Detox Your Body and Brain
*Ways to detox
*Including body cleanse in everyday routines
*Foods that support cleansing
*Other things to try
The information given here is brain injury recovery specific – it is entirely aimed at helping people post brain injury to start a return to health. The biochemical cascade that occurs immediately following the primary injury can continue unabated for many years until it is addressed. During this time many people are subjected to chronic inflammation that contributes to a build-up of toxins and prolongs brain injury symptoms.
The best way to start feeling better is by cleansing the body and brain and by eliminating the potentiality for further toxins entering the body. The brain needs the best possible environment for it to heal. If you get this right, many of the symptoms associated with brain injury will begin to abate.
The other thing you will be doing is reducing inflammation decreasing the likelihood of developing a wealth of inflammatory-related diseases or reducing the symptoms of these if you are already suffering.
Detoxifying the body is one of the subjects that often attracts all kinds of weird claims and gimmicks because of the potential for people to earn a pretty penny from promises of the reduction of belly-fat or weight-loss. If you do your own research be careful – there is a lot of bogus information that isn’t backed by science.
Be careful of following detox programs that use fasting or laxatives as these can cause serious health problems. Changing the way we eat and what we eat will be enough to help the body restore its’ natural balance.
Detoxing is also often marketed, for example, as a specific 7 or 21-day programme, and whilst many of these are good for us, it is important to update and switch our thinking and gear our minds towards ‘cleansing’ our insides daily – just as we do with our outsides!
One thing to note is that your body will get used to you using certain herbs and foods to cleanse the body. It is a good idea to ‘mingle’ usage and to swap and change.
Eating plenty of foods that support body cleansing should always be balanced by eating a variety of healthy foods which are high in nutrition. What you are really aiming for is to eliminate all the foods that are dragging your body and brain down and increasing the severity and longevity of your brain injury symptoms.
Avoiding foods that are processed and are empty of nutrients is a great way to start. Also, you should focus on reducing toxins as these have a very real impact on the prolongment and severity of brain injury symptoms.
Think safety first and always check with a healthcare provider before starting any detox program. If you have any of the following conditions you should only start detoxifying with the help of your doctor:
- Heart Disease
- Any colon problems such as IBS, Diverticulitis, Crohn’s or Colon Cancer
- Anyone with chronic kidney or liver disease – as below
It is always important to check with your doctor before making any changes, especially if you are taking any prescribed medications are a child or senior, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, both the kidneys and liver are physiologically involved with detoxifying the body, so if you have kidney or liver disease you must speak to your specialist. Having fewer healthy kidney or liver cells available to process the toxins released during a detox program will make it harder to eliminate them, however, detoxifying slowly may help people with kidney and liver problems benefit healthwise.
Symptoms of detoxification
Any symptoms are usually the result of toxins being released from fat cells into the bloodstream and typically resolve after the body is able to eliminate the toxins. Each of us is unique and how well we detox will depend on the kind of lifestyle we lead, or led, prior to brain injury. For example, younger people with a healthy lifestyle will likely have fewer detox symptoms.
If symptoms are too strong or last more than a couple of days simply slow down or, if you are aware that you are overburdened by toxins because of a poor diet or lifestyle, start by increasing your nutritional intake for a month before adding anything else. No one knows your body as well as you do – listen to what it is telling you and work towards a balance that you can increase and maintain.
Many of the following symptoms are associated with brain injury and are also resultant from a toxic burden, therefore, they may increase slightly before decreasing. If you already have sleep problems it may be better to address these before detoxing.
The same goes for headaches. If you already have headaches it may be worthwhile getting checked over by a chiropractor or osteopath to eliminate any structural issues before you start detoxing.
The following issues are symptomatic of body cleansing and, again, shouldn’t last for too long. To manage these problems work at detoxing your body slowly, maybe start with a probiotic, nutritional diet and add a detox tea before adding any other supplements or treatments. If you already feel pretty grotty because of your brain injury the last thing you want to do is make things worse. Listen to your body, consider your history and make changes slowly. Whatever you do don’t make yourself feel so poorly that you start to think that the changes are worse than your brain injury symptoms and cause yourself to give up or give yourself an excuse not to change.
Think long-term. Be conscious and aware of your goal to feel better and to give your brain the best possible environment for it to rewire and recover in. Also, keep in mind the general health benefits. People who have suffered shock, trauma and brain injury are at higher risk of developing other neurological and physical diseases. You are aiming for health and longevity.
- Sinus congestion
- Cold or flu
- Body odour
- Skin eruptions/spots /acne
- Coughing / phlegm
- Diarrhoea /foul-smelling stool
- Body aches
Calming these reactions by nutritional means, together with a detoxing lifestyle, will support your body and brain. There is also scientific evidence that links the ‘gut-brain‘ with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. These can also be symptoms created by the secondary outcomes of brain injury and to feel better we need to focus on the cause rather than the symptom itself.
Toxins compromise the immune system and our ability to absorb nutrients. For our brains to work better, and to have the healthiest possible environment, we need to use a whole-body approach and make sure that all of our organs have the benefit of a clean environment.
Keep in mind that a clean body that is fed for nutritional benefits, rather than satiating cravings or habits, helps us to also keep disease at bay. You will also find that you won’t have cravings once you clean your body, so you will be able to make intelligent choices about everything you put in your mouth.
People who have sustained a brain injury are at greater risk of developing inflammatory-related disease. The warnings are usually related to the dementia range of diseases, however, the stress and shock caused by trauma are known to be a precursor to all types of disease, including fibromyalgia and might trigger lupus.
You have to seriously ask yourself whether life is more important than some of the highly-processed products we have been subliminally led to believe are our ‘treats.’ They are not treats – they are harmful, deplete the quality of our lives, cause us to be depressed, irritable, and lacking in energy – and – they are killers. Don’t eat them! There is an absolute truth behind ‘we are what we eat’ and because we are often left to work the meaning out for ourselves this truth can go unnoticed and hence, unactioned.
Ways to detox
Health retreats and detox spas
John Byler, a long-time brain injury advocate, tried out a programme in Hawaii and made a short video about the benefits for him.
Many people find a week or two away can help them feel rejuvenated but it is crucial that you don’t undo all the good work and fall back into your old habits. Be conscious of how you justify eating and using things that you know are bad for you.
‘At home’ programmes
There are a lot of choices, and perhaps you already use a certain product for a new year or spring ‘annual cleanse.’ Next time you buy it have a look at the ingredients, check out the ethics and aims of the manufacturer and be aware of what key points they are focusing their product on.
Make sure that your products don’t contain any ingredients coming from an animal. These can contain low-grade steroid compounds that you really don’t want in your system. Viruses, bacteria, and cancers all thrive on the hormones contained in animal steroid compounds.
For many reasons we really don’t need to focus on a colon cleanse or weight loss benefits. What we need to think about is having the best life we possibly can and this includes giving the brain the best environment possible for it to rewire and recover in.
One of the key reasons scientists and doctors are baffled about why people don’t recover from a concussion in the expected three months is because they don’t take into account how important the brain environment is to recovery.
Try to veer away from any product that isn’t based on a whole-body organic cleanse or doesn’t use organic ingredients. You might be surprised at how many products are manufactured for the mass market rather than with heart, ethical code, and a desire to help others and is backed by research.
It is also best to watch out for gimmicks and marketing ploys, and give some thought to the intention manufacturers or authors have.
The every day way
The other thing that makes it easier is noticing the differences you are making – especially if these surprise us and happen quickly. Black seed oil can do this and it can be incredibly motivating knowing that what you are doing is bringing change.
Don’t be tempted to wait until your health declines to take action. We all know this is foolhardy and if we are really honest with ourselves we know that we are being lazy or following cultural ideals towards food that are outdated.
For those of you with existing health issues you may already be following a nutritional plan – don’t make any changes without speaking to your doctor or nutritionist. If you haven’t been given a nutritional plan that is specifically geared towards your illness, then go back to your doctor and ask for one.
These guidelines are aimed at those who have sustained a brain injury and don’t suspect other illnesses and haven’t been diagnosed with any other disease. Even if you are young and healthy and your only complaint is your brain injury, you will still need to detox daily to make sure all residue toxins are released. Toxins will gradually build up and if you can avoid this – you can ‘hang-on’ to that healthy body.
As an aside, many of the most inspirational stories about brain injury recovery, returning to school/college/work, and moving on, are from those who have led previously healthy lives, live in the countryside, are fit and strong, and are in the age group 18 to 22.
At your own pace
A lot of people think they should just try one thing at a time so that they can see what is working for them and what isn’t. The kinds of changes you really need to make don’t work like this. Depending on your health it can take up to two years to really turn your body around, so you need to think long and hard about the changes you want to make, and why you want to make them.
You need to think in terms of health for life.
Escaping the mindset of finding a miracle drug or cure can be hard for some people. It can also be difficult to realise that ultimately the person most responsible for your body is you. Unless you have an acute medical problem try and think of your doctor as a guide or advisor – nobody knows your body as well as you do!
This is why the guidance given here is just that – guidance. Every single one of us is unique and what works for one may not work for another when it comes to regimens. Find your own way. Make your new health something you can be proud of – it is you who will get you there!
Another thing that can make us doubt new science is when people pick up on parts of the overall research and make it fit what they want to say. Then someone else does the same, but makes it fit what they want – the next thing we know there is a whole kit and caboodle of contradictory advice and we have no idea what to trust.
Go back to the original science if you can and always bear in mind that all science is initially primarily based on a thesis (an idea) and then the scientist sets out to prove it. Good science happens when other scientists prove the same thing in another lab. Trust what resonates with you and makes sense to who you are – keep the rest on your back-burner. The same goes for all information – including everything on this site!
Trust your instincts
There is nothing like the power of intuition if we consciously use it and take notice of this and how our body feels.
Why would you trust Joe Blogs from no one knows where in the world when you can trust yourself? It can be horrendously difficult to sort the external wheat from the chaff after a brain injury and it can also be really hard to tune into our own body – this is why this guidance is provided – to set you off on the right track, so that once you gain your own momentum, everything you need to improve your brain and wellness is all flowing in the right direction.
There are a couple of things that you should consider:-
- Do you take full responsibility for your health, or do you make excuses?
- Do you want the freedom to make educated choices based on fact?
If you have answered yes to these questions then you are ready to take back control and make the changes you need to!
Many of the foods that were staples in our diet can now no longer be trusted because of GMO (genetically modified organisms). There are groups putting pressure on governments to pass laws necessitating that producers and manufacturers label all GMO food. Many countries have these laws in place, but often food producers don’t have to label products like meat, cheese/dairy and other processed products where animals have been fed on GMO foods. Until this happens we all need to be careful. Some countries are more affected by GMO than others – you will probably know how rife GMO foods are where you live.
Common GMO foods are corn, and its’ products and by-products, soy, and although not commonly used in the UK, canola oil and beets/beet sugar, which are used in large quantities in North America. There is a lot of controversy about the safety of GM crops and scientists continue to wage war on each other. Until the issue is finally settled, one way or the other, it is best to avoid being anyone’s guinea pig – or a lab rat. This is especially important for everyone who is struggling with brain injury outcomes and symptoms. Your body and brain are more vulnerable and fragile.
If you haven’t been careful about avoiding these foods then following a daily detox regime will certainly help flush anything in you that shouldn’t be there.
People living with brain injury outcomes need to be particularly careful – genetic mutation is bad for our mitochondria and levels of inflammation.
Here is some easy to follow guidance.
- Absolutely cut out these foods immediately: sugar, salt, hydrogenated/trans fats, heat processed and ‘vegetable’ oils, GMO foods, MSG, artificial sweeteners, colours and flavours (note – even ‘natural’ flavours can contain MSG)
- Limit and work towards eliminating foods over the first week or two which are, or contain: wheat, barley and rye (gluten), dairy (everything that comes from any inorganic animal), and eggs. You can reintroduce foods slowly once you start to feel that your symptoms are cleared, however, gluten is bad for everyone’s brain and should always be avoided
- Anything processed – as anything pre-prepared or adulterated and ready for you to eat. If you can’t get organic produce, try using a local farmers shop or market – produce from supermarkets should be your last choice as you need to avoid chemical fertilisers and insecticides etc. Again you can reintroduce trusted foods at a later date if you want to
Things you can eat:-
- Organic is best and safest – but avoid processed organic products as they only have to contain a certain percentage of organic ingredients to be able to label as organic. You can be selective about what you re-introduce later
- Raw state foods – as in natural for you to cook or prepare yourself: – organic meat from grass-fed animals, wild fish or meat, organic fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables are all best
- Organic unrefined cold-pressed oils such as avocado, extra virgin olive, flaxseed, rice bran oil (safe at high temperatures), or coconut oil in moderation
Many people don’t stop to consider how much they spend each week on ‘unnecessary’ foods and drinks. A pack of candy or chocolate may be cheap – but when you add up all the things in your cart, trolley or basket, a large proportion of your expense is on foods that have no or little nutritional value and are full of sugar and chemicals. These are habit, lazy, and comfort foods. Make sure you are aware of what you normally do and why you do it so that you can consciously tackle old ways of doing things.
Thinking differently and shopping differently can eliminate fear. It is actually cheaper to buy healthy food, and an average person can feed themselves for a week on only a small budget.
You will never be able to detox if you continue to eat food for fullness and convenience rather than for nutrition. What is more, you will always struggle with the symptoms and outcomes of your brain injury if you continue to feed bad gut bacteria and continue to add to all the bad chemicals your body stores in fat cells which cause the problems in the first place.
You can actually produce a healthy salad or stir-fried dish quicker than you can ‘ping’ or oven cook unhealthy alternatives. We all know that microwaving food depletes its nutrients, but people still buy into the idea because food manufacturers and supermarkets market these products in ways that make them seem favourable.
Put time aside each week to make some homemade food you can freeze for busier days.
For a quick lunch why not ‘slap’ some homemade or organic guacamole, humous and salad into a gluten-free wrap or pitta or maybe make some crudites to have with these instead of eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It is just as quick – but instead of killing you slowly it is feeding your cells so that you can take steps to recover from your brain injury. A favourite is a quick salad of avocado and beetroot mixed with olive oil and some pine nuts. Eat the things you like the best and even if they aren’t usually high on your priority list they soon will be! Eating healthy foods makes you crave more!
In effect, the food giants are changing our cultural beliefs – if you value your integrity and individuality do things your own way – and live to tell the tale!
Pause and think
Did you know that dried lavender flowers can bring out the sweetness in foods like strawberries and rhubarb?
Don’t trust ‘brands’ just because this is what your Grannie used to do. Most of ‘grannies’ favoured brands are beyond recognition now. The marketing brand names remain the same but often the company behind it has been ‘bought-out’ by a food giant who only has one intention – to feed their own wallets.
Nearly every label includes palm oil, hydrogenated fats, and all manner of ingredients you would never add yourself at home. Chemicals are added for shelf-life, flavour and to stop ingredients coagulating, or make them ‘thicken.’ Even ascorbic acid usually bracketed by the words ‘vitamin C’ can be harmful to the digestive system.
Make it at home! Know what you are eating!
Detoxing means avoiding everything that doesn’t look like a raw ingredient.
Foods that support cleansing
We should all be cooking with herbs, and a return to using raw ingredients and cooking at home encourages this. Cooking at home means that you are able to add what you need and what you like – you no longer have to put up with something ‘pretending’ to be a shepherds pie – you can make your own and fill it with nutrition and flavour. Why compromise?
Cooking can be difficult for people following a brain injury. It can be difficult following a recipe and understanding instructions, but, there are many things you can do to improve what you eat and also many ways you can increase your nutritional intake in simple ways. We will address this in ‘Eat for Nutrition.’
Herbs are usually really easy to grow. If you have any outside space give them a go amongst your other plants. If you don’t have outside space you can grow herbs in pots on your windowsill.
A lot of supermarkets now include a small range of ‘growing’ herbs. They aren’t usually organic- but they are fresh. All herbs have health benefits – all of them are good for us!
Herbal teas are great!
Many of us think ‘herbal’ tea will taste ‘herby.’ They don’t! They are really refreshing and can also be made concentrated, so you can add sparkling water when they have cooled for a refreshing cold drink. Just add less water to the pot if you like to add a little bit of refreshing sparkle.
The flavours are gentle and even invigorating – depending on the type you use. If you grow herbs you can literally pick them, add boiling water, and when steeped – enjoy! You can also dry herbs for later use but remember this will concentrate the oils and make for a stronger flavour!
Many herbal teas are now made with a ‘need’ in mind, detoxing, calming, energy-boosting, and so on.
The common ingredients of ‘detox’ teas are vast. They include plant roots or bulbs as well as leaves.
Look for these ingredients:
|Burdock||Indian lilac||Persian walnut leaf|
|Centaury||Liquorice root||Red clover|
Be careful with green tea – it contains small amounts of caffeine – you absolutely want to avoid this in the early stages of brain injury. All tea blends should be used daily and mingled to make sure your body isn’t getting too used to any one type. Again you can make them concentrated, allow to cool and add still or sparkling spring water for a refreshing cool drink.
Always look for supplements that are organic and free of additives. Check anything you have in your cupboard already.
Many of these are geared towards detoxifying and supporting the liver – for good reason – but there are others that support the lymphatic systems, the microbiome and gut/brain.
The liver can get exhausted with the chemical influxes that occur after brain injury and through everyday lifestyle and diet. The liver can also be ‘saturated’ by a ‘western diet.’
If the liver is overloaded this will cause problems throughout the body – including at a cellular level. This will directly affect your energy levels and ability to think clearly. The liver is very much a vital organ in that it performs so many functions that affect our wellbeing quite directly.
When you look at the lists of detox herbs and roots used in teas and supplements, and then look at foods that help us to rid the body of build-up – we start to realise that a healthy diet is full of potential and consists of a huge range of basic ingredients that totally support our bodies and who we are.
A ‘processed’ diet is actually very limited in nutrition and taste. It is habit-forming and makes us think that it makes life easier – but it doesn’t. We will go into this more on the ‘Eat for Nutrition‘ page.
Pause and think: how can foods that slowly kill us be best for us?
A lot of people are worried about how to put good foods together, and in a way, the sudden ‘rush’ of TV ‘foodie’ programmes do and don’t help for people living with a brain injury. TV chefs always use healthful fresh foods and some even try to address the issues of bad mass-produced food, but often fall short when it comes to everyday nutritional food and ‘easy’ cooking that is enjoyable to eat. If you can’t handle the TV or stay focused reach out for help or stick to simple methods of cooking such as using a crockpot or slow cooker. Throw it all in!
We get enough salt from a healthy diet without adding more. Your taste buds get used to it – but they can just as easily get used to the richer and healthier taste of natural flavours which are much more enjoyable.
What we all really need to know is what goes with what. There are some basic rules that are based on traditional geographic natural locations. Oregano, for example, goes best with a Mediterranean diet – but when you think about it, Mediterranean people are using the herb with meats and salad vegetables and almost every dish they are known for. Turmeric, for example, is traditionally used in curries – and these can also include a variety of meats or vegetables.
Feeling less worried about ‘food etiquette’ helps us to feel more relaxed about what we are preparing. What we should all be focused on are the nutritional benefits of the foods we eat. One of the biggest problems most people face, especially in the western world, is a feeling of limitation regarding the weekly menu. Again, much of this is down to mass-producers providing limited processed foods which can destroy traditional and cultural approaches to cooking.
If you struggle with taste following a brain injury switching to home-cooked foods could be the answer. At least you will know what you are eating. Add extra black pepper and herbs to taste rather than salt which is a no-no for people living with a brain i
Take a look at this list of foods that are known to benefit the processes of detoxification:-
You may look at the list and think that there are a lot of foods you don’t like or normally eat. Opening our minds is often about accepting that we have been ‘cultured.’
How do we ever know if we don’t like something if we have never tried it? Most grandmothers have encouraged children to eat a greater variety of food this way – by using this ‘intellectual’ argument, but the reality is that during our youth our propensity for taste changes a lot. As adults, we should try more foods and flavours – even ‘textures.’
We know, for sure, the benefits of almost every food group and type. Most foods have been through the science lab and we know what foods have what in them and what these things are good for.
We also know that negative attitudes can affect our taste buds – if we think it won’t taste good – it won’t…
We create our mentality and health based on what we believe. We rarely question our learned or cultural beliefs, and so we rarely -update them – despite what our grandparents tried to teach us.
You don’t have to include all of these foods in your diet to aid detoxing – with food, balance is always best and seasonal is too!
There are also lots of foods and herbs that aid the brain – we will cover these under ‘Eat for Nutrition.’ Your ‘healthy’ food list will get longer!
The best thing for a ‘quick fix’
Not only are the benefits of this traditionally sourced oil proven by science, but they have also been advocated for thousands of years.
Black seed oil is a natural detoxifier.
Most of the knowledge, including cultural ‘knowing,’ of the huge array of health benefits associated with his oil, are still associated with the middle eastern countries.
While many people in the west have come across ‘cumin oil’ they have no idea that the source of the seeds, where they are grown, the soil they are grown in, their type, and other factors about how the seeds are pressed and bottled, can, and do, vary the beneficial elements greatly brand by brand.
When ‘cumin oil’ in the west doesn’t bring noticeable change – it is assumed that all ‘nigella stavia’ oil is the same – it isn’t. If you have tried it before and it hasn’t made a noticeable difference this will be down to the brand you used.
True nigella stavia also has an ‘intention’ behind it. This ‘intention’ works at a quantum level and makes just as much difference to the oil as all the things we intellectually quantify. There is only one producer who holds the medicinal values of the oil in mind throughout the choice of seed, growing, cold-pressing, and bottling process.
Intention makes a difference…
The ‘Blessed Black Seed Oil‘ meets all criteria. It is the only one that does.
- It promotes changes that are noticeable and readily motivates people towards change
- It enables clarity and actually puts people off using harmful substances
- It changes ‘values’ in the mind and body and promotes energy
Other things to try
Deep tissue massage
Mineral (Epson salt) bath (also gives you a magnesium boost)
Other things to consider
- Chemicals in your home – air freshener, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, moisturiser – all these products and all of the other things you use in your home can add to the quantity of toxins your body has to cope with
- Carpets are made with chemicals and also harbour heavy metals
A lot of people don’t switch personal hygiene and cleaning products to organics because they are worried about cost, but the natural products go an awful lot further than their chemical counterparts.
Don’t forget – your skin is also an organ, so what you put on it, or next to it, is as important as what you eat.
Let’s sum up
- Include detox herbs, teas, supplements, and foods daily
- Include black seed oil as part of your regimen
- Eat organic
- Eat fresh and local
- Reduce and work to eliminate chemicals in all the products you use
A Must Read!
Harvard School of Public Health – Processed Foods and Health
Organic Authority – Think your organic food is GM free?
The Telegraph – Supermarkets selling meat from animals fed on GM crops
GMO Awareness – Is organic always GMO free?
Food Standards Agency (FSA) – Genetically modified foods