Exactly Why + How You Should Detox According To A Functional Medicine Expert
If you’ve changed your diet and still aren’t seeing results, toxins could be to blame. While our genetics haven’t changed for thousands of years, the onslaught of toxins we face on a daily basis has increased tenfold.
In my telehealth functional medicine clinic, I consult patients across the world on missing pieces of their health puzzle. And more often than not, lifestyle factors like toxins end up being some of the biggest needle movers in your health.
You might be asking yourself though, how can something we can’t even see be so harmful? Afterall, aren’t most of these added chemicals deemed “safe” for consumer use? Well, that answer is a bit nuanced. So let’s take a deeper look at the negative effects of toxins and why detoxing should be more of a regular practice in your health journey.
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How do toxins affect your health?
Your liver is one of your body’s largest organs, responsible for hundreds of important functions including digestion and metabolism. But one of its primary functions is to filter out toxins from the foods you eat and the things you are exposed to in your environment.
However, when your liver is overloaded with toxins because it can’t process them fast enough, it creates a cascade of chronic inflammation in your body, which further affects your liver’s ability to rid itself of these toxins. It becomes a vicious cycle: toxins build up, the body becomes more inflamed, detoxification is inhibited, more toxins build up, inflammation increases, and on and on. And we all know everything from hormone imbalances, brain dysfunction, poor gut health, weight loss resistance, heart problems, cancer, and more can be traced back to chronic inflammation.
If that didn’t give you reason enough to reduce your toxin exposure, the toxins used in most conventional products and in our environment have their own unique set of side effects such as:
- Perchlorates: A by-product of jet fuel production found in drinking water and food supply chains that has been linked to thyroid problems.
- Flame retardants: Used in furniture, computers, and tvs, these have been linked to developmental issues.
- Plastics: All around us, plastic chemicals can lead to thyroid problems and other chronic health conditions
- Xenoestrogens: Chemicals used in personal care products that act as estrogen in the body contributing to imbalanced hormone levels.
These are just a few examples of the neverending list of toxins in our lives. Yes, our bodies are resilient. But the amount of toxins that have been deemed “safe” in small amounts certainly comes into question when you add up the amount of toxins we are exposed to everyday across multiple areas of our environment - products, food, and pollution.
How do you rid your body of toxins?
Ultimately, the only way to break the cycle is to reduce your toxin exposure and support your liver’s natural ability to detox. This allows the liver to restore itself and catch up with the detoxification workload.
1. Switch out your products
Switching to non-toxic versions of the products we use in our own homes, is one of the biggest things we have control over. Cleaning products, personal care items, makeup, and fragrances are good places to start. Look for items derived from plant ingredients and labeled non-toxic. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for finding clean brands.
2. Support methylation
Methylation, a biochemical process, happens more than 1 billion times a second in your body to keep you alive and healthy, and one of its primary purposes is detoxification. Many people with immune problems have genetic methylation impairments, such as MTHFR gene mutations, which makes it difficult to detox on your own. To boost your body’s ability to detox, support methylation pathways with vitamin B-rich superfoods like dark leafy greens, organ meats, and sulfur-rich vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
3. Enhance liver function
Certain supplements and herbal medicines have been shown to support optimal liver function and enhance your body’s natural ability to detox. Milk thistle for example, is a plant that aids in eliminating toxins that have built up in the liver. It also helps to restore liver cells that have been damaged from increased toxin exposure.
It’s one of my favorite tools as it is one of the most well-researched natural remedies for treating liver problems and has been used for years to treat a variety of liver ailments, from hepatitis to alcoholic liver disease. You can take it as a supplement or drink it as tea.
While these tips are great, after years of consulting patients around the world via my telehealth functional medicine clinic, I understand the need for simplicity. With so many wellness tools available, it's important to make what you choose to do as effective and streamlined as possible.
That's why I personally formulated my supplement The Detoxer, to deliver the best targeted detox support in a single supplement.
Formulated to support phase I and phase II liver detoxification, The Detoxer works to support every aspect of your body's detox system.
I specifically chose ingredients like Ellagic acid, catechins, glucosinolates, silymarin, artichoke leaf, alpha-lipoic acid, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), and calcium D-glucarate because of their proven, science-backed research showing their ability to support critical steps in the complex process of detoxification.
The Detoxer also takes into account methylation’s role in your body’s detoxification system. Since B vitamins act as fuel for methylation, we made sure to add activated B vitamins into The Detoxer’s formula for enhanced bioavailabiliy, including 5-methyletrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) as Quatrefolic® for optimal folate utilization.
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.