Friday, April 20, 2012

Detox

I feel that it's only fair that if I'm going to go around telling people about how to take toxic things out of their diet that I give them a warning about detox. When you start eliminating harmful substances from your body, your body will go through a period of detox- similar to a drug addict. Most people find that when they change their diet to eat more raw and whole foods that they still crave junk food for a little while after. The good news is that when you stick with eating well, the junk no longer tastes as good. But for a while, you will feel pretty crummy. Expect it. Embrace it. It's OK because your body is eliminating years of accumulated junk. So, here it is: (almost) everything you ever wanted to know about detox, but were afraid to ask. (I've been nice enough not to get too gory here, for those of you with sensitive stomachs.) =)


  • What are the symptoms of detox? It will feel a little different for everyone, but you can expect to have some gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea/constipation), maybe a little queasiness, lightheadedness, fatigue, junk food cravings, a little weakness, and feeling a little extra cold. Many people will feel more emotional and edgy than usual. You will probably want to drink lots of water too. Usually, you can tell it's detox because it doesn't quite feel like a flu, but you're definitely not feeling your best. However, I will warn you that if you have had a history of taking lots of junk into your body, detox may occur over and over again as you hit a new plateau and it may be very uncomfortable. Malamute ate really badly all through his growing up and young adult years. Add to that supplements, energy drinks, chemical laden whey powders and he has had a lot of junk stored up. He has detoxed several times as we have added new elements to our diet and taken out others. I think the worst was when he kicked dairy. He said he felt like an addict in rehab. He was used to having dairy all the time and when it wasn't in his system, his body started freaking out. He was irritable, tired, had stomach issues and if he had been feeling up to it, he would have probably held up the local pizza parlor. Frankly, he was just plain ornery to be around. But, the good news is that it passed and he feels phenomenal since going off dairy. As for me, I have been undergoing detox this week after adding more of those strange foods to my diet, and it has been an annoyance, but nothing too serious. It's felt like what the first day of my period used to feel like combined with a mild flu. However, the morning sickness I had when I was pregnant with Duckling (pre-mostly raw, mostly vegan diet) was very much like detox and was terrible. I craved junk food non-stop. I was too nauseated to eat. I felt awful. (Personally, I think morning sickness is the body's way of trying to cleanse itself to provide a healthy environment for the baby.)
  • What am I detoxing? Chemicals from personal care products, excess mucus that may have accumulated from consuming foods that you are sensitive to, chemicals and heavy metals in the water, soil and air, chemicals from processed foods, chemicals from pesticide-rich produce, yeast overgrowth from antibiotics, partially digested food matter, maybe some radiation from cell phones/microwaves/computers/TV's/x-rays, etc., and even intestinal parasites. (Oh yes, they are here in America. And they are probably living in your gut. We've had some experience with this and it was not pretty.)
  • How does my body detox? Our bodies are designed to eliminate toxins. Excretion, urination, sweating, coughing/hacking/sneezing/runny nose, fevers, watery eyes, and vomiting (a great metaphor for detox- it's awful when it happens, but necessary and you feel so much better afterwards).
  • What causes detox? Consuming more foods that help your body flush out toxins like parsley, cilantro, raw beets and dandelion. Consuming more raw foods, period. Consuming more foods that help your colon move things along like chia seeds, green smoothies, and slippery elm bark powder. Adding fermented (read naturally occurring probiotic) foods to your diet. Going on a juice, green smoothie or water fast. (When your body isn't busy digesting food, it gets to work on eliminating junk.) Fasting is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of detoxing. It is absolutely phenomenal! Here is an incredible website on fasting. I really can't recommend strongly enough that you read at least a few of their articles on the spiritual side of fasting. All you Mormons out there are probably familiar with the detox-fasting phenomenon and don't know it. The reason why everyone feels so awful on Fast Sunday is because their bodies are eliminating junk.
  • What should I do about the symptoms? You may have heard that doctors are now saying that for low-grade, normally occurring fevers you should not give anything to try and lower it. (Chiropractors have been saying this forever.) When you're grieving over something, you have to face the feelings openly and deal with them. Detox is the same way. You need to let it run its course. Don't rush back to junk food, no matter how badly you are craving it. If you are married, hopefully your spouse is supportive and doesn't come home with a pizza or tub of Ben and Jerry's. Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Drink some herbal tea, rest as much as you can, and eat less. I found that eating less stopped a lot of the GI tract issues I was having and made me feel more energized and happier. Yesterday I had three smoothies and not much else and I felt so much better. Today, I have my appetite back and I've been eating a little more, but still taking it easy.
The great thing about the natural detox that occurs from eating well is that it is fairly gentle and slow, so if you are still breastfeeding, it doesn't release a whole bunch of toxins into your baby/toddler. (Yes, I am still nursing. No, I didn't plan to. But that is a post for another day.) =) 

2 comments:

  1. I need to do this really bad, I'd actually like to do a liver cleanse, colon cleanse, whole body cleanse and a candida cleanse. I'm not sure if you know this but I recently went vegan, still struggling with some things like the cravings and what not. My husband Zac is not vegan so sometimes he does have junk in the house and I give in :( I've been trying to tell myself lately that does nothing for you why eat it? If it's not nutritional for me i try and stay away, although ice cream seems to be my weakness lately!

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  2. Cleanses are great! They are a fast way to get junk out. We don't have the money to do cleanses so we just eat well. The good news is that it takes a little longer, but if you eat a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables, your body will flush out the toxins. (That's what happened to me.) If you're having a hard time going vegan, you might try focusing on eating mostly vegan. I've found that doing this helps me to focus more on what I can eat and less on what I'm giving up. And if you're craving ice cream, I recommend Coconut Bliss. Chocolate Covered Katie also has a ton of vegan ice cream recipes on her blog. =)

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