Having the chance to talk all things detox with Dr. Deanna Minich, was a great way to ring in Spring. Her new book, Whole Detox: A 21-Day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life, lays out a 21–day program that covers every angle of the self, from body to mind to spirit. Dr. Minich is a functional nutritionist with a unique approach to clinical medicine that combines physiology and psychology, and a focus on whole-body, whole-life detoxification. Here’s what she had to say.
Can you explain what “detox” really means? It is a new practice?
Actually, the practice of detoxification, or removing toxins, has long been cultivated in medical and spiritual traditions. Ancient civilizations used bloodletting or leeches to remove the toxic “humours” in the body, whether they originated from blood, bile, or phlegm. The ancient Indian medical system known as Ayurveda included a practice of panchakarma, or using sweating, herbs, oils, and massage for bodily purification. And spiritual traditions have included fasting, sweat lodges, giving up certain foods, or eating at certain times.
Has detoxing changed?
In the 21st century, detoxification has taken on many meanings — from alcohol and drug detox to purging the body of environmental contaminants, such as heavy metals (mercury, lead, arsenic), plastics, phthalates, and pesticides. There are many modalities proposed to help facilitate the release of these toxins. For example, nutrition has been presented as a means of encouraging the release of these toxins. But to be facilitate the removal of toxins from body, mind, and spirit, there has to be more to it: the Whole Detox program I created includes nutrition, meditations, affirmations, yoga movements, and visualizations.
Why should we “detox” if our bodies are already capable of getting rid of toxins?
Each of us is different in our capacity to cleanse: when it comes to being healthy and in balance, we’re not all created equal. But we are bombarded with more chemicals than ever: an estimated 80,000 chemicals in our environment today, not including the toxins we make inside of us from stress, inflammation, or dysbiosis (gut microflora imbalance). And yes, we’re already detoxing, but not necessarily effectively. So it doesn’t make good biological and biochemical sense to not focus on detox just because we are already detoxing.
What are some of the hurdles our body faces to effectively detox on its own?
Every organ in the body has its own mechanisms for getting rid of toxic waste. But some organs do most the heavy lifting — the liver, kidneys, gut, skin, and lungs. If the liver is congested with fat, the liver enzymes can’t properly function to get rid of toxins. Without enough pure water, the kidneys can’t effectively excrete the toxins through the urine. If we are constipated, or have an imbalanced gut microflora, we won’t pass toxic metals through the body efficiently. If we’re not sweating enough — because we are not exercising — we won’t be able to get rid of multiple chemicals through out skin. Not taking deep enough breaths, or living in polluted areas, impedes our lungs’ ability to exhale out particulates.
How do we know if we need to detox, and who should do it?
Depending on the detox, it can be for everyone. The Whole Detox approach regards anything that is in the way of health, including environmental chemicals, toxic thoughts, emotional baggage, a stressful job, or a dead-end relationship, as toxins. Many of us have symptoms of toxins built up — in mind, body, and spirit. Among them are fatigue, joint pain, unexplainable weight gain, gastrointestinal upset, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, poor sleep, skin breakouts, bloating, pain and inflammation. If you can’t seem to solve these symptoms on your own, or with any defined medical solution, doing a Whole Detox is a good strategy.
Your program is 21 days. That seems different than our usual idea of a detox.
You need that 21 days to give the body, mind, and spirit a chance to fully reset, and for you to establish a long-term lifestyle change. You can’t achieve sustainable results from a program that doesn’t deal with the whole body, and only focuses on what to take out, but not what to put in. And, you need a program that lays out the groundwork for success after the detox. The Whole Detox program addresses the Seven Systems of Health through multiple approaches, including meal plans for omnivores and vegans, tracking feelings in an emotion log, journaling on limiting thoughts, diverse physical activities from yoga to tai chi to strength training, spoken affirmations, guided visualizations, and creative meditations.
And does everyone need to follow the Whole Detox program the same way?
This is a program designed to meet every person halfway — where your needs are. I created it to get to the root of why people have certain health issues and toxic barriers, and everyone is different. So you can personalize it to be gentle or more rigorous, personalize the options for wellness, from recipes to journaling to physical movement to mind-body practices — such as affirmations, guided imagery, and meditation. You decide what you need to do the most, and how to make it work for your life.
Learn more about Dr. Deanna Minich and The Whole Detox program here.