What is the Best Way to Prepare for a Successful and Safe Detox?
Every year I do a 4-week heavy metal detox. It’s an example of one of the things I do periodically – some of them seasonally – to go beyond my daily health habits, to get a deeper level of healing.
Why I Do a Heavy Metal Detox
My clients frequently test positive for one or more heavy metals. Some of these might be mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and aluminum, each of which can have a significant impact on a person’s health.
Heavy metals can attach to proteins in our collagen, which alters the shape of the proteins, making them “non-self,” which then alerts our immune system to attack as if battling an intruder. This creates inflammation, and can result in grave outcomes, the most common being neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease. Beyond these, autoimmune conditions can often be connected to heavy metal toxicity.
As a lifelong fisherman, and someone who has had dental amalgams many years (I actually still have a couple that I’m planning to get out before the end of this year), I was not surprised that my own recent heavy metal test revealed higher levels of some of these metals than I’d like.
My Annual “Maintenance Detox”
So, I do this detox annually and probably will until further notice. I do a “mild” version of this, rather than a super deep detox…although I have done those, and still do when they are called for. I consider this annual detox a “maintenance” maneuver for my health.
Heavy metals may not be your issue, but a targeted detox can still be a great tool for you.
Detoxification goes on in our bodies 24-7. We are designed to eliminate substances from our systems that harm us. But…in this modern world where we are confronted with chemicals in our food, air, water, clothes, personal care products, homes, cars, offices, schools, etc… our systems can become overwhelmed, and our detoxification capability doesn’t keep up. This is what toxic overload is all about. Too much introduced, not enough eliminated.
On a daily basis, habits such as regularly sweating, drinking enough water, avoiding chemicals wherever we can (such as drinking from plastic water bottles – please stop using those immediately – horrible for you and horrible for the planet), eating enough plant fiber, and getting enough rest aid in our detox process.
A Periodic Detox is a Great Tool – For All of Us
Periodically, I am all for doing a targeted detox to go deeper. I recommend it to just about anyone. There are many different protocols for detox programs; I use specific detox protocols for my Functional clients depending on what their tests reveal needs to be eliminated.
A short detox is a great idea after an illness, after over-indulging in food or drink, a period of known over-exposure to toxins or EMFs, after stopping a course of medications, after breastfeeding is over, or for addressing a specific problem.
(I’ll talk about the detox process and share some before and after cases in a future post; here I want to focus on the preparation necessary for a productive and safe detox.)
How to Prep for Any Detox
It is vital to prepare for a detox. You may not hear much about that part of a detox, but it is extremely important.
If you just “jump in” and start pulling toxins out of your tissues without your body having been prepped, you run the risk of actually getting pretty sick. Detox is hard work for the body, even if that detox is a “milder” exercise.
As I approach my own 4-week detox, for about a week I take some very important steps to prepare. All these are about equipping and nurturing my body before I ask it to do the significant work of a detox. I do most of these behaviors on a daily basis, but leading up to my detox, I am especially attentive and increase my efforts.
The 5 Detox Prep Steps
Intermittent Fasting 16:8
Intermittent fasting (IF) allows the body to mobilize toxins from visceral fat as it is burned for energy during the fasting period. IF also allows the body to divert energy used for digestion towards gut healing, equipping the immune system to do its part in the coming detox. IF also increases insulin sensitivity, resulting in more even blood sugar, which reduces oxidative stress and calms inflammation. IF also promotes better autophagy, the body’s cellular recycling and trash removal system.
Daily Hydration, 3-4 Liters Spring Water
“The solution to pollution is dilution.” A hydrated body is like a quick-moving stream rather than a stagnant pond. Hydration prepares your kidneys, skin and lungs to do their part to move out toxins mobilized during detoxification. Hydration also promotes optimal brain activity and cognition, important during a detox.
MAP for Success
“MAP” means meditation, affirmation, prayer. A calm mind is part of a parasympathetic-dominant nervous system – “rest and digest” – which is the state where healing happens, rather than the sympathetic-dominant state (“fight or flight”) which is focused on survival rather than healing. By front-loading myself with tools for serenity and to calm my nervous system, I am enabling my body to do its best healing.
Expanded lungs are your #1 tool in your detoxification arsenal. Prepping them to take air into their deepest recesses and then expel it fully will fire them up to play their role in your detox. Deep diaphragmatic belly breathing massages the organs, activating them to work better and not be stagnant – important in a detox! Nasal breathing also increases nitric oxide, the amazing antioxidant required for stabilizing toxins as they are removed from the tissues.
Sleep is extremely powerful in healing. A well-rested person is equipped for the work of pulling and expelling toxins. A person operating from a sleep deficit is running the risk of red-lining their system by layering the stress of detox on top of a system that is already depleted. Leading into, and during, my detox I get at least 8 hours per night, following the “10-3-2-1-0” method to do so. I especially make sure to get to sleep by 10:00 to allow my brain its best shot at getting the maximum amount of deep sleep.
Another important prerequisite for a successful detox is making sure that anyone undertaking one is not constipated. If you get all the toxins pulled out of the tissues without being 100% sure that they will be eliminated expediently, that’s a recipe for toxins backing right back up into your body again, and feeling pretty ill. It’s like trying to flushed a clogged toilet: you have to make sure the exit pathway is secure.
Detox is a great way to target a health goal and pursue it in a focused manner sometime during your year. Follow these prep steps for a successful detox to uplevel your health.
Do You Want to Detox Along With Me?
If you are interested in joining me in my heavy metal detox, comment below – it’s a great step to take before the holidays begin, and to start the New Year at your best.
Always looking out for you,