Detoxification (detox for short) has been around for thousands of years. From the ancient Greeks and the ancient Indian tradition of Ayurveda to the Native Americans, they all believed that toxins were the fundamental cause of disease; that being the case, they developed cleansing and purification programs to detox the body. Likewise, for centuries, religions like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have used fasting as an element of body, mind, and spiritual cleansing in their practices.
Fast forward to the 21st century; our modern world is more toxic than ever. Our detox organs (liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, and skin) are constantly bombarded by environmental toxins, residues from drugs, chemicals and preservatives in foods, heavy metals, radiation, electromagnetic fields, and many other toxins. No wonder detoxing has become the “in” thing to do and there are gazillion detox products, cleanses, and diets on the market.
Buyer beware! Many of these are no more than marketing scams that do nothing to help you detox your body. In the following, we will discuss some of these quack products and practices and what you should look out for when it comes to detox. Lastly, we will look at what you can do to improve your body’s detox function, 24/7.
Beware Of These Detox Scams
Without doubt, dangerous toxins seem to be lurking everywhere in our modern world. However, many extreme detox products, cleanses, or diets which claim that they will rid your body of toxins, give you more energy, and melt away pounds of fat are not for real. Some are even outright dangerous. A few, at best, are just temporary solutions for the long-term problem of having a poor lifestyle and bad eating.
Before we go into how to truly detox in a healthy manner, the following are some detox scams that you should definitely be aware of.
These pads were originated from Japan. You stick them to your feet overnight and they supposedly draw toxins out of your feet, turning the pads brown. The reason they turn brown is because they contain wood vinegar powder, which always turns brown when exposed to moisture, such as a sweaty foot.
They go by many different names but they all use the same modus operandi. You place your feet in a bowl of water to which a bit of salt is added. A small electric current is passed between two electrodes immersed in the water, which soon becomes quite discolored. The color, of course, is not from the purging of toxins but from electrolytic corrosion of the metal electrodes made of iron, nickel, and copper, all of which decompose into colored ions. By-products of the electrolysis process produce bubbles of hydrogen and chlorine gases (both are dangerous in confined spaces) and sodium hydroxide, which further dramatizes the so-called detox process.
Detox cleanses or diets
The most famous is the Master Cleanse, also known as the Lemonade Diet. You drink 6-12 glasses of water mixed with maple syrup, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper throughout the day along with laxatives twice a day, while no other food is consumed. The singer Beyonce did the Master Cleanse for 14 days and quickly dropped 20 pounds for her role in Dreamgirls but she regained all the weight soon after and in interviews, warned dieters away from the cleanse.
The truth is you cannot detox your body in seven days, or even 70 days, no matter what you do. Quick-fix cleanses or diets may seem appealing but they are a waste of money and effort and may even do you more harm than good.
When you do this sort of cleanses, you drastically reduce your calorie intake and you lose weight quickly, but it is primarily water weight. A lack of nutrients during “detoxing” can make your body eat into muscle for energy, slowing your metabolism. Once you go back to eating, most people regain the lost weight plus a few extra pounds of fat because of a slower metabolism.
While there is nothing wrong with going on a juice fast for an occasional day or two, it is definitely not recommended for any longer period. Here is why:
- Prolonged fasting tends to slow down metabolism and potentially lead to more weight gain afterwards.
- Unless you are juicing from organic fruits and vegetables, you run the risk of dumping more toxins into the body.
- Fruit juice is a concentrated source of sugar without the fiber. It can cause blood sugar to rise and fall rapidly. Some people will not feel good drinking juices on empty stomach. If you are diabetic, pregnant, or nursing, never do a juice fast.
- If you vary the juices you drink, you will get a full complement of many vitamins and minerals along with a rich supply of carbohydrates. However, you are still lacking in two vital macronutrients – protein and fat. Without sufficient protein, your body has no raw materials to build new tissues. Without fat, your brain, skin, and hair will suffer and you will not be able to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, E, and K.
- Your liver relies on vitamins, amino acids (building blocks of protein), and other nutrients to do its job of detoxification. By going on a juice fast for multiple days, you are not detoxing because your liver is not getting the amino acids it needs to move toxins out of the body.
- Some people claim that fasting give them a “high”. That is only because the body releases endorphins, a natural painkiller, in response to the perceived stress of starvation.
Do We Really Need To Detox?
Our detox organs in the body have been designed to handle toxins on a continual basis, 24/7.
- The liver converts toxins into compounds that are eliminated through the bile and urine.
- The kidneys separate the substances that the body needs from harmful or unnecessary ones, which they eliminate.
- The colon eliminates solid waste from the body.
- The lungs release carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the atmosphere.
- The skin gets rid of soluble waste through sweat.
However, we do live in a world where our atmosphere and food contain increasingly more toxic chemicals. So when we talk about detoxing for health, we are, in fact, looking at how efficiently our detoxification systems are working. There is no single study that shows our bodies can efficiently eliminate 100 percent of all toxins. As a matter of fact, there are many studies showing that environmental chemicals are being stored in human body tissues. Toxic levels of some chemicals have been linked to numerous health issues, including cancer.
How To Detox More Efficiently?
The ability of our detox organs to detox efficiently depends on multiple factors:
- One’s individual toxic exposure
- Availability of nutrients essential for the detox process
There is nothing we can do about our genetics but beyond that, it is, to a huge extent, within our control.
1. Reduce your toxic exposure
Don’t overload your detox organs so that they can do a more efficient job in eliminating the toxins. Educate yourself about the least toxic choices when it comes to buying food, personal care items, and household cleaners. Consider the quality of water you drink and air you breath in.
- Food. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30% of insecticides to be carcinogenic. Therefore, always buy natural, unprocessed, and organic. Avoid pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and GMOs. Limit sugar and alcohol consumption. Reduce your intake of rancid omega-6 fats from refined vegetable oils.
- Water. Drink plenty of clean, spring or filtered water, about 8-10 eight-ounce glasses for a 150-pound person. If you exercise or sweat a lot, you need to drink more. It is normal to be urinating every 1-2 hours. Water moves dead cells and waste products to the capillaries, then transport the waste by the lymphatic system and bloodstream to the kidneys for elimination. If you are chronically dehydrated, your detox capability will be compromised.
- Food containers. Store food and water in glass containers or only plastic bottles with the following designations: #2HDPE, #4LDPE, and #5PP. Never microwave foods in any plastic containers as dangerous chemicals from the containers may leach into the food.
- Indoor air. Breathing in carcinogenic airborne chemicals can be hazardous to health. Avoid as much as possible freshly painted rooms, new carpet off-gassing, dryer sheets, air fresheners, chemically-scented candles, aerosol sprays for hair, and furniture polish. Always have fresh air circulation indoor. Use air purifiers as needed to clean the air of dust, molds, allergens, and chemicals.
- Personal care items. There are thousands of chemicals used in personal care products but few have been tested for safety. Putting chemicals on your skin is far worse than ingesting them, because when you eat something, it must go to your liver before entering your blood stream, giving your body an opportunity to detoxify substances that could be harmful. When you put chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream, lymphatic system, and your internal organs without filtering of any kind. By all means, avoid personal care items that contain parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, petrolatum, mineral oil, and artificial colors. Use a natural toothpaste that does not contain fluoride because its long-term exposure increases risk of lowered childhood IQ and thyroid disorders.
- Household cleaners. It is well known that commonly used household chemicals cause cancer, along with other serious health effects like reproductive and developmental problems in developing children. Use only biodegradable cleaning products in your home.
2. Eat the right diet for your body
While many leading dietary experts adopt one-size-fits-all dietary solutions, the truth is that a one-size-fits-all dietary approach simply does not work for everyone. There are, indeed, universal dietary truths, such as the danger of sugar and toxins, but when it comes to the “right” diet, there is no one across-the-board diet that works 100 percent of the time.
Although we readily accept our external physical uniqueness as fact, we are often less accepting of our biochemical and physiological uniqueness on the inside. Sometimes, our mind fails to make the link that each of us, due to our specific genetics, may need to eat different foods to properly nourish our body.
Case in point, some people need more protein and fats and less carbs in their diet to stay healthy while others need more carb and less protein and fats. Some individuals need more calcium, phosphorus, and zinc while others need more chromium, magnesium, and potassium. When you address your unique biochemical needs, you are addressing health at the foundational level. Only by doing so will you be able to balance your body chemistry, optimize energy production, and detox efficiently.
Therefore, if you know your Metabolic Type, it is essential to eat according to your type. If you don’t, please contact me for the online Metabolic Typing test.
3. Healthy lifestyle
- Move and sweat. Your skin is another major organ of elimination. It works in conjunction with the kidneys in water regulation. Interestingly, perspiration and urine are chemically very similar, both contain substantial amounts of uric acid, the primary waste product of metabolism. Every square inch of skin contains hundreds of pores, from which metabolic wastes and toxins are expelled along with sweat. Yet, many people do not sweat on a regular basis. Daily aerobic exercise helps circulation as well as elimination of toxins through sweat. Saunas and steam baths can also promote sweating.
- Regular bowel movement. It is normal and healthy to have 1-2 bowel movements daily. Improper elimination allows deposits of fecal matter to build up on the walls of the colon or in pockets that have been previously formed, leading to accumulation of toxins. Poor bowel function may be caused by insufficient fluid intake, ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement, lack of exercise, and a diet low in fiber.
- Restful sleep. All healing requires extra sleep because this is the time when your body does its maintenance and repair work. Elimination of toxins occurs primarily at night while the body rests. If you do not have enough sleep, you cannot detoxify well. Eight hours of sleep per night is preferable. Best bedtime is around 10 pm. The hours before midnight are far more valuable for rejuvenation than those after midnight.
If you decide to undertake certain detox procedures or use any detox herbs and supplements, be aware that the detox organs, namely the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, and skin, may functionally act as a “bottleneck” for the elimination of toxins from the body. If these organs are strong and efficient, there is no problem. But if the detox organs are weak and inefficient, a backlog of toxins can occur at the “bottlenecks”. While cells may be rapidly dumping toxins into the bloodstream, the toxins are not getting cleared from the body quick enough, producing some unpleasant symptoms of detox, such as headaches, chills, nausea, gas, bloating, fatigue, body odor, constipation, diarrhea, aches and pains, and skin problems.
Therefore, the safest way to detox is:
- Start with cleanses (such as liver-gall bladder cleanse, coffee enema, and colon cleanse) that help move toxins out of the detox organs into the colon or kidneys for elimination.
- Build up or support the detox organs to increase their detox efficiency. This is usually accomplished with the use of herbs and supplements.
- Begin the process of gathering or mobilizing toxins from cells and tissues to the detox organs with the use of detox herbs and supplements.
Before you start any detox procedures, always consult with a healthcare professional who is experienced in detoxification.