10 Detox Do’s & Don’ts

By: Dr. Matt Lewis, D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

In a previous post, Toxic Mold: How a Medically Supervised Detox Can Help, I called attention to the serious mold problems that are common in South Florida, including Tampa, due to high humidity or water damage. Mold poses an increased risk during the hurricane season, but risk also rises as summer approaches with its one-two punch of heat and humidity.

While most people have the biology to purge mold and mold toxins (and a host of other toxins) from their bodies, some of us are particularly sensitive to certain substances, and those who aren’t can also be affected when the toxic load overwhelms the body’s natural ability to detox.

Photo ©2018 by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.

Whether you are susceptible to certain toxins or not, a detox can help your body eliminate those toxins and restore proper function. Of course, there are right ways and wrong ways to detox. To get the most benefit from a detox and avoid the risk of harming your body, follow my ten recommendations in this post — the five don’ts and five do’s of detox:

Don’t do this when detoxing:

  1. Do not go unsupervised. Avoid detoxification programs that are not physician supervised. If you truly are experiencing toxic overload, the last thing you want to do is jump into an unsupervised detox program. Anyone who has a heavy toxic load must detox gradually to avoid overwhelming the body’s ability to filter and eliminate the toxins.
  2. Avoid extreme caloric restriction in the early stages of any protocol. The research shows detoxification occurs abruptly with caloric restriction; for example, with juice fasting. Extreme caloric restriction raises the blood levels of toxins. As your body goes into a fasting state, it will start to clean out. If your system is overloaded with toxins, it will probably be unable to handle a barrage of toxins coming out of the cells. You will feel worse and may not gain the long-term health benefits you expect.
  3. Don’t be fooled by claims that assume you are toxic. For most of my patients, I do not start treatment with a complete detox protocol. They usually have other, more pressing issues suppressing normal metabolism. These should be handled first. Treatment goals may include balancing blood sugar, improving digestion, replenishing micronutrient deficiencies or improving sleep, to name a few. When normal metabolism is restored, detox may not be necessary and, if it is at that point, then your body is better equipped to clear the toxins when you follow the detox protocol.
  4. Avoid quick fixes. Don’t do it because your friend tried it and it worked for her/him. Each of us has genetic variability in terms of how our liver clears various environmental and prescriptions toxins. You may not respond the same as your friend.
  5. Timing is everything. Usually, detox is not the best first step. First, your diet, lifestyle, and lab tests should be evaluated to see if detox is needed or if it’s the right starting place for you and your desired health-related outcomes.

Do these five things when detoxing:

  1. Have complete labs and a physical exam performed first to understand where you actually stand and whether you really need to detox.
  2. Handle all other concerns first. Balance your blood sugar, improve digestion, fix some basic dietary habits, and get better sleep. After those issues are addressed, we can re-evaluate to determine whether detox is likely to benefit you.
  3. Go very slow. People who are carrying a heavy toxic load are not going to feel well when detoxing too quickly and will likely never complete the various phases required for detox. A quick detox is likely to leave you feeling worse in the end.
  4. Work with a healthcare professional who can design the right detox protocol for you. Detox is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The protocol must be tailored to your body and to the specific toxins that need to be eliminated.
  5. Use food and exercise for detox. Take out one potentially harmful thing out of your diet at a time. Start with sugar! Perform 20-30 minutes of exercise that makes you sweat. You can eliminate certain toxins only by sweating. In addition, eliminate the source of the toxins, if possible; for example, if your home or office has a mold problem, deal with that problem first.

If you think you would benefit from detox, I strongly encourage you to consult a doctor whose focus is on whole health, such as a functional medicine practitioner. Your bodily functions are complex and interrelated. Achieving optimal health is never a quick fix with a single solution. Consult a doctor who gathers information and tests first before deciding that you would benefit from detox or any other treatment protocol.

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Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from Dr. Matt Lewis, D.C., DACBN, CFMP®, nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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About the Author: Dr. Matt Lewis, D.C., DACBN, CFMP®, specializes in diagnosing and treating the underlying causes of the symptoms related to chronic and unexplained illness through nutrition, lifestyle, chiropractic, and other natural approaches to whole-health healing in Tampa, Florida. He earned his B.S. in Biology from Shenandoah University, his Doctorate in Chiropractic from Life University, his Diplomate status in Clinical Nutrition from the American Clinical Board of Nutrition, his CFMP® from Functional Medicine University, and his certification as a Digestive Health Specialist (DHS) through the Food Enzyme Institute. Dr. Lewis’ passion for health and wellness stems from his own personal experience. With a family history of autoimmune conditions and diabetes, and his own lab tests showing his genetic susceptibility to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid), he has learned how to restore his own health and vigor to prevent the onset of these and other illnesses and live an incredibly active life. Through this process, he acquired a deeper understanding of health and wellness, which he now offers his patients in Tampa.

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