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Local Health Professionals Make Great Detox Partners

Dee Harris

Dee Harris

While the lyrics of singer/songwriter Paul Simon suggest that there are “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” there are only six ways for toxins to leave the body—through the skin, lungs, liver, lymphatic system, kidneys and bowel. Narrowing the avenues for exiting via perspiration, urine or feces are detox pathways that may not be functioning optimally or that are genetically compromised. There is only one option to determine this—genetic testing.

Genetic Testing

At D-Signed Nutrition, in Bonita Springs, Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist Dee Harris relies on raw data from genetic testing results. With an analysis of these DNA results, Harris is able to zero in on specifics that can seriously impact an individual’s ability to metabolize food, supplements and toxins, as well as pharmaceuticals.

“Despite all the ways that you are consciously working at living a healthy lifestyle—exercising, making good food choices, getting enough sleep and even meditating to keep stress levels low, you can’t know if your detox pathways are genetically compromised and working against your efforts unless you know about your genetic variants. Compromised genes are our Achilles Heel, and the only way to rectify the situation is with nutritional support specifically designed to offset any glyphs in the genes,” explains Harris.

Endocrine Disruptors

Harris offers an example of why optimally functioning detox pathways are critical for eliminating excessive estrogen in the body. “Many of the things we use or consume daily contain xenoestrogens, a category of endocrine disruptors that mimic the function of natural estrogen, blocking or binding the body’s hormone receptors.”

Xenoestrogens in the body increase the total amount of estrogen, resulting in a phenomenon called estrogen dominance. They are not biodegradable and get stored in our fat cells. The accumulation of xenoestrogens has been indicated in conditions such as breast, uterine, prostate and testicular cancer, erectile dysfunction, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes. “Every function of the body is dependent upon nutrients. If someone can’t metabolize xenoestrogens properly, they need to be made aware of what supplements they need to take and that they should eat more organic fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, particularly in the cruciferous family. Organic is important because conventionally grown fruit and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides that also contain xenoestrogens,” says Harris.

Harris is in agreement with Dr. Claudia Marcelo, a colleague of Dr. Pamela Hughes, owner of the Hughes Center for Functional Medicine, in Naples—gentle detoxing, along with right formulation of supplements and organic foods, is best performed on a daily basis for the purpose of good health and longevity.

A Cascade of Factors

Dr. Claudia MarceloMarcelo also adds to Harris’ cautions regarding invisible health issues that impact detoxing. “Toxicity can start at birth. The Multigenerational Epigenetic Inheritance Study by researchers at Wayne State University [in Detroit] revealed that mothers with high levels of lead in their blood not only affect the fetal cells of their unborn children, but also their grandchildren,” explains Marcelo, who adds that women are unknowingly exposed to lead in many different ways through air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint and dust. Even homes built as recently as 1978 might contain lead paint.

Marcelo notes that after the possible inheritance of the toxic heavy metal, childhood vaccines expose kids to other heavy metals, while life exposes them to infections, viruses, bacteria, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, sugar and artificial sweeteners, as well as processed and genetically modified foods, all which accumulate to form a cascade of inflammation in their little bodies.

Testing for Toxic Burden on the Body

With regard to her practice of personalized medicine, Hughes suggests that body burden testing for toxins is helpful to her when determining what type of detox program a patient should follow. “The individual who unwittingly dives into an aggressive detox program might have headaches, an inability to think clearly or flu-like symptoms with achy joints. This experience is likely to lead them to the assumption that the detox didn’t work and instead made them ill,” she explains.

Dr. Pamela HughesThe three integrative functional medicine health professionals promote a detox plan that always begins with cleaning up the gut and its microbiome before moving on to other organs and systems. Their first step is to eliminate difficult-to-digest foods such as dairy, wheat, grains and gluten, as well as excluding sugars, artificial sweeteners and processed foods from the patient’s diet.

Marcelo is a fan of using therapeutic-grade essential oils such as lemon, lime or wild orange in a cup of warm water each morning to improve digestion. “Peppermint oil is good in a cup of tea. Diffused or combined with a few drops of coconut oil, it can be rubbed onto the stomach area.  

Natural modalities such as steam baths, infrared saunas, coffee enemas and colonics, also known as colon hydrotherapy, are other steps that Marcelo recommends. “Coffee enemas help to boost the liver’s production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant,” she remarks.

Harris sums up the detox process with a helpful metaphor. “Think of the body like a washing machine. There is a wash and rinse cycle. If you throw in a white shirt with a fat-soluble chocolate stain on it and don’t put the right detergent in, the stain won’t come out. Toxins are lipid loving and live in fat cells, so you need detox detergent in the wash cycle that is made up of the right vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from foods and supplements. The rinse cycle agent is a lot of protein, fiber and probiotics. If you don’t have the nutrients to get through either phase one or phase two of the detox and you have constipation, toxins get reabsorbed into the bloodstream and cause oxidative stress, inflammation and symptoms.”

The best way to detox is to keep a clean diet and environment. Read labels and use natural home care and cleaning products that are as free of chemicals as possible. Eat organic foods as much as possible. Avoid food additives and preservatives- especially in supplements. Visit the Environmental Working Group ( for guidelines on recommended food, personal care and home cleaning products that won’t add to the toxic load.

In the approach to detoxing, just as Simon’s song lyrics suggest, “The answer is easy if you take it logically.” Rather than diving into a detox process with only the help of “Dr. Google”, consider consulting a health professional and let them design a truly effective and personalized plan.

Local Resources

D-Signed Nutrition, 3531 Bonita Bay Blvd., Ste. 300, Bonita Springs. 239-676-5249.

Hughes Center for Functional Medicine, 800 Goodlette Rd., Ste. 270, Naples. 239-649-7400.

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