Demystifying detox: The science behind it, and how it will work for you

Power Of Detox - Heal n Cure

Springtime is for cleaning up but what kind of "clean up" is right for your body?

With the holiday season over and New Year resolutions in full swing, many people choose January as a time to detox their body and mind from stress and overabundance. However, there are many misconceptions about what a healthy and balanced detoxification process includes. Dr. Meena Malhorta is the lead medical doctor at Heal n Cure, an integrative facility in Glenview that specializes in functional medicine. Their team of physicians, nurses, nutritionists, and aestheticians work with each patient to collaborate on a tailored plan to meet their health and vitality goals by looking at the body as an integrated health system. Malhotra says that detoxification is a highly personalized process that can be adjusted to meet the needs of each patient depending on their current health and lifestyle.
Dr. Meena Malhorta is the lead medical doctor at Heal n Cure, an Integrative Medicine Center in Glenview that specializes in functional medicine. Their team of physicians, nurses, nutritionists, and aestheticians work with each patient to collaborate on a tailored plan to meet their health and vitality goals by looking at the body as an integrated health system. Malhotra says that detoxification is a highly personalized process that can be adjusted to meet the needs of each patient depending on their current health and lifestyle.

What is Detox:

Detoxification is an essential metabolic function of our body. At all times, multiple metabolic processes are taking place simultaneously in the body to maintain homeostasis. Detoxification is one of these metabolic processes. In simple words, it’s a process through which the body eliminates unwanted substances through sweat, breath, mucus in the airway, stool, and urine. Proper detoxification starts with establishing your baseline health and needs.

Myths about Detox:

There are many misconceptions about what a healthy and balanced detoxification process is. For example, many people associate detoxification with starvation, liquid diets, or juice cleanses, but that is far from true.

Why do you need detox:

Under “normal” circumstances the body is self sufficient in taking care of this process. But our life is far from the “normal” of thousands of years ago when our metabolic processes evolved. We now eat processed foods laced with chemicals to improve the shelf life instead of whole foods. We do not follow the sun cycle with which our circadian rhythm is tied. We are awake and eating when the sun is down and sleep when the sun is shining brightly. We apply anti-perspirant and deodorant to minimize sweating as the odor is socially unacceptable. And the list goes on… As you may have already concluded, avoiding all toxic exposure is not possible with our modern lifestyle.

Signs that you need detox:

An overloaded detoxification pathway may lead to clinical patterns such as chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, chronic constipation, mood disorder, sleep disturbances, or endocrine disruption. Food and nutraceuticals that support liver biotransformation may help alleviate toxic burden, allowing the body to operate more efficiently and improve resilience. People can also do a self-assessment to determine if they have a toxic overload. If they are experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, foggy brain, diarrhea or constipation, bloating, cravings, and eczema, those are indications that the system isn’t in homeostasis.

Detox must be personalized

Before you begin this rejuvenating process of detox, it’s prudent to understand that detoxification is a highly personalized process that needs to be adjusted to meet your needs depending on your current health and lifestyle. If you are suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease etc. you need a thorough evaluation and careful follow up through this process. In the clinic, we can do blood and urine tests for biomarkers that indicate areas of deficiency. People can also do a self-assessment to determine if they have a toxic overload. If they are experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, foggy brain, diarrhea or constipation, bloating, cravings, and eczema, those are indications that the system isn’t in homeostasis.

The Heal n Cure Detox Food Plan benefits patients by helping them eat more of those foods that support pathways in the liver for healthy elimination, as well as reduce additional exposures to toxic compounds. We utilize the phytonutrient-dense Detox Food Plan to support intestinal and liver function during the metabolic detoxification process. Cruciferous vegetables, berries, soy, garlic, and spices like turmeric support the biotransformation of polychlorinated biphenyls. There are no caloric limits with this eating plan, but rather the focus is on the quality of healthy fats, whole grains, legumes, abundant greens and other vegetables to ensure that metabolic detoxification processes have a good nutritional foundation. Consuming phytonutrient-dense and diverse food aids the detoxification process. The bottom line is that while green, non-starchy vegetables are essential for detoxification, it is important to eat a rainbow of colors every day. A healthy detox gives you nourishment from eating whole foods in a systematic manner, including lentils, nuts, produce, and whole grains. These foods supply the macronutrients you need for energy, and fiber to encourage regular digestion. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense and contain the prebiotics, probiotics, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and phytochemicals that help support the liver. Micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, can also come from supplements, herbs, and essential oils. Giving the body proper nutrition is the best way for it to begin to repair and heal, as well as build up healthy gut bacteria.

Science behind the detox

While certain foods support the body’s natural detoxification pathways, food-based toxicant exposures may contribute to poor health. Metallic compounds in seafood, pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, and hormones found in many dairy products are examples. Glyphosate, malathion, parathion, and dimethoate are known for their endocrine-disrupting potential. They have been associated with effects on the function of cholinesterase enzymes; a decrease in insulin secretion; disruption of normal cellular metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats; genotoxic effects; and effects on mitochondrial function, which can lead to cellular oxidative stress and problems with the nervous and endocrine systems. Neonicotinoid pesticides are used on crops like corn, canola, soybeans, and the majority of fruits and vegetables. Neonicotinoids have been associated with colony collapse disorder in honey bees. Neonicotinoids may stimulate a change in the enzyme aromatase (CYP19) in a promoter-specific manner similar to that observed in patients with hormone-dependent breast cancer. Glyphosate, found in the common weed killer Roundup, has been linked to cancers like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition to cancer, studies suggest that organophosphates may be tied to a wide variety of other negative health effects, including ADHD, muscle weakness, and numbness.

Dr. Meena's Vital Dose for Detox

Dr. Meena’s Vital Dose for Detox supports your body’s innate ability to detoxify your body. A few of the vast array of phytonutrients included for this purpose are curcumin, quercetin, and resveratrol. These have been reported to stimulate the expression of endogenous detoxification enzymes and may neutralize harmful environmental agents. Phytonutrients in cruciferous vegetables (including a rich amount of glucosinolates that are hydrolyzed to bioactive isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane) regulate liver enzymes, phase I cytochrome P450 (CYP450) enzymes, and phase II conjugation enzymes to increase biotransformation rates. Polyphenols also affect CYP450metabolism, supporting the biotransformation processes—particularly of estrogen.

Detox Blog Post - Heal n Cure

A structured elimination diet along with the nutraceuticals unique to your biochemistry, followed by careful reintroduction of macronutrients, results in long standing benefits. The duration of the detox will vary depending on your baseline health and biomarkers and can vary from a few days to a few months. The healthier you are to begin with, the quicker body will be able to reach homeostasis. Just as we need to clean our house as frequently as we make it messy, or clean our house to the same degree that we create a mess, we need to give our bodies some attention to support detoxification. Even if we don’t make any mess, we still need to clean our house once in a while. The same is true for the detoxification of our bodies. Put the practices of detox into your daily life as much as possible by consuming nutrient-dense food, staying hydrated, exercising, and making sleep and stress management a priority. This will improve your biochemical individuality and allow your body to function more efficiently in between detoxes. Above all, be respectful of your body and give it the building blocks to heal.

What are the foundations of a detox?

Many people associate detoxification with starvation, liquid diets, or juice cleanse, but those methods don’t allow the body to heal and repair. A proper detoxification starts with establishing your baseline health and needs. In the clinic, we can do blood and urine tests for biomarkers that indicate areas of deficiency. People can also do a self-assessment to determine if they have a toxic overload. If they are experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, foggy brain, diarrhea or constipation, bloating, cravings, and eczema, those are indications that the system isn’t in homeostasis. The more deficient your body is, the more micronutrients you will need to replenish. Eliminating triggers such as dairy, processed food, meat, chemicals, and other toxins and introducing a plant-based diet, which promotes biotransformation, helps to make toxins in the body more water soluble and easier for the system to flush out.

What should be consumed during a detox?

A healthy detox gives you nourishment from eating whole foods in a systematic manner, including lentils, nuts, produce, and whole grains. This supplies the macronutrients you need for energy, and fiber to encourage regular digestion. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense and contain the prebiotics, probiotics, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and phytochemicals that help support the liver. Micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, can also come from supplements, herbs, and essential oils. Giving the body proper nutrition is the best way for it to begin to repair and heal, as well as build up heathy gut bacteria. Exercise is important but during a detox be sure not to overdo it because your body is going through complex changes. A brisk walk or yoga practice may be enough at first. Also, limit your exposure to toxins in the environment and in household cleaning or beauty products that throw off your hormonal balance. Swap out plastic for wooden utensils and glass containers in the kitchen. Make your space as innocuous as possible.

What holistic practices support a detox?

Stress management is an important part of an integrative detox. When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system creates cortisol which keeps us in “fight or flight” mode and throws off our hormonal balance. Deep breathing and meditation can help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us to “rest and digest.” These tools should be used throughout the day in order to be most effective. Regular, restful sleep is also crucial for detoxification and promotes neurological transformation and cellular healing. I encourage patients to establish a sleep hygiene practice which includes staying away from phones and other screens before bed, and maybe taking a warm bath or reading a book before bed instead. Staying hydrated helps flush out the system so be sure to maintain your liquid intake throughout the day.

How do you transition away from the detox?

The duration of the detox will vary depending on your baseline health and biomarkers and can vary from a few days to a few months. The healthier you are to begin with, the quicker body will be able to reach homeostasis. When you start to notice symptoms going away, it is okay to slowly start to reintroduce other foods such as organic dairy. Be mindful of the food choices you are making and pay attention to any symptoms that may return. There is a place for clean meat and fish in the diet but make sure it is sustainably raised and caught- fish, for example, can contain high levels of mercury and other heavy metals. Put the practices of the detox into your daily life as much as possible by consuming nutrient dense food, staying hydrated, exercising, and making sleep and stress management a priority. This will improve your biochemical individuality and allow your body to function more efficiently in between detoxes. Above all, be respectful of your body and give it the building blocks to heal.
Vital Dose

Share this page

Schedule
FREE Discovery
Call

Speak with one of our Wellness Coordinators regarding how functional medicine would be a good fit. Schedule a FREE 15-minute Discovery Call.

Need Help Scheduling?

Need Help To Schedule?