Is a detox a good idea for chronic pain?

Is a ‘detox’ a good idea for chronic pain?

It is January and many of us are ready for a fresh start after the indulgent time of Christmas and New Year. If you suffer with chronic pain, then perhaps the socialising, food differences and noise have been challenging. More than anyone, you are likely to be ready for a return to some sort of routine. You may also be thinking about your health, keen to get your old self back again. You wonder: is a ‘detox’ a good idea for chronic pain like mine? 

Is a ‘detox’ a good idea for chronic pain?

The answer, as always, is not straight forward. At Integral Nutrition, we do not run annual ‘detox’ programmes. Yes, it can be a good idea to cut out or reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake for a while, just to ease up on the number of things that your body is having to ‘detoxify’. However, what is far more important is to be consistent – throughout the year – about supporting your natural detoxification processes. And the good news is that you can do this safely through a series of simple nutrition and lifestyle choices that are easy to implement, even if you are in pain. 

Be consistent about supporting your natural detoxification processes

Is a ‘detox’ a good idea for chronic pain?

Before we get into some of these strategies, let’s put to bed the question of whether a ‘detox’ is a good idea for chronic pain sufferers? Unless you feel confident that your nutritional profile is good, your elimination through stool and urine is regular, you are able to exercise to the point of sweating on a regular basis and your energy levels are fairly stable, then a short, sharp period of ‘detox’ is unlikely to be beneficial. In fact, it will probably make you feel worse. Let’s face it, how many people living with chronic pain can tick all those boxes? I hazard a guess at none.

Who should NOT detox?

There are some clear exceptions for those who should not ‘do’ a detox. Pregnancy and breast feeding, extreme fatigue and pain, those with eating disorders and disordered eating should not undertake detox challenges. If you are taking medication, you should also proceed with caution, under the knowledge and care of your general health practitioner.

Detox for Chronic Pain – Tip No. 1.

You’ll have heard this before, but good hydration is key. It is remarkably easy to do but also easy to forget. Make water your friend. Take a glass of water to bed with you and drink it first thing on waking. Don’t even get out of bed before it is finished. Have another glass after your shower, another mid morning before a coffee or tea, again mid afternoon and a 5th glass before dinner. This, together with teas and coffee, will likely be enough. 

Signs of dehydration

Our hydration needs vary, depending on what we eat (there is a lot of water in some foods, less in others), our level of activity, the heat of the day etc, so be prepared to increase your intake depending on the day you are having. But be routine about it. Don’t wait to feel thirsty – if you get to this stage, you are already dehydrated. 

A simple rule – other than the first void of the day, your urine should be a clear, straw colour. (Exception – if taking a multivitamin or vitamin B complex, you may have bright green urine from the Vitamin B2 but it should still be clear).

Check out this simple information sheet on the importance of hydration.

Detox for Chronic Pain – Tip No. 2

Pack in cruciferous vegetables and sulphur containing foods. Why? Because we need to love our livers and our livers love these foods. 

Our livers are constantly busy, neutralising and packaging up toxins for excretion. There are a few phases to this process that require nutrients to function optimally. Some of these nutrients are found in cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts etc) and other vegetables such as onions, leeks, garlic and eggs. Aim for a daily portion of at least one of these foods and your liver will be happy.

Colourful cauliflowers on wooden table

Detox for Chronic Pain – Tip No. 3

Our digestive tract is an important route of toxin elimination. Once toxins are dealt with by the liver, they are excreted via the bile through our stool. If we have a disordered digestive system, either diarrhea or constipation (or alternating between both), then this route of elimination is compromised. With constipation in particular, toxins dealt with one day can be reabsorbed and have to go through the detoxification process again the next. This makes us sluggish and fatigued. It can either make you suffer from bad breath. Working on your digestion for daily a bowel movement is key.

More tips on constipation

Have a look at this blog post for more tips on constipation. Sometimes, getting on top of constipation can be challenging. Call Clare for a free chat to see if she can help you with this.

Detox for Chronic Pain – Tip No. 4

Breathe! This is something we all do from birth and continue to do 20 or so times a minute for the rest of our lives. So why mention it in relation to detoxification? The fact is that many of us are leading sedentary lives – either because of chronic pain or the way we earn our living – and tend to only use the top section of our lungs when we breath. Every out breath we take expels CO2 which is toxic to our bodies in excess, so taking some intentional deep breaths and consciously expelling air from our lungs is helpful for detoxification. Plenty of science to back this up and the beauty is that it can be done anywhere – at the bus stop, at your desk, in bed.

Make intentional breathing a routine part of your day

Detox for Chronic Pain – Tip No. 5

Sweat! Our skin is another major route for toxin elimination, particularly when we sweat. Try to get some exercise to the point of sweating on a regular basis and take a cool shower afterwards to wash the toxins away. If this is not possible for you – your pain does not allow you to exercise in this way – then see if you can access a sauna to get a sweat up that way. 

If you suffer from chronic pain and are interested in safely supporting your detoxification pathways, these simple changes are within your grasp. You are putting pebbles on the right side of the scales. Start with one and make it routine. You may not initially feel any difference to your pain, but it will be having some impact. Then move onto the next tip and eventually, your situation will start to shift, away from daily pain and towards the life that you want.

If you would like to discuss your own situation with chronic pain, and how nutrition and lifestyle changes may be able to help, you can book a free call with me. It is worth investing in your health so you can get your life back on track.  Call me to find out more.

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