Many of our patients with cancer at the CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre ask about detoxification, especially around the new year. For patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation therapy or other targeted treatments, many common detoxification methods can be too depleting and taxing on the system and additionally, may be unsafe. Our bodies are designed to do a daily detox – through sweating, bowel movements, urination and breath. During active treatment for cancer, the goal is to encourage these natural detoxification pathways, without overloading them or interfering with treatment.
Patients with cancer on active treatment can support detoxification through these 5 simple steps:
- Exercise – Moving your body moves both your blood and immune system which supports detoxification. In addition, sweating is a direct route of detoxification. The goal is to be active most days of the week, for about 30 minutes, which can be split into intervals depending on your individual endurance. To get maximum benefit, break a sweat.
- Optimize hydration – A reasonable goal is to aim for at least 2 liters of fluid per day, including teas. Checking the colour of your urine is the easiest and most practical way to assess your hydration needs – aim to pass urine which is light yellow to clear in colour. Water is essential in flushing drugs out of the kidneys, but is needed for almost all bodily functions.
- Increase your fiber content – Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are rich sources of fiber, which binds toxins in the colon so that they end up in your stool instead of being recirculated into the bloodstream. You can consider adding a daily dose of fiber from ground flax seeds or psyllium as well.
- Deep belly breathing – With deep rhythmic breathing the diaphragm expands, which not only relaxes the body, but massages the lymphatic (immune) system which in turn helps in the elimination of toxins. Deep breathing also assists the circulatory system, improving blood flow, another major channel of elimination and detoxification. Inhale deeply until you feel you belly full of air, hold your breath for 2-3 seconds and exhale slowly and deeply until all air is expelled. Repeat multiple times each day.
- Detox you mind – Add a mindfulness meditation daily. Meditation is powerful in detoxifying and reducing stress, depression and anxiety, all of which affect us physically. Even taking five minutes to practice meditation can be helpful. You can consider doing this during deep belly breathing or find a guided meditation online.
Interested in learning more about detoxification during cancer treatment? Consult with a naturopathic doctor at the CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre for a more directed approach and specific supplements that can increase liver and kidney health without interacting with your chemotherapy or other drug treatment.