It's January. And it's really cold outside.
For most of us, myself included, this means wanting to hibernate inside and procrastinating shoveling. This is also the time where we might begin reflecting on our New Year's Resolutions.
In my last blog post I shared with you that my goal is to be truer to myself. In keeping with that theme, when I heard the CBC Marketplace's "Detox" special was being aired I got a little excited. And then, frustrated at the blanket "detoxes do not work" approach. Finally, I felt like shoving forks into my eyes in exasperation over the picky eating, sugar guzzling and misinformation. So instead of fuming about this in the privacy of my own home, I decided to review my thoughts (hopefully calmly and collectedly) for you in this - my first attempt at a Video Blog..
My general thoughts are on detoxes are this:
1. We need to examine WHY we think we need to detox.
Do you feel that your body is inherently "dirty" and in need of cleaning? Are you unsatisfied with your health/energy/weight/self-esteem/sex life and feel that you need a change? Have you been watching Dr. Oz lately?
2. There are different kinds of "detoxes" and they are not necessarily safe, appropriate, cost-effective or useful for everyone.
Many over-the-counter products act as laxatives. Sometimes this is the only thing that they do. While it is true that we need healthy organs of elimination to remove run-of-the-mill toxins and excess hormones from our bodies, making you go Number 2 a lot isn't the only way of doing this. Nor is it getting at the heart why you are constipated in the first place. In fact, laxative abuse and over-use are a leading cause of malabsorption, sluggish colon activity, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Raw diets and juicing cleanses are also popular, and although they can be effective for some people, I am a firm believer in the Traditional Chinese Medicine school of thought wherein we should be eating according to the seasons. When it is this cold outside, it is simply too taxing on the body to be digesting that much raw food.
Dr. Oz's 48 Hour Cleanse is not inherently bad, I just don't think that 48 hours of eating a clean diet is enough for someone that is likely eating poorly in the first place. In fact, the recipes are similar to something that I would recommend, but I think the claims are grossly over-inflated. The best form of "detox-ing" is not needing to detox ie. eating a clean diet, exercising, allowing time for self-care, making stress management a priority.
3. A "detox" should not be a one-stop shop for your health care.
True wellness is about achieving balance physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially. A detox will never be effective if you are following an unhealthy lifestyle (irregular sleeping and eating patterns, too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine, not enough exercise, negative/self-destructive thought patterns), do the program for 2 or 5 or 30 days etc. and then go back to the habits that are making you sick in the first place.
As I mentioned in the video, doing an appropriate detox as a kick-start to healthier habits that you will be maintaining long-term makes much more sense than saying "I did my detox, I'm healthy for the year!".
4. A "detox" is not suitable for everyone.
Sometimes I see patients that say they felt great after doing a detox. If part of the program is eliminated sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and eating lots of fresh healthy foods, doing yoga or walking etc., I'd say we are on the right track. Again, sustainable changes. However, I also see a proportion of people that say they've never felt worse during or after. This is because many toxins such as mercury, lead, DDT, bisphenol A, parabens and plastics are fat soluble. Once we start to mobilize these bad boys at an accelerated rate via sweating, supplements, fast weight loss, we have an increased amount circulating in the blood stream. Whereas before, there were tucked away in our fat cells (lovely picture, isn't it?), now they are free to run around and make us feel nasty. This is why I almost never recommend a harsh detox for someone suffering from chronic conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, SLE (lupus), rheumatoid arthritis, pain, cancer, or heart disease. It's too much too fast for someone already burdened by pain and low energy.
5. A good therapeutic "detox" works at stimulating your body's routes of elimination (skin, sweat glands, kidneys, bowel, lymphatic system and liver) so that your body does the work, not the product.
A tailored therapeutic detox will discuss healthy eating, exercise, stress management, emotional health, at-home self-care and perhaps some good-quality supplements specific for your needs. As I've outlined my Top 5 Tips for At-Home Detox in the video, I will finish by say that under-taking a
therapeutic detox - which definitely differs from an over-the-counter program should be taken under the guidance of a licensed and knowledgeable health professional, at the right time of year, and should be appropriate for your health concerns and goals.
Book a Health Discovery Session to see how I can help you meet your health goals.
1. Roerig JL, Steffen KJ, Mitchell JE, Zunker C. Laxative abuse: epidemiology, diagnosis and management. Drugs. 2010 Aug 20;70(12):1487-503. doi: 10.2165/11898640-000000000-00000.
2. Crinnion WJ. Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Sep 15(3): 190-6.
What's your New Years resolution?
We hear it all the time. I'm going to quit smoking, start exercising, be healthy, lose weight, be a better listener....all manner of things that are basically saying "I want to change who I am".
This year, I'm going to be real.
I just had a heart-to-heart with one of my awesome colleagues. In our conversation, it came up that I tend to be different people in different situations. I think this is something that we all do from time to time, this wearing of different hats. But I think there is a large grain of truth to this.
Frankly, it has been one heck of a year for everyone I know, this "2013 Year of Change". Personally, I went from career medical student, moving back to my hometown and in with my mother-in-law, to studying my butt off for NPLEX (our Naturopathic Licensing Examinations), building a business from scratch, testing out my clinical skills and learning to manage and treat conditions that I'd never seen before, networking and speaking to the who's who of Stratford... and my head has just not stopped spinning.
By necessity we compartmentalize parts of ourselves. I don't call my coworkers pet names like I do my cat, nor do I constantly talk about the importance of gut flora to every person I meet at a party. Well, maybe my husband would disagree. I'm working on that part, anyways. We like to think that we can blend in and apply relevant parts of ourselves to specific scenarios. A skill, to be certain, but how satisfying is it to feel like five different people at any one time?
For me, I think this means taking time to establish who I am. What am I like when I am alone, when nobody is watching? Do I feel the same about myself when I'm wearing professional clothing? Do I use my own language, talk up what I'm feeling, or talk down to someone else? What do I have to offer, besides my vulnerable self, when I am not actively giving advice to someone in front of me?
I don't mean to say that I will show up at work wearing my new one-sie I got for Christmas... merely that integrating things like sense of humour and a striving for understanding into health-related discussions in office should take precedence over attempting to appear knowledgeable/professional/superior/smarter or anything else. Who are we, not as doctors, mothers, teachers, workers, musicians, but as human beings?
For my patients, I would say that being authentic, living YOUR unique purpose is worth its weight in fancy hats for every occasion. In practice, it is another story. We can work on it... and I AM working on it.
Rather than change who I am, this year, I just want to be me. You be you.
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Dr. Keila Roesner is a Naturopathic Doctor. When not treating patients she is also an enthusiastic barefoot-strolling, music-loving, yoga-doing kitchen wiz - who also happens to be a wrestling fan.