We all live in a toxic environment. Toxins are found everywhere (e.g. the air, food, water and metabolism of bacteria) as well as within our own human metabolic processes. By the time you finish reading this article, you will have produced enough toxins to poison a small animal!
As our external environment has radically changed so has the internal environment of our bodies. Exposure to toxins such as chemicals, heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury, cadmium) and pathogens such as parasites, viruses, bacteria and fungus have become impossible to avoid and even more difficult to remove once they have embedded themselves into our tissues.
Last year alone, more than 7 billion pounds of chemical pollutants were released into the environment. Over the course of a lifetime, we will be exposed to thousands of foreign compounds that can enter our bodies through the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe and directly through our skin or eyes. To make matters worse, many of us have substituted healthy meals with a poor diet that lacks nutritional value to fuel our body’s detoxifying capacity. All of these factors contribute to an accumulation of toxins or what is simply called toxicity.
Are you feeling tired or out of sync? Having fatigue, brain fog, headaches, difficult sleeping, depression or anxiety? Skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema or acne? Joint or muscle pain, stomach issues such as gastric reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, nausea or irritable bowel problems?
Have you been diagnosed with medical conditions such as migraine headaches, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, insomnia, depression, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or chemical sensitivity syndrome? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to consider detoxification as the key to unlocking the door to health and wellness.
Detoxification is about removing and eliminating toxins. It is about resting, cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out. Detoxification works because it addresses the needs of the individual cells, the smallest units of human life. Detoxification allows toxins to be eliminated from your liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system and skin.
The term ‘detoxification’ refers to the body’s natural ability to transfer and eliminate toxins. Only substances that easily dissolve in water can effectively be excreted from the body. Toxic compounds are typically stored as fatty molecules and, therefore, do not mix well with water. The process of detoxification transforms toxic, fat-soluble substances into harmless, water-soluble molecules which can be excreted from the body through the kidneys, bowel, skin or lungs.
Most of the body’s detoxification is done in the gut (intestines), kidneys and liver. The skin and lungs also play a significant role. Overall detoxification is heavily nutrient dependent whereby key steps are fueled by vitamins, minerals and other major food components. Some of the key nutrients involved with detoxification include: zinc, pantothenic acid, vitamins, amino acids, L-glutamine, taurine, N-acetylcysteine and many others.
A comprehensive detoxification program can assist the body’s natural cleansing process by:
- Elimination of toxins from the diet and environment
- Stimulating the liver to drive toxins from the body
- Promoting elimination through the intestines, kidneys, skin and lungs
- Improving circulation of the blood
- Refueling the body with essential key healthy nutrients
So, where do you begin? First, lighten up your toxic load. Eliminate alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, refined sugar and saturated fats, all of which act as toxins in the body and are obstacles to your healing process. What you eat will define how well you are able to detoxify. Foods that contain wheat (glutens) and dairy (milk, cheese) often cause allergy problems and inflammation in your stomach and intestines.
Sugar has a tendency to cause hypoglycemia and increase your resistance to insulin promoting body fat formation. Meats often contain hormones and antibiotics that are difficult to digest and remove. Caffeine has ill effects on the body’s digestion. Refined, processed and junk foods all impair your body to detoxify efficiently.
Eating a wholesome diet, rich in whole grains, plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits is key to long term health. All of the deep colored fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients critical to detoxification. Eating organic foods, especially meat and dairy, will also reduce your toxic burden. Drinking ½ to 1 gallon of purified water daily will assist you body in eliminating toxins. (Refer to the article on Hydration in this issue of CoSozo Living for additional information.)
Detoxification should include some type of skin cleansing. Our skin in one of our best eliminating organs. Heavy metals are actually released through our skin’s pores when we sweat. Sauna baths and steam rooms are great for removing toxins from the skin and regenerating one’s health and energy. Massage therapy will stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluids and promote the elimination of toxins.
Good skin care is also in order. Even the chemicals in soaps, shampoos and moisturizing lotions will make a difference in our health. Most people do not see the ill effects of these subtle chemicals, because their liver is able to metabolize these substances. Individuals who are environmentally toxic will see a great change in their health by using natural soaps, shampoos and natural skin products.
Our bowel flora (the bacterial balance in our colon) is also important for detoxification and normal health. Probiotics is the term given to the normal, health, beneficial bowel bacteria, which may be taken as a supplement. These normal flora will defend our body from the pathogenic species of bacteria and perform many vital functions such as detoxification of toxic chemicals and making valuable vitamins.
Antibiotics kill off the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria that may be causing disease. This allows the bad organisms, such as yeast, to overgrow and lead to a myriad of gastrointestinal problems. Replacing our natural flora is a good step for preventing disease and keeping our bowels healthy and populated with normal flora. Taking probiotics containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidophilus can help with detoxification and improve your health.
The use of enzymes in detoxification is important. The body needs an adequate supply of enzymes, not only for digestion, but also for detoxification. Enzymes are best obtained from fresh raw fruits and vegetables, but may also be taken daily as nutritional supplements.
Enzymes are used by the body in detoxification of toxic substances. The liver is the source of most detoxification enzymes, which it must make, or store. Enzymes also help the bowels in cleansing. The role of enzymes in digestion is to break down food for digestion and absorption. When foods are broken down they become more liquid and the bowels move much easier and faster. Transit time is decreased and our health is increased when toxins are removed and eliminated quickly. Digestive enzymes are one of the keys to breaking problems with chronic constipation, diarrhea and other digestive problems.
Keeping the bowels clean and moving is a major step in regaining our health. The bowels are crucial in the elimination of toxins especially those processed by the liver. The easiest way to get the bowels moving is by eating a high fiber diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables. Extra fiber may be added with a number of natural fiber additives.
There are many herbal supplements that assist in bowel function. Colonic therapy is another method to help improve and restore bowel function. One should try and not become dependents on herbal laxatives or colonics to maintain normal bowel function. Finding the correct balance with diet, fiber, supplements or defining underlying medical problems such as hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalance or vitamin/mineral deficiency is a better step to long term health and wellness.
The use of key vitamins and minerals are important to detoxification. The use of antioxidants, such as vitamins A,E and especially C, are essential for detoxification since they are involved with the detoxification of toxins. Antioxidants are involved with helping cells to neutralize free radicals that can cause cellular mutations and damage.
The function of antioxidants is so important that any deficiency may be catastrophic to one’s health. When antioxidant levels are low, energy is not available and detoxification can not take place in a normal fashion. Therefore, toxins accumulate or are stored until they can be processed. The liver and many other organs are compromised in their function when antioxidants are low. Just the lack of energy is enough to cause the body to have compromised or poor health, because it is energy that is required for the removal of toxins and wastes.
Detoxification is essential for good health to exist. Our body must eliminate toxins daily or will simply die. Since our environment is more toxic today, our organs are over stressed with environmental toxins on a daily basis. We must give our bodies the critical tools to complete the detoxification process efficiently.
Regular exercise helps our bodies to detoxify. Exercise promotes increased blood flow to our tissues bringing more of the needed critical nutrients to our cells. By breathing fresh air and using our lungs we are able to exhale through our lungs various toxins that are accumulating.
There are many methods to assist you body in detoxification. Medical food programs such as Metagenic’s Ultra Clear is one that supports healthy metabolic detoxification by assisting the liver’s ability to excrete toxins. Ionic foot bath treatments, intravenous vitamin and mineral infusions, ultraviolet blood irradiation and low dose allergy immunotherapy are just a few options that can improve your ability to detoxify and improve your health and wellness naturally.
The way we live determines our health and how well we are able to detoxify. Detoxification is easy if we eat a wholesome natural organic diet and live life in a more natural way. Good health is within our reach, but first we must cleanse the ‘temple’ we have been blessed with and eat a wholesome natural diet that provides us with maximal nutrients critical for vitality.
Herbs can help stimulate the liver, lungs, kidneys and bowels when needed but diet is the first priority. Many people living today have never know what good health ‘feels’ like. They survive with an abundance of toxins and live an existence much less than healthy. Understanding detoxification is the key to unlocking the door to great health and natural wellness!