s important to prime the body in order to fully allow that cleansing to occur. It allows whichever detox program you choose to work much more efficiently and minimizes the ‘aggravations’ during the process.
Here’s how you do it:
1) Go to Sleep; Sleep Regular Hours
Sleeping regular hours puts your body in a stable circadian rhythm. It helps normalize your hormones, especially your thyroid hormones, sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone), and cortisol – aka ‘stress hormone.’ All these hormones work hand-in-hand in a very complex manner. When they work together in harmony, they help you feel more energetic, elevate your mood, promote tissue repair and regeneration, and metabolize nutrients and waste more efficiently.
2) CLEAN Eating and Drinking
Our liver is known to be the detox-master, but it has its limits, especially under continuous exposure to toxins. Since most toxic exposure is through food and water, eating & drinking clean are the best ways to reduce overloads in your liver and prep it for the upcoming detox regime.
If you haven’t already, start introducing a water filtration system into your drinking water at home. There are various water filtration systems to choose from; do some research and find the one that works best for you.
And, if certified organic is still too costly and/or not an option; consider reviewing the Dirty Dozen list here for some foods to avoid for their high pesticide residue. Additionally, the Clean 15 lists known fruits and vegetables that are cleaner, based on their pesticide absorption rate, and preferable when certified organic is not an option.
Moreover, try to limit your sugar intake to <25 g a day. Refined sugar causes fluctuations in our blood sugar levels, and, over time, takes a toll on our liver and pancreas.
3) FAST Intermittently
Other than detoxification, your liver also spends a lot of energy to metabolize fats, carbs, and proteins. Fasting is a great way to give your liver the breaks it needs.
The rationale behind fasting is that as the body has to spend less effort on the high energy tasks of digestion, it has more capacity to focus on activities that benefit us in other ways. These include detoxification, as well as repairing and rebuilding tissues.
Intermittent fasting appears to provide similar health benefits to continuous caloric restriction, but it is much less difficult in terms of compliance. It is usually easier to simply restrict your eating to a narrow window of time on certain days or each day, as opposed to strikingly decreasing your overall caloric intake for a longer period of time.
There are a few ways to do intermittent energy restriction. Here is my way of doing it:
On 2 non-consecutive days of a week (eg. Tuesday and Friday), I only eat dinner, no snacks, with a focus on protein and fat intakes and lots of vegetables. The other five days, I can have regular meals/snacks.
4) Dry BRUSHING
One of the most important roles your skin plays is supporting optimal detoxification through its sweat/sebum excretions. But if your skin is overrun with toxins or dead skin cells clogging pores, it will not be able to eliminate wastes from your body efficiently.
This is where dry skin brushing comes in, not only to brush off dead skin cells but also in activating waste removal via stimulation of your lymphatic drainage.
When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins can accumulate and make you sick. Lymphatic congestion is one of the major risk factors leading to inflammation and disease. By stimulating your lymphatic system and helping it release toxins, dry skin brushing is a powerful tool to ‘prime’ your detox pathways. Here is an article on dry brushing to help you get started.
5) Manage STRESS
Chronic stress impacts our detoxification process in a number of ways.
- It suppresses our thyroid function, which in turn slows down our metabolism. It’s our body’s defense mechanism to conserve energy during stressful times.
- It disrupts our ‘cortisol’ circadian rhythm. Cortisol is the hormone secreted by our adrenal glands to help us cope with stress; it also governs our sleep and wake cycle.
- It disrupts our blood sugar regulation, rendering our body more ‘inflammatory.’
Start with breathing exercises; it can be as simple as 5 deep breaths every 30 minutes at work and before bedtime. The key is to be mindful of each of your breaths.
Begin implementing these 5 tips TODAY to prime your detoxification process. And if these lifestyle changes resonate with you, feel free to incorporate them into your day-to-day life even after the completion of a detox plan. It will optimize your health and your body will thank you for it in the long run by being ‘good’ to you.
(Source: National Sleep Foundation)
Hello, I am Dr. Joseph Cheng. I am a Naturopathic Physician practicing at Inspirit Health Group, Vancouver, BC. While I provide various strategies for many acute and chronic conditions, my passion is working with people suffering from Pain and Digestive Issues. I’ve developed dynamic patient-centered, Pain-Free & Healthy Gut programs to help people attain their health goals. Common dis-eases I help resolve are headaches, lower back pain, neck pain, arthritis, as well as gut issues such as IBS, allergies, acid reflux, and SIBO. I practice an evidence-based approach to health where I combine the traditional essence of Naturopathic Medicine with my background in Biochemistry and utilize the best of both worlds to help patients.
I also believe in individualized medicine where each patient is evaluated with careful history intake, diagnostic testing, nutritional assessment, and physical exams. My treatments will be tailored to provide the best outcome.