Detoxification is the process your body uses to change waste products and potentially harmful substances into compounds that are harmless. While doing some more intensive detoxification may sound like a good idea during active cancer treatment, it is not recommended while you are receiving chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or undergoing surgery. Intense detoxification protocols that include special diets or liver-supportive supplements can be physically challenging and may interfere with treatment.
Remember that the body eliminates waste via four different routes: urine, feces, respiration (breathing) and perspiration (sweating). There are easy ways that you can support these detoxification processes every day that will help support your overall health.
Here are five things you can do every day to support your body’s ability to detoxify every day:
1. Hydration: getting at least 60 ounces of water daily is important. Remember that beverages like coffee, soda, and alcohol are diuretics that not only carry water out of our bodies, but also carry with them important vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium. You don’t want to lose this important mineral that is helpful for reducing side-effects of standard cancer treatment, such as fatigue and constipation.
2. Eat one meal every day that has “Five Different Colors”–and gravy, ketchup, and sauces are not colors! Brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as berries and squash contain cancer-fighting phytonutrients. The nutrients found in these colorful foods also nourish your body during treatment, feeding your body the good stuff it needs to heal. It’s easy to make dinner more colorful by adding a second vegetable, or adding carrots, seeds, or beans to a salad.
3. Exercise: This doesn’t need to be hour upon hour spent at a gym. Studies have shown that 150 minutes of exercise per week (including walking), helps to reduce treatment-related fatigue, boost mood, and reduces the risk of multiple types of cancer. This can even be broken up into short sessions. Two 15-minute walks will be as beneficial as one 30-minute walk. So, get up and get moving. Anything that can make you sweat is also great for detoxification–like a sauna–they’re excellent for supporting optimal health.
4. Sleep: During active treatment, sleep can be challenging, especially on chemotherapy days if you are receiving steroids. Pain can also interfere with sleep. But, sleep time is when our body ‘cleans house’ from all of the day’s activities. If you have trouble sleeping, do not watch TV or scroll on your phone of iPad just before bed. It is stimulating and will keep you awake. Exercise, even mild exercise, can help you to sleep better at night.
5. Breathe: Respiration is how we take in healing oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide. But most people breathe only into their chest, and do not breathe into their diaphragm. While sitting, take a deep breath in through the nose, making sure your belly, not your chest, rises with the breath. Inhale for a count of four. Hold for a count of one. Then exhale for a count of four, or extend to a count of 6. Repeat 5-10 times. This is a great thing to do any time you are feeling stressed, or to help you unwind before you go to bed.