Jan. 19. 2017
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Our bodies are incredible machines that can, in fact, detox themselves.

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I talk frequently about this topic with professionals in my industry and colleagues alike, and unanimously we agree. We’re kinda over detoxing programs and cleanses. I get questions from the NS community here and on social media about programs from folks who have little to no formal education in biology, nutrition, counseling, anatomy & physiology, etc. maybe an online course. I get it, it can be enticing seeing someone promote a quick fix 5-day detox to “feel better quick” when you’re desperate for change, but in reality, we need to take our pace much slower, focus on nourishing whole foods, implement new behaviors and lifestyle changes that work for YOUR body. Not as sexy as the former, right? But it’s pretty simple and I want you to bookmark this blog post for the next time you read about detox programs out there to remind yourself…your body already detoxes. It is right now as you read this! Here’s a quick primer on how your body detoxes.

It doesn’t hurt to say it again, but our bodies already detox and don’t get miraculously “cleaned out” in a week. All we can do is support our bodies in doing what it already does so well every single day, through our liver, kidneys, digestive system, lungs, blood, and just about every cell in our body. You can support your body’s natural detoxification channels through eating whole foods, managing stress, sleeping, moving/exercising, daily bathroom breaks (bowel movements, urination), deep breathing, dry brushing your skin, putting natural products on your skin, sweating, drinking enough filtered water, and so on. It’s your DAILY habits in the larger picture of your lifestyle that matter most than a 7-day juice cleanse.

Something I often see during this time of year is a period of indulgent (binge) and cleanse/detoxes (restrictive) behaviors that creates an unhealthy cycle that’s reminiscent of disordered eating habits. I just want to give you a friendly reminder that it’s not healthy from a physical, mental, and emotional standpoint – you owe yourself better care than that. You can give your body a simple whole food reset just by going back to basics and eating more whole foods and challenging yourself to change lifestyle habits for the better than you can use for life. This may look like managing stress, moving your body, breathing fresh air, getting rid of negative energy and emotions in your life, finding better support, and lessening time in the digital world. It’s a simple yet effective recipe for success. Detoxing happens every single minute of every day, and it’s our job to oil and fuel the intuitive machine that’s our body for better health from a whole body perspective.

Here’s how your body detoxes.

No. 1: Your Digestive System

Our digestive systems are incredible and plays an important role not just in digesting food, but also in our immune system as well as delivering nutrients to our bloodstream. In more emerging research, our gut microbe (i.e. our inner ecosystem of bacteria) has been shown to impact our immune system, moods/behaviors (from ADHD to depression), food intolerances, and overall inflammation in our body which may lead to certain chronic diseases. Having enough fiber from whole foods helps our body eliminate substances (i.e. heavy metals, chemicals, excess hormones, etc.) and metabolites from metabolic processes, helps our body maintain a healthy inner ecosystem that keeps us regular and reduces bad bacteria and yeast (which are naturally present). Quick check: if you’re drinking sugary juice cleanses for 7 days, you’re missing out on this crucial component – fiber!

No. 2: Your Skin

Our skin protects us from bacteria, viruses, and chemical toxins that shouldn’t enter our bodies. This is why having a good natural skincare routine is beneficial to help reduce these chemicals. Toxins such as heavy metals like mercury and lead, alcohol, and drugs are eliminated by your liver, digestive system, and kidneys rather than our skin but it’s still important to use as natural products as possible.

No. 3: Your Immune System

Our immune system is an incredibly complex system made up of cells, organs, skin all with 1 goal in mind – to get rid of any foreign substance and eliminate it from our body. Our blood, lymphatic system, and all cells are involved in our immune system, which makes it vital for us to have nutrients in our diet that support our immunes system like key players zinc, vitamin C, A, and antioxidants.

No. 4: Your Kidneys

Our kidneys are incredibly important and efficient at filtering out waste and toxins in our system and out of our body. They’re also responsible for keeping our body in balance, i.e. retaining electrolytes like sodium when we need them and getting rid of them if we have excess. Quick tip: this is a huge reason we need to keep adequately hydrated, your body loves water so drink up!

No. 5: Your Liver

Think of the liver as a filter, it helps our body metabolize nutrients, eliminate harmful chemicals, heavy metals, alcohol, and drugs. It also helps to break down fats and filter blood. Our liver plays a vital role in carbohydrate metabolism (i.e. keeping our blood sugars stabilized), fat metabolism, and converting metabolites into “safe” by-products that can then be filtered out through our kidneys. Whole foods loaded with antioxidants and nutrients will help support our liver, beets, for example, are a liver-loving veggie and you can add it to just about anything from smoothies, juices, to pasta sauce!

No. 6: Your Lungs and Respiratory System

You know the hair in your nose? This is a great example of why we have em’: small particles like dust or dirt that we breathe in gets stopped by those hairs keeping our lungs free and clear of those particles. Mucus in our respiratory system also protects our lungs by capturing those particles and preventing them from getting into our lungs. Deep breathing is also incredibly relaxing and can help us “reset” emotionally and mentally too since our body needs adequate oxygen to function at its best. Quick tip: try deep breathing meditation exercises and also breathing in aromatherapy essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus for an instant chill.

No. 7: Your Lymphatic System

Lymph (from the Latin word lympha meaning “connected to water) is fluid that circulates all over our entire body, literally from head to toe. Key players included in this system are the spleen, thymus, adenoids, and tonsils. The lymphatic system is a big part of our detoxification, defense, and immune response since it’s the main job is to transport this fluid that white blood cells. Think of the lymphatic system as a tight network of capillaries, vessels, and hundreds of lymph nodes that produce lymphocytes (i.e. white blood cells) that help fight infections. Quick tip: dry brushing, massage, rebounding (i.e. jumping up and down), yoga, and general exercise is great for moving lymph.

No. 8: Your Heart and Mind

We all know how positivity, mindfulness, love, laughter, joy, and good vibes make us feel better and improve the quality of our life! This is just as important as the physical. What’s 1 way you can incorporate this knowledge into your lifestyle today? Share below! I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of how your body is an incredible machine that is constantly working to keep you healthy. Remember the best way to care for your body is to support it on all levels from our nutrition to our mental/emotional wellbeing.

Take care guys!

xx McKel