You May Need Lab Tests To Determine What Detox Is Right For You
As a doctor of Chinese medicine, I'm always looking for ways to get toxins out of my life. Whether it be skin care products, clean eating, or plastics, health is affected by lifestyle behaviors. And, in our current society, we are exposed to an unhealthy amount of chemicals throughout our lifetime, and I believe that they eventually take a toll on our body.
Nutrigenomics is a facet of epigenetics that integrates genomic science with nutrition and other environmental factors such as cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and exercise. Each of us carries a blueprint, if you will, within our genetic code, that signals our body to express genetic variations. This means that by studying your individual genetic code, you can help your body minimize unfavorable genetic expressions, like chronic disease.
Even though our genes are fundamental for determining expression and function, what we put in our mouth directly affects the extent to which certain genes are expressed.
This gives an individual a certain power over their genetic expression. But first, you must understand your genes and epigenetics.
The science of epigenetics.
While most people may not know the basis of epigenetics, it plays a big role in how our surroundings shape our genetic expression. Our environment, in addition to aging in general, is currently creating changes to our genetic code that can make us more susceptible to aging and disease.
These expressions of change are included in the concept of epigenetics. Epigenetics is defined as heritable changes in genetic expression, which essentially means focusing on genes that can be turned on or off. Epigenetics don't change the DNA sequence, but they do change how the gene is expressed. Luckily, epigenetic changes are reversible and can be influenced by dietary changes.
Lifestyle and environmental factors such as diet, exercise, and smoking can cause serious damage to the epigenome. While the epigenome can withstand a lot, research suggests that our modern-day living may be creating more malfunctions in the genetic expression.
So, how can we influence our epigenetics for better health? This is where detoxing comes in.
Why you need to find the right detox for your genes.
Detoxing is the process of removing harmful and inflammatory foods from our diet in favor of healthful ones. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach, however. Our bodies process toxins differently, which can determine how effective a detox might be.
You never know what is going on in the body unless you test. I know this because for years I was doing the wrong detox for my genes. When I ran the lab work on myself, I was surprised to find I had one of the highest levels of multiple toxins that the lab ever had seen, even though I was following an extremely clean lifestyle, eating organic foods, and using natural beauty products.
The explanation for this all boiled down to how my genes processed toxins and how I had not done the proper detox for my specific genetic needs.
How to find a good detox for your genes.
As a functional medicine practitioner and detox specialist, I follow a certain protocol when working with a client. Typically, I go through their raw genetic data and look at different areas of detox: mold, heavy metals, environmental toxins, and hormones. This helps pinpoint the best way to detox for their genes.
In addition to looking at the genetic data, I run lab tests to check for environmental toxins and how well they are metabolizing hormones. This helps me decide which foods to incorporate or reduce and which supplements to use in their detox plan.
Using the various tools that we have at our disposal can save us money by taking action now rather than later on. These labs help us create a customized detox based on each individual's genetic needs. It could not get more personalized than that!
Top tips for detoxing.
While I encourage my clients to complete a detox that is tailored to their individual needs, there are some tips that everyone can incorporate:
Foods to promote detoxification:
Healthy habits to support detoxification:
- Intermittent fasting: This will help "turn on" genes that speed up detoxification in the body.
- Hydration: Make sure to consume a minimum of half your body weight in pounds in ounces of water.
- Get your stress levels in check: My favorite tool for this is tracking my heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is a measurement that can help determine how your body is handling stressors. When your body is stressed, it will not allocate resources to detox.
- Get to bed no later than 10:30 p.m.: According to Chinese medicine theory, the body starts to process toxins at around 11 p.m., so you want to be asleep before that begins.
As I always tell my patients, "You have the opportunity to take control of your health destiny, so choose wisely."
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