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September 2018

How to detox your body at home

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Ok, so we all know that we live in a pretty polluted world. Inside and out. We breathe pollutants, but we eat them too, right?

We also know that our bodies are equipped to deal with all this. We’ve got a whole bunch of emunctory organs (the official way of calling our cleaning-up organs) to deal with it, right?

So why should we need to detox?

Getting rid of toxins is a function our bodies perform permanently and naturally. We’ve got quite a few organs to do just that, and a healthy body should be able to detoxify itself without issues.

The problem is, sometimes we overload our detox organs, or they stop functioning optimally. And we get somewhat clogged up. This is when we need to figure out how to detox your body at home and naturally.

What toxins do we need to get rid of?

There are 2 types of toxins: the ones that enter our body and the ones that the body generates. The first ones come from:

  • processed foods (sugar, refined flour products, additives etc.),
  • medication,
  • smoking,
  • alcohol,
  • caffeine,
  • pollution,
  • environmental toxins, like pesticides, household chemicals or heavy metals.

The toxins generated by your body are the end results of metabolism, hormones (stress) or bacterial by-products. These are due to the oxidation of fats, or cholesterol, to reduced liver or kidney function and free radicals.


dewy grassThe detoxification process takes place in 3 phases:
  1. Identification: Specific enzymes identify potentially harmful substances.
  2. Neutralization: These substances need to be neutralized to make them harmless and fat-soluble are turned into water-soluble substances, ready for excretion.
  3. Elimination: We get rid of the end products through our skin, lungs, kidneys and the digestive tract.

Stress hormones, medication, and tobacco are all dealt with by the enzymes in phase 1.

If the body is not properly supplemented with nutrients from a wide variety of foods, the cumulative load becomes too much, the liver is overwhelmed, leading to inflammation and disease.

This has been linked to hormonal imbalance, reduced immune function, and nutritional deficiencies.

All these can, in the long term, lead to more serious diseases. These are, for example, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, eczema, psoriasis, allergies, Crohn’s, Alzheimer etc.

So how to avoid this?

By activating your “waste disposal” organs

Emunctories are our “waste disposal” organs, whose job is to get rid of superabundant or harmful waste and secretions.

Here are our primary emunctories:

  • the liver destroys blood poisons, including toxic ammonia substances from metabolism, pollutants and drug residues. This is called “hepatic clearance”;
  • the kidneys filter the blood: urea, minerals, various acids, and drug residues;
  • the intestines evacuate waste from our diet and dead cells from our internal organs; masses of toxic substances can stagnate in the intestine, putrefy, or even form some kind of “varnish coating”;
  • the skin releases mineral salts, hormones and fats via the seborrhoea glands;
  • the lungs release carbon dioxide and volatile molecules in the bloodstream.

If the large emunctories, such as kidney and liver, stop functioning properly, it causes auto-intoxication of the body. All pathologies are linked with insufficient elimination, at the end of the day.

So a good detox should start with activating and supporting our “waste disposal” organs.

How to stimulate and clean the emunctories

According to naturopathy principles, it is recommended to stimulate and, when possible, to regularly clean our emunctories, to prevent diseases linked to the clogging of our body.

So how do you stimulate and purify emunctories?
  • artichokeLiver: by increasing the production of bile through the use of the right medicinal plants: milk thistle, desmodium, artichoke, for example;
  • Intestines: by purifying the intestines through regular hypotoxic diet (staying clear of dairy products, sugars, refined flours, fried food), fasting, single-food group diet, herbal tea enemas; see below for a short explanation of the hypotoxic diet;
  • Kidneys: by preventing the formation of crystals clogging the kidney ducts (kidney stones) thanks to a potassium-rich diet (vegetables and fruits, especially potatoes with skin, avocado, beans, banana) and calcium. In case of predisposition to kidney stones, avoid oxalate-rich foods: spinach, rhubarb, chard, peanut, beets, chocolate, tea;
  • Lungs: by promoting blood circulation and the lungs gaseous exchange through sport in a pure environment, of course avoiding fumes (tobacco, exhaust, candle, etc.), irritating products (products of routine housekeeping), etc.;
  • Skin: by focussing on activities that make you sweat (sports, steam baths, sauna), to eliminate the skin’s crystalloid (sweat) and colloidal (sebum) wastes.
Bonus

In addition to fighting against clogging diseases, having healthy emunctories should give you:

• more energy, less fatigue, and anxiety;

• soft skin, abundant hair, nails without cracks;

• better natural defenses;

• better food assimilation;

• fewer problems related to sweating, bloating, bad breath;

• better sleep;

• an active sexuality.

Which food is best to detox?    

This is where we need the full complement of nutrients to support the enzymes and metabolic processes involved in phase 1 to 3 to function optimally. These will include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, as well as plenty of fluids and fibre to help with the excretion part.

An anti-clogging diet should include:
Vegetables:

The Allium family – onions, garlic, chives, leeks

vegetable-brassicaThe Brassica family: Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, radishes, horseradish, turnips, watercress, wasabi

Other vegetables: Beets, celery, cucumber, spinach

Fruit

Avocado, berries, esp. blueberries and cranberries, apples, pears, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, citrus in general, especially the peel

Legumes

Lentils, beans, dry peas, chickpeas

Healthy fats

Olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios

Herbs and spices

Turmeric, rosemary, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, caraway, oregano, coriander, dill

Seafood

Wild caught salmon, sardines

Meat

Organic chicken, turkey, wild game, organic eggs

Do you need an anti-clogging diet plan to follow?

Option 1

An hypotoxic diet (such as the Mediterranean diet) is the optimum diet against clogging diseases. Based on the diet of the people living around the Mediterranean sea in the 60s, the diet advocates whole food, organic and seasonal fruits and vegetables, limited meat, and healthy oils.

It focusses on eating liberally:

Vegetables – Lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, olives, etc.,

smoothie-citrusFruits – Organic and seasonal, like apples, citrus, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, bananas, plums, figs, melons, peaches, avocados, etc.

Nuts and seeds – Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds etc.

Legumes and starchy vegetables – potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc.

Whole grains – Whole oats, quinoa, millet, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread, and pasta.

Herbs & spices – Garlic, basil, oregano, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, cloves, etc.

Healthy fats – Extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil.

Eat in moderation:

Protein sources – fish (especially fatty fishes such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, tuna), seafood (shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, etc.), poultry, eggs

Dairy – Cheese, plain natural yogurt

Eat rarely:

Red meat.

Don’t eat:

Refined sugar (a bit of honey is fine), sugary drinks, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.

Very “clean eating” all this, we love it!

Or option 2

Follow a low glycemic index (GI) diet whenever possible.

Acne, which is a typical clogging disorder, decreases sharply with a low GI diet. A randomized study was conducted on this subject among 43 adolescents and adults suffering from acne. After 3 months, the “low GI” group experienced significantly reduced acne and lost an average of 3 kg.

The low GI diet is simply about eating low GI foods. These are plentiful. Basically, all the foods that do not transform too quickly into glucose after you eat them, thus avoiding a rapid rise in blood glucose at mealtimes.

You will find below a link to a table to help you figure out which food has a Low, Medium or High glycemic index. Click here to find the GI chart.

Or you can use this nifty and comprehensive search function to check out your favorite food.

The IG grading system is fun because it can be counterintuitive. You’ll be surprised to find out that beer (GI = 110) raises the blood glucose level much faster than a sugar waffle (GI = 75). Or that a brioche (IG = 70) is better than rice flour (95) and cooked celery (IG = 85).

Feel like you need a kick-start?

Consider giving yourself a bit of a shock treatment with an active water fast (fasting with water and herbal tea, and sports exercises), away from cities, industrialized areas and roads.

Disclaimer – This is not for everybody and needs to be supervised. Always take first to your doctor or your physician before embarking on a fast.

There are books out there on fasting, the principles and the methods, like this one. Read up, familiarise yourself with, but check with your doctor before embarking on any fasting program.

Throughout the year

Consider going through extra cleansing, twice a year for 10 days. This is especially beneficial if your diet hasn’t been optimal throughout the year.

    • Make a purifying soup: using fennel, celery, garlic, onion.
    • Give your liver, your main detoxing organ, a boost with the following supplements: milk thistle, dandelion, desmodium, artichoke. The supplement below is an example that combines most of these in one capsule, very handy.
      I do a monthly milk thistle detox every 3 months throughout the year, as I know my liver is my weak point.

The take-home message

  • Consume a large variety of fresh vegetables and fruit daily, preferably organic. If you’re not sure which ones should be organic, learn about the Dirty Dozen.
  • Choose foods which are whole and unprocessed. For example, snack on fresh fruit and raw nuts instead of a protein bar; enjoy a freshly made vegetable soup instead of an instant Cup-a-Soup.
  • Drink a minimum of six glasses of water per day, and stay clear of any drink containing sugar or caffeine.
  • Ensure optimal gut functions by eating high-fiber foods, such as whole grains (barley, quinoa, corn, rolled oats and wild/brown rice) and leafy vegetables.
  • Exercise or move regularly – enough to break up a sweat.

If you just took one thing of the above list and started applying it today, you’d make a difference towards better emunctories. But why not dare yourself to pick two of those and push through? Then let us know in the Comments below whether you’ve noticed any improvements!

Organic vs local food – which is best?

We buy and consume every day a large variety of foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, bakery, drinks, frozen foods, yogurts, preserves, and so on. The USDA calculated in 2011 that the average American ate 1996lbs (905kg) of food per year. This is about 38lbs (17kg) of food per week and per person, around 6% of our expenses and $2,392 per year on food. In other words, buying food is big business!

Food shopping is also an opportunity to question how we should shop, especially when trying to be a responsible consumer.

How can I buy better, to suit my lifestyle and my family?
Which one is best, organic vs local food?
Is organic really better for health?
Are organic products more expensive?
How to identify the exact source of fresh produce?
Have they been treated with pesticides?
Should I choose honey from my home country or South America?
Or just from anywhere, as long as it’s fair trade?
Is it sensible to buy organic green beans from Kenya?
Are there producers who can supply me in my area?
How to be sure that fair trade money goes to the producer?

And many, many more questions.

In this post, we’re trying to shed some light on buying sustainable food, organic farming, local production, and we’ll add fair trade here. The idea is to give you, as a consumer, the tools to be able to make the best choice for you and your family. Based on where you live, what is available around and how you eat. Based also on your individual choices and the importance you give to the environmental and/or ethical and/or health aspects.

What is organic food?

Organic farming is a mode of production based on cultural and livestock practices respectful of natural balances. Thus, it excludes the use of synthetic chemicals, GMOs, and limits the use of non-organic inputs. “Inputs” means anything added to the land: fertilizers, pesticides… Organic farming follows strict specifications. Those favor, at all stages, the respect of the farmer, of nature, of the animals, of our environment and of the general health.

In organic agriculture, synthetic chemicals are not allowed, animals have enough space to live, the systematic addition of antibiotics to animal feed is prohibited, and so on. In practice, organic producers will use the following:

  • Long and varied rotations, food autonomy for their herds (link to the ground),
  • The economy of inputs,
  • Risk prevention, for animal and crop health or weed control.
USDA organic logoCertification and labeling

Products from organic farming are controlled and can be identified thanks to specific labels.

Organic labels differ depending on:

  • the type of products they cover (food, textiles, etc.),
  • the social, ecological and economic criteria checked,
  • the inspection body granting the certification.

Other private logos identify “brands” of organic products.

Us organic logoSome numbers. Organic represents between 1 and 3% of the total cultivated surfaces in the US. This may not sound like much, but organic farmland experienced a double-digit growth over the last few years. And the sales of organic products, food and non-food, have grown much faster than standard products overall.

Side note – However, the demand for organic products far exceeds the current 1-3% of certified organic soil in the US. To be certified organic, a produce farmer will have to transition for 3 years. This period is required to allow for the soil to be rid of any chemical residues and to go back to an organic state of health. This deters a lot of farmers, and a large proportion of organic food is imported to meet consumer demand.

 Some large producers, like General Mills, have heard their consumers demand for more organic products. They are now increasing their range, encouraging more farmers to make the transition to organic.

Is organic more expensive?

Yes, organic products are usually more expensive, but not always. Let’s clarify this:

  • The extra cost is due to a smaller production scale and sometimes increased labor costs. Indeed, the cost of transporting imported products is sometimes offset by cheaper labor. A fair trade label could guarantee the social conditions of production, at increased cost.
  • Studies show that households who shop in specialized organic grocery stores or directly from the producer spend less money on food. Why? Because they are more in tune with their real needs.
  • We underestimate the price of conventional foods because it does not take into account their environmental and health impacts. For example, organic foods contain fewer pesticides, residues of veterinary drugs and nitrates. This reduces their water pollution control costs. Source – FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).
  • Some organic products are more expensive than their non-organic counterparts, like meat. The solution here might be to consume less meat but of much better quality!
  • Organic meat and vegetables do not melt or dry up like “traditional” foods and are richer in nutrients, containing from 20% to 75% extra vitamins, proteins, trace elements, mineral salts…

Related: the Dirty Dozen list or when to buy organic


The case for local food

Fruit and vegetable marketThe “ideal” product would be a product where the raw material would be produced and processed locally. It would be directly sold by the producer to consumers according to the concept of “short food supply chain”. This makes it possible:

  • to reduce the transport and storage of the products,
  • to better remunerate the producer, since there are no intermediaries,
  • and to create a direct contact as well as a relation of trust with the producer.
Local food can take many forms.

The most common is probably the purchase of local products through conventional distribution channels (grocery stores, supermarkets, etc.). To promote the short food supply chain, we can turn to:

  • collective purchase groups, who collectively manage the purchase of local products.
  • solidarity purchase groups who voluntarily support certain producers.
  • direct purchase from the producer on a market or at the place of production.



What is fair trade?

Fair trade USAFair Trade products counted just a few thousands of products 20 years ago. You can now count over 200 million fairly traded products in multiple stores and outlets. They can be now found through fair trade organizations, committed stores, or even supermarkets.

According to the World Fair Trade Organization:

“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.

 Fair Trade organizations have a clear commitment to Fair Trade as the principal core of their mission. They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.”

Fair Trade AmericaThe basic principle of fair trade…

is the guarantee given to small producers to commercialize their products at prices that cover the costs of sustainable production from both a social and environmental point of view.

It is also a guarantee of relative price stability. As well as the implementation of favorable conditions of payment. And even pre-financing opportunities. These prevent farmers and tradesmen from having to sell their products short or getting loans from predatory lenders.

Fair Trade products and organizations follow a set of criteria. They are also recognizable by specific labels, logos, and brands (see opposite).

Tips for a sustainable clean diet

The good news is, you don’t have to choose between the three. Organic farming, fair trade and a diet based on local products are an integral part of a sustainable diet. These concepts reinforce each other.

The notion of fair trade implies requirements of economic and social guarantees for small producers. Like the payment of a fair price, multi-annual commercial contracts or the granting of development premiums. Those requirements go in parallel with strict environmental practices (ban on GMOs, environmental impact reduction, sustainable management of natural resources, etc.).

The term “local product” refers only to the notion of proximity from the place of production. Despite common beliefs, a local product provides no environmental, health and social guarantees. Unfortunately, the environmental impact of agricultural food products depends more on the mode of production than the transport itself.

This goes in favor of organic products:

  • They do not require fertilizers or synthetic pesticides (whose production generates significant greenhouse gas emissions),
  • and preserve water quality and biodiversity.



The optimal solution is the one that works for you

Fresh marketIt is less a question of “choosing” between these products than “reconciling” these products. Based on your personal values and realistic opportunities in your area. The valorization of organic, equitable and local products is also a great way to encourage family production methods and small-scale agriculture.

For example, you could try prioritizing your clean shopping like this:

  • Think before you buy…

    to match quantities to your needs, do a shopping list, use up leftovers, etc. to avoid waste. That’s when real savings happen. It is also a chance to identify seasonal fruits and vegetables, or to consider a small kitchen or backyard garden to grow your own produce.

  • Prefer organic products…

    that are at the same time local products, when possible. Transportation is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Long distances between the grower and the consumer also mean long storage. Your products are less likely to have been picked at their ultimate level of ripeness, but rather green and left to ripen in containers. Bulk products should also have your preferences to reduce packaging waste.

  • For products from the Southern hemisphere…

    opt for organic and fair trade products: coffee, bananas, oranges, tea, etc.

  • Be choosy! 😉

    Be more picky about your food. Prefer quality over quantity. Spend a bit more on better quality products, and learn to savor every mouthful, rather than devour. Your taste buds (and your waistline) will thank you for it.

And you? How do you decide whether to spend your hard-earned money needs on organic, local or fair trade products? Please share your tips in the comments below for your fellow readers. 🙂