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Detox for the New Year!

It's January, a brand new year is here, should you do a detox? Though some may roll their eyes a little, a medically appropriate detox regimen is a great way to get started on a healthier year. We are exposed daily to a huge variety of potentially toxic substances, from environmental pollutants, to medicines that can stress the liver, to poor dietary choices around the holidays. I think of a detox as being a way to effectively jump start yourself into a newer, healthier year.

First, let's define the term "detox." Our organs of detoxification (liver, kidneys, skin, lungs) have evolved to deal with all kinds of toxins that enter our bodies. However, in modern life there is no doubt that there are a greater number and variety of pollutants and chemicals than our bodies are meant to handle. So, when I talk about detox I'm talking about reducing that burden by eliminating the things we can control - drinks, foods, and lifestyle habits that are unhealthy, while encouraging good liver, kidney, skin and lung health. If you find you've been drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, or eating too much sugar during the holidays, a detox is a great way to kick those bad habits to the curb.

So what's a good detox? When I discuss a detox protocol with my patients it has a few elements. First, elimination of less-healthy foods and drinks. I generally put people on a diet high in vegetables, fruits, healthy proteins, and whole grains, while eliminating sweets, alcohol, and most caffeine. I will almost always ask you to take out some of the common food allergens, like gluten, eggs and dairy. Second, I may include some teas or supplements designed to increase detox functions (pooping daily is a very good thing!), as well as supporting liver function. Third, regular exercise and possibly some time at a sauna or spa to get sweating. For some people I may include a gentle chelating agent depending on the types of environmental exposures you have had.

Do you have to do ALL these things to achieve your goal of a healthy start to the new year? Absolutely not. Maybe your goal should just be to do a "dry January." Or maybe pledging to exercise every day this month is more your speed. I can tell you, however, that my patients who have done a detox program with me once will often choose to repeat the experience annually or or even more frequently than that. You will feel that good! Happy New Year, everyone!

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