Written By Yoga Mamas' Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Shannon Vander Doelen
Now that spring has sprung, you will start to notice that people everywhere are talking about detoxing - and for good reason! According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, springtime is associated with the liver, our main organ of detoxification. Just like we spring clean our house, spring is a natural time to reset our habits and think about detoxing our body and our life. But, if you are currently pregnant or trying to conceive, you need to be cautious about detoxing! The last thing we want to do is inadvertently cause harm to your baby-to-be (or impact your ability to get pregnant). So, before you jump on the latest detox diet trend, order your detox supplement kit, or start a juice cleanse, consider the following to approach the spring detox safely!
What's the deal with detoxing?
Each and every day we are exposed to various types of chemicals and substances in our environment, in our food, in the products we use on our body, and in our homes. These need to be processed by our body, and then safely cleared out of our system. Our main organ of detoxification is our liver, but our kidneys, skin, lungs and digestive tract also play important roles. These organs are well designed to do their part, but in the modern world, we are exposed to such a large volume of toxins, that our body may not be able to keep up. Enter the concept of “detoxing” - the process of removing these toxins from the body.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I have many people approach me about starting a detox program, and more often than not, I am advising against it. Why? For the most part, products and programs designed to help you detox are expensive and full of false health claims. Specifically in the context of pregnancy, they can also be very dangerous. Other than in extremely rare circumstances of prolonged exposure to some heavy duty toxins, our body doesn’t need a zillion supplements, an obscure diet, or expensive products or procedures to detoxify.
While I don’t believe in a 3-day crash detox plan, I do believe in a daily commitment to reduce your toxin exposure and support your body’s ability to detoxify on it’s own. This can be simple, inexpensive, and above all, SAFE, for your body.
5 safe ways to detox when pregnant or trying to conceive
1. Start with your diet
Reduce or eliminate your intake of toxins in your food. These include alcohol, sugar, preservatives and chemicals found in processed foods, trans fats, artificial colours/flavours, and pesticides found on your produce items. I refer to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list to see the 12 produce items that are typically the most pesticide-laden, and try to buy organic versions of those to reduce my exposure.
2. Check out your personal care products
What we put ON our body goes IN our body, so choose wisely! Avoid products with added fragrances, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde and oxybenzones. I know first hand that switching to cleaner products can be an overwhelming process, so instead of throwing out everything in your bathroom all at once, as you finish products up, commit to replacing them with healthier options.
3. Drink lots of water (and consider adding lemon to it)
If your body is not hydrated enough, you will not efficiently be clearing waste products out through your kidneys into your urine. Use the colour of your urine as a guide - it should be clear and very pale yellow in colour consistently throughout the day. Adding the juice of half a lemon once per day is thought to help support your liver functioning.
4. Get your sweat on
Any type of physical activity that gets you glistening will help you detoxify through your skin. It also helps to increase blood flow through your body, allowing your blood to pick up waste products from organs throughout and bring them back to the liver and lungs to they can be released from your body. Yoga and Barre classes are my favourite pick for pregnant mamas!
5. Consider working with a Naturopathic Doctor trained in fertility and