There is a lot of buzz about detoxing, but the truth is, you are always doing it. Detoxing is very important for women because we have a menstrual cycle that relies on estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, FSH, LSH to regulate femininity, libido, mood, fertility and all the things that make us a woman. Supporting all of our pathways of digestion, absorption, assimilation and elimination will help to keep the hormonal cycle balanced. Thus keeping us feeling great!
Your genetics, diet, environment and lifestyle determine how well and how much you need to detox but you are detoxing every day. The major pathways of digestion, absorption, assimilation and elimination are the gut, blood, liver, kidneys, skin, intestines, and lungs. For the body to function properly all of our pathways must be nourished and cared for constantly. If you are not feeling 100%, it is possible your pathways of elimination need a bit more support.
Signs of Toxicity:
Nose, Trachea, Lungs
Irritation, Coughing, Choking, Tight chest, Sensitive to smells, Trouble breathing.
Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Bad breath, Constipation, Gallstones, Pancreatitis.
Back pain, Urinating more or less than usual, kidney stones.
Headache, Dizziness, Confusion, Depression, Coma, Convulsions, Irritability, Brain fog.
Anemia (tiredness, weakness), PH
Rashes, Itching, Redness, Swelling, Body odor, Acne.
Ovaries, Testes, Fetus
Infertility, Miscarriage, Birth defects, Hormonal Imbalance, Libido.
It all starts in the gut. If you can’t digest and absorb nutrients, your body may be in a starvation mode without you knowing. This may be causing you to gain weight, feel bloated, fatigued, have a brain fog, anemia, dehydration and many other symptoms. The foods you choose to eat can greatly affect the good bacteria in your intestines as well as what toxins and chemicals you are exposed to.
Consuming fermented and fibrous foods go a long way to helping to populate the intestines with good bacteria. Conversely, alcohol consumption kills bacteria and excessive sugar feeds bad bacteria causing an overgrowth of Candida. Insufficient good bacteria can also affect the immune system because probiotics ward off inflammation of the intestinal walls. This inflammation can cause weak spots where viruses and microbes can invade the body. Quality supplements, fermented and cultured foods are great sources of probiotics. Try adding fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kimchi or a broad spectrum probiotic supplement with a meal. Foods rich in digestive enzymes like papaya, pineapple and mango.
The main role of blood is to deliver nutrients and oxygen to cells, as well as transport waste in order to maintain homeostasis. The liver, kidneys, and lungs primarily purify our blood.
The blood needs water, vitamins b6, b9, b12, A and the minerals iron and copper to maintain homeostasis. Also being strategic as to when you consume iron is important for women. The most important time to eat iron rich foods is during the week before, during and just after your period. Your body needs to mineralize the nutrients lost during menstruation. Doing so will help prevent anemia and fatigue. Iron rich foods like spirulina, red meat, oysters, spinach, liver, lentils, black beans, raisins and sardines can help you replenish.
Your liver is the largest organ inside the body and plays a huge role in the detox process not to mention being responsible for around 500 other functions. Like all organs, the liver requires specific nutrients in order to function properly. Foods like broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions, kale, romaine lettuce, artichokes, sunflower seeds, portabella mushrooms, smoked salmon, chickpeas, pistachios, tuna, chicken, Greek yogurt, Swiss chard, corn, tomatoes, apples, and raspberries contain the vital nutrients needed to support liver function.
After the liver completes stage 1 & 2 of detoxification of water and fat soluble toxins they are either moved out of the body via the bowels or kidneys. If the liver is unable to move from stage 1 to stage 2 because of nutrient deficiency the toxins will be stored in fats cells. This is one reason why an undernourished body has a hard time losing weight. The body is protecting itself by trying to keep free-floating toxins low.
The kidneys have a two-stage process to prevent the buildup of wastes in the blood by removing excess fluid in the blood and by keeping the levels of electrolytes stable, such as sodium, potassium, and phosphate. The kidneys make hormones that help regulate blood pressure, make red blood cells, and help bones stay strong. After the blood is filtered the kidneys send the necessary minerals back into the bloodstream and excretes waste like urea through urine. The kidneys need vitamin C, D, and B-6 plus the minerals iron, calcium and potassium to function. You can find these nutrients in foods such as legumes, grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables like oranges, raspberries, spirulina, spinach and avocados.
The lungs remove CO2 from the de-oxygenated blood through exhalation. This is why taking full breaths and exhales as well as regular cardiovascular exercise is important to keep blood and nutrients flowing. Reducing oxidative stress caused by environment, lifestyle and diet can affect lung health. Vitamins such as C, E, beta-carotene and other carotenoids, vitamin A, fatty acids and some minerals such as sodium, magnesium, and selenium are needed to optimize lung function. You can find these in fresh fruits such carrots, bananas, tomatoes, figs, lemons and squash.
Nutrients are absorbed in the small intestines and prepare for elimination in the large intestine. The small intestines are the primary site of enzyme activity and nutrient absorption. The large intestines play a major role in eliminating toxins from the body via the colon. It is important to eat sufficient amounts of soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, and water to absorb and transport the toxins released from the gallbladder into the large intestines. The gall bladder needs to have the proper taurine, glycine, and choline to function properly and keep bile in a liquid state. This liquid state allows it to transport toxins into the large intestines and out of the body. You can find these amino acids water cress, spirulina, chia seeds, leafy greens, hemp seeds, soybeans, and quinoa.
Foods full of soluble fiber are black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, oatmeal, apricots, oranges, brussels sprouts, turnips, lentils, apples, strawberries, flax seeds, banana, prunes, sweet potatoes, and cucumbers.
Insoluble fiber can be found in whole wheat, wheat bran, carrots, pepper, almonds, dried coconut, rice, kale swiss chard, zucchini, cabbage and green beans.
How to put it all into action:
The biggest takeaway to remember is to just eat a large variety of whole foods, lean proteins, exercise regularly and drink lots of water. Choose real food before supplements and use nutrition to your advantage!
Since women are on a monthly hormonal cycle, when nutrition is poor our systems become imbalanced, toxic and dysfunctional. This can lead to PMS, acne, bloating, irritability, constipation, pain and disease. Nutrition is life! The first step to putting detox into action is to know how your menstrual cycle works. Basically, it has four phases where hormone levels rise and fall: Menstrual, Follicular, Ovulation, and Luteal.
If you experience PMS it is likely that you are not able to detox the hormones after they peak during ovulation. If the hormone levels do not decrease in the two weeks leading up to your period mood swings can worsen. Periods may be very uncomfortable and fatigue may be overwhelming. The luteal phase after ovulation is the best time to eat lots of liver supporting foods if you have not been eating well. Choose foods like broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, beets, cilantro, root veggies, ginger, artichokes, turmeric, onions, and fruits to help your body remove excess hormones.
The second step is keeping your blood sugar as level as possible by eating regularly and avoiding refined sugar. Consuming a good ratio of complex carbohydrates (fibrous and starchy), lean protein and healthy fats will give your body a constant flow of nutrients, keep your body out of starvation mode and help you maintain your weight.
Being responsible with nutrition is challenging, but taking care of your body is your number one responsibility because if you are not healthy you cannot take care of your family. To learn more about how to plan and optimize your nutrition download Meals Prep Guide.
Signs things are on track:
Waking should be fairly easy once eyes are exposed to light.
Typically humans urinate and defecate shortly after waking without the use of stimulants like caffeine. If you do not then you are likely constipated.
Your skin should appear healthy not dry or overly oiled.
Body odor should be tolerable.
Your energy lasts throughout the day.
Mood is pleasant and not explosive.
Falling and staying asleep is easy. (if you get a sudden rush of energy before be your hormones may be out of balance)
Your periods are regular without lots of clots or cramping
You rarely experience bloating or indigestion
You don’t experience cracked or fragile skin around sensitive areas. (mouth, vagina, anus or hands)
You have minimal occurrences of headaches, lightheadedness and sensitivity to light.
Mental fogginess rarely happens
Creator and Director of California Pilates. Lencola is very passionate about fitness, women's health and furthering awareness of the Pilates method and it's many applications. She is a Master Instructor who is a teacher of teachers. She holds certifications in Pilates, TRX, Barre, TriggerPoint, Postnatal recovery and CPR. She is formally trained in Kinesiology/Athletic Training with a sports med focus.