Nancy Knauff
Nancy Knauff
May 14, 2019
Vitamin D
August 19, 2019
Nancy Knauff
Nancy Knauff
May 14, 2019
Vitamin D
August 19, 2019

Are you wondering what the term “detox” really means and how it can improve health? Or are you someone who has already gone through a detox program at Thriven but are feeling the need to restart your commitment to taking care of yourself?

For those of you who have questions about detox, the following information will give you a basic understanding of what it is and how to do it correctly so your body can reap the most benefits.

If you have already gone through a detox program at Thriven, the following will be a review of information you have already learned and an encouragement to continue your journey toward optimal well-being.


What is a Toxin?

The general definition of toxin is: anything that harms or decreases well-being. We often think of toxins as poisons but the definition of what constitutes a toxin can be very broad.

Toxins can be divided into two groups:

Endotoxins – come from within. These are produced in our bodies as natural byproducts of metabolism. An easy way to understand these types of toxins is to compare it to the basic mechanics of a car. A car’s engine runs and provides energy for the vehicle, which is necessary and, in the process, the engine also produces waste or exhaust, that must be eliminated. In the same way, our cells produce waste as they go about their normal work.

Exotoxins – come from our environment. In general, these are things like chemicals and heavy metals, and they are in just about everything from air and water, to the food and medications we consume, and the products we use on our bodies and in our homes.

Exotoxins can enter our bodies in a variety of ways. As mentioned above, they can be found in the air we breathe, water we drink and the food we eat. Toxins can be chemicals in our food, cleaning supplies, beauty products and other substances in our homes and workplaces. For some people, certain foods, themselves, can be harmful. However, toxins are more than chemicals. If we want to talk about the whole person and not just the physical body, we need to define the term more broadly. Toxins can also be life situations, experiences and thoughts that affect us negatively. Stress, fear, frustration and loneliness can all have toxic negative impacts on our health. These “life toxins” can undermine our health as much as the chemicals we ingest or absorb.


What are the Effects of Toxins on our Bodies?

We live with toxins our whole lives and, when things are working normally, it’s not an issue because our body is able to get rid of toxins and they don’t build up in our system. Our entire GI tract is involved in this process, but our liver does the heavy lifting, turning chemicals and other toxins into forms that can be eliminated from our body. Dr. Anderson says it’s helpful to compare this to a sewer system. When everything is working as it should, the messy stuff is sent out of the house in an efficient way. If the sewer system becomes backed up, however, we have problems.

Within our body, the issues occur when our system gets overloaded with toxins and the work for the liver becomes too great. This is called the toxic burden, and can occur from small exposures over time, or a large exposure all at once. When toxins in our diet, environment and thoughts become too much, our body is unable to adequately get rid of toxins on its own.

There are a large number of symptoms of toxicity which include: fatigue, muscle aches, sinus problems, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, brain fog, rashes, sleep problems, skin problems, premenstrual symptoms and trouble losing weight to name a few.

Important note – Please do not blame yourself for toxic overload or feel bad about the foods you’ve been eating or products you’ve been using. Feeling guilty will not help the situation. Instead, remember that your system is designed to deal with toxins, and there is a way to get things working optimally again. Also, becoming paranoid or stressed about all the toxins in the world can cause more damage because stress, itself, is a toxin. Instead, know that there are steps you can take to lighten the toxic load on your body and there is a way to get things working correctly again within your system.


What Is a Detox? 

In short, detox is a process for helping the body to get rid of toxins. To do this, the toxins in the body are converted into a form the body can eliminate.  Detoxification is happening all the time in the body, and during a detox we simply increase the support of these systems to eliminate even more toxins. This process can cause damage if not done safely (see below). That is why it’s helpful to follow a detox program designed to heal your body in a safe way.

The liver is the main detoxifier and filtering organ. The liver clears toxins from our blood and prepares them for elimination. There are two main phases in this detoxification process.

Phase 1: Most toxins are lipid soluble – which means they are carried in fat. The problem is that almost all of the ways we eliminate toxins are water soluble (sweat, urine, etc). So, in order to get toxins out of our body, the liver must convert them from lipid soluble form into water soluble form. In phase one, the liver begins this process by utilizing a number of enzymes, changing toxins into an intermediate metabolic product.  This is also how most drugs and hormones are cleared from the body as well.

Intermediate step: In between Phase 1 and Phase 2, unstable molecules are created and these are dangerous. These unstable molecules are called free radicals, and they can cause damage and make us sick. Antioxidants are what neutralize or counteract the free radicals. This is why a strong detox program includes a lot of antioxidant support in the form of a variety of vegetables and can also include targeted supplements. Protein, in the right form and amount, is also important during this time to support the liver’s hard work.

 Phase 2: At this point, another molecule is added to the intermediate metabolic product in a process called conjugation, or joining, so that it becomes a water-soluble molecule. Once the toxins are water-soluble, the colon, kidneys and other organs can help move these waste products out of our system as the final step of detoxification, elimination.

As you can see, many vital nutrients, minerals and vitamins are necessary to support both phase one and phase two of detoxification.


What is Not a Good Detox?

A healthy detox is not a cleanse, a colonic or fasting. And it is not drinking only water with lemon and cayenne.

The reason that fasting and cleanses are not effective or safe for detox is because of the intermediate step between Phase 1 and Phase 2 (see above.) A colonic, fasting or cleanse cannot provide the nutrition and support your body needs during detox. Free radicals will cause damage if they stay in your body, so a detox must include a strong plan and good dietary support in the form of healthy food: a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, protein and a lot of water.

Only focusing on the last step of detox – elimination – misses the vital phase 1 and phase 2 that must happen in the liver to actually detox. Optimally a detox is done under the care of a health professional.


Tips for a Healthy Detox or Reset.

If you are beginning to think about a detox or wanting to get back on track, start with small steps. Dr. Anderson encourages the following:

-Start slow.

-Don’t make it overwhelming.

-Enlist the help of a buddy to provide motivation and encouragement.

-Begin by decreasing the amount of toxins you are exposed to or taking in. This includes your environment (air, water, etc), but also your food.  See important tip below.

-Eat more leafy greens and leafy vegetables like cilantro, parsley and celery to support your natural detox processes.

-Drink plenty of water: half your body weight (lbs) of pure water in ounces each day minimum.

-Take time to discover your life toxins, which include emotional or mental barriers that are stopping you from progressing through detox. Take stock of who you are hanging out with and what you are putting into your mind.

-Practice stress reduction through: mindfulness, journaling, exercise and relaxing activities like listening to music.


Important Tip:

For those who are serious about detoxing their system, the change must include cutting out processed foods. “It’s counterproductive to detox if you are adding toxins to your life in the form of processed foods and pesticides,” Dr. Anderson said.  Review the “Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen” at if you need a refresher.

 If you want to do a full detox, it’s important to have an in-depth plan, optimally through working with a medical practitioner trained in functional medicine. “If you really want to do a comprehensive program or reset, it needs to be in a supportive program,” Dr. Anderson said. A program can provide: health coaching, dietary advice, necessary blood tests, supportive supplements and stress relief tools.  Contact our office if you would like more information.


For those who have already gone through the detox program at Thriven:

If you’ve been a patient at Thriven and have already gone through the program, Dr. Anderson recommends going back to your binder or curriculum. Reread the materials and remind yourself of the reasons you need your health. Then a great place to start is at the beginning!  If you are ready to take it one step further and need a little jump start, we do offer a 6 – Day Mini-Detox Kit that includes supplements. Contact the office to find out more.

Dr. Anderson said, “Detoxing is like spring cleaning.  It freshens everything up and makes way for new life.  Spring is in full swing, and this is a great time to clean up on the inside as well as the outside.”

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