Detoxification is what your body does naturally to neutralize, transform and get rid of unwanted toxins.
It takes time and should lay the foundation for long-term lifestyle changes.
In the beginning, I see detoxification as an internal cleansing—like spring cleaning for your home, an annual tune up for your car, and so on.
In the long-term, it becomes a healthy way of living, not just with the absence of disease but owning a life of vitality and joy.
Spring and autumn are the best times of year to detoxify.
Why do we need to detoxify?
Toxins surround us. Detoxifying helps our bodies cope with the onslaught of toxins and stress, which are an unavoidable part of modern day life.
There are external toxins from air pollution (traffic, jet fuel, industrial emissions); pesticides and herbicides from our food; heavy metals in our teeth and in the fish we eat; cosmetics we place on our skin; and the water we drink.
We use more than 50, 000 chemicals in our daily living. Many of which the detrimental effects are unknown, and become exponentially dangerous when we harbour more than two, 10 or 20 at the same time.
There are internal toxins too. The most important source of internal toxicity is from improper gut function, from constipation, antibiotic use (from drugs or meat and dairy), persistent bacteria from processed foods, chemically treated foods and genetically modified (GMO) foods.
These all create overgrowth of yeast, parasites and/or bad bacteria. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is now a clinical diagnosis for such toxicity.
When our detoxification systems become overloaded and start to fail, we store much of these toxins in our fatty tissues as well as important organs.
These toxins and synthetic molecules are a large contributor to inflammation, chronic disease and even cancer.
Toxicity is a problem because it:
• causes inflammation
• interferes with our hormones—there is an epidemic of low thyroid and infertility
• can attach to our chromosomes—GMO-foods
• weakens, even disables our immune system, predisposing us to cancer.
What are the common signs and symptoms suggesting we should detoxify?
There are many. Common symptoms include bloating and gas, but also something I like to call “gut-rot,” constipation, headaches, skin break-outs, eczema, joint pain, and the inability to lose weight.
What many people don’t realize is that your gut is your second brain—the majority of chemicals and neurotransmitters are processed in the gut.
So additional symptoms such as foggy thinking, severe anxiety and mild depression can all benefit from a detoxification program.
What organs are involved in detoxification?
We need hundreds of enzymes, vitamins, and other molecules to help rid the body of unwanted waste products and chemicals.
Although the majority of work is done by the liver and the gastrointestinal tract—the kidneys, lungs, lymphatic system and skin are all involved in the complex infrastructure of the detoxification system.
How do we detoxify?
If you have a health condition, take certain medications or it is your first time attempting to detoxify, I highly recommend doing so under the guidance of a naturopathic physician.
A good detoxification program will involve four basic principles and last several weeks.
Removing common irritants in the diet like gluten, sugar, dairy, caffeine, etc.
Also a sweating program (infrared sauna, exercise, yoga, etc.) to remove toxins via the skin.
Replacing digestive enzymes, fibre and herbal support for the liver and gut.
Reinoculating the body with good bacteria following the cleanse.
Repairing the gut with healing nutrients and vitamins depleted from chronic toxicity.
External benefits can include weight loss, less aches and pains, clear skin, less puffiness and resolution of previous symptoms.
Internal benefits can include increased energy, a clear head with better focus, improved liver functioning and less abdominal bloating and gas.
It also provides a mental cleanse for our negative thoughts–when we are resentful and angry, we carry rage and hurt in our body.
Learning to forgive yourself, and learning to forgive others through yoga, daily meditation, journaling or prayer is an essential practice to any whole body detoxification program.
Proper detoxification will invigorate your life and remind you of what it feels like to feel healthy and energetic again.