Do You Really Need to Detox“Do I need to detox?”

As a nutritionist, this is a question I get asked all the time.  There are major proponents for both sides.  So, the question is: to detox or not to detox?

Many people believe that our bodies are natural detox machines and they're not wrong.  Our bodies are incredibly intelligent systems that know when to eliminate waste, when to sweat, when to produce pain, and when to send hunger and thirst signals.  If this is the case and our bodies can excrete waste naturally, then do we really need to detox?

The answer is yes.  We don’t necessarily need to do intense detoxes where all we drink is six green juices a day, and to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend this kind of detox for everyone.  Our bodies are hard-working machines that need all of the support they can get.

Here are the top three ways to properly and safely approach a detox:

1. There is a time and a place. In Canada, winters can be cold and when I say cold, I mean freezing.  Doing heavy detoxes in the winter is not recommended because your body really needs all of the support it can get from eating warm, hearty meals when it’s cold.  In the winter, it’s really easy to catch a cold or the flu because the immune system is just not as strong.  Fasting or doing a detox where the only thing being eaten is juice or raw food is not the best idea. However, if you supplement the raw meals and juices with some warm, hearty and healthy cooked food, then that's great.  The best time to detox the body is during transitional seasons (spring and fall).  During these seasons,  the weather is slightly warmer and your body is better equipped to handle it.  Detoxes can also be really hard; most people don’t feel good on a detox, in fact, they feel like crap so you want to make sure you are home or in a comfortable place.

2. Help your liver out. The liver is truly the seat of detoxification.  It is working it’s little butt off just to process everything in the body and help neutralize it. Think about this: every single thing that you ingest, breathe in or put on your skin is processed by your liver!  Many of us eat fruits and veggies with pesticides, breathe in polluted air, slather toxic chemicals in our hair and on our skin, drink alcohol and wash clothes in chemicals.  That is a lot of work for the liver to do.  Although it's the liver’s job, it can often become sluggish when it is overburdened with the amount of work it has to do.  The best foods to support the liver are garlic, grapefruit, beets and milk thistle tea.  Doing a gentle liver cleanse is a good idea for many but ask a healthcare practitioner before venturing out on your own.

3. Forget weight loss and take it slow. Many people approach a detox as a fast way to lose weight.  While some cleanses can achieve this, losing weight should not be the priority when deciding to do a detox.  Detoxes are just a way to support your body when it's bombarded with toxins.  If it's your first detox, I would recommend starting slowly-- there is no need to dive into the deep end if you don’t know how to swim.  Start by incorporating detox-friendly foods, supplements and teas into your daily regimen before you jump the gun and dive into a seven-day juice fast.  Foods like kale, beets, onion, garlic, flaxseeds, quinoa, lemons, and teas like Wholy tea, milk thistle, green tea and ginger are all great options to start incorporating daily.

Detoxes don’t need to be scary nor do they need to be intense.  By taking it slow, detoxing in the spring or fall, and adding in detox-friendly foods you are well on your way to supporting your organs' detoxification and feeling great.

Tamara-Green-headshot-SliceTamara Green is co-founder of The Living Kitchen, and a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Natural Cook. She combines her knowledge of nutrition and passion for cooking good food to work with clients to create lasting changes in their lives.