“Detox” can be a bit of a buzzword, especially in the health and fitness community. When we discuss detoxification in functional medicine, we’re not talking about a juice cleanse or the latest shake you can buy on Instagram. We’re talking about the science of how our bodies get rid of waste. Metabolic detoxification is the physiological process that our bodies utilize to render chemicals, compounds, hormones, and toxins less harmful so they can be removed from the body.

There are well defined pathways in the body that are responsible for converting toxins into less harmful chemical compounds that are easier for the body to eliminate in the urine or the stool. Organs of detoxification – the liver, kidneys, large intestine, lymphatic system, and sweat glands – work as an efficient system to eliminate environmental contaminants.

In a healthy body, the detoxification process runs smoothly. But when we are toxic, the system for detoxification gets sluggish and certain toxins can remain active longer than our systems can handle. When waste builds up within our bodies, our health declines and our metabolism becomes disrupted. Translation: we get sick and fat. 

Where Are Toxins Coming From?

We live in a toxic world. The Environmental Working Group estimates that the average adult has at least 700 toxins in their body, and the average newborn is exposed to more than 280 toxins before they are even born!

But where are these toxins coming from? The list of possible toxin exposures is quite long:

  • Chemicals from agricultural production, including pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers 
  • Materials used in new construction which off-gas into the air, including carpet chemicals, paint, and metals
  • Personal hygiene products applied to the face, skin, teeth, and hair
  • Air pollutants found in industrial exposures
  • Primary or secondary-hand smoke exposure 
  • Auto exhaust 
  • Credit card receipts
  • Household cleaners and chemicals
  • BPA found in plastic water bottles and food containers
  • Methyl mercury found in fish
  • Inorganic mercury from off-gassing of silver dental fillings 

How Do I Know If I’m Toxic?

It’s not a matter of if you are toxic. The question is just how toxic are you? In order to understand how toxic you may be, it’s important to understand the concept of “total load,” or the total amount of stressors your system can handle at one time. There are 3 main factors that determine how many toxins your body can take on at once:

  1. The level of toxicant exposure 
  2. Your genetic predisposition to produce the enzymes required in the detoxification process
  3. The amount of nutrients and phytonutrients being absorbed to support the body’s capacity to reduce toxins and lower overall total load

When we reach our personal limit of accumulated toxins and are not able to clear them from our body efficiently enough, a whole range of problems may begin to occur. Toxicity can manifest in any number of symptoms, including:

  • Acne 
  • Allergies
  • Behavior and mood disorders
  • Bloating
  • Canker sores
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Eczema
  • Excessive sinus problems
  • Fatigue
  • Food cravings
  • Foul-smelling stools
  • Gas
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Infertility
  • Joint pain
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Muscle aches
  • Neurological disorders such as: cognitive difficulties, tremors, Alzheimers, or Parkinson’s
  • Obesity
  • Postnasal drip
  • Psoriasis
  • Rashes
  • Sinus congestion
  • Skin problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Trouble losing weight
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Water retention

Almost every disease has been linked to toxicity, including digestive issues, autoimmune diseases, dementia, and heart disease. 

How to Successfully Detox

In order to successfully detox our system of toxins, we must work to enhance our body’s natural detoxing and waste removal capabilities while simultaneously minimizing our exposure to external toxins. 

Step 1: Remove the Toxin Source

The first step in detoxing is to identify toxins that may be ingested in food or water. The Institute for Functional Medicine recommends the following tips for removing toxins from your everyday environment:

  • Remove surface pesticide residue, wax, fertilizer, or fungicide by soaking the produce in a mild solution of additive-free soap, such as pure castile soap or biodegradable cleanser
  • Peel the skin or outer layer of leaves off of produce
  • Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating food
  • Wash produce before peeling so that dirt or contaminants aren’t transferred from the knife onto to the fruit or vegetable
  • Consult the current versions of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” (foods that are high in pesticide residues) and the “Clean 15” (foods that are low in pesticides residues) lists
  • Buy organically-grown animal products, such as meat and dairy
  • Chose lean meats over fatty meats because pesticides accumulate in fat
  • Avoid foods that contain preservatives such as BHT, BHA, benzoate, and sulfites
  • Avoid foods that contain food colorings such as FD&C yellow #5 & #6
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame 
  • Limit consumption of fish high in mercury (bluefish, grouper, halibut, mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, sea bass, shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna)
  • Limit exposure to canned foods and plastic bottles or containers of water or high-acid foods, due to the presence of toxins like bisphenol-A and other plasticizers
  • Cook with non-stick pans, skillets, and pots that are not worn or scuffed in order to minimize the release of any harmful compounds into food while cooking
  • Use filtered drinking and cooking water
  • Minimize drugs intake, including stimulants, sedatives, caffeine, and nicotine
  • Reduce alcohol intake

Step 2: Eat to Enhance Your Body’s Natural Detoxing and Waste Removal Capabilities

Food plays a role in all phases of detoxification. Many foods and nutrients can up-regulate the body’s natural process of eliminating toxins, alleviate toxic burden, and allow the body to operate more efficiently. 

Protein is a key nutrient in the detoxification process. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, bind to transformed toxins in the liver so they can be eliminated from the body. When possible, include protein in every meal for ongoing detox support. 

Meat eaters should consider quality factors when selecting their animal protein by selecting lean, grass-fed, organic, non-GMO sources. 

Vegetarians can choose from miso, naoto, tofu, tempe rice / hemp / pea protein powder, and plant-based burger alternatives as great protein sources. 

Fish eaters should choose wild-caught fish, in order to avoid hormones and toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) often found in farmed varieties. It’s important to choose fish with low amounts of mercury. According to the National Research Defense Council, the list of fish with the lowest mercury levels includes: anchovies, butterfish, croaker, flounder, haddock, hake, herrick, mackerel, mullet, perch, pollock, salmon, sardines, sole, squid, tilapia, trout, whitefish, and whitting.

Non-starchy vegetables contain the greatest source of the phytonutrients needed for detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables, specifically, provide the body with healthy compounds to metabolize hormones in a balanced manner. Arugula, broccoflower, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, kohlrabi, and radishes are all part of the cruciferous vegetable family. 

It’s important to eat other colorful vegetables in conjunction with cruciferous vegetables. “Eat the rainbow” every single day by including other healthy greens, beets, peppers, carrots, yams, squash, onions, and garlic. Including vegetables in every meal is a great way to reach the goal of eating 8 – 10 servings daily. 

Fruits are a great source of detoxing antioxidants. Apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes (purple), mandarins, oranges, pineapple, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, and tangerines are great phytonutrient-dense options. It’s best to eat a little bit of protein along with fruit to offset potential blood sugar spikes.

Step 3: Eliminate Properly

Many of the toxins processed in the liver are released through bile and eliminated in the stool. Without healthy bowel movements, toxins can’t be released from the body. Consistently having one or 2 bowel movements a day is ideal for the removal of toxins. Consuming the right amount of fiber – about 35 grams daily – is imperative to healthy elimination of stool and endotoxins. 

Some toxins are eliminated in urine. Staying hydrated not only helps the body get rid of toxins, it also increases metabolism and promotes satiety (helps you feel full). It’s important to drink enough clean, filtered water throughout the day. Take your body weight in pounds and divide in half to determine the number in ounces of water you should be drinking each day. For example, if a woman weighs 140 pounds, she should drink 70 ounces of water a day.

Toxins can also be removed from the body through sweat. Sweating profusely at least 3 times a week will help ensure that toxins are being removed effectively and not being stored in the body. Using a sauna is a great way to produce a deep, detoxifying sweat that helps the body purge toxins. Click here to learn how to book an appointment in the sauna at the FMI Meridian location. 

Using an infrared sauna is a great way to produce a deep, detoxifying sweat that helps the body purge toxins. Click here to learn how to book an appointment in the sauna at the FMI Meridian location. 

Using an ionic foot detox bath can help support your body’s detox pathways as it removes heavy metals and other toxins. Click here to learn how to book an appointment for the ionic foot detox bath at the FMI Meridian location.

Step 4: Utilize Functional Medicine Resources

Depending on your symptoms, genetic predisposition, and environmental exposures, you may need different levels of nutrients and types of treatment to fully detox. FMI has providers who specialize in detoxification and are ready to help you rid your body of toxins, learn how to optimize your detoxification system, and create long-term, optimal health.

Click here to start the new patient process. 

Stephanie Ritari, PA-C

Stephanie Ritari is a board-certified Physician Assistant who offers primary care for adults at the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center. She specializes in Internal Medicine and has spent the majority of her career in the field of cardiovascular disorders.

Stephanie has more than 15 years experience as a Physician Assistant in a variety of medical areas, including cardiology and electrophysiology. Holistic practices have long been a part of Stephanie’s lifestyle, with a particular focus on clean living and nutrition. She has embedded functional principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. After watching family members struggle to find answers for their chronic illnesses, Stephanie became more interested in finding ways to take a root cause approach in her own practice. Wanting to provide a proactive, comprehensive, and preventative scope of care for her patients, Stephanie began studying functional medicine. In 2021, she joined Functional Medicine of Idaho, where she is able to provide evidence based, root cause medicine.

Stephanie earned her Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Montana and her masters in Physician Assistant Studies from Rocky Mountain College. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine. 

In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and dog doing outdoor activities including biking, hiking, and skiing. She also loves interior design and traveling, and is hoping to start her own garden in the near future.

Dr. David Musnick, MD, IFMCP

David Musnick is a board-certified medical doctor who offers in-person and telemedicine care from the Functional Medicine of Idaho Eagle clinic (coming soon). Dr. Musnick offers Functional Medicine, Sports Medicine, Functional Immunology, and Primary Care for adults and teenagers. He specializes in sports medicine, internal medicine, frequency specific microcurrent (FSM), scars, homeopathy, prolotherapy, and low-level laser treatments. 

Dr. Musnick is interested in getting to the root of underlying causes and factors that affect healing, including diet, sleep, exercise, stress, GI health, brain region health, toxins, hormones, infections, and electromagnetic fields (EMF). In medical school, Dr. Musnick spent a year studying nutrition. He has always been interested in the complex interrelationships of different systems of the body. Taking on challenges in the past, he created new treatment programs to heal the brain after concussion, treat chronic pain, arthritis, and tough SIBO and IBS cases. Dr. Musnick wants to help his patients achieve the highest level of health, vitality and function. 

After his internal medicine residency in Seattle, Dr. Musnick completed a fellowship in sports medicine where he became interested in helping patients get back to optimal musculoskeletal health and eventually back to their favorite activities. He quickly learned that many areas of the body were interrelated and started learning more about nutrition, supplements, and other facets of functional medicine. Dr. Musnick has more than 24 years of experience in Functional Medicine and achieved a very high level of both experience and expertise with many health conditions. He is also the author of the book, Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness, and helped in writing textbook chapters on arthritis and concussions.

Dr. Musnick received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of California, San Francisco. He is certified through the Institute for Functional Medicine as an IFMCP. He also studied in the French school of Homeopathy. He is uniquely rare in that he teaches Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) and how to integrate it with functional medicine. 

In his spare time, Dr. Musnick enjoys hiking, nature photography, cooking healthy food, mountain biking, and skiing.

IFM Certified Practitioner

Aaron Dykstra, DNP, FNP-C

Aaron Dykstra is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. He offers pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Functional and alternative therapies were a part of Aaron’s life from a young age, and he has implemented these principles into his conventional medicine practice throughout his career. Aaron has more than 8 years of experience in a variety of medical disciplines, including pediatrics, obstetrics, mental health, and nutrition. He has practiced in rural health clinics in California and Oregon. For the last 5 years, Aaron has had a passion for working with children and implementing positive change through the family unit. Aaron joined the Functional Medicine of Idaho Pediatric Team in 2021. His enthusiasm for educating children and parents about living a healthy lifestyle allows him to provide preventative and acute care for infants, children, and adolescents. 

Aaron obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Brigham Young University. He earned both his Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through the University of Arizona. He has obtained a Family Herbalist and Family Nutritionist certifications through The School of Natural Healing by Dr. Christopher. He is currently working towards his certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Aaron spending time with his wife and 5 kids, mountain biking, running, or camping in the backyard. Aaron is a big fan of Master Chef and enjoys cooking.

Nadia Kravchuk, DNP, FNP-C

Nadia Kravchuk is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. She offers functional pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Nadia and her family immigrated to the United States in 1989 where they first settled in Oregon and then moved to Idaho in 2001. Complementary medicine practices were embedded into her lifestyle at a young age, and she has implemented these principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. She has more than 15 years experience in a variety of medical environments, including emergency room, intensive care unit, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family practice, and aesthetics.

Nadia joined Functional Medicine of Idaho so that she can combine functional principles with the foundations of conventional medicine to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. As an avid gardener, beekeeper, and sustainable living enthusiast, she understands the importance and role of optimizing nutrition, sleep, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. She has a passion for pediatric functional medicine and understands that early recognition and interventions can correct imbalances, prevent chronic illness, and improve overall outcomes for children.

Nadia obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Northwest Nazarene University. She earned both her Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through Frontier Nursing University. In 2017, she was the recipient of the HCA Excellence in Nursing Award. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Nadia working on her urban homestead, hiking, foraging, camping, snowboarding, and spending time with her husband and her dog, Wolfy. She is also fluent in both English and Russian.