Spring Cleaning: Detoxification

Spring Cleaning: Detoxification post image

Spring is coming — I can feel it in the air and I am itching to clean! I am cleaning my house, my office, my car and I really feel the need to follow some sort of detoxification protocol for my health. There are so many ways to detoxify it can be confusing. One thing is certain, ancestral people had their ways of detoxifying that exemplified their strong connection to the earth.

If you remember your history, some of the American Indian tribes had sweat houses where they would go to fast and sweat. This was certainly a way of detoxifying their bodies. It was a spiritual experience for them as well. Today we have low temperature saunas that can help us accomplish the principle of sweating out toxins. Of course, many of us do not have access to such a sauna so there are many other ways to detoxify our bodies.

For centuries it was believed that an equilibrium between the four humors — blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile — must be achieved in order to maintain health. The early medical treatments sought to balance these humors through diet, purgatives, enemas, emetics, blood letting, cupping, baths and other techniques which were all purposed for cleansing and balancing.

These techniques were used as traditional wisdom all over the world by all the diverse cultures.

The need to detoxify

We are exposed to much higher levels of toxins than the generations before us. Low-level, long-term exposure to toxins such as heavy metals ( lead, mercury, aluminum and cadmium), pesticides, industrial compounds and pollution is associated with many chronic illnesses such as, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivities, fibromyalgia, autoimmunity, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s just to name a few.

Signs and symptoms of environmental toxicity

  • Headaches, migraines
  • Mineral Imbalances
  • Infertility
  • Depression
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
  • Non-Responsive or Recurrent Yeast Infections
  • Learning Disorders
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Broad Mood Swings
  • Unusual Responses to Medications or Supplements
  • Memory Loss
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Tinnitus
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Worsening of Symptoms After Anesthesia
  • Cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Panic Attacks

Removing toxic substances

We have a complex biochemical system to remove and neutralize toxins. This system operates slightly differently in each individual. The efficiency at which a person removes or neutralizes toxins is a primary factor in susceptibility to these environmental conditions.

This elaborate system occurs in two phases: Phase I and Phase II. These two phases transform toxic molecules into non-toxic molecules that can be easily excreted. The majority of detoxification occurs in the liver, however other organs participate in detoxification, including the intestines, skin and lungs.

In Phase I, a functional group is added to the toxic molecule, producing an intermediate that needs to be further transformed.  Phase II detoxification involves a process called conjugation in which various enzymes in the liver attach protective compounds to the intermediate, making it less harmful and easier to excrete.

The intermediate products of Phase I can be highly reactive and more harmful than the original compound, therefore, achieving and maintaining a balance between Phase I and Phase II processes is critical.

Furthermore, a significant side effect of all this metabolic activity is the production of free radicals, resulting in oxidative stress.  Nutrients that help protect us from oxidative stress include vitamins A, D, C and E, zinc, selenium and copper, and all the B vitamins, just to name a few.

Nutritional  support for detoxification

Detoxification is a process that puts a metabolic burden on the body. Energy is required to achieve detoxification. Therefore, water or juice fasts are not beneficial because they deplete the body of the essential nutrients required for healthy detoxification.

These fasts have many adverse health effects, including decreased energy production, breakdown of lean tissue instead of fat, increased oxidative stress, and unbalanced detoxification.

Rather  than  decreasing  nutrient  support, a focused, high-impact, low allergy potential source of micro and macronutrients should be provided.

Programs for detoxification

There are many programs for detoxification out on the market. Most of them involve buying an herbal portion or some other “medical” powder to drink. While these programs may take only a few days or even a few weeks, they simply can not accomplish the goal of detoxification in such a short period of time. It is also questionable whether these products work.

Forcing the body to detoxify by fasting and/or using products can actually be harmful. If protective nutrition is not readily available, the free radicals that are produced can cause oxidation and tissue damage.

A slow natural detoxification is a more realistic, yet can still be very challenging.

The introductory phase of the GAPS diet is the perfect tool for detoxification and one that I use in my practice. In this protocol, you are eating food that is exceptionally easy to digest and full of available nutrients, from the beginning.

You work your way through the stages, slowly adding more varieties of food. In this way you can see how well you tolerate the new foods and can continue with them if they are tolerated well, or you can eliminate them if they are troublesome and come back to them further down the road.

There are also other methods to add to the GAPS Intro diet when you have the intention of detoxifying, such as juicing and quickly adding probiotic foods and beverages.

As I write this I am getting more excited to actually do it! Are you up for a detoxification challenge? Join me when I start my 18 day Spring Cleaning-Detox Challenge. The signup page for this will be posted Wednesday March 14! Leave a comment below and let me know if you intend to join!

Detox Challenge Signup Page

6 Stage of GAPS Intro

Detox Challenge Linky

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Leave a Comment

  • Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen! March 8, 2012, 11:21 pm

    Hey, that’s good timing! I’m planning on re-doing GAPS intro on March 16th.

    • Jill March 9, 2012, 6:07 am

      Great! I hope you join in!

  • Doreen March 9, 2012, 8:03 am

    My hubby and I have been GAPSing since November. I’ve been wanting to go back to the intro! The in-laws will be leaving on the 17th. We’re in after that!

  • Jen March 9, 2012, 9:25 am

    I’ve been wanting to do a detox for a while now but wasn’t sure which one to start out with and the GAPS intro sounds great! I read up on it a little bit, not thoroughly, but do you know how quickly a person should move through the intro stages? How do you know when it’s time to move on to the next stage?

    • Jill March 9, 2012, 9:55 am

      Hi Jen,
      Generally if you are in good health you can very quickly go through the stages, especially the first and second stages. Frankly, I don’t think I can stay on stage one for more then a day…

    • Crunchy4Life March 11, 2012, 2:31 pm


      Butter Believer highly recommends this book, to even where I would give this diet a try. It breaks it down easily with recipes & guides.

  • Michele March 9, 2012, 9:38 am

    This sounds like exactly what I need right now!! Thanks so much for posting! Can’t wait to start!

  • elena March 9, 2012, 1:47 pm

    Looking forward to getting started!

  • Mandy Farmer March 9, 2012, 1:48 pm

    Looks like what I need. I have been fighting a serious bout with (possibly) fibromyalgia Also had a serious blood clot and now on coumadin. Will be going to Mayo Clinic at the end of the month and once I get their instructions hope to get back to my grain free sugar free diet. If have one more month of coumadin, looking forward to getting my greens and other good veggies back in my diet.

  • Julie March 9, 2012, 8:43 pm

    Do not know too much about the GAPS diet but would like to learn more and detox.

  • Raj March 11, 2012, 6:07 am

    My family will be starting the GAPS diet soon….great timing…I’m in!

  • Denise March 11, 2012, 8:29 am

    I’d love to try detoxing and learn more about the GAPS diet !

  • jane March 11, 2012, 3:42 pm

    I am interested in your detoxification using the gaps into diet, etc.

    Let me know more about it as info is available


  • Jackie March 11, 2012, 11:09 pm

    Thinking I might give it a go.

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