So you’ve started eating wholesome, nourishing foods. Your focus is all on creating a healthy internal environment to help support the healing of cells and tissues. But, something unexpected happens. You start feeling worse. Your symptoms are more severe or you develop flu-like symptoms. And you’re thinking, what the heck is going on? I’m eating the right foods! Why am I feeling WORSE?!

Don’t worry. This is normal and actually a good sign. Your body is detoxing.

As you go through the healing process, it’s likely that at the beginning you are going to feel worse. This is the result of your body detoxifying the buildup of toxins and the bad microorganisms that have begun to die off (because they can no longer live when you’re eating healing foods). You may have even heard of this being called a “healing crisis” or the Herxheimer effect.1, 2

A detox is only temporary, but necessary, in order to fully heal.

The detox period can last anywhere from a couple of days to about a week or so, depending on the severity of your condition and amount of toxins built up in the body. But the bad stuff has to come out in order to make room for the good stuff.

It’s important to find a “happy medium” for the detox process – not too slow but not too fast either. If you start releasing toxins too fast then it can overwhelm the body and put you in a distressed state. If you start to feel REALLY bad and cannot handle it then it’s important to back off from the detox, take it easy, and seek 1-on-1 professional advice if necessary.

Yes, there may be detox symptoms. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. But it’s up to you to determine the point at which it becomes unbearable and that you need to ease the detox process.

With that being said, I don’t want to leave you thinking that detoxifying the body is an awful process that will make you wish you had never started in the first place.

Quite the contrary. It will leave you feeling so rejuvenated and energized. And best of all, it resets and recalibrates the body and leaves it functioning much better now that there are no more toxins clogging it down. But to get to this state you have to go through a bit of discomfort first.

And this post is all about helping you ride through that discomfort.

There’s a number of ways that you can support your body to reduce the number and intensity of detox symptoms you may experience. So let’s dive in and learn how you can take care of the body through a detox in order to finally heal!

Support the Liver to Detox Efficiently

The liver is the detox powerhouse organ. So it comes as no surprise that this organ should be supported to help it handle the higher load of toxins that are getting eliminated as your body detoxifies.

The role of the liver is to first breakdown toxins with the help of special enzymes. Then, it processes the toxins and combines them with other compounds (such as sulfur) to make it easier for removal from the body.3, 4

So it’s important to keep the body replenished with the nutrients that the liver needs most so that it can continue to do its job efficiently. The more efficiently toxins are broken down and eliminated, the less likely you will have detox symptoms!

Here are the foods that support the liver:

  • apples
  • artichoke
  • asparagus
  • avocados
  • beets
  • coriander
  • garlic
  • ginger root

  • lemons
  • parsley
  • turmeric
  • green tea
  • other teas: burdock root, dandelion root, licorice root, milk thistle
  • bitter greens: watercress, dandelion greens
  • cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts
  • leafy greens: Swiss chard, kale, spinach

Cleanse the Intestinal System to Support Elimination

Supporting the major detox organ (liver) goes hand in hand with supporting the elimination system – the intestines. Once the liver processes the toxins, they need to be eliminated (efficiently!).

One of the best places to start is by cleansing the intestines to help move toxins through and get eliminated faster. Our bodies were designed to remove the majority of toxins through elimination, so supporting this process is a must as you go through the detox.

The easiest way to support elimination is by eating fibre-rich foods and staying hydrated. These are super important to keep things moving through the intestinal system.

Fibre’s role is to add weight and water’s role is to add softness, which together helps things move faster through the intestinal tract to be eliminated, allowing you to rid the body of toxins much faster.5

Eating a fibre-rich diet has another benefit: supporting the health of your gut by feeding the good bacteria.5 The good bacteria can then produce nutrients such as short chain fatty acids, which are important for supporting our health.6

So what does a fibre-rich diet look like?

Practically all vegetables and fruit contain some fibre, though some have more than others. If you eat a diet filled with whole, natural foods then you will definitely provide your body with a good amount of fibre.

Here’s a list of some fruits and veggies plus other natural foods that provide the most fibre:

  • almonds
  • apples
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • beans and lentils
  • berries
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts

  • cauliflower
  • chia seeds
  • flaxseeds
  • oatmeal
  • peas
  • pears
  • walnuts

Remember, this list includes just SOME of the vast amount of wholesome foods that provide fibre.

Also don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day, since fibre AND water need to work together to help cleanse the intestines and provide efficient elimination. The amount of water that you need to drink depends on your activity level (lots of exercise vs. sedentary) as well as your surrounding environment. Is it hot and humid or cold and dry? The best way is to follow your thirst signals and to make sure to have a few sips of water every hour or two.

Other Ways to Support Your Body as You Detox

Supporting the liver and intestinal systems are a must to help you get through the detox process. But there are a number of additional things you can do to support your body even more.

Exercise: Physical activity helps remove more toxins since they are also eliminated through our pores in the form of sweat. Exercise also provides support to the intestinal system and helps keep things moving and regular!

Avoid food and environmental toxins: As your body is detoxing, of course you don’t want to add even more to its load by taking in new toxins if it’s avoidable. You should be eating whole and natural foods that are healing to the body and avoid any type of processed foods filled with preservatives and synthetic additives. Also take a look at your home cleaning and personal care products. These can be a source of toxins that are breathed in or absorbed through the skin/body and therefore become an added burden to the detox process. Choose products that avoid the use of parabens and sulfates and only contain natural, non-toxic ingredients.

Enema: This can be a great way to help move things through and get eliminated faster. However I do caution you that an enema should not be done very often since frequently applying these methods can cause an imbalance of electrolytes, as well as weaken the colon muscles and lead to constipation.

Acupressure: Acupressure works with the meridian energy pathways to help support various organs and body system. This is a great video from Michael Reed Gach demonstrating how to use simple acupressure techniques specifically to support the liver and its detoxification function.

Skin brushing: As I alluded to earlier, toxins are removed by the body in many ways, one of which is through the skin. Besides sweating, you can stimulate the release of toxins through the skin by a technique called dry brushing or skin brushing. This involves using a natural bristle brush to gently brush the body in a slow, circular motion. Skin brushing helps take off old, dead skin cells, increases blood and lymph circulation, and of course eases the detox burden on the liver by promoting the removal of toxins via the skin!

Getting enough sleep and rest: Our body is working hard as it goes through the detox period. So it’s super important to get adequate rest and a full night’s sleep to help support the body. Aim to get at least 8 hours every night so that you’re feeling refreshed every morning and ensuring that your body has the energy that it needs to get through this cleansing period. Check out this post for tips on how to sleep well tonight.

Reducing stress: Chronic stress is not good for many, many reasons. In fact, stress has been linked as the underlying cause for many diseases and illnesses.7, 8 There are many reasons for needing to reduce stress and the many negative effects it has on the body. But when we’re talking about a detox, effectively coping with stress is important so that the body doesn’t get burdened with things like inflammation and changes in hormone production and instead can focus on efficiently eliminating toxins. Some of the best ways of relieving stress are through mindfulness techniques and breathe work. I strongly encourage seeking out a local yoga or meditation class to help you through this process. Think of it as a “mind detox”! If you prefer doing it from the comfort of your home, this website is a good resource with some free online yoga and meditation videos.

Detoxification is a crucial part of the healing process. It may involve a little bit of discomfort but there are many ways you can support your body as it goes through this stage. And once you get through it you’ll be rejuvenated, have more energy, and your body will be able to work more efficiently in order to fully heal.

Now I want to hear from you: How did you feel as you went through the detox and how did these tips help? And how do you feel now that you’ve been through it? 🙂 Share below!

References

[1] Bryceson AD. Clinical pathology of the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. J Infect Dis. 1976 Jun;133(6):696-704.

[2] Gunnarsdottir TJ, Jonsdottir H. Healing crisis in reflexology: becoming worse before becoming better. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010 Nov;16(4):239-43.

[3] Grant DM. Detoxification pathways in the liver. J Inherit Metab Dis. 1991;14(4):421-30.

[4] PubMed Health (2012). How does the liver work?

[5] Joanne Slavin. Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients. 2013 Apr; 5(4): 1417–1435.

[6] College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (2012). Dietary fiber alters gut bacteria, supports gastrointestinal health.

[7] Mohd. Razali Salleh. Life Event, Stress and Illness. Malays J Med Sci. 2008 Oct; 15(4): 9–18.

[8] Stojanovich L, Marisavljevich D. Stress as a trigger of autoimmune disease. Autoimmun Rev. 2008 Jan;7(3):209-13. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2007.11.007. Epub 2007 Nov 29.