The late Dr. Walter Crinnion, one of the early leaders in environmental medicine, had a 5 step process for detoxification:
Do you see why I have hundreds of blogs on ways to reduce your exposure to toxins, and I’m just now writing one on how to support detoxification?
Detoxes are sexy. They seem like a magic solution thanks to clever marketing of shakes, powders, pills, and diets. But a detox does nothing if you continue to load up on the toxins that need removed. The overflowing sink analogy says it best:
If your kitchen sink is about to overflow, do you pull the plug or turn the water off?
To drain the sink, you have to do both. But to stop it from overflowing in the first place, the first step is to turn off the tap (avoidance). Then you can unplug the drain and empty the water (detoxification).
So, with that in mind, let’s talk about ways you can improve your body’s ability to detoxify.
Antioxidants are compounds which can prevent or slow down oxidative damage to tissues caused by environmental toxins. Oxidative damage can disrupt how our cells work and can lead to inflammatory conditions, neurodegenerative diseases (like parkinsons and alzheimers), cancer, and aging symptoms.
Antioxidants can also help protect the mitochondria (the essential energy-makers in our cells – more on those here).
You can boost antioxidants through:
- Eating berries – particularly blackberries, red currant, raspberries, and blueberries. Frozen berries are great for this as freezing breaks down cell walls making the pigments that contain the antioxidants more available. As an added bonus, choose organic when possible.
- Vitamins C and E
- Beta Carotene (found in sweet potato, carrots, dark leafy greens, among others)
Support Your Liver
The liver is just one part of your detoxification system, but an important one. It filters out chemicals that enter our bloodstream through diet, the air we breathe, and our hormones. The steps the liver takes to do this are complex, and require certain nutrients to perform them properly.
Ways you can support detoxification through your liver function include:
- Eat broccoli. It not only helps eliminate air pollutants, but also increases glutathione production to help tackle pesticides and solvent chemicals (more on that later).
- Beets, turmeric, ginger, and rosemary have similar benefits to broccoli.
- Green tea supports the liver’s ability to clear toxins, and helps fat-soluble toxins leave the body.
- And of course, reduce your toxic load in the first place.
Support Your Kidneys
Your kidneys are part of your detoxification system, but they can also recycle toxins back into your body. The more acidic your urine is, the more recycling happens (normally I’m pro-recycling, but not in this case).
The more toxic your body, the more acidic – so it’s a bit of a vicious cycle (and also why the first step in detoxification is to reduce toxic exposures in the first place!).
You can reduce the acidity in your body by eating:
- Green vegetables
- Less red meat
- Less dairy
Glutathione is a secret weapon that deserves more attention than it gets! It’s a molecule in our cells that acts as an antioxidant to help remove combustion products, persistent organic pollutants, and mercury. It is also essential for our mitochondria. So yah, pretty powerful.
You can get glutathione in capsule form, the research suggests this isn’t an effective way of adding it to your body to support detoxification.
If you’re going the supplement route, look for NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) instead. This has also been recommended by a number of health practitioners during covid.
Glutathione needs help binding with the toxins to be excreted, which you can support with:
- Green tea
… and given their benefits already listed above, even more reason to add them to your diet!.
Now, there are many, many more things you can do to support your overall health and support detoxification. These are some of the more manageable and easy-to-implement strategies without going all-out with a strict diet. That may be a necessary step for you depending on your current health and your goals, but won’t be for everyone. (Dr. Crinnion’s book Clean, Green and Lean offers some great info and strategies.)
Regardless of where you’re at in your detox journey, hopefully this gives you a good idea of where you can take action!