If your home, car or any other thing precious to you needed cleaning or de-cluttering you would do it right? After all you love that precious thing and want to keep it in optimal working order right? The same principle applies to your most precious ‘possession‘, your body. So while we all accept that the outside of our body needs regular cleaning (though try telling our 10 year old boy that…) few of us recognise the need for regular internal cleaning. A regular internal cleanse aka detoxification, detox or detoxing, helps keep the body working optimally.
Why consider a Detox ? Our bodies are regularly exposed to a barrage of toxins – for example the body naturally creates toxins as a by product of metabolism. Add to this the toxins created by stress, the effects of overeating, the sluggishness of our systems due to poor exercise habits, our continued exposure to environmental pollutants and daily exposure to any of the 14,000 food chemicals within processed foods and medications!. That is without mentioning smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and drugs. And spare a thought for your liver. The liver, the organ of detoxification, has to work harder now than at any other time in history – so to speak – because of all these contaminants. We also absorb toxins through our skin and we come into contact with many hundreds of chemicals on a daily basis – it’s no wonder our bodies are stressed and we regularly exhibit signs of toxicity. OK – I hear you say – we are always exposed to toxins – it’s all about our level of exposure – right?
The concept of an ‘acceptable level of toxicity‘ in the body continues to change as scientists develop their understanding of the effects of toxins on the body. Scientists now consider harmful those amounts of toxicity previously thought too small to be harmful – especially when the compounds join in the body. For example “substance X” and “substance Y” have been studied for toxicity. Both studies show that in isolation these toxins are ‘safe’, however, no one knows what happens when you take in both at the same time. Nor do we have any idea what happens when one is exposed to substances X, etc in tandem. The whole area of an acceptable level of toxicity continues to change with more research. What’s more, we are, only now starting to see research on the effects of the changes to our food supply over the past 40 years and a correlation to the effects on our immune system.
That said, we are self healers; the body is marvellous at keeping us as healthy as we will let it. So like we said, the body does naturally detox it self – but given the over exposure to toxins – a regular, ‘conscious’ detox is a great help to the body.
The concept of detoxing (detox) is not new and is a way of giving your body a break from anything (overtly) toxic, this way your body can focus on eliminating existing toxins out of your system. In fact detoxing is the basis of all ancient health care systems – simple cleansing and detoxification rituals which were used to enhance the natural processes of the body, lift energy and promote clarity of thought. The outcome of a successful and well-planned detox cleanse is that you will likely experience:
- more energy,
- clearer skin,
- weight loss (if needed),
- brighter eyes,
- a stronger immune system,
- greater mental clarity,
- increased self-confidence.
A detox cleanse helps to strengthen the organs that the body uses to flush toxins from the body on a daily basis. These include the skin, the lymphatic system, the intestines, liver, lungs, and kidneys.
A common misconception is that detoxing or cleansing the body involves restricting food or starving yourself for days on end – not a very appealing thought. Fasting is used by some people on a regular basis – but we do not recommend it if you are just starting out. Also, if you are considering fasting – it is best to do it under the guidance of a skilled natural practitioner. By the way, do not confuse detoxing with severe calorie restriction – more on that in another article. The two things though related are very separate.
There are many detox plans, kits and gurus available so it’s no wonder why people often get confused about the best way to go. Each methods has a specific goal and rationale which you need to consider. At the end of the day whichever detox method you chose must fit your needs and lifestyle. There is no point adopting a cleansing program that does not ‘fit’ your circumstances. For example, if a program requires you to prepare food not readily available in restaurants and you, for whatever reason, eat out a lot – then you will be unlikely to sustain that plan. Choose a program that is sustainable for you – after all you want to see tangible benefits right?
There are many detox plans available and each of these plans have a specific focus. Some focus on specific organs such as liver, colon, etc while other plans aim to boost your energy. Then you will find therapeutic cleansing diets which aim those people with allergies or other chronic issues. So depending on your need or goal you need to do your research and choose well. In future blog articles we will help you explore the different detox strategies available.
For example our family has undertaken a number of allergy elimination diets including Elimination and Gut And Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS) in order to detox from certain foods and ultimately boost the immune system. This approach to nutrition is based on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet which focuses on restoring gastrointestinal health – see the web site for details. Our family eliminated all carbs, dairy, sugar, processed foods, coffee, alcohol; only certain vegetables were permitted. Suffice to say it was challenging to implement with a family of three kids (9 years and under) but we saw fantastic results in both the health and behaviour of our children. Surprisingly, even the kids said they felt better eating this way. This approach was appropriate for us as two of our children are anaphylactic to nuts and so we are continually looking for ways to strengthen their immune system. This is a very focused detox based on a specific health requirement – out point being that detoxs can be simple or complex. You need to be clear about why you are doing it.
A good detox is like giving your body a spring clean to revitalize your system and rid yourself of harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites. Detoxs are usually done over a specific time period. A friend of mine undertook a detox with a group of people under the guidance of a naturopath – this is a good safety net where you have a lot of toxins to clear; detoxs often make you feel worse before you feel better – you have to eliminate those toxins somehow and you may experience headaches, a disturbed gut etc… under the guidance of a practitioner you will be given strategies to deal with the symptoms of cleansing.
After detoxing it is a good idea to explore how to incorporate some of the principles of that eating plan into your daily life. If you have an immune-compromised disease like cancer, arthritis, diabetes and/or chronic fatigue then the less toxins you have stressing your system the better you will feel and so be able t0 deal with your situation.
Some simple things you can do to detox include:
- Drink filtered water during the day
- Breathe! deep and conscious is critical to eliminate toxins – most if us do not breathe deeply enough. Try and consciously schedule in belly breath for at least 5 minutes daily.
- In the mornings drink hot water with lemon juice and a pinch of bi-carb soda
- Restore your Ph and eat more alkaline forming foods such as fresh fruit, green salads, raw vegetables, dates, honey, potatoes, quinoa, dried apricots etc. See sites like Energiseforlife.com for a basic chart of acid/alkaline foods. NB like with most things there is some disagreement between ‘authorities’ on whether certain foods are excessively acid/alkaline. Don’t get hung up with the detail – the idea is enough to get you started.
- Don’t go hungry – plan healthy snacks for the day
- Relax – stress causes toxins – learn to meditate, walk in nature etc
This is not a dress rehearsal – this is your life… make the most of you. If detoxing is something you have considered for a while and you just can’t seem to find the time, or it’s all too hard – or whatever your reason – then you may benefit from reflecting on why you are having a hard time supporting yourself and your health. Ironically if you can take the time necessary now to detox you will feel so much better you will be more productive – are you ready for success?
To your health!