Detox!If you’re like me, you hear quotes like these from many wellness-minded folks:“I need to rid my body of toxins, time to detox.”
“I’m starting a detox diet this week.”
“It’s Time for my annual detox juice fast!”
I’m Healthy, Why Do I need to ‘Detox’?Many of us work hard to eat the right foods, practice wellness techniques and maintain our stress levels. But even the healthiest of folks tend to embrace ‘detox practices’. Recently actress Gwyneth Paltrow discussed in her GOOP newsletter, how she just finished up her detox cleanse. But why does wellness-devotee Gwyneth really need a ‘detox cleanse’? Are body toxins real? Doesn’t our body take care of toxins on our own? Find out…
What are TOXINS that build up in my body?
Answer: The Nemours Foundation describes body toxins as, “A toxin is a chemical or poison that is known to have harmful effects on the body. Toxins can come from food or water, from chemicals used to grow or prepare food, used in our body products and even from the air that we breathe. Our bodies process those toxins through organs like the liver and kidneys and eliminate them in the form of sweat, urine, and feces.”
You can break toxins down into four categories: toxins from the air, water, food and chemicals in our environments. Here is an example of each:
Air: Pollution refers to the toxic gases and chemicals, such as methane and carbon monoxide, that are released into the atmosphere only to be mixed into the air we breathe in and exhale out. Pollution toxins can come from vehicles burning fuels and factory emissions as well as other sources. A notable air pollutant is also cigarettes. Inhaled tobacco products contain a number of highly toxic ingredients that can negatively affect your body. Tobacco product toxins effect more than the smokers. Second hand smoke can be inhaled in a wide variety of situations: bars, restaurants, casinos, at home from family members and roommates, sporting events, city sidewalks, outdoor cafes and other social gatherings. Thus even non-smokers should be aware of the toxic ingredients that are in tobacco smoke.
Water: A number of toxins have been discovered in water. Everything from chlorine, bleach, ammonia and even OTC and prescription medications have been reported to be found in excess in drinking water. An extreme case of toxic water is depicted in the award winning movie Erin Brockovich. The true-story tale depicts the legal case against Pacific Gas and Electric, regarding alleged contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium (VI), in the Southern California town of Hinkley. Pollutants and chemicals in drinking water have been said to cause everything from depression to illness and even cancer. Water supplies across the globe greatly vary in composition. Spring, mineral and artisan bottled waters have become all the rage in the past decade, although some critics believe that tap water is not as bad as the media depicts.
Food: Side note: toxic foods do not refer to pesticides. That comes next in the ‘chemicals’ category. Toxic foods can refer to food additives, highly processed or genetically modified foods; Partially Hydrogenated oils, High Fructose Corn Syrup and even chemical ingredients in food recipes such as food dyes (RED 40) and chemical flavorings(MSG and aspartame). A few doctors believe that modern day American diets can actually be considered ‘toxic’ because of the high intake of processed, dead ‘empty-calorie’ food items like white flour and sugar. Dr. Robert Lustig, of the University of California San Francisco, says “today’s processed food is loaded with sugars that alter the body’s hormonal balance, creating a “toxic environment” and an “addiction” to food.” -Natural Clinical Practice Scientific Journal. In regards to food additives that are considered ‘toxic’ to the body, such as Food colorings: BLUE 1, BLUE 2, GREEN 3, RED 3, YELLOW 6. Another common food toxin is Ethanol or Methanol, commonly known as Alcohol. Alcoholic beverages contain ‘possibly toxic’ sulfites, which some individuals are allergic to. Everyone’s most likely heard of Alcohol poisoning that happens when the toxic level gets higher than our bodies can tolerate. The fatal dose of ethanol is 300-400 mL of pure ethanol (600-800 mL of 50% spirits), for the average adult if consumed in less than one hour. Don’t think you’re in the clear because you don’t drink fatal amounts at one time, toxins’ build up in your body due to exposure of alcohol and drugs over time, the liver and the kidneys may stop functioning properly resulting in conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Performing a body cleanse and eliminating toxins from the body attributed to alcohol and drugs, can help to prevent possible long-term conditions in the future.
Chemicals: Chemicals that are toxic may include small amounts of very toxic things, such as Herbicides and Pesticide residue dusted onto our freshly-picked, non-washed, non-organic produce. (Always choose organic produce when possible.) High pesticide produce items include non-organic peaches, strawberries, apples, nectarines, bell peppers, celery, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes and pears. Over the counter prescription and even recreational drugs are all referred to as chemical toxins that can build up in your body over time. Another recent toxic-topic of discussion refers to the amount of heavy metals such as Mercuryin the foods that we eat. High levels of Mercury in the body can cause illness and even death. You may recall actor Jeremy Piven who had to leave his run in a Broadway show early due to the ‘Mercury poisoning’ diagnosed by his doctor. Jeremy attributed his condition to the incredibly high amounts of fish and sushi he had been eating. Toxins include those in our households as well, from cleaning products to even our beauty products! Scientific tests proved women are more toxic than Men! Know why? Just think… all those lotions, potions, perfumes, make-up, hairspray, hair dyes, nail polish/remove, the list goes on, and on and on!
What effect do those toxins have on my body?
These impure foods, pollutants, and chemical toxins lead to a term called “Tissue Sludge” which is a toxic colon, congested liver, blood impurities, weak vital organs, mental fog, fatigue and lack of sensory clarity, chronic disease and loss of vitality.
These are the symptoms of toxic bodies:
- Food cravings
- Frequent illness
- Digestive problems
- Tongue coating
- Mood swings
- Skin problems
So now you must be gaining an understanding of Why we should actively ‘detox’ the toxins from our body!
Today more than at any other point in history, our bodies are challenged by various toxins. The basic idea behind a ‘detox diet or regimen’ is that since our modern world puts so much stress on our bodies as we are exposed to a large number of toxins on a daily basis, and the natural detoxification mechanisms in place in our bodies cannot keep up the detox demands. Therefore, ‘active detox’ is an important idea. “Detoxing” refers to taking extra measures to ensure that your body detoxes properly; to deter any negative effects of toxin-build-up in your body. Detoxing is an ancient and extremely powerful tool for whole body health maintenance. Detoxing has been part of many cultures’ regular health routines for thousands of years.
As the world has advanced, it’s become more toxic. As these consequences have been discovered, some changes are being made, but in the mean time, we can’t avoid most of these toxins’ in our lives, so the answer is to Detox!
How does my Body Detox Naturally on its own?
Answer: Our bodies are smart. They have built in mechanisms to detox ‘toxins’. Detox organs include: liver, kidneys, skin and lungs. Our bodies’ digestive, lymphatic and circulatory systems all play a major role in the process of detox. But these only work within limits, we are living beyond those limits!
“Assisted Detox”, What does that Refer to?
Answer: Detox Diets, Fasts and Cleanse diets can refer to a few things: ultra high intake of ‘colon-cleansing’ fiber, meant to literally brush and sweep out the built up toxins in your colon. Another detox method is ‘fasting’. A fast is an ultra low-calorie diet (sometimes in all-liquid form) meant to take the stress off your digestive system for a few hours, days or weeks in order to pump up the natural detoxing abilities of your body. Plus, you are usually exposed to less daily toxins during a fast, and therefore slowing the process of ‘toxic build-up’. Other detox diets may include certain foods and supplements that are said to have “Purifying Properties”.
Skin Detox. Another form of detox assistance can come through the skin: saunas and ‘hot yoga’ provide high-sweat environments meant to speed up detox through the largest organ in your body-skin. Epsom salts and ‘skin brushing‘ are wellness practices that have also been known to speed up the detoxification of skin-bound toxins.
Dark Side. Unlike the ancient detoxing, that provided health benefits for thousands of years using natural herbs, many in our modern day tried formulating detox’s that have been too harsh on our bodies and unable to detox at a cellular level, which leads us the a discuss of “The dark side” of detox which is the fact that there are indeed many false-claim products and dangerous/risky practices out there to choose from. And in fact, many ‘fasts’ and ‘detox diets’ can be harmful to certain individuals. “Serious Fasting” is something that should be undertaken only under the watch of a doctor or dietitian. A gentler organic juice-raw food ‘fast or diet’ may be a beneficial way for healthy folks to assist the detox process. But again, any ‘fast’ is not to be taken lightly.
More of the OTC detox dark side: Certain supplements, herbal laxatives and over-the-counter herbal diet aids are not regulated by the FDA, and have been shown to cause harm in some individuals. In my experience, anything in pill-form said to assist in detox, is not worth the price. I have done my research, I can recommend save, effective detox supplements if interested. Why take a pill and risk your health when you can detox naturally with healthy foods and wellness techniques?
Luxury Detox. On the pricier end of detox you’ll find spas and retreats offering ‘detox services’ including colonic irrigation, body wraps, facials and even long-term fasts including detox-menus and prescribed exercise regimens.
What are the benefits of Cleansing and Detoxing?
- Efficient and lasting weight loss
- Increase and sustained energy
- More efficient and effective digestion
- Radiant and luminous complexions
- Improved sense of well being and joy
- Greater sensitivity of all 5 senses
- Improved mental function
What else should I do while I’m detoxing?
One natural, highly effective and safe form of ‘detox enhancement’ is exercise! Exercise speeds up your circulatory and respiratory systems and promotes natural sweating-all natural detox methods used by the body (lungs, skin and blood/digestive system).
Another very important part of natural detox is your hydration level!Your body will detox itself much easier if you are fully hydrated. Water and lots of it, fresh fruit juices, herbal tea, kombucha and coconut water are fabulous beverages to stay hydrated.
Massage aka physical stimulation is a natural way to speed up detox. By massaging your body muscles and skin, you are loosening the toxins that are stored or ‘building up’ in your cells. Pro athletes often partake in routine massages to loosen their muscles and one theory is to loosen the lactic acid build up brought on by exercise-possibly the cause of sore muscles. (Though modern theories say that sore muscles may simply be brought on by torn muscle fibers from over-exertion. As well as stored chemicals that are released in the body during high-intensity activities.) Another topic entirely, but still fascinating piece of the ‘detox puzzle’. Overall, massages are one method that may help you naturally detox. And bonus, a massage feels awesome!
For a deeper more effective method of massage see the article on this Blog titled Endermologie for information on another excellent source for loosening toxins. Endermologie treatments while on a week of detoxing is a perfect combination!
How do I Detox Naturally and Healthfully? With Foods that Cleanse the Body Naturally. The best way to change your health is to change your diet. You have heard the old adage “You are what you eat”, well it’s true! When we don’t take care of our bodies and fail to give it proper nutrients, we suffer from digestive discomfort and immune system problems.
Cleansing foods such as wild rice, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, papaya, peaches, cauliflower and celery, are all great detoxers. These foods will help your body eliminate toxic substances through your stool and urine.
Green leafy vegetables like kale and cabbage are alkaline foods; they help maintain the weak alkaline state of the blood by neutralizing the excessive sugar from the diet as well as remove toxic substances from the blood.
Some fruits and fruit juices have an exceptional function; they can help to dissolve the stockpile of toxic waste before eliminating it through the excretory system. The best fruits with this unique feature are lemons, oranges, grapefruits, grapes, sugar cane juices, plums, apples, and tomatoes. Though some of these have a sour taste, they are proven to maintain the alkaline in the blood.
I’ve got some great detoxing juice and soup recipes to share and I also run a 7 day group detox program if interested, we find the moral support of a group is very helpful for many while going through a detoxing week. Our planet is in a toxic crises so detoxing on a regular basis is recommended, at least quarterly.
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