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Three Steps to a Healthier Detox

Summer is here!  Sunshine, beach days and celebrations with friends and family.  Are you ready to get back out and about after the long days of COVID lockdown?  I am!  

With Summer celebrations often comes food, later nights and increased alcohol consumption - and all of this can take a toll on your health.  Taking simple steps to enhance your body's detoxification pathways can help to keep you in balance.  In the coming weeks I'll be outlining simple techniques to DETOX and RECHARGE this Summer - but first let's start with the basics.

We are exposed to toxins on a daily basis, both from our environment and through our lifestyle choices. Within each of us exists a natural and complex system of metabolic detoxification that works every day to identify and remove toxins from the body. Many factors can contribute to an accumulation of toxins in the body, including:

  • Exposure to pesticides, plastics and industrial chemicals
  • Heavy metal exposure
  • Bacterial overgrowth in the gut resulting in endotoxin exposure
  • Poor food choices
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of physical activity

Cultures around the world have long believed that the accumulation of toxins in the body is an underlying cause of a variety of health problems. For centuries, various cleansing and detoxification therapies have been used to minimize toxin exposure and aid the body’s ability to break down and excrete toxins.

Our bodies are actively detoxing on a daily basis, however sometimes they have trouble keeping up! When our natural system of metabolic detoxification becomes overburdened, toxins accumulate in the body. These toxins can cause tissue damage and may interfere with normal cellular processes. Common symptoms of toxic overload include:

  • Fatigue/low energy
  • Poor Sleep
  • Chronic constipation
  • Abdominal pain, gas and bloat
  • Increased allergy symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Itchy skin/rashes
  • Bad breath
  • Confusion or “brain fog”
  • Anxiety

If you are experiencing symptoms of toxic overload it may be time to consider a detoxification program. Such a program generally involves:

  • Reducing exposure to toxins.
  • Supporting and enhancing the body’s natural detoxification systems.
  • Encouraging the removal of toxins from the body.

While there are many approaches to detoxification and many programs available, I focus on three simple steps to ensure a safe and healthy detox.


I am generally not a fan of “juice cleanses”. Not only are such programs lacking in fiber and protein, they can also upset hormone balance by raising cortisol and disrupting blood sugar regulation.

For effective detoxification, I prefer to focus on nutrients that support the body‘s natural detoxification mechanisms and emphasize clean, organic whole foods. In particular I recommend adequate amounts of quality protein providing amino acids essential to the metabolic detoxification pathways in the liver, and a variety of colorful non-starchy vegetables which add supportive vitamins, minerals and fiber.

While non-starchy vegetables are alkaline, most toxins are acidic, so consuming these vegetables will help to push acidic toxins to be filtered out through your kidneys. Specialized proteins shakes and targeted nutraceuticals may also be utilized to support detoxification pathways.

Adequate hydration is essential for a safe detoxification. Proper hydration can protect the cells and tissues in your body from the damaging effects of toxins. Water intake promotes removal of toxins from the body through your kidneys via urine, and through your intestines via stool.

During a detoxification program, I recommend higher than average water intake. To determine the amount that is right for you, take half of your weight in pounds and convert that to ounces of daily water (for example, a 140 pound woman should consume at least 70 ounces of water daily during detoxification).

If you have digestive problems, it is essential to address these issues before beginning a detoxification program. This is especially important for those with chronic constipation.

Why is the gut so important in detoxification? Because you have to “take out the garbage”! The gut (along with the kidneys and your sweat glands) is the primary pathway by which toxins leave the body. I recommend support for bowel regularity with water, fiber and magnesium to help this process.

Bacterial overgrowth in the gut contributes to toxicity by exposing the body to bacterial endotoxins. For those with a history of chronic abdominal bloat, gas, and diarrhea or irregular bowel movements, identifying and treating underlying gut imbalances is an important first step in detoxification. For some, I recommend an herbal gut cleanse prior to beginning a detoxification program.

Are you ready for a personalized detoxification program? Let’s get started!

Call 231-638-5585 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to send me an email!

Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative Medicine I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, I continue to see both new and returning clients via our easy, secure, video-visit format. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

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Highlights from the Annual Nutrition & Health Conference

Earlier this week I attended the 12th Annual Nutrition & Health Conference, presented by the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine under the direction of Andrew Weil, MD (pictured with me below). Each year, this conference brings together a variety of experts to focus on the central role of nutrition in health and healing, and provide a scientific basis for the integration of nutrition and medicine into practice. It is a medical conference like no other! I was inspired not just by the depth of research presented, but also by the quality and character of both the faculty and the fellow attendees. This is an organization that truly “walks the walk”.

Thin mice become obese when they receive a fecal transplant from obese mice.  
Without any other change (including no change in diet/exercise), simply transplanting stool from an obese mouse into a thin mouse causes weight gain.  Now you know why I am so obsessed about the role of your gut microflora in your health…
Environmental exposures are directly linked to childhood obesity, especially Bisphenol A (BPA). 
Once again, it is not just about calories, there is more to the story.  Chemical exposure contributes to obesity.  On a positive note, research has shown that when children have their diet changed to organic food, the measured levels of pesticides in their urine is substantially lowered in less than a week.
When it comes to weight loss and reduction of hunger, it's not total daily protein intake, but rather adequate protein intake at key points during the day that matters. 
This was not news to me - but it was great to see the valid research backing up what I speak with my patients about daily!  For those patients in need of weight loss, food pairing with adequate protein at timed intervals during the day can be very effective in reducing hunger and preventing over-eating, especially curbing nighttime snacking.  
Mitochondria make up approximately 10% of your body weight.  
Don’t know what mitochondria are?  It’s time you learned.  Mitochondria are the “energy factories” in all of the cells of our body.  Certain cells have more mitochondria than others, such as heart cells, which need more mitochondria because they need more energy.  Healthy mitochondria are the key to healthy aging, and one of the best things you can do to keep your mitochondria healthy is to EXERCISE.
If an item displays a "USDA Certified Organic” label, it is non-GMO. 
I actually did not know this.  While there are separate labels for non-GMO, you do not have to look any further if you see this certified organic label.  No GMOs allowed.  That being said, as larger companies are buying up smaller organic companies, they are getting more seats on the government boards that set these definitions.  The number of allowed chemicals under the "USDA Certified Organic” label is changing yearly.  Something to keep an eye on...

If you have any questions about this conference or the topics above, please feel free to email me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Be Well,

Carin Nielsen, MD

Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineLooking for a personalized approach to your healthcare? I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions. Treating symptoms and chronic disease simply by prescribing medication doesn't address the underlying factors that contributed your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results. My approach involves getting "under the surface" to find and correct underlying imbalances. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

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