Detoxification is one of my favorite topics to discuss, but not in the way that many of us are accustomed to hearing about it – as 3-day juice cleanses and 24-hour detoxes. I enjoy discussing the natural process of detoxification that occurs in the body on a daily basis!
That’s right, we detox every day, whether we’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables or not. The body naturally removes the chemicals and toxins we are exposed to with the help of our liver, our gallbladder, and our kidneys.
The liver takes in everything we’re exposed to in our environment, good or bad. This includes the toxins in the food we eat, the chemicals found in our skincare products, as well as those found in our furniture and in our clothing. After taking them in, the liver transforms them into less potent molecules that the body is able to use for nutrition, cellular health, and regeneration, or excrete. According to Chinese medicine, this process occurs most actively and efficiently from 1-3am. It’s very important to be in bed before this time, so your body can properly detoxify.
The liver also communicates with other organs, the gallbladder especially. Any materials that are excreted from the liver are sent the gallbladder in the form of a thick, oily substance called bile. The gallbladder stores the bile, eventually dumping it into the small intestine to aid in the process of digestion. Any unused bile is sent to the colon to be expelled from the body in the form of feces.
Fecal matter isn’t the only one way in which waste is expelled, however. We also expel waste through breath, sweat, and urination. So not only is it important for us to have regular bowel movements, it is also important to take full, deep breaths of fresh air and stay well hydrated.
The kidneys, another organ central to the natural detoxification process, rely on water to properly expel waste through urination, as does the lymphatic system which detoxifies through sweat. I often recommend my patients make time for regular saunas, hot yoga, and exercise to help support the natural release of toxins and bacteria through sweat and the lymphatic system.
The last system of detoxification is breath. Carbon dioxide, in high concentrations, is toxic. It can harm your internal organs and cause respiratory distress if large amounts are present in the blood, so each time you take a breath, your body releases any excess. You can help support this process by consciously deepening your breath at least once each day. Personally, I love setting aside 10-15 minutes each day to sit in my sauna and breathe deeply, so not only am I detoxing through sweating, I’m also breathing clean, fresh air onto my body and cells. You can also support this process by going outside in nature and breathing fresh air that has been naturally filtered through the trees and plants around you.
As you can see, detoxing is not just something that we do a few times a year for a short time. It is a natural process that our bodies facilitate on a daily basis, a process involving several different organs in the body.
Since it’s such a holistic process, it is important that we do what we can to ensure the health of our liver, kidneys, and gallbladder. If these vital organs are not well, it is not possible for the rest of the body to be balanced and well. I’ll be digging into this topic in-depth for the rest of the month on the blog. Stay tuned to find out how to know if your body is toxic, and what nutrients you can use to help your body detoxify.