Now that you know what detoxification is, how it works and the potential benefits based on SOAR principles, let’s talk about how to put this into action and what you should expect.
What and how much we eat have a direct effect on our ability to detoxify our bodies (both from naturally produced toxins from metabolic pathways, but also exposure to environmental toxins). It is in many ways the foundation of detoxification.
To begin, let’s discuss the importance of the type of food to consume. It is always important to focus on a WHOLE food that is minimally processed. After that, it is also important to acknowledge the source of the food. Although there is debate in the academic and food industry about the safety of genetically modified organisms and pesticide use, I would argue still a WHOLE food is by far better than processed regardless of GMO or organic labeling. It may require doing your best to eat mostly organic/non-GMO depending on your health status. If you prefer, the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) has identified the Dirty Dozen (dirtiest fruits and veggies that have the highest pesticide residue, best to buy organic) and the Clean Fifteen (cleanest standard fruit and veggies, ok to not buy organic). These guides are a starting point to make decisions from, but not necessary to be 100% in order to make gains in supporting your body to detoxify and improve your health.
This table is in the order of nutrient richness in each category (higher nutrient concentration will provide for Phase I and II detoxification). Focusing on vegetables and fruit at every meal paired with healthy protein will optimize the fiber content to aid in bowel movement and detoxification.
What to eat 1:
Although grains are allowed, they are ONLY allowed in whole form and only gluten free grains. This is because often grains, especially gluten, can irritate the absorptive surface of the gut lining impacting your ability to absorb the valuable nutrients you need for the detoxification process. For more on gluten please see www.renoSOAR.com under the How to SOAR tab. Additionally, sugar and alcohol are also prohibited for the sake of detoxification. As a lifestyle you must see how these fit in your life for many reasons.
What to drink:
Pure water with fresh squeezed lemon or an appropriate essential oil safe for ingestion
Drink when thirsty, especially between meals. A safe number for a normal weight adult is approximately 50% of your body weight in ounces. For the purposes of detoxification it is best to avoid soda, alcohol and even coffee as these substances may add additional burden to detoxification as well introduce components that are difficult to detox like sugar and chemicals. If you have concerns about the quality of your water, call your local authorities to see if they have free testing available.
A few healing recipes are listed at www.renoSOAR.com to start from. Simple meal plans are the best. For example:
Drink 8 oz fresh water with or without lemon oil/fresh lemon
Two fried eggs over fresh greens with sautéed mushrooms and leftover protein from dinner the night before
Green apple with almond butter
Grilled chicken and brown rice made in mineral broth over bed of greens with homemade vinaigrette
Handful of blueberries
Whole carrot and celery sticks
Steamed broccoli, side spinach salad with pan seared Wild Sockeye salmon
Slice of Canteloupe
What to expect:
In this plan there is a specific avoidance of refined grains (including gluten)If the above listed whole foods are a dramatic change from your normal nutritional profile, then I would expect any of the following within the first 1-4 weeks:
Digestive issues (gas, abdominal pain)
Aggravation of current symptoms
Over time and consistency I would expect the symptoms to resolve and a more steady energy and positive health state to result. Depending on your health at the start of the program, you may take only 30 days or upwards of 60-90days to really start to feel improvements. Consistency in healthy eating with lead you to improved detoxification, but it may take time.
Once your eating strategy has become mostly second nature is when we can move into the second step (approximately 30 days but may require upwards of 2-6 months depending on your condition).
Healing Recipes to Start from including a few to combat the sweet tooth.
After you have a strong foundation of Eat Well, then we can start to incorporate and focus on the movement in your life in order to help progress your natural detoxification. The first step will to be to identify the places and times of stagnancy in your life and how to simply turn them to more movement.
A few ideas for DAILY movement:
These are a few simple ideas to incorporate into every day life. However for the purposes of detoxification it is even more important to start moving for long enough to get your heart rate up and increasing your respiratory rate. Remember to start small and work up to a more rigorous routine.
A few ideas to chose from (not necessarily daily. Be sure to give yourself credit for the movement you do daily in your life):
Resistance training is important for building muscle and bone strength, which is important, but not the focus for detoxification. Resistance training would be important to evaluate once you have addressed all the stages for the detoxification.
Depending on your health and pain status, you may need to work with a qualified health care provider, like SOAR, to address any mechanical issues and to develop an appropriate movement plan.
What to expect:
If movement is new to your life, then you will feel soreness. Just like with the dietary changes, you will begin to improve your tolerance to improvement with less muscle soreness. In fact, within just a few days you will notice that your body will crave movement and your body will begin to cry in discomfort when not moving. The addition of the detoxification program will likely take anywhere from 2-4 weeks depending on your baseline limitation and painful status. However, it will be a committed effort to find your balance on how to incorporate the movement into your daily life and increase your movement from detoxification purposes consistently 2-3 x week.
Have fun and be creative and keep your body safe.
Now that you are eating well and moving well, it is time to look at your sleep. This is a critical time for not only repair, but it is your bodies time to “clean up.” Like I mentioned before, detoxification itself is a natural process simply for your bodily functions even if you had NO toxin exposure in your life. Yet we clutter our lives with busy work, light, screens and chaos that robs us of our precious sleep time.
The first step here is to remove those things, especially from the bedroom, that disrupt sleep quality. Here are a few tips:
You will likely find that eating well and moving well alone will improve your sleep. It may take time to work on finding your sleep disruptors and how to make this habit as life gets in the way.
What to expect:
It is often said, “Sleep begets sleep.” What that may mean is that if you have found yourself deficient on sleep and tired all the time, then as you start to improve sleep you will notice you want more of it. Listen to your body’s signals. Depending on your sleep deficit to start will be an indicator of how long it will take you to recover. For example, it took me 2 years to feel rested following the start of motherhood. Yet now, if I have a sleepless night, I commit to early to bed for a few days and feel recovered.
This is a tricky problem that may require more effort with the assistance of a health care professional. If your job requires night shift work or even with eating and moving you still have a digestive issue, then it is important to support your body possibly with supplements. I urge all to attempt to maximize the benefits of the foundational principles before exploring supplements. Give yourself 1-2 months. If you find you are still struggling, then seek help.
Never sacrifice your sleep regularly to get exercise. If you find yourself needing to get up to exercise, just find a way to incorporate movement during your day. Sleep is too important to miss out on, especially over long periods of time.
Our fourth principle is the most flexible. It is defined as purpose and connection. In the case of detoxification, we will be connecting to our body in a very specific way that promotes detoxification. There are many ways to do this traditionally. We will be focusing on efficient strategies that are easy to incorporate into your life.
Along with eating well (being well hydrated), moving well and sleeping well we will be adding self-care strategies that focus on skin and lymphatic system. To be clear, these strategies are based on anatomy and physiology and NOT scientific studies. As will everything, it is important that you use common sense. If you have a wound, cancer or intractable pain disorder, then these strategies are not for you. But an otherwise intact and healthy individual these are reasonable strategies to incorporate in your life. Here are a few strategies.
Dissolve 2 cups of Epsom salts into a regular sized bath with warm water and soak for 10-30’. Follow up with a cool shower to rinse off and towel dry
The Epsom salt can help alleviate sore muscles, improve blood circulation and encourage detoxification through the skin. Taking a calming bath can also simply be soothing to slow down and relax especially before bedtime.
There are different detoxification baths like Baking Soda, Sea Salt and Baking Soda, and even Apple Cider Vinegar. Choose one and try to incorporate daily for 1-2 weeks.
Dry Skin Brushing:
I expect that as you incorporate these strategies, starting with daily and then a few times a week for long-term support, you will feel invigorated and more peaceful. It won’t be dramatic but a subtle change. The skin brushing may be sensitive and uncomfortable at first as you haven’t given yourself that kind of stimulation before, but then again, you may begin to crave it. It will likely take 2-4 weeks to reap the full benefits initially and you may struggle with the time commitment.
The last and final step for the self-care step is to evaluate your environment and exposure to toxins starting with your skin and hair products. At this point it would be advisable to review www.ewg.org for list of they cleaners they recommend and beauty products to avoid. Reading the labels of your beauty products is an important first step, just like food labels. Your skin is not only a medium for expressing toxins; it is a way to absorb them through the body. Using products that have minimal ingredients is the best start. Cleaning products need not be complicated either. Although changing out your products is a big step, it too is a stage in the detoxification process by minimizing your body’s burden so that it can do what it needs to do naturally.
What to expect:
Removing toxins in your environment, at least those in your control, may be a longer process and even frustrating. You may find that anger is one response as you become more aware of the chemicals in your personal care products, especially dyes. However, over time as it comes to replacing these products you will continue to feel less burdened in your own home. This will take months to years. Don’t set yourself up with perfection as your goal. Just continue to make better choices. All the above strategies of eat well move well, sleep well will help with the detoxification even if the exposure to toxins isn’t perfect. Of course, should you find out you have Carbon Monoxide in your home, then you must exit and find the source of the problem urgently. I am talking here about everyday non-deadly exposure that simply creates burden on your body and potentially sickness.
Simple, and safe, detoxification strategies are incredibly effective at improving your health.
Remove. Replace. Restore.
Remove unnecessary toxic chemicals from your food including refined food like substances, cleaning products and even personal care products
Replace with whole fruits, vegetables, and protein; organic whenever reasonable. Use natural ingredients to clean your body and house. Move your body. Breathe hard and get sweaty once in a while. Take a bath. Brush your skin. Sleep often.
Restore a healthy detoxification system naturally and recover your health.
Eat Well. Move Well. Sleep Well. Soar On.
1. Mateljan G. The world's healthiest foods. First ed. Seattle, Washington: George Mateljan Foundation; 2007.
2. Krohn J, Taylor F, eds. Natural detoxification. 2nd ed. Vancouver, BC: Hartley and Marks; 2000.
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.