Are you trying to ward off the flu, prevent colds, and avoid other infections? You might not have thought about it yet, but detoxing is one of the best ways to support your immune system.
You may have seen celebs rave about their weight loss success with trendy detoxes and wondered if it was worth trying it on your own. However, detoxing can bring you perks beyond your waistline or skin.
While you may appreciate the effects on your physical appearance, detoxing also has benefits such as improved mood, energy, digestive health and yes, immune function. So doing a detox can be a wise choice if you are looking to boost immunity during cold and flu season.
Is detoxification really necessary?
Toxins can be lurking all around you. They may be found in the food you eat, the air you breathe, products you put on your skin, and the things you store in your kitchen cabinets. BPA, parabens, pesticides, or air pollution – you might have been warned about these toxic chemicals before. But if everyone was exposed to so many toxins, why shouldn’t everyone be sick?
The human body actually has its own systems to identify and eliminate toxins that you may absorb, eat or inhale. The skin, lungs, liver, kidneys and lymphatic system all contribute to the body’s natural detoxification process. However, if you give the body too much toxic burden, it can overwhelm the process.
Think about it this way. Imagine that you are working on a computer and using several programs at the same time. You’re writing a spreadsheet, have a video player running, and do an internet search with several browser windows open as well. When you open more programs, you may notice that your computer is responding to you slower.
Just as your computer slows down while you do more work, so your body slows down as you make it do more detoxification. Likewise, even if it has an antivirus program installed, your computer still needs maintenance to keep it running well. So yes, even if it has its own detoxification regimen, your body can use the boosters to function at its peak performance.
How do you know when your detox system is overloaded?
Your body can handle exposure to many toxins that may get in your way. However, over time, as your body’s detoxification system feels the pressure of managing repeated exposure, it can become a huge burden. This is when you might start to notice some signs of mild toxicity. It could be a headache, sneezing, or general fatigue.
Symptoms may come and go, or they may be more persistent. Some may start to become very noticeable and even affect your life. You may experience chills, joint pain, digestive issues, or even mental health issues like anxiety or depression. Since toxins can weaken your immune function, you may also find that you catch colds more often.
How does the immune system benefit from detoxing?
Detoxification supports every organ system in your body to function at an optimal level. Your body gets rid of excess toxins that may slow down your metabolism. Although you may notice this effect in the form of extra inches around your waist, your metabolism is responsible for much more than that. Your metabolism is the way you manage and regulate the energy for your body to function. Your immune system cannot function properly when it doesn’t have that energy.
An essential part of any detoxing process is to support the proper function of the digestive system. You don’t want to clean your digestive system completely because it’s important to keep healthy bacteria in your gut. However, you don’t want toxins that hinder the digestion and absorption of the nutrients you eat. Your immune system needs these nutrients to function and protect your body.
Your hormones also play a role in regulating your immune system. Thyroid gland balance, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone affect immune function. If these hormones become imbalanced, they can disrupt the activity of the immune system. This is why chemicals that can cause a hormonal imbalance are often called endocrine disruptors (because the hormonal system is also known as the endocrine system). So getting rid of toxins from the body to get rid of these chemicals greatly benefits the immune system.
How do you get rid of toxins? Here are 13 easy tips
There is a lot of advice on how to perform a detoxification. Cleansing juice, coffee enemas, grapefruit diet, The Master Cleanse – all of these seem pretty intense. Is it really necessary to go to these extremes?
Since the body has the natural ability to detoxify, you can boost your immune health without having to rely on drastic detoxification measures. Often times, it just takes some lifestyle changes to reduce the toxic burden that your body has to manage. These steps will give you a good start:
- Be physically active . If you exercise to the point of sweating, your body can flush out toxins through your sweat pores. Additionally, physical activity promotes the circulation of the lymphatic system. Not only does the lymphatic system transport toxins and waste products to get rid of the body, but it also produces and carries immune cells to fight infections and other diseases. While your blood is pushed through your body by the pumping of your heart, the lymph does not have such a pump and it depends on the movement of your body.
- Eat a clean diet. Whenever possible, eat organic food. Focus on eating whole foods. Avoid inflammatory foods such as those that are highly processed, contain refined sugar, or contain artificial ingredients.
- Take antioxidants. Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, are all good examples. Antioxidants are found in many food sources including nuts, berries, cocoa, beans and spinach. Green tea also contains high levels of antioxidants. Just be careful about using it if you are allergic to caffeine. If you have a medical condition, it is wise to consult your doctor before drinking green tea.
- Include prebiotics in your diet. Prebiotics are naturally occurring food components that the body cannot digest. However, the beneficial bacteria in the gut thrive on prebiotics. So a diet rich in prebiotics helps maintain a healthy digestive system, and supports the detoxification system in the digestive system. You can find prebiotics in foods like oats , onions, garlic, raw, artichokes, bananas, asparagus, and tomatoes.
- Choose organic food if the food is from the Dirty Group check the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website and note the Dirty Group’s menu. The EWG updates this list every time, categorizing pesticide contamination for 48 common fruits and vegetables.
- Drink enough water. Drinking water does more than just quench your thirst. It aids digestion, supports nutrient absorption, and helps eliminate waste. As a general recommendation, the number of ounces of water you should drink is equal to half of your body weight. This number is just a guideline, because the requirements of your body vary according to climate, disease, physical activity, and pregnancy status.
- Reduce your alcohol intake . When you drink a lot of alcohol, it can impair the functioning of your liver. The liver is one of the most important organs of the body in the detoxification system. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One standard beverage is defined as 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Of course, the less alcohol you drink, the better for your liver and body’s detoxification system.
- Get enough rest. Sleeping well allows your body to get rid of toxins that build up throughout the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Ideally, this time mass occurs when it is dark before sunrise. It’s also important to be consistent with your bedtime. The most refreshing sleep occurs in the first hours of your bedtime. When your sleep time fluctuates a lot, your body has a hard time adjusting and your sleep becomes less refreshing.
- Stress management. As mentioned earlier, hormonal balance is an important part of detoxification and immune health. When the stress hormone cortisol remains high for too long, it can throw this balance out. Try stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, or breathing.
- Replace traditional detergents and personal hygiene products with natural cleansers. You can reduce your potential exposure to toxic chemicals when you choose natural cleaning agents like vinegar and baking soda. Read labels for products you use in your home and choose those that contain natural ingredients.
- Check your personal hygiene products for harmful chemicals. Look for and avoid these common potential toxins: parabens, phthalates, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol. Instead of antiperspirant, use aluminum-free deodorant.
- Avoid non-sticky plastic containers and coatings. BPA (bisphenol A) and PFAS are endocrine disruptors commonly found in household products.
- Use glass or stainless steel for water bottles and food storage. Instead of plastic wrap, use beeswax or parchment paper. Avoid canned food products as they are often lined with BPA or BPA alternatives. However, there are a few brands that do not use BPA (or alternatives) as lining their boxes. Do not put plastic in the freezer, dishwasher, or microwave because hot and cold temperatures can cause more chemicals to be released. Instead of non-stick pans, use different types of stainless steel or cast iron.