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SPRING CLEANING - advice on a spring detox from our nutritional therapist

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 22 2018 09:00AM

A sensible voice of nutritional authority: nutritional therapist Audra Chukukere suggests a gentle, accessible approach to detoxing your body this spring

The cold winter months offer us a chance to be still and contemplative; to hunker down and prepare for the rest of the year. In winter, we stock up in preparation for the cold and dark months ahead.

Plants rest in winter. Not having to produce flowers or fruit, they accumulate the life force they need to send out new shoots, form buds and grow new leaves.

Bulbs buried deep into the ground prepare for spring and as the weather starts to warm up, shoots abound reminding us that spring is a season of regeneration.

The March equinox heralds the beginning of the astrological year. It is the perfect time to start a new cycle, start new projects, and take action. Ever wonder why new year resolutions fail? Could it be that we set them when we are least likely to muster the energy to carry them out?

Fling your windows open, clear out your wardrobe and declutter the house, spring clean, anyone? I am proposing a gentle detox which is to help clear out the waste accumulated over winter or a whole lifetime.

What is a detox anyway and why would you want to do one?

Our innate state of life is health, balance (homeostasis) and happiness. A toxin is anything that enters our body/mind causing imbalance that has the potential to cause ill-health and dis-ease. Toxins can be divided into:

• Physical toxins

o Endogenous from body processes like CO2 and urea

o Exogenous chemicals found in our food, in the water, the environment, beauty and household products.

• Emotional toxins – negative thoughts, limiting self-beliefs and emotional baggage that no longer suit us.

In a 2016 report by The Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF),1 3451 samples of food and drink in the UK were tested for 374 pesticides. 48% did not have any residue (hurrah) and just under 4 % had pesticides residue above Maximum Residue Limit (MRL). Worryingly, 48% were on or under the MRL, many with more than one pesticide and some up to 13. It is this untested ‘toxic cocktail’2 of pesticides that is burdensome to the body.

The liver is the main site for processing all substances/chemicals/toxins that are absorbed into the body. Many of these toxins are fat-soluble, which makes them much harder to be metabolised and excreted. As like favours like, these toxins attach to our fatty cells and membranes especially in the brain and can remain in the body for days or even years. In times of stress, including harsh dieting, these toxins may be released causing headaches, fatigue or worse contribute to chronic health conditions.

The liver uses a 2-step process to rid the body of toxins. In Phase I, fat-soluble toxins are converted into intermediate toxins that are unstable and more toxic. In Phase II these toxins are made water-soluble which the body can then excrete easily. If Phase 1 is too fast or Phase II too slow, those hazardous toxins can build up creating oxidative stress and tissue damage! The new water-soluble toxins are excreted through bile to the gut, and by the kidneys through urine.

There are a few clues to whether your ability to detoxify is a bit sluggish and could do with a boost:

• Mental fog

• Skin issues – acne, rashes, eczema

• Reactions to perfumes, car fumes, cigarette smoke

• Constipation

• Fatigue

• Joint Pains

The second organ of detoxification is often overlooked. The kidneys filter blood and remove waste (from lymph too) and toxins. They filter our entire blood supply every 5 minutes!

Signs that your kidneys may need support:

• Anxiety and fear

• Mid to low back pain

• Bags under your eyes

But do we need to do special detox cleanses?

We are continually exposed to chemicals. I firmly believe in supporting the body DAILY in detoxification, and reducing our exposure to chemicals. There’s a plethora of cleanses but I find that some make dubious claims, some are prohibitive, others assume you don’t have a job to go to and most will make you feel like crap as they don’t ensure the other paths of elimination are in good working order.

Most detox cleanses do not respect biochemical individuality. I reacted badly to a detox cleanse a few years ago; headaches, brain fog, the shakes and tachycardia. My nutritional therapist recommended a test to see how well my liver enzymes worked. Turned out that I do not metabolise silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, a popular herb for detoxification. Any cleanse needs to ensure that detoxification pathways are working optimally to avoid creating more toxins.

Many of the ill effects from detox cleanses are due to fat tissues in the body releasing stored toxins thereby overwhelming the liver. In addition, if the bowels aren’t moving daily, then some of these toxins that should be eliminated can get reabsorbed! An unhealthy gut has an imbalance of good to bad microbes (bacteria, fungi, yeast etc) which brings with it the release of chemicals like indoles, aldehyde, … surely not more toxins?

The liver does a good job of detoxing throughout the day and that is why I promote eating foods that support its detoxification pathways.

For a healthy, sustainable and food-based detoxification:

• Eat right – easy to digest meals give the digestive system a rest; low fructose fruits

• Reduce exposure to toxins – detox is pointless if we smother our skin in chemical-laced ‘beauty’ products.

• Daily bowel movements – we want the toxins out not getting recirculated and reabsorbed

• Adequate hydration – flushes those toxins out, keeps bowels regular


Foods to include:

1. Room-temperature filtered water and lemon has to be the easiest way to flush toxins out of the body. It improves digestive function and stimulates the liver. Just remember to rinse your teeth afterwards to protect your enamel.

2. Rainbow-coloured variety of fruit and vegetables full of antioxidants and nutrient-rich. Meals should be easy to digest to give digestion a break. Soups made with bone broth are especially healing.

3. Cruciferous vegetables (abundantly grown in the UK) are beyond measure the single most important addition to your daily plate. Glucosinolate found in cauliflower, cabbage, kale, turnip etc breaks down into isothiocyanate and Indole-3-carbinol necessary for liver detoxification. Especially good for removing excess oestrogen and promoting the formation of protective oestrogen metabolites.

o Lightly steam or stir-fry for maximum phytochemical retention.

o Raw is to be limited if you have thyroid problems

4. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (DGLV) including bitters - rocket, watercress, dandelion - will support healthy digestion; the chlorophyll in these plants helps, remove bacteria from the colon and heal the mucus lining of the gut. DGLVs are high in B vitamins and magnesium necessary for Phase II pathway and preventing constipation.

5. Herbs and spices

a. Coriander, parsley help to get heavy metals out of our tissues (chelation) ready for excretion

b. Anybody surprised that turmeric is included here? The active ingredient curcumin protects the liver from the toxins produced in the process of detoxification.

c. Dandelion root, nettle, parsley, juniper berries, alfalfa are great tonics for the kidneys

d. Black seed, mustard, wasabi, cayenne, spicy/pungent are great for the lungs and soothing textures (no popcorn)

6. Fibre is the toothbrush of the gut and is needed to ensure regular daily bowel movements as well as cleaning out the colon – psyllium husk, ground flaxseeds, kiwi, pectin (found in apples), sweet potato, turnips, alliums, GLV,

7. Sulfur-containing foods – Alliums: onions, leeks, garlic, shallots and our good friends, cruciferous veggies.

8. Low fructose fruits like tomatoes, avocados, lemons, limes, berries, clementine, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, olives. For the mathematically inclined, you need a high fibre to fructose ratio as shown here

9. Clean sources of protein with an aim of 1g/kg of protein for males and 0.8/kg for females. Meat should be organic and pasture-raised and organic and eaten no more than 3 times/week. Complete vegetable proteins include quinoa, tempeh (fermented tofu), buckwheat, rice and beans. Avoid farmed fish and tuna.

10. Organic fruit and vegetables are free of synthetic petroleum based pesticides and hence do not place a huge burden on the liver. Failing that, choose local-grown

Foods to avoid/reduce to enhance your liver’s ability to detox:

1. Caffeine – is life without coffee worth living? In my opinion, no, but for the processes of detoxification, it has to be done. Caffeine is a diuretic, it increases oestrogen and raises cortisol, the stress hormone. It is also metabolised by the liver and increases the loss of nutrients.

2. Sugar and especially high Fructose – the body does not metabolise fructose in the same way as glucose. Fructose is metabolised only in the liver with an excess getting stored as fat. The liver is overloaded without the added stress of processing fructose. High fructose intake is damaging to the liver and contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Dried fruits, mango, grapes and the denounced high fructose corn syrup are major culprits.

3. Alcohol – no explanation needed really. But for consistency’s sake – alcohol is toxic to the liver.

4. Overly-processed food and white flour goods leach essential nutrient from the body and wreak havoc with blood sugar balance.

Think you might need a detox but would rather do a 3-day intensive programme, give me a ring 07769265631 to discuss what might be appropriate for you.

Here’s to a lightness in your being and a spring in your step

Audra x

(References available on request)

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