Detox diets are all the rage. You know what I am talking about, right? Drink 4 gallons of water a day. Drink the juice of 12 lemons. Take these nine supplements, and whatever you do, avoid the dreaded “toxins,” they are every where.
If you sense a bit of sarcasm, you are not mistaken. One of my biggest pet peeves is the way people talk about, and deal with, detoxification. The fact of the matter is, the body is detoxifying itself all the time. It does this not just because it has to deal with toxic substances from the environment, but mainly because it must deal with its own toxic burden of metabolic byproducts.
You heard right, the body produces as much, or more, toxins through its normal everyday process than it accumulates from the environment we live in. This is why I am not a huge fan of the word “detox” or “toxins.” The body is always detoxing, there is no need to do anything at all, it does it for you. And Toxins? What are we talking about? If we are going to talk about toxins, we should actually define what we mean, right? Let’s start there first.
What the hell is a toxin anyway?
Being a physician, if you use the word toxin I am going to assume you are talking about a poison, one derived from a living organism that will disrupt your metabolic process. Of course this is not the way the term is used in the pseudoscience of internet natural medicine land. So, let’s cover the less scientific definition.
What do most people mean when they use the term toxin? They are normally referring to chemicals. Things like pesticides, plasticizers and chemicals of industry. Maybe, if they are a little more savvy, they will think of heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium too.
But what about alcohol? That is a known toxin. What about stress? Could that not be considered a “damaging poison” when excessive and/or prolonged? What about the LPS particle shed from the bacteria living in our gut? Too much of that and you will die. This is known as endotoxin. What about the hydrogen peroxide and other radicals produced inside our body during metabolism and immune function?
Hopefully you are getting my point. The word “toxin” is about as misused and useless a word in healthcare as there is. It’s used in a way that tells you nothing, and usually tries to sell you something.
Do we need to detox?
I am not going to pretend like the body is not often overburdened. There is no doubt it is, but let’s exercise some common sense. Take alcohol for example. It is one of the most well studied, and defined, toxins on the planet. We have all these individuals crying about detox diets, eating organic foods, and avoiding harmless starches like maltodextrin (sounds like a chemical right?), and then sitting down and drinking alcohol. I just point this out to draw to your attention to how silly the lack of understanding about detox goes.
Despite the joking and silliness, the body, is indeed, often overwhelmed by stress, inundated with over consumption of calories, burdened from its own production of free radical metabolites, and yes, impacted by environmental chemicals too.
Will the real body toxins please stand up?
What I am here to tell you is that stress and overeating may be more toxic for most people than the scary chemicals people are terrified of. Let me give you a bulleted example of what I am talking about. Here is a list of the real “toxins” the human body must deal with.
- Stress: The hypothalamus & pituitary gland together constitute the command and control center of the metabolism. They orchestrate the entire hormonal cascade of the metabolism from adrenal, thyroid and gonadal function to digestive hormone communication and the rest. Stress is an irritant to this system. Extreme stress in the short run and/or stress that is prolonged is extremely detrimental to this area of the body. If you are tired, hungry, having cravings, feeling puffy, dealing with menstrual issues and lack of motivation, then it’s not because you have too much bisphenol A in your system (well, it could be), but is more likely, you need a stress detox.
- Food: The body must constantly digest and absorb food. It needs to take this foreign material and assimilate it so the immune system does not treat it like an invader. It must also manage its energetic resources. Too little resources and you are like a car without enough gas or oil, your physiology grinds to an unhealthy halt. Too much food and you are like a car that got the oil changed and a full tank of gas, but decided to fill the interior of the car to the brim with even more gasoline and oil. Needless to say that car is not going anywhere.
- Endotoxin: We now know the biggest source of toxic burden, for most people, comes from the bacteria living in their gut. These bacteria have an extremely potent toxin they wear on their outer skin, called LPS. You can think of this LPS like a winter coat. When the bacteria get hot, they shed this coat, and it can hitch a ride into the bloodstream, via fat. This causes toxin immune effects in the body, including energy lows, joint pains and other weird and bizarre symptoms centering around the gut, skin, joints and brain.
These are the three biggest and most damaging “toxins” any human will have to deal with. Ironically, the other “toxins”, the ones everyone is so scared of? Those can easily be dealt with by reducing the toxic burdens mentioned above, sweating, and a few smart, easy supplements, like whey protein and a metabolic multiple vitamin/mineral supplement.
So let’s detox
Now that you understand the real toxic culprits and what they do, we can talk about a real, and effective ,detox that actually does more than cause you to shed 5 pounds of water and then gain 10-20 pounds back after you stop the detox. A true and effective detox leaves the metabolism healthier and happier than it was before the detox, rather than creating a metabolic boomerang effect.
You know what I am talking about, right? You go on some extreme detox program where you drink gallons of water and drink some type of magic detox elixir, lose a ton of weight only to gain it all back, because you went from a normal human to a giant hungry hippo after the detox. A smart, effective detox does not cause you to have hunger, low energy and cravings, nor does it cause your metabolism to get so agitated, and gain the weight back so fast that people mistake you for a city parade blimp.
The real deal
I am going to teach you one of the most effective and simple detoxes you will ever encounter. The right way to detox. It goes like this, and addresses the three toxic insults above, so your body can easily handle any toxic chemicals that come its way. It’s called the S3 Detox:
- Stop The Stress
- Soothe the Digestion
- Sweat It Out
It’s genius is in its simplicity, but, rest assured, the science behind these three seemingly simple elements is solid, and well thought out. Each of these three elements has a very particular approach. I am going to teach you this now:
Stop The Stress. Think the STP acronym
- S= Strides. Walking is key. Walking, the slow relaxing kind, is one of the only forms of activity that simultaneously lowers stress hormones and sensitizes the body’s insulin. It is essentially a hormonal reset button, because it relaxes, restores and reboots the hypothalamus and pituitary command center. Shoot for 10,000 steps a day on your detox.
- T= Take it easy. This means planning plenty of rest, recovery and relaxation time. I call this rest-based living, and it includes all the known activities that lower and counter-act the impact of high cortisol, and other stress hormones. Walking we already mentioned, but others include slow relaxing movement (like tai chi and restorative yoga), meditation, massage, sex/physical affection, social connection, laughter, spa time and hot relaxing baths, shower or sauna.
- P= Pause. Take the hurry out of life. Take time away. Spend quiet time. Reduce exposure to noise, light and stressful stimuli like the news and other agitating media. Pause is about sitting quietly, watching the birds. Or listening to classical music while slowly sipping tea. Or taking an afternoon nap. Leaving your phone and computer for two hours while you hang out in a relaxing bath tub. This P, and the T above, sound similar don’t they? They are closely related. T is about the body and P is about the mind. There will definitely be some overlap. My favorite way to do this, is a bath. You will see in a minute how a hot, epsom salt bath is one of the most powerful detox tools we have.
Soothe The Digestion. For this one think 4R
- R= Remove all foods that are hard to digest, common allergens or solid in nature. If you are wondering what to eat, think three things. Soups, salads and smoothies. Thats it. The soups should be simple chicken broth with well cooked veggies. The salads should be easily digested mixed greens and oil and vinegar dressings. The smoothies should be either protein shake (whey protein preferred, it is extremely detoxifying due to its glutamine and branched chain amino acids) or vegetable juice blends.
- R=Replace digestive capacity by taking a good quality digestive enzyme including HCL
- R= Repopulate the digestive system with healthy probiotic bacteria to reduce LPS toxins
- R= Repair with whey protein and/or glutamine.
Sweat It Out. For this one think BS (bath or sauna)
One of the number one ways to get chemical toxins out of their storage in body fat is to heat up the body and getting it sweating. This has been shown to be highly effective against the two most common types of metabolic environmental toxins, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants.
- B- Bath. Run a hot bath. Add 2-4 cups of epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and immerse yourself up to your neck. Stay in the tub until you start to feel overly stimulated, hot and begin to sweat. Try to maintain this sweat for 5-20 minutes depending on tolerance. Once you can’t tolerate anymore, get out of the tub, wrap up in a sheet and wool blankets and sweat for another twenty minutes or more. Stay hydrated. Do 4-7times per week. The more the better.
- S= sauna, especially infrared sauna is extremely beneficial in creating the same sweat effect. Stay in for 20-40 minutes. Try to do 4-7 times per week
- One VERY important caveat here is to realize that during sweating you are releasing chemical toxins your body conveniently stored away in fat to keep you safe. This can do damage if you don’t have something in place to make sure anything not removed in sweat is taken up and removed. A supplement called alpha lipoic acid has an amazing ability to do just that. 200mg every 4 hours during a detox is perfect insurance and extremely healthy and wise. Check out Metabolic Complex. This multiple vitamin has the alpha lipoic acid and more you will need. Take 2 caps every 4 hours while awake.
The Final simple plan
Seems simple right? It may seem that way, but trust me when I say there is an extreme amount of science and knowledge that went into the S3 Detox. Nothing will beat it. Let me give you a final plan and outline exactly what you will do:
- The detox should ideally last at least a week and no longer than four weeks
- To make it easy follow a 3-2-1 eating plan. This means eat three meals per day. Make two of them smoothies (protein shakes or vegetable smoothies). Make 1 of them a salad or a soup. If you need a snack think the same thing, soups, salads and smoothies. Also try Craving Cocoa which is extremely beneficial in a detox
- To make it easy follow a 3-2-1 exercise plan. 3 or more rest-based living activities per week (preferably more). No more than 2 intense exercise sessions. 1 hour, or more, of slow relaxing walking on all or most days.
- Use a whey protein meal replacement like Craving Shake or Isagenix (for Isagenix email [email protected]) preferably twice per day (vegans use a dairy free option Isagenix has a great one)
- Take a good quality digestive enzyme like Metabolic Enzymes
- Take a good quality probiotic. One of our favs is HSOs by Garden for Life (start slow to avoid gas and bloating)
- Sweat daily or multiple times daily
- Take Metabolic Complex 2 caps every 4 hours while awake
What to expect?
- Weight loss between 2 to 5 pounds per week
- Digestive healing
- Skin healing
- Greater energy and clarity
- Less hunger and cravings (especially when whey protein is used)
- And more……….